I am not pregnant; I just had a burger for lunch

This blog post will be about an amazing essay written by Jennifer Aniston on her not-pregnancy. When I say it like that, it almost seems that the essay is just another silly article, a celebrity-related gossip, but I invite you all to read it because it is much more than that. You can find it here.

In my opinion the essay addresses three related topics: the “media”’s scrutiny (I don’t even like to call tabloids media, for me most of them are just pure garbage); the unrealistic body-image standards women face; the pressure society places on women to follow the path of marriage and motherhood, young and in that order.

As I like to keep my blog posts short, I will only address the latter in this post but I hope to write about all of them in the near future, as they are all of interest, at least for me.

Disclaimer: Before starting I will just say that what I am criticizing in the post is society’s pressure to follow a certain path in life and not the free will to do so. If you want to get marry and have kids (or if you have already done so) please don’t feel offended, it is not about your personal choice I will be writing about.

What Jennifer Aniston describes as the pressure for motherhood is very common, but it is obviously not so “aggressive” for most. Although most women don’t suffer from the constant presence of paparazzi in their life nor are they a person of interest for other million of women (and men!), it doesn’t mean they don’t feel the pressure to fit in the role society created for them. And what role is that? Well, I believe that may change depending on where you live but in most European countries and most states in the USA the role of a women in society (in order to be considered a successful woman) is undeniably related with marriage and motherhood.1339910636455_3565359

You can argue that this role was stricter in the past when women didn’t work (or, I should say they didn’t earn any money, because I can bet that staying at home taking care of kids, cooking, cleaning… is a lot of work). In my opinion the only thing that changed was the sense that marrying and having kids is no longer a matter of survival, it is a matter of “societal duty”. To be honest in this light the pressure women feel to marry and have kids as a young woman is even more idiotic in a modern society, as it is not a matter of their survival but mostly another social construct from those times that should be in our past.

You may also argue that this pressure is still a matter of survival, not of the survival of women that need a wage-earning man to be able to eat, but of survival of the species that need women and men to reproduce. Firstly, nowadays (agreeing or not with this methods) a woman can reproduce without a man. And then, you can have kids without getting married, which just proves that the “getting married and having kids – the guide to be a successful woman” thing is not about survival of the species but about something else.

2012-12-05-a89aa90As this post is already getting big, I will conclude by saying two things: Firstly, what I am criticizing is something of which I am both a victim and a perpetrator. I have both felt the pressure to marry as I am in a steady relationship and I am approaching the “right time” to do so, and I have also pressured (stupidly) friends that are married to have kids. Then, and related, I would also say that although I have written this in a woman’s point of view, some men are also victims of this pressures (“you haven’t proposed?? Are you afraid?? Pussy…” or “you haven’t had kids yet? Do you have any problem??”) and to be completely honest I believe that who exercises this kind of pressure the most are women to other women and not even men.

To conclude, getting married and/or having kids should be a matter of choice and personal happiness and not a matter of social relief. If you see a friend “in the right age” a bit fatter just assume (unlike told otherwise) that she just had a burger for lunch or that she is on 29411a5493d15541685ad7c65feebb5eher period (the irony) instead of jumping to conclusions and perpetuating this “getting married and having kids – the guide to be a successful woman” social construct.

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I am sorry, but I was the one who ordered the wine!

If you have been following my blog you know I am not the kind of “feminist” (with “…” because I don’t consider them feminists at all) that (almost) hate men and feel that they are all part of a plot to exploit women and make them their slaves, or the kind of feminist that believes that positive discrimination is actually working (it could work, but in practice most of the time it doesn’t). That said, I do believe in equal rights for men and women, and I am fortunate enough to live in a society that is trying to close the still existing gaps between these two genders – the other gender identities have a different fight that I won’t mention in this post.2012-06-06-bill

Some of those gaps are really serious, like different payment for the same job, but others are just daily practices that still remind us women that the female and male stereotypes are still too much rooted in our culture. Lets take the example of a simple night out at a restaurant:

  • In a restaurant, men drink alcohol, woman drink water or juice:

Every time I go out to have dinner with my boyfriend, and I ask for wine and he asks for water (because he is a responsible driver), the waiter always serves him the wine and me the water. This happens mostly because the waiter that is serving is not the one that received the order, but nevertheless, they assume I am not the one who ordered wine – every single time! When the meal arrives, it is normal to ask “who order the dish X”. There are no preconceived ideas about which gender prefers meat or fish. But for drinks, it seems obvious that a lady would not order the wine nor the gentleman the water.

  • At a date, the man pays for the meal:

When it is time for us to pay the meal, sometimes I ask the bill, other
times my boyfriend does it. Regardless of who asks for it, the waitress most of the times (ok, in these case there are some exceptions) will give the bill to my boyfriend. It seems that we still live in a time were men are supposed to proarticle-2389873-1B442CF3000005DC-350_306x423vide for their families, or these can just be the waiter trying to force out the gentlemen inside the man, but in either case: we are in the XXI century — we can split, or we can decide who pays for the whole meal. There is no need to force the decision upon us.

I know these are just two small examples, but the truth is that they are multiplied by many small daily decisions that are somehow made using this frame of mind. And, unlike what many may say, they are almost as prejudicial for men as they are for women because they also reinforce the “do’s” and “don’t’s” in their lives.

Please comment below or on Facebook with some small daily experiences of your own that you consider are still made with gender roles in mind.

On Dating an Economist

After the success of my post “On dating a Socialist Man”, I decided to write something similar on dating an economist. Some parts of this post will be based on my boyfriend, that studied PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) and now is doing his Masters in Economy, but some parts are just my imagination.

If you want to find your perfect economist, you can meet several at the nearest economical conference, usually organized by economic faculties or students organizations. They will be the ones in the room that will ask elaborated questions that confuse you even more than the talk itself. Because there are a lot of different schools of economic thought, you should study some of them so that you prefer a Post-Keynesian economics kind of guy, or you are more into the Marxian type. You can also go for the Freshwater school or the Saltwater school fellow. You will have a lot of choice in terms of your economist guy, so choose wisely.

the-economistThe economist boyfriend will usually like to share their economical views as often as he can. By sharing economical news article on facebook (instead of that adorable photo he took with you), or having long discussions with his peers (instead of talking about something you can understand), everything is a good excuse to share his expertise and try to convince the world of his own economical point of view. (Ah! You can’t say that it is “just his point of view”, for him it is the unquestionable truth).

When you find you perfect economist guy and you start dating, a lot of simple conversations may became, lets say, a bit too technical… For instance, when my boyfriend and me talked about what marriage means to us, his approach was something like this “We have to try to understand the utility of a marriage, it is a mean to an end. The end is a happy life, but the marriage is just a utility!” For a romantic like me, this sounded seriously wrong. Can’t a marriage be an end itself as well? How can someone call it a utility? But he continued: “A marriage is just useful if it maximize its utility value”. What??

Dating an economist is waking up to the light of his laptop or tablet because he just can’t get out of bed before checking the economical related news of the day. It is trying to read his blog and economistpretend you agree with his point of you on the latest economical crisis (not because you don’t agree with it, but because you just don’t understand it or think it is too boring to even read it). Dating an economist is having to make a lot of decision as a couple taking in consideration the “opportunity cost” and the “maximization of added value” instead of just argue and finally let the woman decide as just any normal couple.

I suspect that my cause is a bit more serious because I do understand a bit of economy, but in any cause dating an economist requires high maintenance, a lot of patience and a lot of effort to try to keep up enthusiastically with his love for economy.

You know you are a Foodie when…

You know you are a Foodie when…

1-  You constantly think about your next meal

One of the main pleasures in your life is food. During the morning, at work or during your classes you anticipate the delicious lunch you are about to have and the same for the dinner, during the afternoon. Anticipating the pleasure of food can also happen when you are buying your groceries or cooking food, things that most people don’t appreciate doing.

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2- Your high moment of the week/month is when you eat in a good restaurant or you make your favourite food

Whenever you have some extra money you like to go to a new restaurant and when you have some extra time to cook you like to do your favourite and more complex meals. Money and time are scarce and valuable resources, but you happily spend it on food.

3- You compare/grade a lot of things with food

You know you are a foodie when you say things like “Your hair smells even nicer than the pork ribs we had for dinner” (my bf actually said this to me once!), when you associate colours with fruit (other than orange, obviously) or even prices of general items with the food you could buy with that money. For instance I would totally say: “That is too expensive! With that amount of money I could buy two packs of cookies”.

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4- When you eat out and sometimes you do it more for the food than for the company

This does not mean that you don’t enjoy the company! However, you take great pleasure out of going to new restaurants and try new kinds of food and a night out or a birthday party are the perfect excuse to spend an extra pound on it.

5- You love your Food Routines

You can’t get out in the morning without your typical breakfast or go to sleep without your cookies, tea or hot chocolate with milk. Your food routines are part of your day as it is your shower and you feel strange when, for some reason, you can’t do them. They give you comfort. It doesn’t have to be a daily routine, it can be a weekly Sunday brunch or a monthly visit to Mcdonalds.

Some of my thoughts on Feminism

Before you start reading this post in my Blog, I would like to underline that these are just some of my points of view on feminism and although I completely believe and defend this perspective I also respect other points of view on feminism that are different than mine.

A few weeks ago someone from the PNR (a Portuguese far right party) commented on my last Blog post (On Dating a Socialist Man) the following:

“Your ideology smells like shit, go back to the kitchen and make me a sandwich, you understand fuck all about politics”

(free translation – It was written in Portuguese)

I have never been insulted like this in all my life. Actually what really offended me was not the idea that my ideology is not good, I also think that their ideology is awful. What really hurts me is the idea that in 2015, in Portugal, there still are people that think it is ok to send a woman back to the kitchen to make them a sandwich.

To be honest I was very shocked because I am lucky enough to say that I don’t suffer from sexism that often. Since a young age that I haven’t conformed with the girly-girl stereotype and I can’t say that it has a struggle for me. I quit my ballet classes and started doing Karate with my father when I was 10, I always prefered blue to pink and jeans to dresses and skirts, I don’t wear makeup on a daily basis and I really hate shopping and I definitely prefer action movies to romantic comedies. I do believe that there are women who self identify with the girly-girl stereotype and are better advocates of feminism than I am, so please don’t misread me. What I mean is that, although I have made different choices than most girls I know, luckily I can’t say that I have been judged or mistreated because of it. Unfortunately, I know that a lot of girls suffer from a different fate.

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I believe that we are reaching a very delicate point regarding feminism movements in which we should be careful to not overstep the line of the fair and necessary fight for our rights. In my opinion, if our movement wants to be taken seriously and be seen as fair and right, we should not demand a kind of treatment superior than the one we provide men. It is true that for many years (even centuries) women have been mistreated and denied their place in society, but to wish that for men today is not a payback, it is being unfair. I believe that this way of thinking feminism (to wish for women to have more power and more rights than men to over-compensate our past history) is hurting the overall movement and turning some men that could be our allies into our enemies.

In my opinion, men also suffer from sexism and their support to the feminist cause is not only necessary, but it is also their right. Expressions like “Man up” or “Grow some balls” are also said in an offensive way to men, as they also feel pressure to be as manly as they can because they are also afraid of not fitting the role that a sexist society believe is the one they should play.  It is important to have safe spaces for women to share their experiences and feel free to speak about their daily struggles on a sexist society, but it is also important to create moments in which men are welcome to join our fight. Movements like the #heforshe are a step in the right direction and welcoming men in our fight will only make it stronger and fairer.

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However, I feel that there are still a lot of men that don’t understand the struggles of women in a sexist society. Concepts like sexual harassment, emotional violence or even the overall concept of sexism are way too often unclear to both men and women. As I said before, some men also suffer from these issues, and, as the women that suffer from it, they usually don’t report it because they feel ashamed for being victims of something that is associated with “women problems”. Nevertheless, I truly think that part of the solution is a true discussion of these concepts and stronger legislation that protects both women and men.


*I intend to write a second post about this subject to share my opinion on how I think the current position of women in politics.*

On Dating a Socialist Man

All that I am about to write is the truth about my relationship with a socialist boyfriend or my thoughts about it, but it doesn’t make it truth for all of the socialist boyfriends that there is or even every socialists men.

The best way to get to know a socialist man is in a party or dinner of a socialist party. I met Miguel for the first time at the 40th anniversary of Partido Socialista (PS) at the party’s headquarters. Such a cliché, I know. We took a picture together with some other common friends and the PS leader at the time.

As Miguel is studying in England (I know, very “socialist” of him… but I think we can forgive him if he choses to apply his knowledge into the right cause), we didn’t talk for over a year. One tricky part of getting to know a socialist man is that the political man is polite, and a socialist man is polite equally to everyone. So how can a girl know if he is being polite as usual, or an unusual-I-want-to-date-you kind of polite? About that I can only advice you socialist guys reading this: make your interest clear, or you will be running in circles for months.

If you want to spot a socialist guy in a room you may find this information useful. The normal conversation topics, especially if besides being a socialist guy he is also a true intellectual (not the wanna be kind, please), are the economy, the daily news, foreign policy, usually they will use a lot of acronyms that you may never heard about, they will say a lot of names of people that you feel like you should know but you don’t (usually names of their buddies that you will eventually meet and you will figure it out that it was just stupid to assume that you should have known their names before)… and obviously, they will talk about politics. A lot.on a conference

The clothes vary a lot, so I won’t dare to enter that territory, but the body language usually tells you that they are confident in themselves (even if they are not, please go along with the role play), that you should know their names, that they have been reading a lot and not sleeping at all and that they know the secret to the salvation of mankind: socialism.

Once you are dating a socialist man, most of your days together will be on the road from conference to conference, from campaign to campaign, from meeting to meeting or from dinner to dinner. You will get to know people from all over the country, from young boys and girls to elderly people from whom you can always count on a kind word on your beauty or intelligence (sadly, mostly beauty) and how lucky your socialist boyfriend is to have you. I have to admit that I love it. I love always running for the next big thing and to get to know amazing people.10649956_735187556528966_4607777230461422771_n

To date a socialist man is to wake up at the sound of “The Internationale” every morning because that is his alarm clock sound and to have a “Socialist Youth” flag above the bed (where people used to hang some religious symbol). To date a socialist boyfriend is to go to conferences on post-Keynesian economics just because he is part of the organization or on the Socialists Parties around Europe because he is the speaker (not complaining, knowledge is always good). It is to move to England and realising that all of your girl friends (that he introduces you to) are from the “Ladies of Labour” and that they are amazing…

The list goes on and on. But I want to give you two pieces of advices as well.

  • Just because you may be dating a strong-minded socialist man, don’t let yourself be his shadow. You deserve to have a strong voice of your own, and I know it is very hard when you are next to someone like him, but instead of “behind every great man there is a great woman”, I believe in “Next to a great woman there should be a great man”.
  • A socialist man can be that “great man” and it may be hard for them to put their egos aside and take the risk to ask you out, so give them some strength or be the one that makes the first move.

The Heroism of Being Party Political

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I don’t usually write about politics and I guess you already want to stop reading this post after finding out that I wrote about it this time, but, please, give me a shot.

 

I bet that if I ask a bunch of children what they thought is a “heroic” job, most of them would say “fireman” or “police officer”. They are right. If I ask them why, they would probably say: “because they try to make the world a better place”. Correct answer once again. However, aren’t there plenty of other professions with the same goal? Like teachers, scientists or even politicians? I might sound naïve to you, but give me one more chance to make may point.

 

I believe that some people see politics as something external; something that has serious implications on their lives but that seems to exist in a remote and untouchable reality. Politicians are just characters of that reality, who, just like those in a movie, appear on our TVs once in a while. Who are they? What are their motivations? Why do they do what they do?

 

I can’t answer all the questions, but as in any other profession (if politics should or not be a profession is a discussion for another day) there are different people with different motivations in politics. It seems really logical to say so. However, when I say that I’m in a political party, people often answer something like “Oh god! Why? You are such a good person!”. Since when is being a bad person a pre-requisite to have a political life? And what can we call a “bad person” in politics? Sure, I don’t always agree with everything that happens on a political level in Portugal. Actually, I disagree most of the time. But do I think that everyone involved with it is a “bad person”? Couldn’t we all just be good people trying to make “the world a better place” but with different ideas of what a “better place” is like? Ok, I admit I may be being naïve in this point once again, but even so, wouldn’t it be a good reason to try to make it differently instead of just complaining about what I don’t agree with? I think so.

 

I find it very difficult nowadays to find a teenager interested in politics. I can guess why. Every dinner they hear their parents complaining to the TV as if the prime-minister (let’s say) could hear them that way. “These politicians are all the same”, “I can’t believe someone voted for this clown” and “We are all doomed with these people in control of our country”… I can hear it as well. But I also can ask myself “What would I do differently in their position?”, “What is my opinion about this topic?”, “How can I make my voice heard, instead of screaming towards the TV?”. My answer was: Instead of seeing political parties as something distant and external to me, I will see them as the platform to make my voice heard and my opinion count.

 

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Sometimes I think I am just a dreamer – a “good girl” who wants to play someone’s else game without understanding the rules – but when that happens, I like to think that some of most influential people in the world were also called “dreamers” at some point in their lives. So I will keep on trying to making “this world a better place”, in volunteer work, in associations and social projects, and, yes, in politics.