Saturday, January 25, 2014

Power Resides in Specificity

So, I noticed this link on my Facebook feed today...and I clicked, absently, prepared to waste a few minutes of my morning doing anything besides getting up, getting dressed, and cleaning the house. But, after "wasting" those minutes, I realized I really got something out of the article.

So, I figured I'd share it with you...It was published in the Huffington Post, but it comes originally from a website/blog I frequent on a regular basis (Momastery). I'm sort of jealous of this woman's willingness to just "put it all out there". Her willingness to be so open and vulnerable. She shares family photos and explains her daily struggles and triumphs...the lessons she learns.

All this, while I hide behind anonymity, use a fake name, and am sure to keep all names, faces, and specific references to anything that might give my identity away hidden.

Well, I suppose that's understandable, given the nature of my site vs. the nature of hers. She's not sharing "dirty little secrets". And people would be hard pressed to find anything immoral about her posts. I guess that fear of being judged just gives a little more away about my insecurities. But, there you have it.

Now, go enjoy the article.

The Questions That Will Save Your Relationship

Friday, January 24, 2014

I Flunked "Affection 101"

I'll be honest...I'm a shameless introvert. People wear me out. They cause me anxiety and discomfort, and while I can fake it pretty well and do enjoy spending time with close friends in small groups...the majority of social situations make me nauseous.

This can cause problems in a species that values human connection and interaction. I would honestly choose staying home with a good book and a bottle of wine over going to a party where I'd have to mingle with a bunch of strangers. I don't do small talk (see no reason for it, really), and I have a hard time initiating conversation.

Hell...I don't even like talking on the phone.

It's not that I don't like anyone. I do. I have close friends, family, my husband...whom I can talk to incessantly (in person). And I'm pretty good to go with new people as long as it's one-on-one or just a few people with whom I have something in common. It's that "not having anything to talk about" that makes my stomach do flip-flops, because I'm just no good at filling silence with useless words about things I don't care about in an effort to make a connection with someone I don't plan to let into my world.

It's makes me think of "the circle of trust" from the movie Meet the Fockers. I keep that circle small...which in my mind, makes the circle stronger and easier to maintain. There is no being "sort of in" or "sort of out" of the circle. You're either in or out. While a lot of things reside in the gray area for me, that is not one of them. Totally black and white.

Mr. LL even (affectionately) calls me his little porcupine. Guess my quills keep me from getting too close to anything.

But, this (of course) causes a lot of issues in a marriage. I like a lot of time alone. I get stressed out easily by the mere presence of family or large groups of anyone.

And because I spend so much time in my head, I sometimes forget to take care of the world outside of it.

Keeping people at arm's length isn't always detrimental...but keeping the people you love at arm's length is.

Sometimes I wonder what I'm subconsciously protecting myself from...losing someone? being vulnerable? showing weakness? being rejected?

Am I really that insecure?


But, I can admit that take a remedial course in "showing people how much they matter" might be a useful pursuit for me.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Being an Alpha Male who takes charge of a woman (or any one else, for that matter) does NOT make you a rapist

Mr. LL was off at a training last week.

One night, he called me and told me about a video he saw in "class". (I couldn't get the damned video to "embed", so you'll have to just click the link to view it.)

I have to start with the misunderstanding that Mr. LL had because the video was taken out of context and only a fraction of it was bear with me - there is an alternate ending to this story.

So, Mr. LL tells me on the phone that I have to watch this video. That this guy has a skewed vision of "the alpha male" as an enemy to society...that we teach our young men to become rapists by teaching them to become alpha males.

In this scenario "alpha male" is synonymous with "chauvinist pig" or "emotionless degenerate who takes advantage of the weak." Both Mr. LL and I could not disagree more. Being an alpha male who is dominant means (to me) that you are a strong man who leads well and others are therefore drawn to you and are willing to have you lead. An alpha male does not need to use force (unless it has been requested in the context of the negotiation and is agreed upon by all parties) and has nothing to prove. Respect is the name of the game.

I think some people have a skewed idea of the term "alpha". Too often it is considered to be synonymous with "pushy" or "bossy"..."overbearing", "egotistical", "sexually forceful", "ruthless", "malevolent", or "misogynistic".  I see it more as "magnetic", "commanding", "confident", and "charismatic".

Now it's important to re-note...Mr. LL was not shown the entire video. So when he told me to go and watch it and see what I thought of this guy's argument...I did (after all, Mr. LL is an alpha male, and I usually do what he asks me to - because I want to).

About 7 minutes in to this 8 minute video, I found myself cocking my head to the side, wondering what on earth Mr. LL was thinking? Where had this guy gone wrong? I couldn't see any part of his argument that was off...except maybe the indirect over-generalization that teaching young men to be aggressive athletes might have some carry-over to their sex lives and other human interaction. Ultimately, I think he was really just trying to say that our society condones a "rape culture" and that we should teach young men to be responsible, level-headed, respectful humans who would never think of exploiting others for their own gain. No argument there

What these young football players did is reprehensible. Stupid, idiotic (filming it just proves how dumb they really were), and criminal.

Our society does need to teach our young people to be respectful toward each other. We should be teaching our kids that they don't have the right to just take whatever they want because they can.  And teaching young men (or women) about sex, instead of allowing them to pick up "helpful hints" from each other, the internet (woe is me), or "reading material", is an obligation of the involved parent.

But, it would be a faulty correlation to say that teaching our young men to be strong, competitive, and aggressive is teaching them to disrespect women or anyone else. Athletes are not necessarily going to become alpha males, and even if they do...that does not make them likely rapists.

Despite the "violence" associated with competitive, contact sports, I would not say that these sorts of athletes are made more violent because of the sport. In fact, I might argue the opposite, as it gives them an outlet for their natural aggressive tendencies. "Modern Primate" (as he calls himself), does not try to make the claim directly that competitive, contact sports make young men into raving lunatics who condone and act on impulses that would be considered immoral or criminal. And 99% of his argument is hard to disagree with. But while I do, indeed, agree that we have created a "rape culture", I also believe that some would have us create an "anti-alpha male" society in which only those who are gender-neutral or peaceable are socially acceptable. There are all types of men (and women). Strong ones, weak ones, compassionate ones, and jerks...  Alpha males have their place. They can be just as compassionate and loving as the meek, nerdy guy in glasses who writes code in the cubicle in the corner and won't make eye contact with anyone. They just don't have trouble looking you in the eye and telling it like it is.

His video is worth a watch, though. Really. I don't feel like I need to get back those 8 minutes.

(His video also references an interesting article called "An Incomplete Guide to Not Creeping". Check it out if you have nothing better to do.)

Alpha Male editorial by Esquire (a fun photo essay)...

Are Alpha Males in Danger of Extinction? (Women's Health Magazine)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mirror, Mirror

Not too long ago, I woke up in the middle of the night. I went in to the bathroom to get a drink of water...

For some reason, the thought came to me that I should write a little message on the mirror for Mr. LL to see when he woke up (he gets up VERY early to go to work). I dug through my make-up drawer looking for lipstick...couldn't find any - just chapstick...which wouldn't do at all. I thought about eye-liner, but then considered just how difficult that would be to remove (I'm nothing if not practical). Mascara? Too wispy (and hell...I don't really want to waste that - it's one of the few types of make-up I actually wear every day). Eye shadow? Wouldn't really show up. I couldn't find a damn thing that would work, and I didn't want to creep out of the bedroom and risk waking Mr. LL up in my frantic hunt for a mirror-writing implement. I had bath crayons in my son's bathroom that would have worked nicely, but....

So, I opened up the cupboard and started thinking outside of the box. That's when I saw an bar of soap sitting there, unwrapped, exposed, and just begging to be used...for something.

See I changed brands...and Mr. LL hated it - so there it was - lonely and unwanted. Hmmm...wonder if it'll work.

Well, it did. Quite nicely. A little comment..."You make my knees weak, my breath catch in my throat, and my lips quiver (both sets)."

And now I've taken to writing on the mirrors in my house on a regular basis...even in my son's bathroom ("Your a cool kid. I love you.") The beauty of it is, it's easy to clean off, it stays...even through the steam of a shower, and it's cheap.

So, mirror, mirror on the wall - what will you say today?