Showing posts with label Avoiding Temptation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Avoiding Temptation. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Piece of Advice #63: Don't trade something for nothing

The comments on Jaclyn Friedman's "My Sluthood, Myself" are quite revealing.  It's hard to know how representative the audience at Feministe is of women in general - obviously it is an echo chamber, but how commodious is that chamber?   Numerous indicators reveal that women have more sexual experience and more sexual partners than women did twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years ago.  The "slut" label seems to have some built-in elasticity to it.  But how many women are journeying down that path?  I really don't know.

In any case, one of the comments made an impression:
AMAZING writing. I really appreciate having stumbled upon this, as it has really made me wonder about my own life – I am 22 and have been in a serious relationship for two years. He’s amazing, and I think he might be “the One”, but he is the only man I have ever slept with. This bothers me because I am quite confident that if we were to ever break up, I would undoubtedly embrace “sluthood” – and I really feel like I may be missing out on something that is important for defining who I am. I discovered who I am sexually through my relationship with him. But I love him to bits so this is just something I will need to wonder about for the rest of my life? *Sigh* if only I had slutted it up earlier.  
I find this so sad.

Dear Ahria: There are innumerable women who would love to find "the One," just one [1] man who is amazing and build a life with him.  That you've done so at 22 means you are ahead of the curve.  Be grateful.  Be happy.  Treat him right, make a commitment, raise some kids.  Do not spend even one minute regretting the fact that you were never an unpaid prostitute or that you didn't spend your young womanhood under sweating strangers who care nothing for you.  The fact that you've thought about this, that you've gone so far as to put this desire into words and post it on a public forum tells me that you are tempted.  But do not - do NOT - toss away respect and love for cheap - or, rather, very expensive - sex.  Sex does not define you.  You define you.  Your good choices will make that definition worth reading.

Recently there have been several books published highlighting the effects of women who made the choice you are thinking about making.  These are cautionary tales.  They do not have happy endings.  You have something great; don't get greedy now.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Piece of Advice #55: Keep your nose clean

Gossip - don't do it.  Especially avoid it at work or in situations that depend on your maintaining your reputation. And absolutely don't get involved in group gossip sessions because women who get taken down because of their gossiping don't go down alone.  They'll drag you down and through the muck with them.  Misery demands company.  The only way to avoid this is to keep your nose scrupulously clean.

I realize this is hard.  Gossiping is a default social activity.  It serves to maintain the hierarchy.  Women who act in ways others don't approve of or who get above their station either socially or professionally and don't balance like a high wire acrobat can easily be taken down with gossip.  It also serves to make the gossipers feel superior about themselves.  They might have problems, but at least they're not doing that.

I'm guilty of this one.  I have not always kept my nose clean.  I have said mean, cutting things for the sheer pleasure of displaying how clever I can be.  I've tripped on the carpet on occasion in my haste to make it to the water cooler. I'm not proud of it.  Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.  I could have done better.  Been better.  I'm learning with age and experience.  It's also quite a lot easier to avoid the gossip dynamic when you are a stay-at-home mom.  The regular pitfalls are just not there.

I'm writing this so you can learn from my mistakes.  Skip the water cooler.  Avoid like the plague the girl who falls into gossip at the first opportunity and who loves to rips others to shreds.  Again, do not - do not - do the group thing.  There are too many witnesses in groups, and witnesses talk.  They may wait awhile - like until you are up for a promotion or get a nice boyfriend or a boost in social status - but they will talk.  And you will not remember all the things that you said or to whom or in what order and will have to bear the embarrassment and the shame of having been a Mean Girl.  For some people the exhilaration of gossip is worth the periodic exposure, but if you want to really succeed in something, it's better to rise above and not provide anyone with ammunition to use against you.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Piece of advice #24: Avoid Advertising

Advertising is manipulative and effective.  We are surrounded by it; it pays for much of the content we receive free online.  But it is not benign.  Some advertising merely offers the knowledge of something available for purchase, but most advertising has one goal: to make you unsatisfied enough with your life, or an aspect of your life that you will buy whatever they are promoting to fix it.

So, do you want to feel (more) unsatisfied with your life?  I don't.  I'm pretty happy with mine even though it isn't fashionable, it isn't fast lane, and not everything in it is color coordinated.

Advertising tells you that you should splurge on that new lipstick, that new outfit, that new car - because you "deserve it."  Really?  We all deserve it?  Why are we so deserving?  Why should we be entitled to a spa day when people in other places of the world won't have enough rice not to go to bed hungry?  The constant repetition of "Buy it, get it, you deserve it, why shouldn't you?" creates a huge sense of entitlement in the average consumer so that it's common for people to go out for some retail therapy when they have an off  day.  It used to be people had lousy days and they soldiered on.  Maybe they went home and vented to their spouse or focused on working the aggression out through a hobby.  Now they head to the mall and buy crap made far away under terrible conditions - crap that won't make an iota of difference in their overall happiness and will take up room in their closets or basements or garages.  Meanwhile their lives become laden with debt - debt that will make them unhappy and limit their ability to control their lives.

Feminism has been a force for evil over the last half century, but consumerism, driven by advertising has done its part too.  We are slaves to retail.  Mall shopping is an American pastime.  We even vacation at malls.

I will repeat that: we vacation at malls.  Is there anything more sterile than a fake outdoors created so that people don't realize they are spending leisure time in a huge warehouse with fake lighting?  This is "getting away?"

Unplug from advertising: stop watching TV, listen to your own music, toss your magazines, read your newspapers online.  Ads you can't avoid such as online ads or billboards, examine with a critical eye.  Ask yourself what the ad is trying to make you feel and trying to make you do.  Read books on advertising and how it works.  Don't think you are too smart to be affected by advertising.  It's a serious business and is fueled by an understanding of human psychology and behavior.  If you are human, you are vulnerable.  Avoid, avoid, avoid.

Unplug enough and you will find that it doesn't actually matter if your clothes are so last season or your kitchen towels don't match.  You won't have to be angry that fashion models are unrepresentative of real women in looks or weight because they will be out of your sight and mind.  And you will find it so much easier to differentiate between a need and a want.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Piece of Advice #4: Jettison your toxic female friends

If you are a woman and you survived middle school, you know how powerful girls can be and how a girl network ruthlessly reinforces the power of the select few.  You know social mobility is limited and that to survive in girl groups you have to play along, play the game.

The great news is, after high school is over, you don't have to anymore.  Whether it's to college or to a job, you will be forming new social ties, and the old ones can be severed if you have the strength to do so.  Here's the hard part, though - you can't let yourself get sucked into the same placate-the-top-girl politics in your new life.  It's tempting.  Women know how to keep you in the game - whether it's extending simple friendliness or maybe sheltering you a bit in a new job or offering you advice on your social life or just being a fantastic source of humor and gossip, these will all be tempting.  Resist.  Hold yourself back a little until you get the lay of the land.  Because that gossip girl - she is not a nice person.  She is more interested in keeping her social power by running  down the reps of other women than she is in having ethical standards or being truly kind.

The hard truth is that women are not cooperative.  They are competitive with each other, and they use all their tricks to keep themselves ahead of the others.  Women like to see each other fail because this makes for great gossip - which is really just a tool to persuade themselves that they are better than other women.

Now, not all women will rip you to shreds.  Women do want friendships and they need to socialize and they can be very caring.  Just be careful who you pick to trust and confide in.  Make sure it's not that gossipy girl.  Also avoid groups of four or more girls because there will be backstabbing going on there, whether it's within the group itself or to a outside target.  If you are very extroverted choose social opportunities where there are a mix of guys and girls and people of different ages.  Segregated groups containing girls of the same age, same social status, same rough attractiveness will be the most shark-like because the competition will be fiercest.  This is important not just for your general frame of mind but because the more competitive the girl group, the more likely it is that it will encourage its members to engage in dangerous or self-destructive behavior.

Pick your friends wisely.  Real friends will not just flatter you and tell you you look great or not fat in that skirt or not to worry about putting that vacation on your nearly maxed credit card because "You deserve it."  Real friends will intervene when you do ill-advised things.  Real friends will not stop calling when something good happens to you.  They will want you to succeed even if it means you advance a bit on the social hierarchy.  Yes, it may sting a bit or make them worry about their own prospects, but they are mature enough to be genuinely happy for you.  Make an effort to seek these types of women out.