Sunday, September 7, 2014

Women's Roles and my, Dare I Say it, Feminist Perspective

I haven't written a blog entry in a while, because sometimes what I say is politically, socially, and religiously, well, honest.  I was looking for work and I had wondered if a potential employer might stumble upon my blog and think of me as an overly opinionated time-bomb.  While I make an honest attempt not to throw dissenting points of view into a vortex of insults, I worry about what the peanut gallery will think of my brain-products.

That said, I just read a blog piece by Kacey Faulconer entitled, "Please Stop Asking Stay at Home Moms What They Do All Day When the Kids are at School."  The comments are saddening.  The blog piece was not at all about how hard stay at home moms work or how much more special they are compared to working moms. The piece was about the autonomy of time that women so often seek and feel pressured to excuse away.  The fact that the working moms felt insulted, that stay at home moms felt pressured to explain how hard they work in the comments section made me wonder why women are often seeking to explain every moment of free time they may or may not have.  Faulconer was not complaining about being a stay at home mom.  She was complaining about people expecting her time to be their time because they figured she did nothing of importance all day long.  The rebuttal to, "You have time," doesn't have to be, "No, I don't.  I'm busy."  I could very well be, "I do have time, but it's mine."  

One commenter, Jillian Deutsch Kaplan, commented that we don't ask what wealthy people do with their extra money or ask if they are donating it to charity, and therefore, asking a mom what she does with her free time is akin to asking wealthy people what they are doing with their money.  I disagree.  We do ask what rich people do with their money.  Especially when they're women.  When I was young, I remember the media storm that washed over our country called, Paris Hilton.  She wasn't rich from her own doing.  What exactly did she do with her wealth?  Why was she wasting her money on stupid attempts to make music?  Why couldn't she do something, you know, important with her time and money?  Those questions crept up in conversations, and I cannot lie at all.  I asked them.  I judged her too.  Paris Hilton had money and resources I could only dream of having.  She could look prettier because of her wealth.  She could start businesses as a hobby, and they would be successful businesses by sheer luck.  I couldn't do that.  She had a power I didn't have.  I thought that if I were her, I'd do it differently, and I neglected to see her as an individual human who makes life-choices that I will never know about.  Her time and money is hers, and as an individual, I have no reason to think she was any kind of person based on what I think she was doing with her resources.

What I saw writhing in the guilt of the stay-at-home mom world of Kacey was her discussion of PTA meetings, volunteer work, and ability or time to watch other people's kids.  Why are we women so hard on ourselves to prove we are giving ourselves to society?  If you don't have kids as a woman, the perception is one of selfishness.  If a woman has kids but works a highly demanding job, she's selfish.  If she stays home and doesn't work, she's lazy.  Oddly, we laud the women working two or three crap-jobs to "put food on the table" to raise her children "right," but goodness forbid she earn an MBA, work her way up into the business world and seek a six figure income.  Why is it more laudable for a woman to work three jobs for minimum wage to avoid going on public assistance, but we cringe a little at a woman whose career ambitions require we look up through the glass?  She has more control of her situation when she does that, and I hate to go all feminazi here (I hate that word too, by the way), but I'm starting to get the idea that people just can't stand to see women in control of their own lives.

We women can't stand it either, because we simply aren't validated.  Inherently, I find women to be rather supportive of each other in normal situations.  We do have each other's backs, but all too often, the stigma that women are catty and competitive rides our cultural heuristics like air.  When people are not validated, they get frustrated.  Women are not often supported when their life decisions don't mold to what's acceptable in our world, but it's not because their decisions aren't acceptable, it's because often, women are confined to categories and meet with a great deal of resistance to personal decisions that really don't affect anyone but themselves and the people who feel the women's time is owed to them.

On a final note, consider what commenter Tracy H. Terry said in her comment: "Sorry but I don't think you "deserve" to do whatever you want once your children are in school! Being a mom is hard but not working and having all your children in school is easier as a SAHM! "

So, we don't ever "deserve" free time.  At some level, doing "whatever" we want is something people just can't wrap their brainwaves around.  




Sunday, July 13, 2014

Rural Middle School Students

If you are a parent of a middle school student who lives 15 or more miles from his or her school (or if you have parented middle school students who have lived that distance from a middle school), please take this survey:  Rural Middle School Students.

This survey is completely anonymous, and the results are for student research purposes with the American Public University's school of health and public administration.  If you decide to take the survey, your answers will contribute to academic research, but the the research will not be published.

Thank you.

Rural Middle School Student Survey.

Monday, May 5, 2014

What if We Dropped Minimum Wage...for New Businesses

So Upworthy.com posted the news that Seattle, Washington is geared to increase its minimum wage to $15/hr.  So many HooRaH's flooded the responses, my stomach went all aflutter with tingles.  Then, I read comments from small business owners.  They booed.  My mother-in-law tried her hand at a small business, and paying employees is no joke.  Many small businesses fail before they can get a leg up.  A lot of small-business success hinges on decent business acumen, but sometimes that intelligence comes with a little experience, so I offer a...

Meet-in-the-Middle Idea.  

It's the liberal/conservative blender concoction of the century!  It's better than chocolate covered vanilla ice cream, it is!  It's the mega-conservative approach to minimum wage that is all covered in liberal slime.

What if...all businesses less than two years old with fewer than 100 employees had zero minimum wage obligation until they reached their first two years---and we raised the federal minimum wage to a living wage.  It's totally libertarian until two years in, then BAM!  Socialist!

Hear me out for a minute.

1.  New businesses struggle with start-up costs, including wages.  What if they can hire people at what the people are willing to work for them as they build their brand and business.  For the employees, they have a guaranteed wage increase if they stay loyal.  If the employees play their part and do well, they can negotiate for higher wages.

2.  The employers will attract people who either need excess income or who don't need it.  In either case, the employees either will or won't work for the offered wages.  Retired people on social security, older workers, and part students could effectively be the target employees for businesses who opt to pay less than minimum wage.

3.  We may have more successful businesses offering more job opportunities if wages don't keep them from successfully launching their business.  I mean, after two years, they are obliged to pay more, but that doesn't mean they'll only pay minimum wage.  If they are successful, they may begin paying more before they reach their second year.  Any savvy business owner wants to keep and attract talent by offering a competitive wage.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Fat Shaming to Healthy Motivation?

 Being overweight or obese could cost more in health insurance. No matter how big the "love your body" or "fat acceptance" movement gets, there will always be more profound and deeper reasons to obtain a healthier body than what other people say about our bodies.
That said, the "fat acceptance" movement is built on the premise that people are people, no matter what size they are, yet "love your body" campaigns often draw one reasonable criticism: we shouldn't be encouraging an unhealthy lifestyle. How can we redirect the message of fat acceptance to one that encourages a healthier lifestyle without shaming people for the challenges their bodies face?  
So what we should be doing is encouraging health rather than fat shaming.  Read this article to learn how to encourage health.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Florida Public Schools: Challenges to Parental Involvement

You really can't forecast the effects of budget cuts and school year changes until your child is knee-deep in the school year muck.  I wrote an article about the way FCATs, budget cuts, and tech-books have proven to be road-blocks in my helping my child succeed in school here:  FCATs to Tech-books:  Challenges to Parental Involvement in Florida Schools.  

Before the school year started, the school board debated the merits of starting the school day earlier. The change was only a 15 minute change.  The change went through, but as a parent, I really had no clue how big of a difference 15 minutes could make.  Firstly, my child was transitioning from elementary school to middle school for the first time.  Because the middle school is 20 miles from our home, that means she has to wake up exceptionally early.  Add to that fact that the middle schoolers have to wait for high schoolers before trekking home, a fact about being a middle school bus rider I had little experience to consider, her 30 minute ride home becomes an hour and a half ride home from school.

So while there was a public meeting on early start times, I wasn't fully aware of the impact those changes would have on my student until she was experiencing those changes as they had already been implemented.  

Parental involvement is a huge aspect of ensuring the success of student education.  I wrote the article, FCATs to Tech-books, because I hope people think about the budget challenges schools face and how they may impede increased parental involvement.  Teachers are facing insurmountable odds when parents are struggling to keep up with changes and curriculum plans.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Earth Day

If anything, Earth day is the one day to think about the abundance on the planet Earth.  It's a day to reconnect to the source of all of our gadgets and do-dads, the source of our energy (which does come from the Sun and is given to the Earth).  It's a day to feel the dirt beneath our feet, see the new leaves growing on trees, experience the sight and touch of flowers and butterflies, and to be grateful for what we have.

Write a poem out in the spring sun.  I wrote a poem to the Earth here.