2019: What Comes Next?

Happy New Year! We have all managed to make it through another year, and before us stands a brand new one. I like the new year. I like getting reflective and hopeful. I feel like twice a year I really take the time to contemplate, observe, and consider intentionally: New Years, and my birthday. I know lots of people frown on resolutions, I know that statistically we will all fail in our resolutions, but for me that’s not the point. For me, it’s about taking the time to slow down and be intentional, even if it’s just for one day.

And so I have been thinking a lot about 2019. What do I want to accomplish this year, who do I hope to be, what comes next (#HamiltonReference)?

Last year I wrote a blog ever Wednesday and that helped me really find my voice, it helped me feel more eloquent, and it helped me sort out my anger. Last year I voted in a midterm election. Last year I spent a lot of time focusing on my female community and found a family like I have never had before. Last year I fell even deeper in love than I thought I could. Last year I went back to counseling and got to know myself in an entirely new way.

I’m still angry. I’m starting to wonder if I will ever not be angry. And I still have plenty to say. And I want to be fearless in my anger. Stop worrying about being too shrill, too controversial, too difficult. And start worrying about being as honest as I can be, even if it’s unpleasant.

So what do I want this year?

Every time I have asked myself this question I keep finding the same answer: Love Better. Love myself better, love those I love better, and guard my love better.

I am not good at loving myself. I have this voice in my head that is constantly telling me I am not enough and I will never be enough and I don’t deserve to be enough anyway. And I want to quiet that voice. If anyone spoke to one of my loved ones the way I speak to myself I would shut that down before they knew what hit them, so why can’t I do that for myself? I hope to find a way to quiet that voice this year.

I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by a community of people who love me, who listen to me, and who affirm me. To be honest, more often than not it’s overwhelming. And I want to be as good to them as they are to me. I want to continue to learn from them, continue to be fueled by them, and continue to be inspired by them. And I hope I can be that source for them as well.

The older I get, the more I realize I love all the way. I don’t have levels, I give all I have to everyone. And more than once I have loved with everything I have and found nothing in return. Friends, family, romance, I give it all. And when you give it all, you have nothing left for yourself. And so I have learned to be cautious about who I love, and I am continuing to learn that. Over the years I have learned to surround myself with people who see me, who care about me, and who listen to me, and those are the people I give myself to. An important life lesson for me throughout life has been loving the wrong people and realizing it didn’t kill me. My hope is to continue to learn to who to love wholly and who to love cautiously.

I have a lot of hopes and goals for 2019. Maybe they will last three weeks, maybe by June I will have forgotten all about it all. But honestly, I think this year will be transformative. Because every year is. Goals or not, hopes or not, we all change over the course of a year. Each day may feel mostly the same, but when you stop to take a look you realize you aren’t the same person today that you were 365 days ago. And thank god.

So here is to more love in 2019, more anger in 2019, and more baths.

 

Cheers,

-Darci

 

A Year of Anger

It’s been one whole year of Angry Feminist. To those who have followed along since the start, thank you. To those who are just discovering me, welcome. And to all, I hope this has been as helpful to you as it has been to me.

I’ve been a feminist for a very long time. Before I even knew what a feminist was, I was a feminist. But these last few years, I’ve been an angry feminist. I think it was Brock Turner that really pushed me over the edge. Then Trump. And then #MeToo. By the end of 2017 I was raging. And I needed an outlet. My partner encouraged me to start a blog. And here we are one year later.

This blog has been a wonderful outlet for me, a form of therapy. I’ve been able to sort out my thoughts. I’ve been able to find my voice. I’ve even been able to share my platform. It’s become a place that I look forward to coming to each week. And I hope you do too.

I’ve learned a lot over this last year while writing this blog. I’ve learned that a lot of people actually like what I have to say. I’ve learned that a lot of people don’t like what I have to say. I’ve learned that a lot of women are just as full of anger as I am. I’ve learned that the more personal I get with my blog the more people read it. That one is particularly hard for me. I would much rather write about statistics and cite sources and make my cases than share my personal stories. But the problems facing us women everyday aren’t just a statistic, they are personal. So if I want to get peoples attention, if I want people to really listen, I have to get personal.

When I started this blog in January, my goal was to write once a week for one year. I was a little anxious about it. Would people read it? Would people care? Would I be able to come up with something to write each week? What would my family think? How much time would this actually end up taking?

But here we are, the last Wednesday of the year. And I managed to write something every week. I have more readers now than I started with. I’ve connected with some women in my life that I don’t think I would have engaged with otherwise. I’ve had some wonderful conversations with some very thoughtful men. I only had one commenter try and bully me all year long.

All in all, it’s been a good experience for me. As I hope it has been for you. And I am excited to say I plan on sticking with it for at least one more year. I hope you do too.

For next year, I hope to find more personal stories to share in explaining my anger. I hope to find more women to share my platform with. I hope to connect with more people through this shared discomfort in our society.

For this year, I leave you with this: thank you for following along. And for those interested in revisiting, this post was by far my most popular.

Enjoy! And I’ll have more for you next year!

-Darci

A Self-Care Reminder for the Holidays 

Holidays bring a lot of happy celebrations. From Christmas parties, to presents, to caroling, to the hope of snow there is a lot of joy and magic during this time of year. But the holidays can also be full of struggle. Just because there is cheer all around us doesn’t mean all of our problems disappear. The holidays also bring lots of temptations that can get in the way of our long term goals, like health and financial goals. And with the stress and the struggles can come a lot of guilt for not being cheerful enough.

So this year, amidst all the joy and holiday cheer, it’s important to be mindful and intentional about yourself. Here is a checklist to help plan your self-care:

Take Care of Yourself
With all of the holiday parties and events and family time and friend time, this time of year books up fast. Don’t forget to carve out time for you. Take your moment, your evening, your day, to just be. It’s important to decompress. Seek out a quiet space from time to time so that you can collect your thoughts and recenter yourself as you need. Take a walk around your neighborhood, enjoy a luxurious bath, find a show to enjoy. The important part is that you still get you time.

Be Mindful About Alcohol Use 
I am not someone who drinks terribly often, so the holidays hit me hard. With all of the gatherings and parties, with all of the holiday stresses, a glass of wine to take the edge off or join in the celebration is very tempting. And suddenly my one glass of wine translates into a glass of wine every day. So it’s important to be mindful and aware of your consumption during this time. Pick a personal limit, find an event to skip the drinks at, and check in with yourself before your next drink.

Practice a Healthy Relationship with Food
There are many tempting indulgences during the holiday season. From an abundance of sugar, to larger portions, to decadent meals, food can take as much a toll as alcohol and make you feel out of control. Find the balance for yourself between enjoying the special holiday food while also paying attention to your bodies needs. I love all the fun holiday food, and I only indulge in most of these things once a year. It’s not about denying or depriving, it’s about balance.For me, being hyper intentional during the work day about eating good things, and being more intentional with a healthy breakfast on the weekends can really make a big difference in my holiday relationship with food. Find your balance, and don’t forget that your body still needs some vegetables.

Remember, Holiday Stress Will Pass
Just like all things, this too shall pass. Keeping a strong sense of self during the holiday season will give you a sense of consistency and security during the ups and downs during the holidays. Focus on the things you enjoy, breathe through the things you don’t, and remember that this holiday season will eventually come to a close.

 

As always, be kind to yourself. Happy Holidays!

 

-Darci

A Feminist Viewing

The big movie blitz season is upon us. Oscar buzz is wild, studios are putting their best foot forward, Christmas hype is all around. Movies are coming out for everyone! Dramas, comedies, holiday movies, action films, family films. It’s not just that there is something for everyone, there is an abundance for everyone!

And spoiler alert: these stories are probably going to be super male focused.

Media has had an over-representation issue with men for forever. And it makes sense. Men formed our laws, built our networks, and ran all the companies. So of course the creative works are going to be about them. Representing them and glorifying them.

Luckily, there are many other angry feminists in this world who came before me and have noticed  that our media isn’t overly representative of women. And they have come up with some wonderful and simple tests to determine if a film is representing women or not (again, spoiler, a lot of them don’t). These tests don’t even demand or imply that women should be the lead, just that they are being presented as actual characters with agency and participation in the story.

The hard part about these tests is that once you are aware of them, you can’t not see it. You’ll start watching movies differently, noticing if they represent women or not. Suddenly movies you have loved your whole life, genres that were always entertaining, will leave you disappointed.

So, to ruin your viewing pleasure, I give you the Feminist Viewing Requirements!

The Bechdel Test
Two or more named women talking to each other about something other than a man.

The Bechdel Test is my personal favorite. Because it’s the simplest one. Could it really be so hard to write a story that includes two named women characters having a minimum of one conversation that isn’t about a man? Yes. Apparently. This test isn’t even about women being the lead in the film. They just need to be named, interact, and talk about something other than men.

Chick flicks often fail. While these movies tend to involve a lot of female characters, the whole story revolves around romantic relationships with men. The characters aren’t developed much beyond their romantic pursuits.

Not surprisingly, most action films fail. Action films tend to be heavily swayed towards a male cast, and the plot is motivated by the males, and the women are there as sexy props to elevate a man. Even from directors thought to be feminist, like Joss Whedon. His Avengers films, while having at least two named female characters, don’t actually interact with each other. However, Ant Man and the Wasp passes with flying colors! Marvel learned something over those six years.

Great films that pass the Bechdel Test: Incredibles 2, Oceans 8, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Guardians of the Galaxy, and The Karate Kid.

The Mako Mori
At least one female character with her own narrative arc that is not about supporting a man’s story.

Named after the character Mako Mori in the 2013 film Pacific Rim, this test focuses on the development of a female character. The Mako Mori is an alternative for the Bechdel, rather than a replacement. Mako Mori acknowledges that a film can have great female representation and development without the characters interacting. Mako Mori wants to expand what can constitute a “strong woman” in film.

Inspired because Pacific Rim did not pass the bechdel test, but had strong female characters and a diverse cast, fans felt that the definition of female representation in film needed to be expanded. Ironically, the sequel passes the Bechdel Test, but not the Mako Mori test. Joss Whedon’s Avengers films hold up pretty well to the Mako Mori test, despite failing the Bechdel Test.

Some great films that pass the Mako Mori Test: Mary Poppins, Silence of the Lambs, Titanic, and Pride & Prejudice.

The Sexy Lamp
A female character that cannot be removed from the plot and replaced with a sexy lamp without destroying the story.

The Sexy Lamp test is all about how relevant a female character is to the plot of a work, if the character has any agency or relevance to the story. Proposed by Kelly Sue DeConnick, if the female character can be removed from the story and replaced with a sexy lamp – if, that is, the female character does nothing and says nothing that is relevant to the story, with the possible exception of existing as a motivation factor or quest object – then the story fails the test.

Some films that totally fail this test: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Great Gatsby, and Blade Runner 2049.

 

 

Studios have been justifying their overt male representation for years. Claiming that people just don’t want to see films with female leads or people of color. It’s just not a good investment. Then someone takes a leap of faith and makes Wonder Woman and Coco and guess what, people actually showed up. A lot of them. Like a lot. And those silly studios who thought that people will only pay for a movie if it’s about a white man have a lot of work to do.

It’s getting better. It really is. It used to be that in order for me to enjoy a film I had to put my feminism up on a shelf during the viewing, but studios are becoming more aware that they are being watched and are responding to that with positive changes. There’s still a long ways to go, but it is getting better.

We’ve been critical, we’ve been opinionated, and we have made it clear: representation matters in film. And we are watching. So these studios better shape up.

 

 

-Darci

The Economics of Relationships: When to De-Invest

A good friend of mine is a counselor. He is also a drinking buddy. Many a time he has graciously talked me through some difficult times while out for a drink, and his words always stick with me. I will find myself mulling over his insights for days, weeks, even months.

Recently, I asked him what was the right thing to do. Would this be wrong, would this make me a bad person? And his response was not what I expected. He started talking about economics. About cost-benefit analysis, this idea that you make decisions by comparing the cost of doing something with it’s benefits. As he went on, he explained that it wasn’t so much about whether it was right or wrong for me to do or not do something, but rather would it cause me more pain to do it vs not do it.

And I have been thinking about this a lot. It has totally reframed how I approach my relationships. How I view conflict, tension, and pain. It’s changed how I view my responsibility in my relationships, particularly those that have become unhealthy for me. So rather than wondering what is right or wrong, I am wondering if it will hurt me more to do it rather than not. Rather than wondering who is the villain or the victim, I wonder about the investment value.

So this week, I wanted to share my reasons for de-investing in relationships.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words
You’ve heard the saying before, “Actions speak louder than words”. And it’s true. People will say things and make promises that they have no intention of keeping. You can tell someone that you love them a thousand times, but until your behavior matches that, it’s just words. Love is sustained by action, a pattern of devotion in the things we do for each other every day. Promises are nothing, words are nothing, without the action. We can apologize for our mistakes over and over, but if our actions do not change, the words become meaningless.

People may not tell you how they feel about you, but they will always show you. Pay attention. If their actions are telling a very different story than their words, and that story is hurting you, it’s time to start listening to the story their actions are telling you, and re-evaluate your investment.

You’re Constantly Defending Them
If you often find yourself in a position where you  need to defend someone, chances are there’s a consistently unacceptable behavior you are trying to justify.

A friend of mine was with a guy who was, to put it bluntly, an asshole. He was very rude to her in public, very rude to her friends, and very difficult in social situations. And she would constantly defend him. Explain that he was just insecure in social situations, that he had a rough childhood, that he just had some quirks.

As kind as she was, as compassionate as she was, as patient as she was, by defending him she communicated that his actions were also okay. And so they never changed. In fact, they only got worse. When we defend and excuse our loved ones bad behavior, we give them permission to continue that behavior. And more so, they have no motivation to ever work on that behavior.

Loving and understanding someones pain is a wonderful quality. But we need to be compassionate with ourselves first. And that means setting respectable standards for how we are treated.

They Constantly Blame You for Their Behavior
It can be quite difficult to recognize unacceptable behaviors from your loved ones when you are convinced that you are somehow responsible for those behaviors. You might tell yourself they don’t reach out to you because they are busy, or because they don’t want to be a bother. Or that those jabs and put downs are just jokes, that teasing is their love language. Or that they don’t take your emotions seriously because when you were a kid you threw a lot of temper tantrums, so they have conditioned themselves to shut you down.

In other words, you justify their mistreatment of you because they have convinced you that you are the “wrong one” or the “crazy one”. You defend their actions, because those actions aren’t changing, and so you must be the cause.

But there comes a point when you realize that people who truly respected you and cared about you would encourage you to grow, not resent you for your accomplishments. They would support you when you struggle, not use your past as a way to intimidate or disparage you. They would build you up, not tear you down. And when you told them you were hurt, they would want to change that.

 

 

Relationships are hard. All relationships. The longer the relationship, the more work they are going to take. And over time you may have to re-evaluate your cost-benefit analysis. Are you investing more than you are getting back? Is your participation hurting your bottom line? Has the relationship lost its value? Or do you just need to step back and take a break while you re-evaluate?

And then you need to decide, what hurts you more: leaving, or staying?

My final thought for you is this: Go where the love is.

 

-Darci

Things to Purge From Your Life

We all have goals, dreams, desires. We want to work out more, save more money, take better care of ourselves, find more fulfillment in our work. And yet we end up watching Netflix, wearing our yoga pants as pajamas, and working our 9-5 without much agency. With the new year approaching, it’s natural to start feeling self reflective. So it’s time to start making plans to create new positive habits and purge our not-so-wonderful habits. Here are some things you can purge from your life now so that by New Years you are ready to go!

Sexist Comments
It wouldn’t be an Angry Feminist post without a reminder that sexist comments are a thing of the past, and people still making them don’t belong in your future. No more calling your colleagues “honey” or “sweetie”, no more cracks about women drivers, no more comments about how women should or should not dress, no more catcalling, no more shaming women who reject your advances. No more. Purge those from your life immediately.

Self-Doubt
We grew up in the era of curriculums and block classes and testing and majors. All meant to prepare us for the real world. And then we were thrown into the real world where there is no schedule, itinerary, curriculum, or plan to follow. You have to make your own path. And it is daunting. Overwhelming. But the real kicker is this: now the only one stopping you from achieving anything is you. So you have to stop doubting yourself. It’s time to turn your dreams into plans! Pick your goal, make a list, and make a plan that’s all your own.

Workouts You Hate
Being active is so important. And not just for your waist line. The mental health benefits from activity are numerous. Regular exercise can have profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, stress, memory, sleep, and your mood. But the problem is you won’t see any of those benefits if you are forcing yourself to do workouts you hate. I love running, but running is not for everyone. You have to find your activity that you look forward to. Be it yoga, dancing, biking, sports, walking, what say you. The best part is that you get to do whatever you love.

Guilt 
It’s easy to feel guilty for setbacks in your goals, for not being able to be in two places at once, for not progressing or being where you “should” be in life right now. It’s time to nix that negativity from your life and focus on the positive. Think of all you have accomplished in the last year, and cut yourself some slack. Don’t undercut your small victories. Like those days you went into work when you really didn’t want to, or those times you got outside on a sunny day, or those small moments where you opened up to someone. Growth takes on different forms and paces. Spend more time celebrating your victories.

Clothes
It’s time. It’s time to clean out your closet of all of those old clothes that you have wonderful memories of, keep meaning to wear, will fit in again one day. Start small, throw out those items with holes or snags. And once you see how great it feels to start purging your closet, you will start throwing out more and more. You’ll have more space, you’ll feel organized and cleansed, and you get to shop for new things now. Get rid of the old to make space for the new.

Being Too Available 
Self-care is important. Let the trend of your next year be self-care. Plaster reminders all over your home, your car, your desk at work. Schedule it into your week. Baths, massages, reading time, alone time. Schedule it. And make it an unmovable option. If you get an invite to a shower, a happy hour, a move night, and it conflicts with your self-care time, you say no. Pick a time in your evening to stop checking work emails. Set your phone on your nightstand and leave it there all evening. I’m giving you permission to focus on you more.

Toxic Relationships 
It’s tough to cut people out of your life. It’s tough to set boundaries and enforce them. It’s tough to stand up for yourself. It’s tough to be the one to break the cycle. But breaking up with toxic friends, acquaintances, workplaces, family, and romantic partners will bring you a freedom you don’t realize you are missing right now. Stop reaching out to your one-sided friendships, stop indulging in toxic workplace gossip with your coworkers, stop putting up with poor treatment from loved ones, stop ignoring red flags. This is another part of self-care to focus on. Teach the people in your life how to treat you by not tolerating anything less.

Old Spices
Like all perishables, your spices have an expiration date. And just like your clothes, your pantry needs a refresher. Throw out the old and make way for the new. Cleanse your pantry closet just like your wardrobe and find inspiration for the future you. Use this as motivation to learn how to cook a new dish or spend more time taking care of yourself.

 

I am a big believer in self-reflection and self-improvement. I believe you can choose to be a better you at any time, not just at New Years or your birthday. So stop waiting and make productive healthy choices today. When you wait you are the one who suffers the most. So stop suffering and start loving yourself.

 

Darci

 

Navigating the “That’s Just How I Am” Dynamic This Holiday Season

It’s that time of year again. The holiday blitz. Too much sweet, too much savory, too much wine, too much cheer, and, for some, too much family.

Perhaps it’s age, perhaps it’s the current political climate, perhaps it’s my job, perhaps it’s nothing to do with me whatsoever. But I find as I get older I struggle with the holidays more and more. I dread meals with my family, sitting around the table listening to their religious and political beliefs, their passive aggressive comments about my life, the micro-aggressions being passed along with the potatoes. Knowing all too well that engaging in conversation will only result in conflict, and setting boundaries will only ignite tempers. And so each year I feel a little more trapped.

How many times have you heard, uttered, or thought the words “That’s just how I am”? When you’ve been confronted because of behavior another finds off-putting, have you defended yourself with, “that’s just how I am”? Behavior is a fascinating science and there are dozens of major theories on personality development. Things from genetics, to caregivers, to potty training, to behaviors reinforced or not, and a combination of everything and nothing. According to many philosophers, to understand oneself is the goal of life.

Understanding why we behave certain ways can be very helpful. But is understanding sufficient? Explanations can be comforting, certainly. Knowing you are the way you are for these particular reasons or background can lead to self-acceptance. But, is the way you are behaving how you actually want to be?

There is a lot to be said for self-acceptance. Often the goal of therapy is self-acceptance. Self-acceptance is a worthy goal.

But when someone says, “this is just how I am”, what are they really saying? The preface is, “I can’t help it…”, viewing it as a cop-out. Or perhaps, more plainly, they are saying, “I don’t have the motivation to change this aspect of myself”. It communications a sincere desire to avoid change.

How many times have you wished you hadn’t said something? Or started to say something, and realized it was a bad idea? So much of what we say is triggered by our current interactions tapping into our historical interactions. Otherwise known as conditioning. We have all been conditioned in our life. Our sense of humor is conditioned, how we handle our insecurities is conditioned, how we view men and women is conditioned, our family structure and dynamic is conditioned. We may have no control of our conditioning, but we do have control of our actions. And we have responsibility in how we treat other people, regardless of conditioning, regardless of “that’s just how I am”.

Breaking this conditioning takes a great deal of effort. Understanding yourself is a big part of it, but understanding why you behave the way you do requires more digging. It requires one to be come more conscious, to act more intentionally. And that is easier said than done.

So this holiday season, I encourage you to do some self reflecting. Not just on what you believe and why you believe it. But also on how you react in your interactions and why. Find something about your own behavior and conditioning you would like to change. For example, maybe you want to be more patient. Consider how you would want that to present, and find ways to remind yourself daily of your new goals. Seek out others to help you be accountable for your changes, to encourage you in your growth.

And most importantly, the goal is progress, not perfection. Progress is a slow journey, and requires grace. It is a worthy cause.

-Darci