Friday: Personal Choice & Feminism

I’ve been officially exercising again, a big change since I broke my toe four weeks ago. It’s been a painful four weeks and I’m not comfortable with the level of inactivity I experienced. As I grow older, I’m beginning to truly realize how valuable it is to exercise and actually take care of myself. The teenage lifestyle of scarfing down Skittles and Swedish Fish without a care in the world is over. Although, I did always recognize that it was unsustainable.

This morning, I woke up to find bird guts and feathers spread all over my office, which kicked me into high gear for enjoying my Friday. So we meet now: workout complete, meditation complete, massive cleaning project complete. The best part is it’s just after 6 a.m. How do people not like waking up early?!

I’ve been mulling over one of my biggest issues with “Hashtag Activism” the past week or so and coming to the conclusion that I really need to be done with the “mainstream” internet feminist topics. This isn’t about people like Tarana Burke and the #MeToo movement, which has a clear impact on not just spreading awareness on a major feminist issue, but has led to justice for victims of sexual assault. However, the few people who focus on issues like this can sometimes be crowded out by people online with generally good intentions who may not have clarity and nuance about feminist issues, so they apply broad brush analysis and understanding to what’s important in their world: whether not liking Sansa from Game of Thrones is misogynist, how many men they can and should have sex with, and other individual problems.

This quote from MindTheGap, a feminist blog from Cardiff, UK, explains Audre Lorde’s intentions when she said the personal was political:

First, it’s important to note that the phrase ‘the personal is political’ manifestly does not mean that everything a woman does is political or that all her personal choices are political choices. In feminist terms, the ‘personal is political’ refers to the theory that personal problems are political problems, which basically means that many of the personal problems women experience in their lives are not their fault, but are the result of systematic oppression.[SOURCE]

Taken out of context, and spread as a slogan decontextualized from the original work, “the personal is political” has come to mean whatever anyone projects onto it. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. I think the issue comes when people with explicitly anti-feminist agendas adopt phrases like this and propagandize anti-feminist beliefs using this phrase. A good example of this is “feminist advertising” of any kind in industries who rely on women’s low self-esteem to push products, yet may sell the idea that purchasing their particular product is more feminist than others. “Eyeliner sharp enough to kill a man”, and all that jazz.

Consumer choices have become “political” to some people, but they haven’t examined how a patriarchal society has impacted the more invisible parts of woman’s daily lives like division of labor in the household. Focusing on individual choices and our personal lives as our primary and individual concerns also removes the community aspect of feminism, where women with greater privilege can ally with less privileged women. If we think our work here is done when we purchase the correct razor, or watch the correct most feminist TV show, we don’t think about other people.

Lately, I’ve been disillusioned with a lot of the feminist conversations online which mostly involve lobbing hatred towards other women for likes and retweets and false communities that do nothing for our human need for interpersonal interaction, and leave room for despotic personalities to control political conversations in groups that they potentially know nothing about. (Not all black people, communities, islands, nations, cities, towns, and families are monolithic, so presumably, one person cannot speak for all of them.)

I’ve been discouraging myself to think of feminism as a form of individual expression. This rampant Western individualism is nearly invisible to people living within and practicing it. As such, I like drawing attention to this individualism within myself and considering whether there is a more ethical approach to social problems. It can’t hurt to consider ways we might be focused on our communities rather than ourselves.

Friday: Covert Contracts With Sexist Men

Most men are sexist either consciously or subconsciously. If you’re turned off, good. Go read a book and come back when you’re ready for unfiltered honesty. If you’re still with me, let’s keep going, shall we? Considering the fact that most men grow up in a patriarchal world, modeling their behavior from sexist fathers or receiving messages from their mothers and family that reinforce sexist behavior and beliefs, it’s hard to make it to adulthood without some sexist beliefs.

Women also come of age beneath heavy patriarchal conditioning with desires, expectations and attraction shaped immensely by social messages. While I’m blessed to have women in my life who thoroughly interrogate our sexist world (it’s just as likely this blessing is fueled by impatience, I might add), it’s an unfortunate truth that most women don’t.

Dating (as a heterosexual woman) and clinging tightly to patriarchal beliefs whether consciously or unconsciously, is a recipe for disaster since sexist cover contracts are established. When these contracts, which do sometimes have apparent short term benefits for women, make unappealing demands, women find themselves quagmired by the myriad of small decisions and perceptions that have ultimately contributed to their position.

How do women cope with these covert contracts and expectations? Resentment is certainly one way, but certainly there’s another way that doesn’t involve tearing away at ourselves from within. It won’t hurt (much) to hold men accountable for their behavior. When you recognize a covert contract, some aspect of your relationship that exists solely because of your sex, rather than holding onto resentment, isn’t it much easier to draw this out and bring it to the foreground? Speak about your experience and don’t allow a fear of being "assertive” press you into submission.

We are much better off finding out if we can bring our issues to the table early on rather than stuffing our feelings until we feel too emotionally involved to tell a man to get his act together.

Friday: Top 10 Lessons for Creatives from Rebel Without A Crew by Robert Rodriguez

This week, I finished reading Robert Rodriguez’s book Rebel Without A Crew. I loved his diary and a lot of the ideas and mindset he espoused before his big success. My top 10 takeaways from the book about living successfully as a creative are as follows:

  • Have a “do or die” attitude about your creative pursuits.

  • Creating mediocre work to completion is better than having something “perfect” and half finished.

  • Sometimes what may look like a missed opportunity and massive disappointment is only preparation for greater success down the line.

  • Once you stop learning, growing, and practicing, you’re finished.

  • When you need to be creative in order to survive, you won’t make as many excuses, you’ll find solutions instead

  • Trust your instincts about people, about projects and about your own capabilities.

  • Push your limits, try new things and engage in huge projects that challenge you.

  • Ignore the naysayers — completely. Even if you “prove them wrong”, they’ll never be satisfied.

  • You can be poor and still find a way to create, grow and achieve success.

  • Sometimes a small budget is better than a big budget because you’re forced to find creative solutions and you trim the fat a lot.

  • Learn as many skills as you can in your field. You never know which may come in handy.

There’s so much more to say about the book, but I left feeling positive psychology was greatly reinforced after I completed the book. It’s been a goal of mine since 2018 to write a screenplay (I’ve been waiting for some specific life events to move out of the way) and I can’t wait to get started!

What creative pursuits have you worked on recently? Do any of these points resonate with you? Comment whichever resonates with you the most down below.

If you like this article, use my image to pin this post to your best board for books, writers, creatives, and motivation.

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Friday: The Biggest Lie About Working From Home

When you tell people you work from home, you get one of two reactions.

1. “Oh that’s nice” AKA “I’m so sorry you’re broke.”

This reaction can come from your family members or complete strangers. People fundamentally misunderstand that working at home is an actual job. We usually have an office, we work eight hours a day and often longer. We have a harder time balancing work and life outside of it since they all bleed together. And no, we aren’t broke. 

2. “It’s so nice that you can afford to stay at home” AKA “It’s so nice that you can afford to stay at home and do nothing”

This reaction presumes that when you work from home, you are actually having a big old party all day long. While working from home does have some benefits and may feel like quite the party for introverts, it’s far from “doing nothing”. Not everyone who works from home is doing it simply because they’re so loaded that they can afford to.

These two common misconceptions both play into the #1 biggest lie about working from home:

Working from home is easier (and you should feel bad about that). 

It would be a total lie to claim that working from home is always easy or that it’s always hard. Some weeks, I pull unhealthy shifts and I obsess over work constantly. Some weeks, I can finish my work before noon and spend the afternoon continuing my education for my career or just enjoying the natural beauty of the island that I live on.

The truth is, working from home can be a lot harder than otherwise because usually…

1. You’re your own boss

You don’t have anyone to tell you what to do or when to do it. There’s no one to supervise you and make sure you’re staying on task. If you make a mistake, there’s no one to swoop in and help you fix it. You’re all on your own. While this can be pleasant and preferred for introverts and those who work best in solitude, this solitude comes with some downsides. You absorb all the negative consequences of risks that you may take, poor decisions or simply bad luck. Being your own boss isn’t only about keeping yourself in check and reaping rewards. There are very real, negative consequences that you can face.

2. You’re scarily good at pretending you’re not working when you really are

I can’t tell you the number of times I will “sneak work” outside of work hours. I mean, it’s easy when my work is on my cellphone and on my laptop, neither of which leave my side. It’s so simple for me to check my work Instagram and justify it by saying “Instagram isn’t really work”. Hint: If you’re looking at analytics of any kind, you might just be working. The boundaries between work and relaxation are so thin that sometimes you feel like there’s something wrong with your obsession. A lot of entrepreneurs glamorize this, but I want to acknowledge how unhealthy this behavior is! When you work from home you can fall into this trap and since you’re your own boss, it can be harder to get out of. (Which boss doesn’t try to sneak in extra over time?) 

3. You struggle with perfectionism

This isn’t specifically caused by working from home but it’s something I’ve noticed in a lot of millennials who work from home. We struggle with perfectionism. We put off new projects and we reject new ideas if we think they don’t measure up to what our idea of “perfect” is. Given that online spaces are so prone to comparison, we may spend an excessive amount of time comparing ourselves to our “#goals” on social media. This struggle with perfectionism may pay off in some ways. This means we are usually high achievers and our work reflects that. However, our perfectionism can mostly be negative as it leads to excessive self-criticism, stymies our creativity and can hack away at our self-esteem. 
4. You (might) struggle with a social life

When you work at home, your routine tends to revolve around your home. You have no commute, you don’t stop in at the coffee shop on the way to work and you technically don’t have to leave the house thanks to Amazon Prime. The downside to this is the intense cabin fever you can get from staying “locked up” in your office. Socializing doesn’t happen unless you make it happen and making it happen takes an extra effort. I’ll have to be honest, this can be a major struggle for me. I have seen in a lot of online communities for people who work at home that many struggle with the same thing. 

It’s not all fun and games and while working at home has many rewards for me including flexibility of work hours, flexibility to travel, flexibility with my time off and an income that allows me to enjoy all of that and more, I do want to acknowledge some of the difficulties that people who work from home face. Not all of us are rich and not all of us have it easy. Most of us are just working with a vision and a dream and we will fight as hard as we can to make that dream come true.

What about you? Do you work from home and experience any of these struggles? Comment down below if you’ve shared in this experience. PIN this post to share with friends, family and relatives who need a little more education about what it truly means to work at home.