You’ve come a long way, Baby

I’m on a business trip right now. LONG days here at the sattelite office. Last night I was having a rather late dinner, relaxing in the hotel restaurant and enjoying my meal.

Yes, I was alone. I have read older books, references in outdated magazines to a stigma attached to a woman eating alone in a restaurant. Some women used to feel uncomfortable and pathetic to eat alone. Some restaurants would not welcome solitary females.

But I can find a lot of pleasure in a good meal eaten alone. Especially when the meal is really worth savoring, conversation is not missed because I can focus on how delicious the food is.

Last night i had a lovely soup and salad, with interesting textures and flavors. I was delighting in my meal. I took my hair down and rubbed my head a little.

“I like your hair down.” The man from a nearby table leaned away from his other companions to tell me this tidbit.

I smiled and said thanks. I was interested in my meal.

Later, he felt the need to call over to me again.

I answered, somewhat amused. Until he said, in reference to his companions, “These guys have no idea, but you and I know what’s going to happen later.”

I said, “Well, you’re going to think whatever is in your head, and I’m going to go to bed.”

“That’s what I mean,” he said with a leer.

When I used to explore the streets in Russia, I remember I had a rule of thumb. I was worried about the safety of walking around, an American in this foreign city. I took note and realized that there were three levels. When I walked in the company of a male, any male, I was invisible. I was safe and no one paid me any attention. If I walked in the company of one other female, I got a little attention. Lots of stares, a few loud comments.

But when I walked alone, it was as if I was the property of everyone. All the men would stare, and anyone that felt like saying anything to me just when right out and said it. “Devushka..Hey girl, where are you going?”

It’s true here in America too. One male person, no matter how physically insignificant or bland, stopped all potential harrassment. It was like it never even existed.

I started to call them magic amulets. If me and some girls were gonna go out somewhere, I would ask them “Should we invite a guy to be our amulet?”

It depended on how much hassle we were willing to put up with that evening.

So, I was remembering that with the guy in the restaurant. I hadn’t thought about my harrassment formula for a while.

But my god! This was the Four Seasons, not some back-alley Russian construction site. You would think that up-scale establishments would have a clientele with a greater degree of enlightenment.

The men at that table had been talking about how much money they made earlier. It was somewhere around the million-dollar-a-year mark. At least that is what they were telling each other.

In between my delicious bites, I wondered about having that much money. I wondered if they were enjoying their meals more than I did mine. Or if they enjoyed their lives more than I did mine.

I thought about what their wives might be like. As I unerstand, men who make scads of money usually have a stay-at-home wife. It’s an agreement, just like the old days: Man makes money, women gives man anything he wants.

That how it had to be, before. Before women had equal (or mostly equal) access to employment and could pay for their own homes and sustenance.

And restaurant meals.

But I can afford my own home, and I have a job that supports me. The job even sends me out on trips and picks up the tab at a nice restaurant for me.

But my troglodyte neighbor hadn’t seemed to move into the new feminist reality, a reality that says women belong to themselves. We now have made way for women to live with dignity, and not have to tolerate male rudeness and lewdness to make their way ahead.

Jackass millionaire man had said loudly to his buddies at the table: “Look at that! There is nothing more delightful than watching this young woman here butter her cracker and take a bite with absolute enjoyment.”

Perhaps he didn’t understand that the bite I took was for MY enjoyment, not his.

I had no need of him. He started out as amusing and moved to annoying.

Feminism had meant the whole world shifted. Women no longer find men necessary.

What does this mean? I remember my mother discussing the Equal Rights amendment when I was a teenager. It was up for vote in our state, whether we would ratify it or not.

She said one important argument against it was that it would give women the same wages as men and then women would no longer be interested in being good wives and mothers. THey would abandon their families.

I told her that the argument in favor of it was that it was fair and made sense.

“It’s very complicated, ” she replied.

As it happens, she may have been right. How has family fared since the advent of economic feminism? How are marriages and children doing?

We have a high divorce rate. Higher than the 60s. How are children? That’s tough to say, but it is true that there are a lot of single parent households.

What does this mean? Should we go Taliban and turn back the clock? I don’t think that two wrongs make a right, but we still have a problem here.

How do we keep a relationship intact when niether party needs the other? When they are equally able to survive without the other? It would seem that a lot more effort and desire to make it work is necessary.

That is a huge challenge to our moral character. What kind of determination and will can we bring to the table in a relationship? And also, no matter how much you try, there is always the factor of how much the other one is putting out.

Things are changing. According to Ronald B. Mincy, Columbia U professor of Social Work Policy, there are a couple areas to look at:

… There are three broad factors that are affecting marriage trends: the increasing independence of women and the deterioration in the economic status of men. Women are increasing in terms of their educational attainment. They’re increasing in terms of their occupational status and their earnings.

Men, on the other hand, are reducing their college graduation rates. They’re also reducing their earnings. The only men who’ve experienced increases in their earnings since the 1970s are basically men who have gone to graduate school. So you put together improving economic conditions for women, deteriorating economic conditions for men, and then the removal of this moral imperative for marriage, and I don’t think that we should be surprised that marriage rates are falling. …

So what is the imperative? One of my dearest friends said to me:
What about a public commitment of love to one another?

Hmm..In our cynical and self-reliant world, we want to bring up love?

Maybe all we need is love. Maybe that’s the whole point. If we take away the “have to” side of it, and focus on the “want to” we are left with love.

I think that may be one of the greatest legacies of feminism. We have yet to realize it. But we have made some progress.

Dancing Queen

Oh baby, I went dancing this weekend! I had so much fun. I was so sore I could barely walk afterwards.

Me and my girls were out, and we were wiggling and giggling. One of the fun things about going to a big club is watching what everyone else is doing. There were these two amazing girls that managed to writhe and sway their booties all the way down to their heels, and them work their way back up again.

And they did it again and again. Go!

Of course, we all had to check out everyone else’s outfits. These two girls walked in, one of them all dressed in a sort of cheerleader thingy.

“What, is she trying to be Paula Abdul?’ my friend said to me.

But I was looking at the other girl, all in white.

“I cannot wear all white,” I said back. “I’d be kicked out of Abba first thing.”

It’s true. I’d spill something on it right away. I’d be like, “Oh, that’s stain is gonna need a sequin. A lot of sequins.”

Mysterious quote of the day

Why don’t you eat your cutlet, man? Eat it with pleasure and joy. Love your wife. Make your babies. Love your friends and have the courage to tell those who seek to diminish you that they are the devil and you want no part of them. Courage, man, courage and appetite!

-George Blecher “The Death of the Russian Novel”

I don’t know what “The Death of the Russian Novel” is. It may be an article from some random magazine or something. I just found this quote on my hard drive, and thought I would share it.

Tea hee

Someone brought tea to share at work. I love tea.

It is Oolong tea.

I went over there at about tea-time yesterday, and decided to have a cup.

As I pulled the finished-brewing bag out of my steaming mug, I thought to myself:

Me love Oolong time.

More ANWR ranting

Casting a Cold Eye on Arctic Oil

After rafting and backpacking through this wilderness for a week, weighing whether Congress should allow oil drilling here, I’ve reached a few conclusions. One is that both the oil industry and environmentalists exaggerate their cases.

Naturally. He knows all about it after a week.

I have my Alaskan-born opinions about this. People who are not FROM there will just not get it. It takes longer than a week to shed the expectation that some touch of man will be just around the corner. People from crowded areas don’t get how VAST the Alaska wilderness is.

They forget how small we human beings are. Remember Jack London? “To Build a Fire”? It’s just one teeny human animal against the whole forces of nature. You have to work hard to make a dent in it.

But this is what NY Time Journalist has to say about it:
The argument that I find most compelling is that this primordial wilderness, a part of our national inheritance that is roughly the same as it was a thousand years ago, would be irretrievably lost if we drilled. The Bush administration’s proposal to drill is therefore not just bad policy but also shameful, for it would casually rob our descendants forever of the chance to savor this magical coastal plain — and to be slapped in the butt by a frisky polar bear.

My face curls back from this facile, unsophisticated answer. WHAT?! If we put a little oil drilling town in the primordial ooze (and it is oozy) of Alaska, this prevents our CHILDREN (think of the children!) from seeing the primordial ooze.

What is the point of preserving stuff, anyway? Yes, it is nice for lots of people to get to see the primordial ooze of alaska. They might begin to have a respect for nature that seems to be utterly lacking in paved-over areas. So yes, let’s save it so that people can look at it.

But observation changes that which is observed, right? you have to build ROADS for people to be able to get out there to observe that primordialness.

And why not have the road be built by the oil companies, who could take advantage of the oil while they were up there?

While they were at it, they could get some money to the native alaskans who could use it. What’s wrong with that?

Nature is vast up there. It will be just fine if we take a patch to drill for oil and make some roads to check it out.

Kings in the Corner

Games are fun. I like to play games. And let me say again, I like to PLAY games.

Some people take games very seriously. I know a great number of people (why are they always men? I know no women into these…Speak up if you know of any) who play these crazy complicated games. Games that make RISK look like “Go Fish.” Avalon Hill games, I call them. Avalon Hill no longer exists, it was bought out by someone or other.

But the games go on. Complicated moves that can take a WEEK. Forget it. I want to play a game.

On a search for a pack of UNO cards, I ran a across Kings in the Corner. Bought it too.

It was fun! I liked playing it. Chris and I played a couple games while we were watching TV. The perfect kind of laid-back game playing. I suppose we could have paid more attention to the strategy if we’d wanted to. But we didn’t have to.

It would work well for kids too. Check it out.

Aren’t they cute?

On my bus ride home, they were all cuddled up in the first seat. She was a large woman in a blue dress; he was a man in a short-sleeved plaid shirt with a hearing aid. His arm was all the way around her, as far as he could reach. She was giggling, and speaking in a kewpie doll voice, and his hands seemed to be wandering towards sesitive places.

They were old. She was very wrinkled, and so was he.

But they were so cute! They were flirty and giggly and terribly glad to be together.

Our culture says love is for the smooth-skinned young. Especially if you want to be publicly affectionate.

But culture doesn’t know everything.

This was my idea!

Business 2.0 – Magazine Article – My Makeover

For more than two years, McClelland has run Geek Boy Services, a one-woman makeover consultancy. Her target: the army of ungainly men who write our code and keep our servers running — many of whom, alas, now have a lot more free time on their hands than they used to and are in desperate need of outside interests. Or, at the very least, a date. Even in these lean times, McClelland says, her phone is ringing off the hook.

———

This was my idea! Well, the idea of me and all my girls in Silicon Valley back when I was still there.

Those of us who were single (and we all were at various times) really wished we could get those boys to clean up and open up.

Half the time, it was really a problem with the opening up more than the cleaning up. Just get comfortable with yourself! It was tiring running into the same dufusses with the same lines at the clubs. A shy smile from across the room was a huge attention-getter. Really.

But they had to speak when spoken to. Eye contact is critical too. Most of us have encountered the geek boy who cannot actually look directly at a female and speak at the same time. Or just look directly at a female. Or just speak.

Actually, I think I could do a better job than this woman. I’ve done a few freebies, and there are better ways to give men a “look” than just shoving your taste at them.

Fun Factory-All Their Best

This seems to be pure cotton candy pop.

Happy electronic dancy hoppy pop. It is barely one step removed from The Chipmunks.

Maybe that makes me a sick puppy. But this stuff is GREAT on monday morning. I stumble out of bed and hit play on my stereo, and suddenly the world starts to be happy.

power of Bhangra

Has anybody heard this single?

It kicks ass!

It’s a jacked-up remix of SNAP’s “I got the Power.” I’ve been encountering it on the radio a couple times, and it forced me to spend an hour searching for it on amazon. Well, I found it faster than an hour, I had to spend more time looking for music like it.

One single is not enough. I wanted more of the funky Indian-sounding stuff.

Turns out its Bhangra. This is something that a friend of mine had raved about some years ago, but I somehow had never actually heard. This friend is also into bellydancing, so maybe that’s where she was introduced to it.

Now that so much music is sampled and looped, things can sound awfully mechanical. But the lush organic sounds of the indian vocals and instruments that are so new to me are really exciting.