Monday, July 25, 2016

most important for a woman: being likable

After reading this article in Slate about The Hillary Haters and contemplating the last few months at work when people who are scared that the changes will lead to a couple of people getting let go "but you are safe because He likes you", I'm back to the thought that the key aspect of being a woman today is to be likable (and attractive of course).

Remember the comments from leading RNC people describing Melania Trump (yes Newt, Chris and the retired colonel) "who care about the speech, she is attractive and likable".

And then listening & reading all the comments about Hillary... if she was a man, they'd be phrased a little different. They might still state "go to jail for emails" but I really doubt that they would emphasize the "robotic, manhating, non attractive" style as much.

This point was also raised in the UK when choosing their new prime minister Theresa May. She isn't attractive, although she also has another flaw - she is not a mother. Why this is important? Well, as far as I see a woman who is taking power is automatically going to be viewed as a "mother"["for the country" when talking about PM or President]. A mother should be warm, kind, likable, and potentially soft and malleable to her husband. Theresa May had her opponent (also a woman, notch) state that since she was a mother, and May isn't, she was more qualified to be prime minister. Yep. I'm tempted to dive into the sad stats which points to that a lot of women in power are childless (or affluent with specific childcare options) since again, the biggest gap between salary&power in men and women are when you look at "married men with children" compared to "married women with children". Women without children have a slight less gap to the males.... but I won't. Not now.

Anyway, am I overly pessimistic? Too feminist? Is it not against women per se but only against Hillary this hate and attractiveness concept?

Please let me know what you think since I'm getting very sad and tired and there are still three months left before the US election.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

To prevaricate - so much more classy than outright lying

There are a few things that can get me revved up from 1 to 100 in a short hot second. A specific comment from my beloved father is one of them, getting patted on the head by someone in a work setting and being insulted with some fancy Swedish words are some of the others. None of these are more effective in making me annoyingly angry though than "being lied to" (especially being lied to badly). Somehow it touches my ego in a very sensitive way. "You think I am that daft and so easily fooled?" "It's like it triggers every little elitist fibre in me and makes me want to snarl like a crazy despot in a fancy fairy tale "do I look like I was born yesterday?". In short, it brings out the things in me that I am the least proud of and the most ashamed of.

I don't know if it is linked to the fact that I love to verbally spar? That one of my favorite board games is Diplomacy (some other ones that are on the high list are Civilization, Risk and a bunch of role playing games where you "convince others" and have to be good with words). It's probably a safe bet to say that if I would've followed the guidance counsellor in high school who stated "your grades and interest indicate that you would fit very well going into Law school or PoliSci" I would've been more likely to be manipulative and telling lies on a regular basis. (Power corrupts and all that). I got a fair shake in student politics back in my uni days and could've worked that angle instead of the precious microbes, alas the microbes won that battle. Nowadays I'm realizing my job takes me more and more into the political arena, not to mention management and all the double speak that one can find there and working with legal documents. Oh, the legal documents and the "weighing words and implications"...

I'm digressing, as usual with these blog posts.

I've realized after this last week watching and reading way too many speeches by people in politics that I need to come up with a strategy to deal with my hot temper that flare up on a regular basis. Otherwise I won't make it through November. I get offended by the blatant lies and the inconsistencies that are prevalent and so very common at the moment in the media and politics. I end up having long monologues in the car, talking to invisible debate challengers, whom I want to flatten. Not to mention that I have a burning desire to "educate the public" on the lies that are spewed and the fallacy (so called logic...) arguments that some voice. Is no one knowing history or "old things" anymore*? My core feelings of decency and how I was taught politics back in the day as a young little girl marching in protests and handing out voting ballots are vastly different than the tactics being on display in the current day. (Yes, I also feel ancient.)

My issue that I somehow love the real evil characters in stories and their smart and intellectual comments, like Blofeld or double agents in Cambridge back in the 1960ies. The audacity of a nicely crafted omission. The skill to prevaricate so the interviewer doesn't notice that the question wasn't really answered. Somehow it leads me to feel valued since the person takes an effort to craft a lie that they don't want me to notice, to make it sly under the radar and make me work for it. The old school "word duelling" to hone in on the importance of words. That words matter and that we should care WHAT and HOW we say since Words matter. That there is an art of writing beautiful and making a convincing, honest argument and winning the debate. The more noble part of verbal sparring rather than a round of fisticuffs**

I guess to a large part this plays to my conviction that words matter since they come before actions, and that certain actions have enormous consequences and that these might not ever be retracted or undone. Thus the need to weigh ones words and be careful not to overuse and extrapolate.

My noble intention of being a bigger person (and a non elitist) falls apart when I endure ugly speeches, without any type of allegories or tropes, or filled with lies and repeats. When there are no well crafted figures of speech, no mentioning of historic important people, quotes or actions. When all there is are pathetic lies built on made up realities and "mistakenly put together words that other's read things into"***. An example; comment made by Mr Manafort in regards to the whole Mrs Trump speech "What she did was use common words". As if common words in a specific order cold not be linked to someone specific, be made historic or need acknowledgment of references? They have to be "uncommon words" to make an impression? ('I have a dream' comes to mind, although perhaps Mr Manafort is not familiar with that string of words and the origin that made them famous? Or perhaps "Ask not what your country can do for you"... many common words in one sentence.) A good speech doesn't have to be elaborate. It can be short, sweet and honest. Some of the best are.

To end this rant before I lose the interest of my few kind readers. I'm really hoping, yet I understand it might be in vain, that the convention next week at least consists of less lies, fewer ugly speeches and perhaps - and I know I'm completely showing every card on my hand now - even some concrete ideas, examples and fact based statements with clear references of historic people and actions that have changed the world. I know, I'm clearly naive and in for more rounds of car talks; me against the air.

References: a link to BBC Ethics summary about ethics and lying. A book by Sissela Bok in case you are interested in reading more on the morals of lying, how it influences society and what can happen when you start with small white lies "for the good" etc.

* There is a longer story here about a shorter summary of the history of Turkey, Europe, Ukraine and Iraq that I ended up giving at work since there was a misconception on stabile countries that have been around forever. I did breifly touch on the oil crisis and flight hijackings landing in Cyprus as well. (not bragging, but maybe a story for another blog post since "lack of history and general knowledge" is another one of those small nagging issues I have.)

**Although to be honest, at the moment I would take an honest fist fight over the sad lies that are being spread faster than wildfire. Maybe fight club over presidency? Or Thunderdome?

***is this really proper English or just another badly written sentence from an ESL?

Monday, July 18, 2016

politics - abuse - domestic violence

I've had a rule, especially since I moved to the States, not to talk about certain things at work. Politics is one, religion another, and then trying to not discuss too private or personal things. I've mentioned this in the blog before. Trying to keep a neutral stance on a lot of things and mention sports, travelling, books and cooking; letting other people talk about their children and grandchildren etc.

However, the last couple of months it's becoming more and more difficult to keep "neutral" when people spew off comments. I've worked on focusing on "facts" and "history lessons" and a lot of times I end up making a gallic shrug with "well, I'm Scandinavian so maybe that's a little different". Last week though, that went into a little more delicate matter. The whole #blacklivesmatter got some commentary by some coworkers, and not in a delicate way. There were words mentioned that made me give a short history lesson (even as a non-US citizen), and then there was the Nice attacks and the idea, notion and history of France and liberty. And then we added the Turkey military coup and the history lesson in terms of Ottoman empire ("what is that?" led me to talk a little about the country).

And today the Republican convention started.... And not only did the commentary add into "no other civilization than the Western Civilizations have ever given the world anything" but there were some other grumblings on the side. And this is not even mentioning the underlying discussion and commentary about abuse that's been going on for a bit.

I know that abuse is a hard thing to define. It's been a little bit of this conversation in junction with the Katz affair. It's also been a time when a coworker mentioned some private stuff going on at home and me waiver on how much private information is appropriate to give. But when it comes to certain situations though, I have to say something. If you feel non safe at home, to the point that you take your kids and go visit a coworker, there are things that you need to do. And the other thing, not to paint the worst scenario on the wall but still, it's the time when you decide to leave the abuser that is the most dangerous time.

Again, not trying to scare anyone here. Not liking my experience with this. And I definitely don't feel comfortable with the whole thing. However, there are certain things that don't matter (and me being comfortable in this situation is one of them). I'm feeling a little better that I could make some practical suggestions to the specific situation. It's not a done thing, but a step in a right direction.

However, it can't take away the searing anger I saw the other day when one of the more short-sighted naive people expressed "I think they brought I upon themselves, they really should've walked away the first time". I wanted to tell them in not so many words: If it was that simple. If the line was THAT clear.  Don't you think they would've walked away? Maybe, just maybe, it is a little more complex than that?!

It doesn't matter if it's an abusive PI or a partner. The background, the luring, the normalization, is always there. It's not coming out of the blue - at least not when the perpetrator is good at it. Oh no. It's devious. It's a slow build up. It's a mix of "you're so good to me", "I'm not worthy of you", "you really understand me" and a number of similar comments. And the feeling that bloom in you, that they like you - and that it is special thing you have going. It's the waves, the ups and the downs. When it's good, it's very good, but when it's bad, it's very lonely. Not to mention the shame. The thoughts "I should've realized" or something equivalent as an emotion.

I spent today telling someone "if it was bad all the time you wouldn't have stayed, not found yourself in this situation. It's the good that starts is and then you get stuck. The really important thing though. It's to move away from the situation and next time you see the signs, act on them." It's the learning and improving. Not beating yourself up over something that has already happened.

It's easier said than done. Obviously. But we can all try and keep the judgmental comments out of the workplace. And maybe even just keep them out all together? After all, most of us have moments of weaknesses where we thrive on someone giving us attention and perceived likings. It's not always you see the deception until afterward.

Maybe tomorrow will be another day?

(and this is not even mentioning that I watch Mrs Trump's speech..... )

Thursday, July 14, 2016

vacation thoughts

I have so many posts I want to write. So many things I want to bubble out and say. It's been quite the summer so far, both across the pond and on this side. Both work wise, politics and personal. And again, so many thoughts that want to get out. I'm struggling with a few decisions, private and personal? How personal is personal and how much is too private?

I know what polite talk is. I know where borders on "polite conversation" are. (thank you grandmom!) However, real personal talk with friends is very important and I like it. Personal talk with coworkers..... a little more difficult since I don't want to know exactly who is voting for Trump or who is against abortions - or more exactly, who will hate/dislike me because I really don't agree there....

Anyway, while I sort out a few of those blog posts to see which fit under the "not too private but still personal" I leave you with a photo from my holiday. It might have been shorter than my Scandinavian roots would have wanted, but it sure was sweet.