Tag Archives: Beyonce

Fear Isn’t a Reason to Quit

In “Why Do We Teach Girls That It’s Cute to Be Scared,” Caroline Paul writes about being one of the first women in the San Francisco Fire Department.

“I expected people to question whether I had the physical ability to do the job (even though I was a 5-foot-10, 150-pound ex-college athlete). What I didn’t expect was the question I heard more than any other: ‘Aren’t you scared?’”

Read the rest of Paul’s piece in The New York Times here.

As Paul points out, women are raised to be afraid, of well, many things. Things that are gross, things that could hurt us, things that are physically intimidating, etc. Some fear is healthy, of course. Fear keeps us from acting completely irrationally or taking unnecessary risks.

But what about risks that are scary because we could possibly fail? Possibly be humiliated? I mean, let’s be real. What the hell is scarier than failure? Paul writes,

“When a girl learns that the chance of skinning her knee is an acceptable reason not to attempt the fire pole, she learns to avoid activities outside her comfort zone.”

Here lies the problem. As Paul states,

“We think our daughters are more fragile, both physically and emotionally, than our sons.”

When we treat young girls as more fragile, they come to think of themselves that way. They are less likely to take risks because they might bruise their knees or their egos. Paul writes,

“When girls become women, this fear manifests as deference and timid decision making.”

I fear failure, probably a little too much. It has made me timid in my decision making, opting to stay the course, and wait for better things to come along.

It’s not like parents raised me to be this timid girl. My mother raised me to a feminist. To have opinions. To try new things. I mean, my parents let me travel to another continent (without them) when I was in junior high.

Did they treat me different than my brothers? Yes. Some different treatment is necessary. Girls have to learn how to navigate the world we live in, after all. And that’s the point really.

Girls need to learn to look fear in the eye and try it anyway, knowing they might tumble, bloody their knees, and fail. Failure builds character. It makes us stronger. It makes us brave. Paul writes,

“When I worked as a firefighter, I was often scared. Of course I was. So were the men. But fear wasn’t a reason to quit. I put my fear where it belonged, behind my feelings of focus, confidence and courage. Then I headed, with my crew, into the burning building.”

I was talking to a friend of mine about this piece. My friend has two daughters. Her take was she doesn’t want to raise her girls to be fearless, she wants to raise them to be smart and brave.

Sounds good to me. We could use more smart and BRAVE women out there in the world.

So this week, I thought I would try something different. I created a Spotify Playlist. It is my Fearless Mix. You may recognize a lot of these songs from earlier posts. 🙂

 

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I Wrote a Story + Editors Liked It = Story Published

So. It. Happened. One of my stories was accepted for publication. You can read my flash fiction story “Everything They Said About You” at The Electronic Encyclopedia of Experimental Literature. Here it is: https://theeeel.com/everything-they-said-about-you-pamela-dewey/.

Queue corks popping, dancing in the streets, general debauchery, etc.

When I received the email stating the story was accepted, I read it a least ten times before I thought, yes, I’m pretty sure that is what it says.

It’s not that I don’t think I can write. I know I can write. It’s just when you hear “No” so many times, doubt creeps in.

So this week, here is a video essay following the range of my emotions.

First stage: Disbelief, minor terror. Song, “Pedestrian at Best” by Courtney Barnett.

After I read the words enough times to believe my story was accepted, the joy hit. Now for real, queue the popping of corks, or at least the dancing to Michael Jackson.

Second Stage: Joy. Song, “Don’t Stop Til’ You Get Enough” by Michael Jackson. This song always stretches a smile across my face.

Then I waited for the story to appear. The editors gave me a time frame, but I wasn’t sure of the exact day. I was enjoying a glorious Sunday, and I made a joke that I hadn’t checked the site in a couple days. I clicked, and my story had magically appeared.

Third Stage: Joy, disbelief, minor terror. Song, “Pretty Hurts” by Beyonce. I think this song/video fits exceptionally well with my story, and those emotions as well.  Hope you like my story. I can’t wait to share more!

 

 

 

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4 Things You Imply When You Say “You’ll Change Your Mind” to a Woman Who Doesn’t Want Kids

When I was a young girl, I had a fake bottle with fake milk to feed my fake babies.

I remember drawing a picture of a pink house with purple heart-shaped windows. A tiny, girly dream house for a tiny (mostly) girly girl and her babies.

I even had a name picked out for my daughter– Vendella. (I’ve always had a flair for the dramatic, and this name seemed properly dramatic and exotic for my daughter.)

Then I hit puberty. My plans to birth a tiny, dramatic Vendella vanished.

I didn’t want kids. Ever. I proceeded to tell people that. I continued to tell people that. I still tell people that.

My declaration has received varied responses. “Oh, you’ll change your mind” is fairly common. “You’ve still got plenty of time,” or “Who will take care of you when you’re older?” come up quite often as well.

The implication is always the same.

1. All women want kids.
2. You know more about what I want than I do.
3. I haven’t met the magical man that will make me want to birth babies.
4. If I don’t have kids, I will lead a sad, lonely life.

In the essay “The Mother of All Questions” Rebecca Solnit talks about being interviewed about one of her books, she writes,

“The British man interviewing me insisted that instead of talking about the products of my mind, we should talk about the fruit of my loins, or the lack thereof…The interviewer’s question was indecent, because it presumed that women should have children, and that a woman’s reproductive activities were naturally public business.”

The full essay is available: http://harpers.org/archive/2015/10/the-mother-of-all-questions/1/.

Why is having children a question regularly addressed to a woman? These questions aren’t often asked of men.

Solnit was a woman being interviewed about her writing. Her desire to give birth certainly doesn’t have anything to do with her ability to write a book about politics. These questions are almost never asked of male writers. Solnit just happens to be a woman and a writer. Since she is a woman, the interviewer decided it was fair game to bring up her lack of children, and then imply there was something wrong with her because she didn’t have or want kids.

Remember. Writer. Woman. Fair Game.

There are plenty of people that don’t want kids. Men and women. But a woman that doesn’t want children is treated much differently than a man. There must be some trauma in her past to make her feel this way. Or she just hasn’t met the right man. Or she will change her mind. It is absurd. And belittling.

“More fundamentally, the question assumed that there was only one proper way for a woman to live,” Solnit writes.

The question assumed a woman was incomplete, unless she was a mother with children. There are many ways to be a woman. Not having children doesn’t make you less of a woman. And not wanting kids doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you.

Solnit also points out that having children doesn’t ensure you’re going to have a great life.

“I’m all for marriage and children, when it and they are truly what people want from their lives” Solnit writes.

I feel the same way. If you want kids, a husband, a house, and a white picket fence, have at it. But there are many ways to find happiness.

There are also many ways to create a family. Your family could be you and your husband. Your family could be you and your child. Your family could be you and your dog. Your family could be your best friend and his husband.

The less time we spend trying to live how we are supposed to live, the more time we will have to live in ways that actually make us happy.

“I have done what I set out to do in my life, and what I set out to do was not what the interviewer presumed. I set out to write books, to be surrounded by generous, brilliant people, and to have great adventures,” Solnit writes.

Well said, sister.

This week’s video is “Independent Women, Pt. I” from Destiny’s Child. For you know, my independent ladies out there.

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Mistakes, We’re Going to Make Them

Wednesday was one of those days. Work. Drive home. Class. It has become routine. A once a week routine, but a routine.

But.

Construction season has started. So my 30-40 minute commute took me over an hour. I was late to class, and there was no time to sit and zone out for a minute. Class went until 9 pm, as scheduled. I generally go to bed around 10 or 11 pm.

So.

It makes for a long day. After class, I watched an episode of Game of Thrones and then bed. Hooray Hump Day!

In the meantime, James had sent me his blog to edit. He told me he was writing about perfection this week. And he did. And it is lovely. You can read it here: http://www.thepaisleyfields.com/blog/2015/6/11/make-art-not-perfection.

As I read his blog and tried not to snarl at anyone, I started thinking about my ideas on perfection.

I have called myself a perfectionist, but not in a serious way. But if I am honest, I have tendencies that could come off a little overbearing and well, like I am striving for some kind of perfect. I like cups arranged row after neat row in my cupboard. I will spend an ungodly amount of time editing one sentence. I like paint lines to be straight, shoes to be unscuffed, and vases of arrows placed carefully in a beautiful array. (If you come to my house, you would see the arrow bouquet. Just don’t touch!)

I also want to say the right thing. I want to be funny and sensitive. I want to be outraged, when outrage is needed.

It is incredibly exhausting to keep paint lines straight, shoes unscuffed, cups straight, and to always have the right words spill from your lips. It requires constant vigilance. And honestly, I can’t do it. No one can, really. Everyone makes mistakes.

As I grow older, I realize you have to let things go. I am never going to please everyone. You can’t plan the perfect anything because the sky may open up. A boat might blow its horn during your wedding ceremony. You might spill an entire paint tray down the back of your pants. (Yes. That was me.) It is all a part of being human. And these are the moments you find yourself laughing at later.

If you can’t laugh at these little accidents, you will lead a very somber life. Laughter help keeps me sane.

The next day, I was bemoaning the traffic to James via text. I sent him a string of emojis about what I was going to do if I was caught in such an ugly traffic jam again that day.

Looking at the text, I realized I had accidentally included a stack of books in my otherwise violent string of knife, gun, and bomb emojis. My text suggested that if I was caught in traffic again, I was going to try to read someone to death.

I laughed out loud. That has to be the least terrifying threat ever made, I thought. And suddenly, my day was brighter.

So this week’s song is “Flawless” by Beyonce. I reserve the right to use this song again because it is that good. Also if you haven’t heard of Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, she is a great writer. I have Americanah sitting on my bookshelf.

***Just to be clear, I am not a road rage kind of person. Just one to sit cursing behind my wheel like everyone else. ***

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