Tag Archives: feminism

A Man Who Makes You Smile

We’ve all heard this idea that’s been tossed around about marriage or hetero partnerships.  The most common “tip” for a long marriage is the man saying that he knows how to make her smile. Not “we can communicate openly” or “being honest” instead it sounds like all he has to do is placate his woman and she’ll shut up. Now, I don’t deny that smiling and being able to lift your partner’s spirits is important in a relationship. It is. However, when does it stop being about making her smile and start being OBLIGATING her to smile?

This was always a point of unease and contention when I was married. I would feel overwhelmed or upset and my ex would do or say something silly. It wouldn’t help the situation at all, and instead of trying to fix or talk about what upset me, he would then become hurt and say “I was trying to make you smile” or “I just wanted to hear you laugh”. In the end, the result was that he felt like he’d done his part to make me feel better without doing anything but make me feel guilty on top of overwhelmed. I don’t want to say that he never worked or tried to lessen my load, however he had this idea that if I just smiled everything would go away.

That’s not how life works. “We’ll find a way” or “just smile” doesn’t really -do- anything.  Smiling is all well and good, but it isn’t the only emotion that I’m allowed to have as a woman. I’m allowed to be annoyed, things that upset me are not imaginary and they deserve attention. By giving me this mandate to smile then ignore what is bothering me because someone else told me to just makes me feel ill inside. I don’t owe anyone a smile. I smile when I mean it. Obligating me to do that just invalidates my emotions in general for someone else’s benefit.

I can’t help but wonder, when I hear this canned advise tossed about, who else feels this way. How many other people smile in front of clenched teeth with nothing but the added stress of pleasing someone else on top of whatever was bothering them in the first place. For me, emotions in general are hard to genuinely show and have. The fact that I’ve been OBLIGATED to fake happy so much and for so long hasn’t helped me at all.  Here’s the thing about relationships, no one is always happy.

It’s one of the things that I really love about my current relationship. I don’t feel like I have to hold my emotions close to my chest and smile. If I’m upset I can say “This upsets me, here is why” if L is upset, she can say “I don’t like this, here is why”. We argue, we disagree, we set out plans to fix our problems. The “difficult” things are what you’re supposed to deal with in a relationship. It adds, for me, this huge security to the entity that is “us”. I know that nothing I can do would immediately push her away. I know that we can talk about problems and confront them. I am not living with the fear that if I’m not smiling enough she will walk away. The ability to discuss and communicate our problems is so much more important to me than being able to make her smile. Because now, when she smiles, I know she means it.

And when I smile, I do too.

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Filed under Personal Life, Year of the Protagonist

LadyScience

Science, in and of itself is dear to me. I love math, and I’ve always been a good troubleshooter. But this question really made me stop and think because at about the same age I finally got it beaten into me that “math is for boys” and “talking is for girls”. A lot of times I would have a math teacher ignore me, or flat out tell me no, when I felt very right. I remember, to this day over 15 years later, my last high school math class. I had excellent scores, and in a lecture I found an alternate way of doing a problem. When I asked the teacher about it, he told me that it wouldn’t work. I asked him to prove it to me, and he told me that I needed to be quiet.

That day I could have registered for an advanced math course. I didn’t.

I stopped caring about science because I wasn’t valued by it. This wasn’t simply one time, this was constant. From a misogynistic father to people assuming something would be too hard for me, I was done with it. I never got funny looks for reading a book. I never was told that I was wrong for thinking about writing. But if I thought about mathematics? The thing is that I don’t feel that these adults in my life meant to crush something I actually have an aptitude for. I think that their own attitudes prevailed. Their own stresses caused them to rebuff the annoying student (I was mouthy, loud, brash, your basic normal teenager). Their own hardships or pressures caused them to subtly shape me into someone who left science altogether for many years.

My family is not highly educated. This isn’t to say that my mother didn’t value educating me. She simply didn’t have time or the ability herself. You can’t lead the way when the path isn’t known to you.

Like this little girl, I know I had figures that supported my love of math, but they were by far overshadowed by “you’re not good enough” or by indifference. There are thousands of articles out there discussing this topic, why women stray from the sciences. A quick google search can turn up a multitude of studies on the topic. But it goes to show that research and action are two different things. There are still people out there who want Engineering/Science to be something so lofty that lowly minorities and women cannot reach it. They have this burning urge to be super special snowflakes. If everyone can get an Engineering degree then what good are they? Then they will have to compete.

A strange conversation during my second undergraduate degree started by me complaining that fewer people were enrolling as engineering students. A young man laughed and said “less competition”. Without thinking I blinked and said that he must not be a very good engineer to think like that.  He was, understandably, insulted by the statement. I explained that I had faith in myself and my abilities, why didn’t he? But there’s the rub. As a woman you’re told in this field that if you try hard enough that something good will happen. For many of us “enough” never comes. Even after we’ve surpassed our male counterparts. This is changing. It’s slowly turning into a more even playing field.

But until then, we can’t really ignore it.

 

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Filed under Engineering, School

Games: My Sort of Girl Gamer

I’ve wondered, from time to time, what it means to be a gamer and why, for some reason, there’s a pissing contest about it. Too many times I’ve seen people devalue the way others game. Or the games that others like. As though by picking up a certain character or a certain game a person has marked them as “good enough” or “not good enough” for the subculture. I have found myself rejected from certain groups because I’m the wrong gamer.

When I was about twenty-two I met a boy who I thought was a good guy. We were friends. He noticed me playing a Sonic the Hedgehog emulator in a lab and we bonded. Then we talked about other games, mostly Nintendo and the old school variety. We geeked about Samus and then I mentioned that I always wanted to try tabletop gaming. Excited, he agreed to ask me along with his friends that weekend. Said that they’d help me make a character, ease me into it and that a few of their group were also pretty new.

Then he saw me wear my letters and everything changed. No longer was I a “geek” girl. I was a “Greek” girl and that meant all the difference. Being in a sorority was a blast for me. I met lifelong friends, I really found myself. I learned more in those three years about myself than I ever had before and I ever had since. Was there drama? Of course, did I like everyone in my house? No.  But did I enjoy the experience? Absolutely. Being in the Greek system meant something to me. It was a facet of my life like gaming was.

But all he saw was a bitch. He avoided me for the rest of the semester and didn’t speak to me after. I was hurt by this; young and still pretty unsure of myself it did a number on my self confidence. What was wrong with me, really? Was I too close to the line or was I not far enough to the line? What about seeing letters alone made me not be “geek” enough for him?

I had a close friend relate a story to me about a colleague who felt she had to one up a boy in a study by saying “I could kick your butt in Halo”. We both wondered why she felt the need to go along with the idea that some games were “girly” and thus “bad”. She could have easily said that “what does it matter what kind of games I play?” or “Just because I like one doesn’t mean the others are bad.” Instead of that, however, she chose to cement the idea that what a girl in makeup and Greek letters would do is lesser than a girl in a 1up shirt and bare faced would.

Protip? Many still expect the 1up shirted girl to put out. In fact they expect her -while she is renouncing all other female traits- to still give them blowjobs. It’s as though I “belonged” to a different set of men and thus he couldn’t have me and didn’t want me. It blows my mind that most of these people adore characters that are assholes for the sake of being assholes. Glorifying them for being good at something violent and nothing more. I’m not going to purport to know why this is, but it fuels a lot of things.

Like telling me that I’m a bad gamer because I like Eternal Sonata. Or because I play Final Fantasy games that I’m only going along with popular culture. So what if I am? What are my likes to you? Why does the fact that I like something have any impact on someone else at all? I hate to be the barer of bad news, fellow geeks, but other people’s opinions don’t usually matter to me. In fact, if they’re dictated to me, I’m far less likely to give a damn what you think about the fact that I’m a former sorority girl. Or the fact that I think Breath of Fire Four is the greatest game story ever.

What I play doesn’t mean that I don’t play. I’m a gamer. Someone who games. Your games are just as valid as mine are. Not more so, not less. This is no pissing contest; there is no winner or loser, just different types of games. What you like or do not like doesn’t matter to me. What I like or do not like should not matter to you. Your opinion matters just as much to me as mine does to you. Maybe everyone would do well to remember that.

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Filed under Video Games