November 13, 2020

Late to the party

I'm WillowjakMama!

My blog started as a way to document my journey to wellness, but turned into a place to be inspired by others through our collective messy & authentic stories. Now it's my favourite place to be.

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If I were to tell anyone that knows me that I am tired they would not be surprised. My husband, who is in the US Navy, is serving a two year unaccompanied tour overseas. My 18 year old daughter and I are the caretakers of a small farm with more than 70 chickens, 7 goats, 4 dogs, 3 cats and two turkeys. There is always something to do and there are no days off. On top of that I have health issues that hinder my energy levels. But that is not the kind of lethargy I refer to when I say “I am tired”.

I am tired of putting up with BS (as in bullsh#%). Specifically, I am tired of being expected to put up with said BS, because I am a woman, and that is what women do.

This is my late arrival announcement to feminism.

My first thought as to why I finally feel fed up is simply – I feel too old to put up with this crap. I am not really old, I am 46. Though I am sliding fast downhill to 50 (which scares me a little), in the grand scheme of things I have a long way to go before I am officially “old”. I have been reflecting on the time when I was a young girl, in my teens and early 20s, and the multitude of times I put up with sexist comments and situations that made me very uncomfortable. When the “Me Too” movement started
trending I’ll be honest when I say I rolled my eyes a few times when I read or heard about a well-known celebrity, newscaster, or what have you, being exposed for sexual harassment that happened many years ago. I mean, all men acted like that back in the day. Am I right? Go ahead, it’s your turn to roll your eyes. I thought of the times, when older men would tell a 15 year old me to smile, and I would usually comply lest I disappoint them. I worked retail. I can’t begin to count how many times I put up with inappropriate comments from men and brushed off my feelings of being very uncomfortable. I felt like we couldn’t judge men how they acted back in the 80s and early 90s. Unless it was an actual sexual assault I didn’t see the need for a witch hunt. No one was going to tell me I should feel bad about it. Besides, men know better now right? Are you still rolling your eyes?

I have not been anti-feminist but just didn’t consider myself to be one. The impression I had was that I had to be bitter about men and call them all out for their toxic masculinity. I have a son and husband who I love very much, I wasn’t going to lump all men together as being “pigs” like I saw many “feminists” do.

That is not to say I didn’t support women’s rights. I just took it all for granted. I didn’t think I needed to lend my voice. And frankly, I was afraid of what others would say if I did.

Too many things have happened this year for me to continue with my head in the sand. And I wonder where the hell have I been? How did I not appreciate and actually know who Ruth Bader Ginsberg was, before she died? What an amazing woman she was, and what an example she has set for our young women. Reading about her life and all of her achievements made me realize I have been wrong to take my rights for granted. It has only been 100 years since women were given the right to vote in the US.

I am not trying to get into a heated discussion about the divisive politics here in the US (maybe another time), but I’d have to be in a coma not to be aware of how much my rights as a woman are at stake right now. I have come to realize what a double standard I have held for my fellow women and I am disappointed in myself. Women in power are harshly criticized for traits men are praised for. Where men are great leaders women are bossy and demanding, where men are passionate, women are overly emotional- you know where this is going. I finally started paying attention this year. I became honest with myself as to why I had such an aversion to women in power. The lightbulb moment was when I realized they had all the traits I was taught that was bad for women (bossiness, assertiveness, etc).

Once I removed the condensation from my glasses I saw the true picture. While more and more women are joining the ranks of our government, we are still grossly underrepresented. RBG said she would be happy to see the Supreme Court have all 9 seats filled by women. That seems extreme, but why not? If it was all men no one would bat an eye.

This year I came to terms with the fact that I personally, am still privy to misogyny. And I have been putting up with it because:

  1. I didn’t want to cause problems

2. It was a business client of mine

3. I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings

4. I didn’t feel like I mattered enough to stand up for myself.

I am a massage therapist, but have shuttered my business because of Covid. While I miss working with my clients (it is very rewarding to help relieve pain and tension), I really have no desire to return at this point. The main reason is that I have realized how much sexual harassment I have had to put up with over the years. While no one has actually touched me or propositioned me, I have been made to feel very uncomfortable with inappropriate conversation and questions. Just recently I ran into an old client. I was happy to see him and we chatted for a bit. After I said goodbye he turned around and told me how he guessed I was just as attracted to him as he was to me. I told him no of course and left. I was floored, and then I was angry. He’s married, and knows I am as well. And then it dawned on me that I had not been listening to my intuition that told me something wasn’t right. Instead I allowed his kind demeanor to sway my opinion. I ignored his probing questions about my tattoos and my nose ring. He
acted like it was his right to do so. It was like he assumed that because I have tattoos and I am a massage therapist I am willing to step out on my husband of almost 25 years. He assumed that because I paid attention to him I must like him like “that”. After, I actually imagined myself telling him that I was SORRY because I would no longer be able to see him as a client because he made me uncomfortable.

Then I thought “eff that” (only I used the actual swear word) – I do not owe him anything. He had been calling and texting since I shuttered my business to keep in touch. He texted today asking if he could give me a call. I didn’t reply. I have decided I don’t owe him any explanation, not a single one. I will not be speaking with him again. He knows what he did.

I felt foolish and embarrassed. But I had to tell my daughter, if only as a lesson to listen to her intuition. She was angry for me. While I tease her generation for not being able to complete basic tasks like making a phone call, these kids know what’s up when it comes to women’s and civil rights. I learn from her every day.

While I feel the call to stand up for women’s rights and claim my role as a feminist, I feel hope. This last weekend my daughter and I watched Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris speak. I’ll be honest. I don’t know much about her except for some not so kind things I heard about her when I lived in California. As I mentioned before, I have unfairly judged women in power, so this may be the case with her as far as the things I heard. Recently, I was impressed at how she handled Vice President Pence during the debates. “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking. I’m speaking.” (Go to Tik Tok to cue this quote with Megan Thee Stallion’s first line from Girls in the Hood, if you are not offended by strong language. It’s my favorite song at the moment). Needless to say, I was intrigued and was looking forward to hearing her speak. I was not prepared for the emotion I would feel. My daughter looked over at me and asked me if I was crying. I replied yes while choking down a sob. Not only is she a woman in the White House, but a woman of color. This is huge. Huge. I kept thinking of the photo someone made of her walking next to a shadow of a young black girl. I thought of all of those little girls seeing someone that looks like them on TV. She said in her speech that she is the first woman in the White House but won’t be the last. I hooted, I hollered, and I cried some more.

I keep seeing the statistic being shared about how only 45% of white women voted for Biden/Harris. I have my theories about why that is.

“Karen” is the term given to a woman who treats others rudely and
is usually racist and usually white. It’s an unfortunate term but I still feel appalled when I watch videos of “Karen” misbehaving in public. Know what I think?

I think Karen is tired of being mistreated as a woman as well, but is in denial or doesn’t know that is why she is so angry. I can only hope she will
watch Kamala in action, reacting to difficult situations with assertive grace- “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking.” And I hope she will be inspired.

In a world full of Karens, be a Kamala.

Fancy Y.

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Hi, I'm Stacey.
Welcome to the
Willowjak Blog 

My blog started as a way to document my journey to wellness, but turned into a place to be inspired by others through our collective messy & authentic stories. We chat about themes that are often ignored and voices that aren't often given a chance at the mic. Now it's my favourite place to be. 

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