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#31 of 72 Old 07-28-2011, 06:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by seawitch View Post

Actually, without going off on tangent, I don't personally see that there's so much an anti-woman movement lately but anti-mother, anti-child, anti-family. That's what really riles me up. I seem to recall hearing how childless women tend to make as much if not more than men in their fields, but as soon as they become a mother their value plummets and never recovers.


This is spot on, and in my mind the sole reason for women's continued second class status. It impacts all women, whatever their family choice may be. Without totally blowing my cover, I wrote about this in more depth on a blog I kept during graduate school. This post in particular.

 

Study documenting that childless female MBAs make just as much as men, it's only female MBAs with children who pay a compensation/promotion penalty: http://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/marianne.bertrand/research/dynamics_1209.pdf

 

The issue that inspired this post originally is relatively small but just one of hundreds of small humiliations I experience on a regular basis. Individually, they aren't a big deal. In the aggregate, they feel overwhelming and insurmountable. And when, case after case, my fellow women fail to acknowledge their relevance leaves me feeling profoundly alienated.

 

(Can you imagine for a second a scenario in which a man is the sole point of contact on an asset purchase, shows up at a meeting he's arranged with an enormous check with his name on it and a man at the table says at some point, "Sir, we just need your wife's signature alone on this one. Don't worry, she can stand in for you both. It's not important to have your recorded here." Can you imagine him having to argue that it is important and he wants to be part? I can argue. I just feel like I've already lost if it comes to pointing out the obvious.)

 

And back to the name thing, if you haven't lived through the experience of reminding your own family repeatedly that you are not Mrs. John Doe and that the kids have your own last name too. (Or the more subtle, "that's so complicated, what's everyone's last name again"?) Let me bring you into my world for a moment. People do not say, "Oh, gotcha. Glad you told me." They give you the sighing, eye-rolling "oh, one of those, you're making it so difficult" (as though re-remembering all of my female friends and families new surnames mid-way through life was so easy) looks. And you feel like shit. Decade after decade after decade after ... I am willing bet that married women who do not take their husband's names in the US (10% of us, if that) are harassed for this far more often than those who do. I politely call my married friends by their surname of choice, I just want the same.

 

Yes, there are some women who make a thoughtful and reasoned determination on what surname to take upon marriage. But most women, I'm willing to argue, do it because they just don't want to rock the boat. This became abundantly clear when my friends started getting married (I was an early bird) and came to me secretly because they wanted to keep their names and their progressive, egalitarian husbands did not want that. How did you convince your husband, they asked. I was shocked because I just did what I wanted and hadn't thought to even ask him. We had never discussed it once. And for me, it's the don't rock the boat attitude along with the niceness problem that is the tip of an ugly iceberg here.

 

[Edit: just to mention, my particular issue was being omitted entirely from one form related to an asset I had just purchased with my money, not being second. Though I believe s/he who does the most work goes first! : ) ]

 


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#32 of 72 Old 07-28-2011, 08:23 AM
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Sincere inquiry here, is it sexist? I feel that women far more more often than men tend to tell me to get in line and do as other women are doing (i.e. not demanding so much for themselves). That's been my experience. Men have been the ones telling me go for it, you're doing great, you deserve this, etcetera. I've so rarely gotten that from a female colleague. (I can think of only one at the moment.) Don't just tell another woman "things never change" and leave it at that - help change them!

 

(and btw, my husband is my only close friend who is not a woman. all my best friends are women. hehe. i get tons of wonderful personal affection from women, i'm focused on my professional and official life here.)



I guess it really depends on one's own experience.  I once went to a job interview where the (male) interviewer asked me, "How does your husband feel about you taking this job?"  I went off on him and, needless to say, I didn't get the job. 

 

I've found that you have to pick and choose your battles.  When forms list my dh first, it's just not worth my energy to fight it.  For you, it sounds like it is. (But again, don't just blame the women.)

 

Other things seriously get my ire, though, such as when my dd's (male) orthodontist wanted to talk to her about taking care of her teeth as an adult, but what he said was, "When you're 20 and married............."  I said, "Why are you trying to 'marry her off' at 20?  She has plans to go to graduate school!  You can talk about being an adult neutrally, without mentioning marriage!!" 

 

One thing to keep in mind is that patriarchy hurts men, too.  (Circumcision, for example, or the stereotypes that men shouldn't be nurturing fathers.) 

 

I still think it's offensive to claim that women "want" to be the second sex.  Margaret Mead said that if a fish were an anthropologist, the last thing it would discover would be the water.  When you've grown up in "second-class-ness" your whole life, you really don't even see it most of the time.  There are lots of ways to raise your daughter to be a strong, confident woman without putting down other women in the process. 

 

Personally, I think the single most important thing we can do for our children's genuine self-esteem (girls and boys) is to give them a hobby, sport, or talent to feel good about.  (or multiple talents.) Sign her up for AYSO (soccer), get her into piano or guitar lessons, whatever. 

 

And here are some shirts you can buy for your dd:

http://www.handsomeinpink.com/cgi-bin/hip/scan/se=baby/sf=prod_group/va=category_name=baby/tf=weight/to=r.html

 

On the name thing, when I told my parents of my plans to keep my (their) last name, my dad told me it wasn't even legally possible to keep my own surname!  I just said to him, "Watch me."  Most people have been supportive about it, though. 

 

And Hildare, I realize that my last name came from my father, and his father, and his father's father.  But the important thing about it is that it's MY name, the one I've had for 39 years now (23 when I got married), the one listed on my birth certificate.  It's part of my identity.  My last name is very Dutch, and dh's last name is very Italian.  I wanted to keep the cultural heritage of my last name, instead of taking on dh's.  But I don't have any problem with women who take their husband's last name.  I understand that point of view, even though it's not what I chose. 

 

Interesting stats:

http://blogs.wsj.com/juggle/2011/05/08/the-name-change-dilemma/

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#33 of 72 Old 07-28-2011, 09:10 AM
 
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It is funny how people only look at part of the history of names. There are eras where a woman did not change her name because she was never really considered part of the family or always associated with her father. I grew up with extremely common first and last names. There were always people with the same names that I was confused with or I just got lost in the shuffle. I looked at the opportunity to change my name for free as a shrewd business decision (among other reasons). My DH's last name is much more unique and fairly easy to pronounce. When spoken there is one letter that is sometimes mixed up but it still scans and I think makes it more memorable. 

 

Do not assume I blindly changed my name and I won't assume you are expecting women to be your stepping stones to the top. 

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#34 of 72 Old 07-28-2011, 09:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It is funny how people only look at part of the history of names. There are eras where a woman did not change her name because she was never really considered part of the family or always associated with her father. I grew up with extremely common first and last names. There were always people with the same names that I was confused with or I just got lost in the shuffle. I looked at the opportunity to change my name for free as a shrewd business decision (among other reasons). My DH's last name is much more unique and fairly easy to pronounce. When spoken there is one letter that is sometimes mixed up but it still scans and I think makes it more memorable. 

 

Do not assume I blindly changed my name and I won't assume you are expecting women to be your stepping stones to the top. 

 

Nothing stops women with unmemorable or bothersome (to themselves) surnames from changing it to something more preferable the moment they turn 18. Why suffer with a name you don't like until you find a husband?

 

"Stepping stone" to the top? Happy would be the day, that I am not the only woman in the room. I'm asking women to join me at the top! (if I ever get "there" ...) Without shame and guilt and sorrow. To revel in unabashed ego and ambition and the glory of exercising their intellectual and financial power. My life would be a heck of a lot more fun if I had a little more female company around me.


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#35 of 72 Old 07-28-2011, 09:51 AM
 
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Nothing stops women with unmemorable or bothersome (to themselves) surnames from changing it to something more preferable the moment they turn 18. Why suffer with a name you don't like until you find a husband?

 


while this is true, in most states, to legally change your name upon marriage is a MUCH easier process that involves going to the ssa and the dmv with a copy of the marriage certificate.  to legally change your name other than in the case of marriage, you have to visit a courthouse and pay a newspaper or two to run something about the change and it takes 30-60 days.  plus, oh my god, if i had changed my name when i was 18 there is no telling what ridiculous monstrosity i would have devised.  i personally am much better off having an actual name to choose from rather than relying upon the craziness of pulling something out of the air.  McLovin, Greenweed, Baggins, who knows. 

 


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#36 of 72 Old 07-28-2011, 11:50 AM
 
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(Can you imagine for a second a scenario in which a man is the sole point of contact on an asset purchase, shows up at a meeting he's arranged with an enormous check with his name on it and a man at the table says at some point, "Sir, we just need your wife's signature alone on this one. Don't worry, she can stand in for you both. It's not important to have your recorded here." Can you imagine him having to argue that it is important and he wants to be part? I can argue. I just feel like I've already lost if it comes to pointing out the obvious.)


Um yeah, it happened to us.  Our mortgage loan is in DH's name alone because his credit score is better than mine and we got a better deal on the loan that way.  They required my signature (alone) on a separate piece of paperwork to indicate that I knew about the deal and approved, as it seems it is illegal in our state for one spouse to make a large purchase of which the other spouse is not aware.

 

 

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A few months later, one of his (female) colleagues came out with a study documenting that childless female MBAs make just as much as men, it's only female MBAs with children who pay a compensation/promotion penalty.

 

Regarding the lack of support for childrearing in the US: Yeah this is a huge problem, but I don't think it's an issue of *discrimination* per se.  Women with children make less money than those without because (overall, over the population) they spend less time working overall than women without children.  Which is fine.  While we certainly need better supports for working women with children (like a reasonable maternity leave policy and some better day care options), we shouldn't be shooting for a benchmark of *no difference in earnings* between women with children and women without, because there will always be women (many women - even most women?) who actively choose to reduce their hours in the paid workforce order to spend more time on child care.  It would be cool if men had the freedom to make those same life choices.  But what wouldn't be cool is if we pretended that childrearing does not (or worse, should not!) divert parental resources away from other endeavors (such as participation in the paid workforce).


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#37 of 72 Old 07-28-2011, 12:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Um yeah, it happened to us.  Our mortgage loan is in DH's name alone because his credit score is better than mine and we got a better deal on the loan that way.  They required my signature (alone) on a separate piece of paperwork to indicate that I knew about the deal and approved, as it seems it is illegal in our state for one spouse to make a large purchase of which the other spouse is not aware.

 

Loved your post, mambera. But just to be clear, I meant an instance in which the wife was chosen over the husband as the sole representative homeowner for legal purposes. Had my name not been on that form, apparently the property tax bill would have been in my husband's name alone. As I will be paying the property taxes, I want to be able to call in about our tax bill if ever necessary without needing to go through my husband.


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#38 of 72 Old 07-28-2011, 12:36 PM
 
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Hi LittleGriff,

 

I'm also in a male dominated field (<5%  women), and am totally with you on this [your feelings... I haven't been in the exact situation you're in].  I used to just laugh stuff like this off, but over the last few years have become more sensitive because every single frickin day I feel like I'm fighting for basic stuff that they guys get easy, and every single frickin day when I do something that doesn't work out 'girls shouldn't be doing this' while if a guy does it 'oh, he just took a calculated risk that didn't work out.'  I'm not very girly, but one of my collegues is more so, and every time she has a bad day and looks a little frazzled, we hear choruses of 'she's weak', where one of the guys who just doesn't respond to pressure any where near as well as either of us is 'an okay guy'.  It's hard to blow off the small stuff, when the small stuff ("microinequities" to quote the sociology literature) is where we're fighting our battles every day!

 

Anyway, hug2.gif.  And next time don't feel bad about banging your fist on the table -- it was the right thing to do.

 

Anka


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#39 of 72 Old 07-28-2011, 01:14 PM
 
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OP here:

 

Storm Bride - I'm sorry to offend you. I would like to clarify that my lack of backup from fellow women is not primarily about surnames. It's about sitting in a room with two women who rather than say, "gosh, I'm not sure why this form omits your name, let's fix it" laugh it off and tell me that's just the way it is until I insist that it's not fair. This is only the tip of an iceberg in which women more than men have seemed taken aback by my pursuit of financial gains, my desire to receive titles and pay equivalent to my accomplishments, my lack of guilt around leaving small children in daycare, my insistence that my graduate school not penalize me for having children during my studies, my being appalled by always being asked about my family status in job interviews.

 

I left the laundry list out of the original post for brevity but realized that I simply confused things, especially by mentioning the hubby name issue.

 

Please don't be angry with me. I'm sorry. I know it's obnoxious to feel judged by someone you've never met. And that you have every right to do what you want with your surname.

 

But honestly, hate me if you will, it's hard for me not to feel that women's broad willingness to assimilate themselves into their husband's identity doesn't play somehow into the perpetual surprise that I would expect to be allowed to stand on my own. Almost all of my friends have changed their names. And I know how smart and fabulous and interesting they are. But they also do rely on their husbands in a way that I don't. And that gets lonely.

 


My understanding is that the bolded is illegal in the US. That doesn't mean it doesn't happen. I remember an interview in college where those types of questions came up. I'd probably handle it very differently now than I did 10+ years ago (I could see making such a fus that that job was mine in order for the company to avoid a law suit - and I don't mean the job I interview for I mean the idiot who asked the question's job).

 

I agree with other posters however. I am first on just as much joint paperwork in my household as the other way around. I believe that I am first on our mortgage. If I remember right our mortgage broker used the highest of the two credit scores first. As for the cars they are typically in which every of the two of us got our butts down to the registrars office to get the registered name first. I've spent much of our marriage making more money than my husband. But I also did take my husbands name. It is a choice that I am very comfortable with with and I am not less for it.

 

I understand your frustration and I do think taking the time to point things like that out and insist that they be corrected is important and should happen regularly. I remember my aunt insisting that her name be first on all of her and her husbands auto purchases. My mother had a few choice words for one of Dad's friends who heard that some "guy" from out of town just bought a house after she bid in the auction, she wrote the check, ect. But I also know of women for whom that stuff doesn't matter and that really doesn't bother me.

 

I guess I just want the person writing up the paperwork to ask next time. Kinda like with my last name. I appreciated that my husband didn't assume. He asked what name I wanted to go by after marriage. I choose his, but knew I married the right man for me who would ask first. I don't care if a woman is 1st or 2nd on paperwork (though you can bet I wouldn't sign anything and commit my money that didn't have my name on somewhere). But I do want it not to be the default.

 


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#40 of 72 Old 07-28-2011, 05:25 PM
 
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OP, I empathize with your position in the respect that women are sometimes and/or often seen as extensions of their spouses.  I grew up in that culture in a familial sort of way, and I had a lot resentments early on about my place in the so-called universe.  I think it is easy for those who have never experienced these things or had these types of resentments to not understand one's perspective on this issue.  When you've not been discriminated against, it is hard to understand discrimination generally and specifically.  I think it is one reason why majorities have a hard time understanding why minorities still feel discrimination and slights on a daily basis.  We're all equal, right?  Sure.  Under the law we are supposedly equal, but cultural and deeply engrained biases die hard.

 

That being said, outside my own family I have never experienced second class spousal discrimination.  It is funny, but when DH and were about to be married 21 years ago, he said:  "Why would you change your name...this is who you are are."  I love DH for that...he's always had such a logical spin on things.  Of course, my parents were mortified and to this day, my mother still addresses all correspondence to me as "Mrs. [DH's first name and last name]."  They refuse to acknowledge the fact that I never legally changed my name.

 

Anyway, in these 21 years of marriage, no one has ever preferred DH over me in terms of financial transactions or otherwise.  We're co-signers to everything including our mortgage.  I do all the tax returns so I'm a primary signator even though we do joint returns.  I don't know why I've had the luck of never running into spousal discrimination...but I do recognize that it exists and I think perhaps that a lot of it is cultural and even religious.  I don't hang around a lot of people or neighborhoods or towns where thoughts may be more conservative in terms of social roles.  One of the reasons that I ran far, far away from my family was because they were incredibly stifling (despite the fact that I love them).  They had pre-defined roles for everyone.  I said bullocks on that.  

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#41 of 72 Old 07-29-2011, 09:44 AM
 
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OP - I TOTALLY get where you are coming from!

 

My I add my grieveances to the list?

Background: I made double what my husband makes and have more education. I married him because he wasn't particularly career ambitious and I knew I was but also wanted a family. Being career-oriented doesn't stop men from having a family, why should it stop women. A pity that college professor didn't understand that. I did not take his name and he wasn't thrilled about it ( I don't think it was a situation he ever considered) but it was just a non-negotiatble point. I would not have married him. He's grown to be OK with it.

 

I pay for the entire mortgage on the house and I had all of the down payment. He's listed first and it sticks in my craw! We just refinanced, too and I just wanted to close and get it done, so I signed. It didn't ocur to me before closing to insist that I be listed first so the paperwork was in place. I brought it up with broker at closing, but it was in that joking way. It DOES bug me.

 

My OWN accountant, who is a woman, did my taxes before I was married and obviously knows what we both make has him listed first and the papers filed under his name. When I asked her why she had no explanation. She said she usually files it under whoever was there first (me) or whoever makes the most (again me)!

 

When we were first married over 10 years ago, we got a census "long form" and were very excited to be filling it out. I remember sitting in bed with him (no kids, yet) and the first question was "Head of Household." Well that's me, I make the most money, I get to be the head of household. It sounded so awesome to me, I was so proud. Newly married, new post-MBA job that tripled my old salary and doubled his salary. He was like- no, I'm the HOH, I'm the man. I'm like - NO I'm the HOH, I make more. We got in a little fight about it (good natured), but it was astonishing to me that he would assume it would be him. The form now just lists person 1 and person 2. There is some change.

 

 

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#42 of 72 Old 07-29-2011, 10:36 AM
 
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When we were first married over 10 years ago, we got a census "long form" and were very excited to be filling it out. I remember sitting in bed with him (no kids, yet) and the first question was "Head of Household." Well that's me, I make the most money, I get to be the head of household. It sounded so awesome to me, I was so proud. Newly married, new post-MBA job that tripled my old salary and doubled his salary. He was like- no, I'm the HOH, I'm the man. I'm like - NO I'm the HOH, I make more. We got in a little fight about it (good natured), but it was astonishing to me that he would assume it would be him. The form now just lists person 1 and person 2. There is some change.

 

 

 

I've been the HOH by your gauge, and dh is the HOH now. I'd have crossed "head of household" out on the form, and put myself down first (as I fill out all the paperwork). Or, if it was an actual question (ie. "who is the head of the household?"), I'd have left it blank and argued with them when they called back (my mom has also done this, over questions about our ethnicity).  I find the entire concept of "head of the household" to be antiquated, obsolete and meaningless.

 

However, our census forms have been "person 1" and "person 2" for as long as I've been filling them out, so that one has never come up.
 

 


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#43 of 72 Old 07-29-2011, 10:45 AM
 
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Regarding the lack of support for childrearing in the US: Yeah this is a huge problem, but I don't think it's an issue of *discrimination* per se.  Women with children make less money than those without because (overall, over the population) they spend less time working overall than women without children.  Which is fine.  While we certainly need better supports for working women with children (like a reasonable maternity leave policy and some better day care options), we shouldn't be shooting for a benchmark of *no difference in earnings* between women with children and women without, because there will always be women (many women - even most women?) who actively choose to reduce their hours in the paid workforce order to spend more time on child care.  It would be cool if men had the freedom to make those same life choices.  But what wouldn't be cool is if we pretended that childrearing does not (or worse, should not!) divert parental resources away from other endeavors (such as participation in the paid workforce).


These are really good points. It has certainly been my experience that by making the choice to become a mom (and for me that was a very hard fought choice), I have had less to give to my career. The physical demands of pregnancy, breastfeeding, and parenting an infant (and now a small child) are real. If I've discovered anything about myself as I've navigated being a working mom, it's that I'm not a "force of nature." I have only so much energy, and I have to prioritize how I use it. And my kid comes first; that's a no-brainer as far as I'm concerned.

 

If we frame the conversation solely in terms of women making a "personal choice" to place parenting ahead of career advancement, however, we risk underestimating the very real systemic and structural obstacles that women face in the workforce. And we lose the opportunity to find collective solutions that support women both as employees and as workers. I'm talking about things like decent paid maternity and paternity leaves, high quality affordable day care, support for breastfeeding women at work. In the USA we leave those things to luck and to individual ingenuity, and so most women are forced to make really tough choices (a decent life for my child vs. full commitment to my work).

 

I am a reasonably intelligent, energetic & capable person who likes my work, wants to serve my community & wants to bring value to my organization. I didn't intend to give any of that up when I became a parent, nor did I want to choose to advance at work at my child's expense. So I've made a whole series of compromises. I had only been in my current job for 3 months when I got pregnant, so I felt a need to work like a dog through pregnancy to show that the organization hadn't made a mistake in hiring me. I worked literally almost up to the moment my labor began. I went back to work 8 weeks after my DD was born because I had used up all my paid maternity leave. I was still recovering from the labor from hell, a c-section, and a raging breast infection. I was getting 5 hours of sleep a night on a good night. I had spent my maternity leave totally stressed out trying to navigate childcare options, none of which were ideal and all of which were too expensive. Somehow I figured it out and got my butt to work every day. I gave what I had at work, because I felt like I had no choice. I probably should have used FMLA to take more time off, but it would have been unpaid time, which I couldn't afford, in part because I would have had to pay my health care premiums ($700 a month).

 

At my performance review 9 months after DD's birth, the basic message was, "You're doing good work, but we wish you weren't in such a bad mood all the time. It's great that you're a new mom and all, but we don't want to see any evidence of it here." And this was from a boss whom I would say was more supportive than most!

 

Here's what I think: if my maternity leave options had been slightly more generous, if I'd been able to take 12 weeks, say, instead of only 8, I might have chosen to leave work a week before the baby came. I might not have had quite such a harrowing labor, and maybe would have even avoided a c-section. I would have had time to deal with the breast infection, figure out child care without feeling as much pressure, and get the sleep situation a little better under control. I would have returned to work feeling more ready to work. Yes, I would have been gone for 12 weeks instead of 8. But would my organization have really lost anything? I would have returned a happier and more productive person. As it was, they got me back after 8 weeks, but I was a crazy, exhausted mess. No wonder I got the review that I did.

 

I'm sure I'm not alone in this kind of experience. I'm sure there are lots of women who've been through worse.

 

Are individual women responsible? To some degree, yes. But I would say that as individuals our choices are only as good as the systems in which we live. And unless we can collectively work together for changes that benefit all women, families and children, we'll just keep struggling with our own impossible situations.

 

 


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#44 of 72 Old 07-29-2011, 11:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CI Mama View Post

Are individual women responsible? To some degree, yes. But I would say that as individuals our choices are only as good as the systems in which we live. And unless we can collectively work together for changes that benefit all women, families and children, we'll just keep struggling with our own impossible situations.

 

 


I am so here with everything in your post, CI Mama. When I had my first child I was so embarrassed that I had thought pre-kiddo that it was just a matter of attitude when asking women to participate fully in economic life AND bear kids was asking them to be super human all day long.

 

Expanding on your last point I would say individual women form the system in which we live and therefore are hugely responsible. (I wish our individual actions mattered less.)

 

A huge piece of backstory in my original rant was a really disappointing experience in graduate school. I arrived to bschool with a 10 month old and tried to create a support group for student moms under the school's official women's group which receives funding and support from the school as well as corporations and is a huge piece of the "we love women here" marketing spiel that bschools put on these days. Not only was I fully rebuffed by the self-appointed group's female leaders (they don't run by election but pass it off to a hand selected group of their choosing each year), apparently because they did not want to "mommy-track" the group and sully their good name. (Despite huge interest for such an initiative, measured by a survey I did, among the female student population.) The director of admissions, director of academic affairs, director of diversity affairs (!) and the deputy dean, who all are women and all but one had kids, did nothing to intervene and seemed to feel it was an appropriate decision. And that was that. There's plenty of other drama in there (including getting reamed out by one of those female leaders on my due date and sent home sobbing) but I'll leave it at that. This is while bschools are making lots of big talk about how they support women and yet won't do the simple thing of acknowledging that women have babies and it makes them unable to be just exactly like their male counterparts and we need to figure out solutions rather than expect the impossible of mere mortals.

 

This is not the only instance of lack of female support I've encountered but it was the most peculiar and unexpected. (No one's job was at stake and this really could have been a huge symbolic win.) And it just destroyed my confidence in progress. (If bschools can't do this, why would businesses?)

 

So, yeah, it's true that there are forces greater than each woman out there but if women can't step up and make changes and stand up for us, it's lost. I just feel like the time has come in our evolution for rights that we need to look towards the last hurdles within. How are we binding ourselves? From things as small as brushing off unfair forms to as big as standing up for a co-worker who's getting pushed about by the maternity leave police. Unfortunately, I still feel like we're in that fragile place where our individual actions still negatively impact one another and women need to be especially vigilant about not averting their gaze.

 

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#45 of 72 Old 07-29-2011, 11:53 AM
 
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I am so here with everything in your post, CI Mama. When I had my first child I was so embarrassed that I had thought pre-kiddo that it was just a matter of attitude when asking women to participate fully in economic life AND bear kids was asking them to be super human all day long.


Honestly, I feel that framing the conversation in terms of whether we are expecting too much from mothers at work is looking at it all wrong.  It is not about the strain on the mother (I do feel that choosing parenthood is a personal choice that comes with tradeoffs, like much else in life).  It is about *the effect on the child.*

 

I am just as energetic, hardworking, dedicated, etc. with a child as I was before.  More actually.  The difference is that I choose (appropriately so!) to direct much of that energy to my child's care, because that is (and should be) the priority.  My child needs me unspeakably far more than my coworkers, and, yes, than my patients.  Wanting (e.g.) a reasonable maternity leave (by which I mean 6 months to a year, not the measly 8 weeks I got) is not about *my* need to recover.  It is about the need of a helpless infant to be cared for by the single most appropriate person to do that.

 

I find it absolutely offensive and wrong when people suggest that a new mother 'isn't doing enough' at work (or 'doesn't have the right attitude' or whatever).  Like, infuriating.  As in, my internal reaction is something like "(TOS violation) you!  You think your need for me to do xyz piece of bureaucratic labor compares in any way at all to the need that an infant has for its mother?  (TOS violation) you and the disgustingly inverted set of priorities you rode in on!"  

 

Honestly, in my hormone-addled postpartum state I even got offended at people who would ask well-meaning things like "What's the hardest about this?  Is it the sleep deprivation?" or whatever.  I'm like, no you moron, it has nothing to do with the sleep deprivation, it has nothing to do with *me* at all.  I chose this.  My kid did not get to choose.

 

I think if we could make that point clearer to the policymakers and the public at large, we might make more headway than by making statements about what we as women can or can't reasonably do.  The woman-centered framing only ends up making women look weak and demanding.  The child-centered framing exposes people who oppose child-friendly policies for the ethical invalids they are.


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#46 of 72 Old 07-29-2011, 01:32 PM
 
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Wow, I just want to say that I love it that I have a place to have an intelligent conversation about this. I'm not really arguing with anyone here, I think we have a lot in common. And who knows, maybe we really will figure out how to change the world....
 

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So, yeah, it's true that there are forces greater than each woman out there but if women can't step up and make changes and stand up for us, it's lost. I just feel like the time has come in our evolution for rights that we need to look towards the last hurdles within. How are we binding ourselves? From things as small as brushing off unfair forms to as big as standing up for a co-worker who's getting pushed about by the maternity leave police. Unfortunately, I still feel like we're in that fragile place where our individual actions still negatively impact one another and women need to be especially vigilant about not averting their gaze.

 


I think I have a subtly different take on "the last hurdles within." I've been in a lesbian relationship for 18+ years. I don't think it's possible for me to manifest a more egalitarian personal life. My partner & I share equally in earning money, taking care of our house, and parenting our child. (Well, as equally as we can considering I was the one who got pregnant, gave birth & breastfed. It's getting more & more equal as DD gets older). There are many ways that I don't feel bound at all by conventional notions of what a woman should be.

 

But making those personal choices isn't changing my world. I still face the same crap-ass attitudes and policies that all working moms face.

 

OK, I'm not sure I'm disagreeing with you at all. I understand that I have a responsibility to stand up for and support other women. That's the only solution. I just think that individual actions and resolving internal misogyny/homophobia only get you so far. At some point collective action is needed....a political agenda we can all get behind.

 



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I think if we could make that point clearer to the policymakers and the public at large, we might make more headway than by making statements about what we as women can or can't reasonably do.  The woman-centered framing only ends up making women look weak and demanding.  The child-centered framing exposes people who oppose child-friendly policies for the ethical invalids they are.


God, I hate it that when we ask for reasonable rights we look weak and demanding. But you are so right.

 

Can we have both? As in, lets do what's best for women AND children? Because at some point the whole thing feels a little circular to me. I want what's best for me because it's best for my child...and I want what's best for my child because it's best for me.... Also, I feel like there are ways that opposing child-friendly policies gets twisted into supporting "parents rights" or something crazy. Like, it's better not to support affordable daycare for all working families because that gives parents more choices. Um, right.

 

I guess I'm still wondering where our political power can come from. Who is advocating for the rights of women & children?

 

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#47 of 72 Old 07-29-2011, 02:48 PM
 
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Let's be clear that even women who truly want to make change happen are ensconced in the rules of the "boys" running the show. 

 

I agree that we live in an overwhelmingly child-hating, family-hating society.  A perverse society.  It's anti-male, too, but sometimes that gets lost in the shuffle. 

 

Anyway, back to what I originally was trying to say: unless more of us stick together in a more physical presence and a more financial presence, I don't think much will change.  The least we can hope to do is to make such a fuss that the rules of the game change (even if the game, itself, remains on the table).  That is what we have seen happen over and over, again.  Without a complete overhaul of the system (and many women will oppose this, even ones we think are on "our" side ;)), I doubt much more than rule-changing can actually happen.  However, over time, I'm sure the rules can change so much that we are actually playing a different game.  Over time. 

 

So, we know what we think the problems are.  What shall we do about them?  What shall we do to make it normal for society to value us with the same vehemence it claims to value men? 

 

There are a few things I've noticed in the world of change.  There needs to be money involved (so we can buy people, too? LOL i jest.  let's pay for some advertising, though.  let's publish some school texts and send them to charter schools to try.  or something.).  There needs to be media exposure (and rallies and protests are not as effective these days as they once were.  advertising works.  get an ad on Facebook? fun works.  have an "education fair" of some sort where you give out prizes, etc.).  There needs to be food (people flock to food).  

 

There are other things that work (gimmicks, themes, t-shirts, whatever), but the 3 I expounded upon seem to be more foundational for the beginnings of a Big Deal kinda thing.  

 

Sorry...didn't mean to derail the thread.  I like to turn complaints into action.  Yes, we know it's a problem.  What are we gonna do?  There are lots of groups out there doing good work.  What do we feel is missing and the main reason (or possible reason) their work is not making the fundamental change we want?   

 

And, even more...what if our message included the fact that men are being mistreated and devalued, as well, and went in on a pro-people front?  Have parades.  Have music festivals.  For the specific purpose of changing something. 

 

I don't know.   Just throwing out stuff. 

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#48 of 72 Old 07-29-2011, 03:41 PM
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OP, I'm sorry for your experiences, but I can't say I have really noticed them to be common practice.

 

The only time I can really remember feeling offended (in this context) is when I was a young woman in the military and went to look at some bedroom furniture in NC. The older gentleman who was running the floor asked me, sort of condescendingly, "Well, miss....how do you intend to pay for this?" I was shopping alone with my 2yo DS. I don't know if he was concerned because a man wasn't with me, or if he was concerned because I was 23 and looked 16. I said, "With my Navy paycheck," and he was like "Oh" and we proceeded with the transaction.

 

When my ex and I bought a house, both our names were on the paperwork. His was listed first, but he was the one who went alone to initiate the purchase, because my military orders were a few weeks behind his and I wasn't physically there yet.

 

I've never been asked about family status for a job, and I've moved a lot so I've been hired many times. I've purchased two cars without anyone asking about a husband. Our joint tax returns list my name first, because I'm the one who prepares them online, so I don't know what a PP was referring to about the IRS requiring the man's name to be first. ???

 

Also, yes, I have my husband's last name. I feel no connection to my maiden name. I feel a connection to my DH. Also, our original plan was to abandon both of our surnames and pick a new surname to share...until we discovered that DH would have to pay several hundred dollars and appear in front of a judge to accomplish this in our state. It was a hassle neither of us wanted, plus we couldn't agree on a name to share, so we just went with his. State law allows women to change their names when getting married or divorced; it doesn't allow the same for men.

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#49 of 72 Old 07-30-2011, 08:21 AM
 
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Something else we can work to change.

 

I wonder if folks understand this, so I'm going to post it here:

 

You can change your name anytime you want.  I can't guarantee it will be hassle-free as far as government workers are concerned (people are people), but if you are not trying to hide behind aliases and are on the up-and-up, you have the right to use a different name and get a Social Security card reflecting it.  You don't want to know how many different names I've had in my life. I've had just as many Social Security cards.  The government cares about the number, not your name. 


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#50 of 72 Old 07-30-2011, 04:02 PM
 
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I agree this is a conversation that needs to happen no matter how upsetting it may be.

 

Not to drag the topic out but the last name thing is a tricky one for me because even so-called "maternal" names are still paternal. She got the name from her father who got it from his father etc. etc. Even if it goes through a couple generations, it is still a man's name.

 

I have thought of changing my name a lot but I can't think of one that I like, that I feel good about and that wouldn't be cheesy (to me).

 

I agree with so much of the OP's sentiment but I have to admit that even I cringed a little bit at the "women are to blame" comment. I could see that was not what the OP was really saying so I was not too upset by it but I worry about how quickly women turn on other women. I agree there is not necessarily any real sisterhood, but we are so programmed to turn on each other (I call it "women hating women") that I think we need to be very careful how we express it. I'm sorry I'm not being very clear. I mean in saying that women are against you try to not come across as if you are in turn against them (general you/me). Just like with the names, the root is still patriarchal. But yes, women should be taking responsibility for their actions and their part in accepting or even contributing to the system in a way that keeps it from progressing.

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#51 of 72 Old 07-31-2011, 06:12 AM
 
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Hi - I love this conversation... a couple of points... 

 

I disagree that there is no sisterhood. It's just broken a bit in places - just like everything else in this world.  That's life.  But to deny that there is a sisterhood because some are backstabbers/unsupportive is a bit illogical.  I have many supportive sisters - older and younger - friends and colleagues.  I'm happy about that.  I've also experienced a few women who've not been supportive - but that's more the exception than the rule, at least for me.  

 

Also, I too believe that the discrimination mostly rests on women who are mothers (or who could soon be mothers).  I've been asked about my marital/maternal status - in American interviews.  Boldy.  In detail.  And I knew I would be.  I was also asked point blank about my religious beliefs (it's somewhat apparent from my resume and not easy to hide).  That's life (It shouldn't be, but it is reality just now).  I got the job anyway.  I also am viewed with suspicion at times in my workplace as if I'm the "one with kids" who can't take on anything extra - when in fact I am hyper-efficient and quite often out-pace my childless colleagues in less time.  I don't chat at the water cooler - I'd rather use that time at home with my kids at the end of the day.  Younger, childless, female colleagues, I'll admit it here - forgive my own insecurity coming through here - intimidate me a bit and I have to take an emotional step back and remember that I was once them - needing the support of women ahead of me (now me) - isn't that awful?  But I feel like - oh gosh, they have no kids, they have NOTHING to hold them back from spending 14 hours a day here impressing everyone!  AGH.  Then I remind myself that when I had kids, I moved to China so that as I was taking time off to be with my first when he was little, I was also learning Chinese.  And that's come in handy - It's why I have the job I do now - and that wasn't an easy task.  And it is also impressive, and I did that while I was a MOM.  So there! 

 

So, I can relate - we have to be careful to always support each other and not give in to our own insecurities.  None of us are immune.  At least I'm not anyway.

 

The system IS flawed, but tough to change I think.  Children are a societal good.  Healthy, happy families are a societal good.  We just have to get the companies we work for (or run, for that matter) to care about that societal good - and that's the trick and the problem as I see it.  There's a lack of motivation for companies to change.  If we are just cogs in the system and we stop working quite as perfectly efficiently when we're prego or breastfeeding - then it's in the interest of the company to replace that cog or just try to get as much out of you as possible.  Companies, in general, in my experience - don't care that much about the kids at home, frankly, as far as I can see.  They (rightly in many respects) are focused on their own bottom lines.  So... how to motivate companies to change?  To care about promoting women who are also mothers and wives/partners?  That's where I get stuck.   

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#52 of 72 Old 07-31-2011, 03:26 PM
 
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I think part of the problem is that women accept a lot of the little things before speaking up because we don't feel right about taking a stand for ourselves, especially when we think it will be seen as griping about the little thing.  It is the little things that really add up though.  OP, you said you were already annoyed by the realtor listing just your husbands name for months before this event.  Even you accept things that really shouldn't be accepted if you truly want the equality you say other women are holding you back from.  This isn't just about the rest of us and what we accept, it is about all of us and what we accept.  I think we all (me, you, and all other women) need to work to push past our discomfort with being seen as a crabby wave-maker if we want to see a change in society as a whole. 

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#53 of 72 Old 08-01-2011, 08:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I love the lets turn complaints into action theme. I'm trying to keep my posts brief but it's just not working!

"Blame"

Just in case, I want to be very clear that I am not "blaming" women for anything other than their own hypocrisy, where it exists. The least progressive thing I could say was that women should all think the same thing or agree with me simply because they are women. I am disappointed that more women don't seem to hold beliefs similar to my own (that's their right! I get that, and I don't have to agree with them either ;) but I am angry with women who purport to support progress and advancement when their actions demonstrate otherwise.

 

Perfectly said here:

 

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Originally Posted by princesstutu View Post

Let's be clear that even women who truly want to make change happen are ensconced in the rules of the "boys" running the show.

 

Context

To understand my perspective better, I would just mention that I live in a professional world where workplace porn and client meetings in strip clubs is common place, 10% of mid level professionals are women, 0.1% of top are women and I cannot literally think of a single male colleague with a wife who works. (90% of my female colleagues are assistants of one variety or another.)

 

I live in an extreme gender world and it's generated some extreme feelings on my end. It's hard for me to believe my every day experience still exists. What I see and think about every single working day is that women are not participating in some major areas of the economy, to all of our detriment. So that's top of my particular agenda. Just to mention where I'm coming from. I'm disappointed and sad that I have virtually no female peers in my workplace. And my experiences with the few there are have become all the more poignant by virtue of their infrequency. I didn't consider it initially but my comments may seem especially alien to women working in a more balanced environment.

 

Action

If you can't tell already I really agree with the earlier "money is power" comment. I spent a summer in college volunteering for a non-profit and decided that was the last time I was ever going to spend my time asking someone with the big bucks for a handout. I began thinking about action on individual and personal terms.

 

My approach/goal between then and now has been to try to become as physically, intellectually and economically powerful woman I can and to make myself and my experiences available to both men and women through mentorship, alumni networking, women's groups and a blog. I'd love to have the funds at some point to spearhead some major policy initiatives or at least write some decent checks to those who don't mind asking for money.

 

My other goal, after career number one is in a better place, would be to create a media company that would produce compelling, hip gender (probably some other categories as well) progressive movies/shows/web content/maybe graphic novels. The idea being creating "mainstream" (as in, does not easily fall into some derogatory niche label and is truly attractive to a range of audience demographics, not mainstream = crappy ) entertainment which represents the sort of world I want my daughter and son to live in. (Great article in this vein: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704013604576247133240163732.html)

 

Collective action makes sense to me, but has not been my strength so far, ironically. But I'm all ears!

 


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#54 of 72 Old 08-10-2011, 02:31 AM
 
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Little Griff I am so sorry you had the experience of trying to start the mothers group only to be rebuffed. I cannot imagine how devastating that must have been. Just wondering if you would ever consider going back to your alma mater and trying again to start this group or at least discussing with the admin the need for such a group? CIMama, sorry you had the performance review where you were criticized for being a mom. How awful.

 

I definitely agree about the need for women and mothers to stand up for each other, about the need to create a kind of old gals club in the way that men do. I have had plenty of experiences like the one you mention about the mortgage. (My husband, bless his heart, always calls people out on this behavior and it makes him mad too.) Far more egregious, however, are the times when women have not stood up for me.

 

I had my first baby while in med school and on my first rotation back one of my attendings was also a mom who was pumping. It was so hard for me to be away from my baby and I kept looking to her for a word of encouragement or support. It never came. To her credit, she was probably too busy to notice that I needed that. But I think we need to GO OUT OF OUR WAY to be supportive to other women and mothers in the workplace. When I am at the hospital now and see a woman carrying a pump I give them a smile. When I meet a new mom just back at work I always make sure to tell her I know how hard it is. I am the only female resident in my group with children but another lady is pregnant and I have told her she can count on me to be there for her, take an extra call for her if she needs, etc. 

 

In addition to Sheryl Sandberg's three things women need to do to ensure equality (sit at the table, choose and equal partner, don't leave before you leave), I would add a fourth.  We need to stand up for other women in the workplace. IMO the fact that women do not do this is a huge contributor to lack of equal pay for equal jobs.

 

And also...while we are working for equality for women here, lets not forget our sisters around the globe who have far fewer rights then we do and lack basic things such as access to education or to the right to contraception/control over their fertility etc.... There are many good organizations  (especially those working to support female small business owners IMO) working for this.

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#55 of 72 Old 08-17-2011, 10:23 PM
 
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Ah, the naming conventions. DH and I both changed our last name when we married. His father was abusive and he didn't want our children having anything to do with that. My last name was more boring than boring. So we looked through our family histories and found a name we agreed on and voila.

 

Woman not supporting other women. This is an unfortunate consequence of living in a patriarchaly-constructed capitalist economic system that forces nuclear families and competition as the norm. It's also a product of socialization. Women, unfortunately, are socialized from childhood to not support other women, to be suspicious of other women, to gossip and nitpick and judge other women. It's called micro-manipulation. It's the only power women were allowed for countless centuries. It's a huge part of why so many women are difficult to work for as managers because they just never got the opportunity to have open camaraderie, support and so on as kids. I did a really interesting MA thesis on this for my degree in Sociology (from a feminist perspective). Ha ha.

 

I think this thread is opening up valuable discourse on how we CAN support one another and how important it is to strive to do that. Not just for us but for our daughters. After 20 years of being a feminist, I've seen so little actual improvement. Many of my more senior feminist friends tell me it's the same for them after 40 or more years of hard work to improve things for women as a class.


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#56 of 72 Old 08-20-2011, 03:30 PM
 
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Beachcomber, I could not have said it better. When I try to tell women this they usually get defensive and say it's not true. I had to leave my last job because of this. I just could not be a part of that, even if I wasn't involved, I didn't want to be around it. I hope you'll join us on the feminists thread if you haven't already.

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#57 of 72 Old 08-20-2011, 06:15 PM
 
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I had this discussion with a (female) coworker. She was talking about how she won't even let her boys jump on a trampoline in a girly way.

 

I said, why do that? By discouraging boys from being "girly" but letting girls be "tomboys" we are sending the message that girls are lesser and shouldn't be emulated, while boys are the behavior to which anyone can aspire.

 

I don't think she got that... Gender discrimination cannot be fought by words alone. We have to change our attitudes towards that mindset within the culture.


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#58 of 72 Old 08-20-2011, 06:30 PM
 
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ugh. I got listed as 'etux' on our app. Not even my name appeared. I *did* make a stink about it too....


Texmati-- Knitter, Hindu, vegetarian, WOHM. Wife to superdadsuperhero.gif and mom to DS babyf.gif24 months, and DD boc.gif 8 months! .

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#59 of 72 Old 08-23-2011, 01:21 PM
 
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Loving this thread. Very enlightening. 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by texmati View Post

ugh. I got listed as 'etux' on our app. Not even my name appeared. I *did* make a stink about it too....



What is etux ? 



Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama Soltera View Post

Beachcomber, I could not have said it better. When I try to tell women this they usually get defensive and say it's not true. I had to leave my last job because of this. I just could not be a part of that, even if I wasn't involved, I didn't want to be around it. I hope you'll join us on the feminists thread if you haven't already.


Please help. Where is the feminist thread? thanks.

 

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#60 of 72 Old 08-24-2011, 08:19 AM
 
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allisonR- it's here, under "finding your tribe" then "any radical feminist mamas out there"


Is it getting lonely in the echo chamber yet?

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