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Traditional Feminism Can’t Survive the Pandemic

For a hundred years we’ve been proving we can do anything, but why do we have to do everything?

From working more than 40 hours a week, to cooking dinner, to cleaning the house, to teaching out-of-school children, do you feel like you do everything? Like you’re overworked, underpaid, about to snap, and that traditional “feminism” is of zero use to you right now? You’re not alone. Women are at our breaking point.

While the pandemic didn’t create the problem, it has made women’s workload heavier, and has shed light on just how unequal most women’s daily lives are.

But the solution is on the horizon. The next wave of feminism we create together must serve over-worked, over-stressed women by putting emphasis on topics like choice, confidence, and the power of the word “no.”

Feminism has traditionally focused on opening up opportunities for women, on enabling us to always DO MORE.

From first wave feminism’s focus on the right to vote, to labor feminism’s fight for equal pay, feminism has always focused on opening doors for women, creating more varied employment, from caregivers to citizens to CEOs.

But with every new opportunity, came a new responsibility, a new job. Rather than dropping or re-assigning past responsibilities, we simply piled more on until we found ourselves dangerously stressed, deeply frustrated, and furious at the men in our lives.

Amanda Marcotte of Salon found that most men, even modern men, still expect women to do nearly all the housework, cooking, and childcare, while holding the same work hours they do. Studies show that even in marriages where the woman is the breadwinner, she still does the majority of housework.

Self-care is vital to the next wave of feminism, but widely mocked as facials and gossip.

Stress is killing American women, literally. According to Sadie Trombetta for HelloGiggles, a woman dies of a heart attack or stroke every 80 seconds, and at least 90% of women have at least one risk factor. Self-care is an absolute requirement for a woman’s sanity right now, and yet it feels like indulgence just to sit down and breathe.

While researching men and self-care, I came across countless articles that encouraged men to get into self-care and relax, or explained why men just aren’t into self-care and don’t really need it to take care of their responsibilities.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. If self-care is framed only as a bubble bath with a glass of champagne, I can see why so many men say they don’t take part in it. The truth is that men automatically allow themselves the time and space to de-stress, whether it’s convenient or not.

After a long day at work, when has a man ever hesitated to plunk down on the sofa in front of a video game or a sports channel for a few hours? When has a man ever hesitated to stop for a drink after work? Or call his friends to hang out, or lock himself in an office, study, “the shed”, or the garage, for hours or the entire weekend?

Self-care is so important to men that when they find themselves doing too much and becoming frustrated, they simply stop doing it. The truth is, men practice self-care on a daily basis, they just don’t call it that.

As women out-work men inside and outside of the home, resentment is building. Maddie Savage for BBC writes “a leading British law firm, Stewarts, logged a 122% increase in [divorce] enquiries between July and October, compared with the same period last year.” 76% of new cases are filed by women. Law partner Carly Kinch says, “Women thought, ‘my partner, who’s normally in the city or commuting — they’ll be around and they’ll help more’. And I think the reality for many has been a far cry from that.”

Feminism was never about having it all at the same time or doing everything; it was always about choice.

Men could always choose their education, what type of job to take, what pay was acceptable, and whether to marry, whom to marry, and whether to have children. Feminism guaranteed us the same right to choose.

It’s time for the next wave of feminism to be a tsunami. It’s going to have to change purposes from teaching women to knock down walls to teaching us to set firm boundaries. Be like the French, and make “no” your default answer. Feminism will teach that you can’t give to others unless you have a surplus yourself. To act with confidence planning your own life rather reacting to what happens to you.

I don’t know when it all started, probably when Mrs. Cro Magnon burned her first casserole, but whatever you choose to do or not do as a woman, someone will have something to say about it. Post-Covid feminism will teach the only opinion that matters is your own.

The 5 Holy Grail Anti-Aging Skincare Products

These are the products even celebrities sometimes have to go on waitlists to get

I can say from personal experience there is no self-hatred quite so poignant as what you feel after you spend money you didn’t have on a skincare product that doesn’t work. You feel like ashamed, like a chump, and more helpless than ever, leaving many women feeling like it’s all marketing nonsense and nothing works. Most of it is.

There are a few products however that actually do what they say they will do. The prices vary, though none of them are cheap (none of them are anywhere near the most expensive products in their categories either), but try one, and you’ll be willing to rob a bank to get your hands on more.

If you use these products, even just a couple of them, your skin will change dramatically for the better. I can make that promise with no hesitation. So women and men who are into skincare, these are items you won’t be sorry you purchased.

In the order in which they should be used:

1 — Biologique Recherche P50 Skin Resurfacing Toner, or P50, as it’s known to aestheticians.

If you’re curious, Biologique Recherche is the favorite brand of the wealthy European set.

What it is: a toner that resurfaces your skin like microdermabrasion every time you use it. If you’ve ever taken paint off a piece of furniture with liquid sandpaper, you get the concept

Why does it work: your skin cells are constantly being scrubbed away and replaced with shiny, clean, new ones once or twice daily, depending on how often you use it. If your skin gets irritated, decrease use to a few times a week.

Where to get it: technically it’s only supposed to be sold in salons that carry their products, but it’s available on several websites. I found it on joannaczech.com

2 — SkinCeuticals Vitamin C and E Ferulic Treatment

For the record, Jenna Bush called this the best Vitamin C treatment she ever used.

What it is: a Vitamin C and E treatment that brightens the skin. It should be used first thing in the morning.

Why does it work: Vitamin C isn’t just good for your insides. Its lightly acidic enzymes gobble up hyperpigmentation like Pacman

Where to get it: Their website and a few other beauty sites. Skinceuticals.com

3 — Dr. Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Dr. Sturm is facialist to the stars, with a devoted following in Hollywood among both men and women.

What it is: Serum containing hyaluronic acid to intensely moisturize

Why does it work: Hyaluronic acid may be the most moisturizing substance on the planet. It literally sucks water out of the atmosphere, attracting it to your skin like a magnet, which your skin absorbs instantly

Where to get it: A variety of beauty sites, but her own, drsturm.com is your best bet

4 — Dr. Augustinus Bader’s The Rich Cream

This is the product that singularly made the most difference in my skin. For me, it makes 3 months’ worth of botox last a year.

What it is: a skin cream that repairs skin as it moisturizes

Why it works: it contains something called TFC8®. I don’t what that is, but it includes ingredients that have been used on burn victims

Where to get it: various beauty sites, but you can’t beat augustinusbader.com because you get points for every purchase. Instead of silly gifts no one wants, they add up to real money off your next purchase.

5 — Erno Laszlo’s Phormula 3-D Repair Balm

In the 30’s through the 70’s, Erno Laszlo was Hollywood’s choice for skincare. This cream was specifically created for Marilyn Monroe to fade a scar on her face.

What it is: a Vaseline-consistency moisturizer for the terminally dry, distressed, irritated, and red.

Why it works: You’ll know if you need this product or not. If your skin is painful or irritated due to dehydration, you need it. Super moisturizers and rare oils feel like pure comfort to sore skin.

Where to get it: ernolaszlo.com

If you’re ready to try something new and are prepared to cut into the Starbucks budget to make it possible, try one of these highly-coveted products that deliver on their promises.

When My Father Died, Words Failed Me

Mourning the flawed man who first empowered my voice

During the quiet evenings of my childhood, when the silence was broken only by the sound of crickets, I would walk into my father’s study, inhaling the scents that always defined him — the smell of skin that had been in the sun all day, sweat, and old pipe tobacco, mixed with the malty smell of beer and smoky scent of whiskey, his constant companions. I will never forget the creak of his antique desk chair, the soundtrack of my life. I would walk into the room silently and sit down. He didn’t ask me why I was there; he didn’t need to. The desire to talk was unsaid, but crystal clear.

He was always reading, and when I came in, he would put the book down, and we would start to talk, sometimes for hours. There were moments it was like talking to another version of myself, one who understood all the secrets the world had to offer.

Did you ever have someone who simply understood you and who you understood? No one understood me like my father.

Our communication was almost subliminal. We could finish each other’s sentences and would roll our eyes at the same topics on the news, or at my mother’s unintentional silliness. While we could communicate without a sound, it was our “philosophical discussions” I enjoyed most.

These talks will always be among my favorite memories — of both my father and my childhood. There was nothing we couldn’t talk about.

We discussed Dante, Walt Whitman, and The Lord of the Rings. We discussed capitalism and communism, the meaning of life, men and women, freedom and constraint, the evil nature of power, and most often, his dislike of organized religion. I was empowered, even encouraged, to disagree with something he said. We would be at it for hours until my mother insisted repeatedly that I go to bed.

We had many of the same gifts, but many of the same curses as well, such as strong tendencies toward clinical depression, rage, and anxiety, though it took me years in therapy to see it.

When I was young, I only knew there were certain things we vehemently disagreed on and could never discuss rationally, particularly discrimination, sexism, and above all, racism. He was raised with deeply ingrained hatred for anyone who wasn’t like him, and let his rage and fear take control of the discussion.

There were also other times we couldn’t talk — when he was particularly angry, when he was loud, when even I could taste Jack Daniels on every word he spoke. He could be hateful to certain groups of people, but when I was a kid, it was always clear that any condemnation of women didn’t include me. Being his little girl made me special.

As I grew up, it hurt when I felt my special classification slowly disappearing.

Our talks continued occasionally through my college years, but ended entirely when I moved to California a week before my 25th birthday, an adventure that altered me fundamentally and for which he never forgave me.

During my years in the Golden State, the differences between us became much more pronounced, as I stepped into a larger world and he did not.

When I first arrived in L.A., I realized I’d forgotten my wallet just before I blew a tire, only to have a Latino man give me a free tire, free labor, a kiss on the forehead, and put me back in my car to go home safe and sound. On another occasion, a young African American man stepped between me and a white police officer who was sexually harassing me.

When my introverted nature kept me lonely most days and nights, it was a 6’4 black gay bodybuilder (still one of my best friends in the world) who forced me to go out and have fun.

As my mind opened and my childhood teachings were contradicted by my lived experience, the opposite was happening to my father. As he grew older, the fewer differences he could tolerate. His hearing had never been good, but it got gradually worse over the course of those 16 years, little by little.

I came back from California nearly 5 years ago to find a furiously angry, intolerant, hateful man. We’d known he had prostate cancer for years, but refusing to take his medicine had finally caught up with him. His heavy drinking had also damaged his heart. He was sick, miserable, and enraged.

I’d always been a vocal advocate for women’s rights, but now I was equally so for POC and LGBTQ, causing us to lock horns often. We’d watch the news when Trump was at his worst. I’d insist the man was a racist, a misogynist, he hated people like me, he hated everyone, only for my dad to scream “Good, that’s why like him!”

My father turned his viciousness and sharp tongue on many, but nothing in life hurt as much as when I sensed he now classified me as “the enemy.”

It was impossible to speak to him anymore: I no longer wanted to talk and he couldn’t hear what I said anyway. It seemed profound to me that he lost his hearing entirely the moment we had nothing left to say to each other.

Through all this, I never doubted how fiercely he loved me, or my own veneration of him, however complicated and flawed he may have been, but despite being in the same house every weekend, we almost never spoke.

Ultimately, the end came fast. He had a fainting spell, and after that, he faded. I watched my father become a breathing skeleton as he sickened and lost weight.

The talks I’d once taken for granted were now impossible. As we both processed his imminent death and the emotional wall between us, the two people who could never stop talking to each other suddenly couldn’t get past the rocks in our throats.

I hugged him, told him to take his medicine, and whispered “I love you” to him the last time I saw him alive. I don’t believe he heard me, leaving our last words not unsaid as much as unheard.

Iunderstand now that he was my hero and my dark mirror at the same time. He taught me valuable lessons, like to ignore authority, listen to my own voice, and speak my own truth, which I’ll use the rest of my life.

His most valuable warning however was one he never intended to teach- to protect myself against the triple demons of anger, depression, and anxiety that have always come so naturally to us, to refuse to let them rot me from the inside out, to refuse to let fury at my own mortality become the desire to take the entire world with me, or let alcohol slur my own voice until I don’t recognize the sound.

Saying “I love you” loudly as often as you can is one of the takeaways of this story. But the real message is that it’s not only okay, it’s predestined, for the student to learn more lessons than the master intended to teach. My father taught me the power of having a voice, but I taught myself I can choose how to use it

Why Do We Still Fight Change?

And Why Our Survival Depends on Embracing Transformation

When Darwin talked about survival of the fittest, he didn’t mean survival of the one with the biggest biceps. He didn’t even mean survival of the smartest. He meant survival of those who can adapt to change the easiest.

The caveman who saw a saber tooth tiger at the regular watering hole and said “hey, we have to find a different watering hole” survived to see his progeny enter the gene pool. The guy who said, “this is the place I’m used to, I don’t want to go anywhere else, and the tiger probably doesn’t even exist” …um, didn’t.

Change has been a constant-on this planet anyway-for about 4.5 billion years. You’d think we’d be used to it by now.

But still, to many people, change is more terrifying than a hurricane and our high school yearbook photos combined. We argue over it, lose relationships with people we love over it, we become dangerously stressed and sick over it; we fight wars to stop it, attack our Capitol and kill innocent people to prevent it, we murder millions to keep the status quo.

We get so angry over a single hour’s time change twice a year, we go on Twitter and complain about it for days afterward. We’re willing to fight and die to stop it, even though we know in our heart of hearts, the battle was over before it started.

Why? Like everything having to do with human beings — it’s complicated.

Intellectually we know change is not only absolutely unstoppable, but usually a good thing. When beings evolve, they and their offspring are more likely to survive into the future; nobody evolves backwards. Anthropologists aren’t positive what induced human evolution to begin around 2 million years ago, but since then, humans have evolved regularly, though it’s such a scary concept, about 40% of the population still doesn’t believe in it.

There’s raw power in that sort of change, power too great to be controlled, and for some, too terrible to accept.

The Fear Factor

The power of Covid-19 is far too great to accept for some. Faced with the prospect of a communicable, sometimes fatal, disease with no cure that might kill us or the ones we love, many find it easier to pretend it doesn’t exist.

While we watch all the people refusing to wear masks, or cussing people out, hanging out their car windows, trying to get into stores without a mask, and refusing to get the vaccine, it looks like millions of people are simply stupid and evil.

But we know by now that broad labels and hate are too simple to help us understand nuanced, complex human emotions. There has to be something else going on here and there is: fear.

Accepting the existence of Covid means accepting we are not omnipotent.

It means accepting the existence of a powerful killer that does not recognize good and evil, does not care who we are, how much money we have, or what we do, and over which we have pitifully little control.

It’s the act of accepting our own helplessness, our own submission to transformation, to forces beyond our control. And for those who must believe they’re always in control, or that someone is, fear of power that great is too much to bear.

FOMO

There’s nothing that makes people hate change more than feeling out of control. Except maybe feeling obsolete. When the “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally marched on Charlotte, they carried tiki torches, they wore racist symbols, and they carried Nazi flags.

If we could guess what they chanted while they marched, most would guess something like, “We hate (insert racist epitaph here)”. But they didn’t.

They chanted “we will not be replaced.” I’m sorry, what?

Their real fear is not necessarily of a skintone (understand I am NOT saying they aren’t racist), their real fear is becoming obsolete. There’s a reason old white men tend to gravitate to this movement more than anyone else.

They’re used to a world in which they are in charge. They were raised in a world with certain rules and now everything has changed and they’re afraid they can’t survive in this world. They’re afraid they will fail because they do not understand the rules. They’re afraid they’ll be brushed aside and put out to pasture while other people lead.

Is it possible that all this — racism, misogyny, fighting new ideas with all their might, war, death — could boil down to a serious case of FOMO?

Are they afraid of missing out on this brave new world in which they’re terrified they no longer fit?

Transformation

Change is like death and taxes — it can’t be avoided. Those who survive and are happy do not fight change, that’s a recipe for destruction. The smart learn to accept it, and the wise learn to embrace it and work with it.

Just like always, there is wisdom to be found in the animals and the plants, and even in inanimate objects.

Animals do not fear their own change, or even their own passing; they’re too busy living. They simply turn into something else, as we all do. The plant may die in the winter, but the decaying roots provide fertilizer to return in the spring. The caterpillar becomes the butterfly. Nature is our ultimate teacher.

Even buildings can teach us a lot. In this country, New York probably knows more about transformation than anywhere else. Because it’s so small, it keeps being built over itself again and again and again. What started out as church, became a residence, became a school, became a business, became a temporary hospital, became an apartment building. Transformation is endless in New York.

It’s even clearer in Europe where you can walk past aqueducts thousands of years old, where I can stand in the very place where the guillotine was set up and thousands were killed in the Terror in France. The marble beneath my feet was slippery with blood not so very long ago. It’s impossible not to think about the past when you’re surrounded by it.

Perhaps the mistake isn’t hating change, the real mistake is getting attached to any of it. Change is constant, and so is transformation. Attachment, to things, to people, to a lifestyle, even to ourselves, is a recipe for heartbreak. While most of us mere humans will never evolve enough to let go of attachment, we can accept our role as an ever-changing one, that fear of change is both pointless and dangerous, and we can understand the only real way to become obsolete is to fight transformation.

I’m Not Afraid I’ll Want to Socialize During the Pandemic. I’m Afraid I’ll Never Want to Again.

I fear when it’s time to “rejoin the world”, some of us may not be up for the reunion

“We’ve hit the pandemic wall”, rings out from TV news and magazine articles, from The AtlanticThe Huffington Post, and Buzzfeed, to thousands of Twitter posts that all declare that we’ve had it. We can’t take it anymore.

Daily, I hear that we’re failing to adjust to the lifestyle changes a pandemic has brought about. We’re lonely, bored, furiously angry, and ready to “rejoin the world.” I get it. It’s no fun to stay away from people we care about. It’s no fun to have gone over a year without a date, brunch with friends, a movie, or even a drink after work in a bar.

And yet for every handful of Americans who are barely holding onto their sanity in insolation, there’s someone like me who is doing just fine, thank you very much. I’m happier and twice as productive as I was before being “forced” into quarantine. Time alone is nothing new to me and never fails to recharge my energy. While we hear a lot-a LOT-from Americans who are suffering in the face of solitary confinement, there are plenty who are enjoying the peace and quiet.

I am. I’m what’s usually termed a “Thinking Introvert” with a side of social anxiety. A “Thinking Introvert” is someone who gets caught up in their own thoughts and imagination. In other words, a daydreamer, who finds her dreams more appealing than reality.

Don’t get me wrong, I know what’s real and what’s not, it’s just that the world going on inside my head that’s exciting, beautiful, and comforting, is infinitely more enjoyable than getting snickered at and having my left breast grabbed “accidentally” at some club that’s too loud to talk, where a drink is $15.

I prefer to buy my own food, arrange my own Zoom meetings, and put air in my own tires because I just don’t trust anyone else to accomplish things and not screw everything up, a character flaw I’ve developed through years of experience and receipt-keeping. And no, of course that night that I waited in 15-degree weather for a locksmith because we were going out, but you lost your car keys, isn’t what I’m talking about. 😑

As far as not socializing goes, I’m good. But I was good with it long before Covid-19. Too good.

I know my depression and ADD have been made worse by lack of human interaction. According to PTSD.com, lack of social interaction has some nasty side effects such as: low self-esteem, depression, loss of reality, drop in body temperature, decreased ability to learn, decreased empathy, inflammation, weight gain, and reduced resiliency to life’s curveballs. And that’s not even the bad stuff that includes a higher risk of cancer, tumor growth, increased risk of dementia, and a shorter life. The Scientist.com adds, “We are seeing a really growing body of evidence,” says Daisy Fancourt, an epidemiologist in the UK, “that’s showing how isolation and loneliness are linked in with incidence of different types of disease and with premature mortality.” I’m convinced that socializing is necessary for humans to be healthy, but I’m not going to pretend I was a social butterfly, pre-Covid.

For introverts with an unreasonable level of anxiety about the outside world, Covid has been validation that we were right along. For people like me, Covid has been the perfect excuse. There’s a type of smug satisfaction in the fact that Covid is stopping us from doing the things we never wanted to do in the first place.

I may need some tough love to get out of my own head (and a small army to get me out of my apartment) when Covid goes into hibernation. I may also be the only person still wearing a mask in 2024.

The thing is — I was making progress, you see. I was going out more, forcing myself to have conversations with strangers, and I even became a regular at a bar inside a bookstore where the bartender and I would gossip for hours while I nursed a homemade margarita. I was getting somewhere, and now I feel like all my progress has been lost.

At first, I was upset about losing my social life there, at the idea of having to stop going out to eat, and end trying on makeup at Sephora. But after a year of this, I have no real desire to go anywhere, and I don’t see myself developing any.

I’m scared of Covid. I’m scared of getting sick. I’m scared of my mother getting sick. I’m scared of going out and not taking precautions.

But I’m also scared that this pandemic may have pushed people who were dangerously isolated to begin with into complete solitude that won’t flex or bend once it’s safe to go outside and socialize. I’m afraid that when it comes to “rejoining the world”, many of us simply may not be up for the reunion.

“Woke” Liberal Men Still Don’t Get It

Why are otherwise progressive men still mired in misogyny?

Many of us have been in the situation. We’re talking to a male friend we agree with on almost everything, or at least the important stuff. We can discuss the dangers of the far right, fascism, racism, art, literature, and science.

And then it happens. He says something like:

“Hilary (or any woman) just needs to sit down and shut up.”

“How did I know you were going to play the woman card?”

“What do women here have to complain about? You’re lucky you don’t live in the middle east.”

“She’s miserable because she didn’t get married and have children.”

“Men are the ones being oppressed now.”

“There’s no way a woman like you has any real problems.”

All those are exact quotes from male friends, co-workers, bosses, fellow students, professors, and others who consider themselves staunch liberals, even feminists, and as woke as an alarm clock. The comments left me sitting with my mouth hanging open in utter shock, wondering whom I’d really been speaking to all this time. It’s also debilitating to realize liberal men are just as likely to attack women’s looks and bodies as their conservative counterparts when it comes to women they disagree with.

Why is misogyny such a stumbling block for men who are otherwise fully capable of noticing and opposing the oppression of others? It’s complicated, but it’s all about sex and power.

Why Misogyny is Different

Most progressive men oppose racism. They march with #BLM, they make donations, they write articles to help out, they support the rights of black men, and are happy to share power. Equality that takes place “outside” feels acceptable to them, such as equality in friendships, in the workplace, in education, and in housing. Those things aren’t personal.

Equality that takes place “inside” is a whole other matter. Inside his home, sharing power sounds a lot less fun. Fair division of household chores sounds like hell on earth. Their mothers took care of all that stuff, so why can’t you?

Amanda Marcotte of Salon explores the cruel fact that most modern liberal men still expect women to do nearly all the housework, cooking, and childcare, while holding the same work hours they do.

According to her findings, single women do less manual labor than married women, despite not having a partner to share the load, that the majority of men who promised to do housework before marriage stop within 3 months,and that even 59% of Gen Z teenage boys expect women to do most of the housework in a marriage. Studies show that even in marriages where the woman is the breadwinner, she still does the majority of housework.

Disagreement and validation of those with opposing viewpoints sound a lot less fun inside his castle too. Over 60% of men have broken up with a woman for being “too negative.”

Many men still see women as a helpmate whose purpose is to make their lives easier and relieve their stress. Kristin Oakley for Quartz takes on why merely passionate women are seen as aggressive, while aggressive men are seen as merely passionate.

But the room where sharing power is the most frightening for men is obvious: the bedroom, where domination, violence, and ego are often fronts for intense fear of women and low self-esteem.

The privileged position in which women know men’s secrets, weaknesses, bodies, habits, and desires, puts us in the disenfranchised position of never being treated as equals because we know too much.

Our job becomes supporting the family (ie: the man) over supporting ourselves, choosing what’s best for him over what’s best for us, and above all, keeping our mouths shut, all things that are never expected of him.

In personal relationships, men still see women as assistants whose job it is to elevate him. His job, his choices, his hobbies, and his interests are prioritized at all costs, including her own. Such a person could never be an equal.

Until men are willing to see women as something other than sexual objects and personal assistants, misogyny will never change, even for liberal men who advocate on behalf of other minorities.