A Woman, Thinking

Because GRRLS Rock!

Called to Teach or Called to Profit?

Because GRRLS Rock!Poppy Lochridge

It’s no surprise to anyone around me these days that I love the writing that’s coming out of Vancouver. Specifically, the work of Kelly Diels. If you’re not on her email list, check her out and sign up before Sunday to get this week’s Love Letter. (Hey, I love a lot of things about Vancouver, Kelly’s just one of the newest things I’ve found about the city to love.)

There are things that I love about this unnamed part of the economy, which contains lifestyle brands, divine feminine coaching, leadership coaching, and a variety of ways in which women are teaching women. At its best, it’s subversive and feminist, 1970s consciousness raising brought to the internet age. At its worst, though, it’s traditional “second sex” advertising dressed up in the clothes of feminism and subversity.


Nor is it completely dual - the same person can at different times, be part of the model at its best, and then on another day entirely, show the worst the model has to offer. I’ve seen this in 2014 when the leader of a women’s online spiritual practice group offered an in-person event. It was a small event, but ticket sales weren’t strong even for a small event. And so she took to her blog. The post that came out - which was later replaced with a discount offer - was a strenuous attack on women for failing to put themselves first. The message was - “I know you can afford this event, even when you’re telling me you can’t. You have GOT to learn to invest in yourself by sending your money to me.”


Very like the coach Kelly shares about in a recent Love Letter, who exhorts followers to draw from retirement or borrow from family so they can "invest in yourself and invest in your success."


Also very like a well known writer and teacher, who shared in a blog post in January 2016 that she’d been in therapy in 2015, learning boundary setting. Not coincidentally, the previous August - while she was, per the timeline in her blogpost, still working in therapy on setting good boundaries - she offered a multi-month online class in boundary setting.


Friends, we need to ask some hard questions of the people we are learning from. The first is, Are they truly called to teach? There’s nothing wrong in making money by teaching, and we should value all of our trusted teachers enough to pay them for the hard work they do. But there is something uncomfortable about teachers who are not invested in the growth of their students, who, in effect, use shame or gaslighting tactics to persuade.


The second question we need to ask is, What qualifies you to teach this to me? What’s your lineage? What training have you done that makes you ready to teach this to me? Have you done your own work in this area - or are you still in the middle of it? We need to ask because, truth is, we’re working with some hard stuff when we’re working to find peace with our body image, our sexuality, our relationship with food or money - and we deserve to be lead by someone who has already done their own work in this area. Not someone who is just getting started - that’s a peer and a companion on the way, not someone who knows the path, has been down it enough times to know where she herself feels scared and lost. It’s understandable - I feel the same way about the things I’ve been learning. It’s SO amazingly life changing, we want to leap out there and share it with everyone we can. The mistake is when a teacher mistakes that fresh, shiny new amazement for being ready to teach - instead of knowing that the work still has to be done, and inviting co-travelers to walk the path together.

With many thanks to Kelly for her writing on likeability and decision-making and about what constitutes good information when making decisions.

I have intentionally not named either of the writers used as examples. This isn't about calling them out, or even calling them on, their choices, and so I have chosen to leave them anonymous.


How to play along

Because safety is a core value for me, I am asking that comments in this space avoid all the ugly things: shame, blame, judgement. I am asking that disagreement and discussion be polite, respectful, generous, and open to vulnerability.

Because community is healthy behavior, I welcome you to comment, to share your thoughts and responses and discuss this with empathy with me and with each other.


Because GRRLS Rock!Poppy LochridgeComment

The word yellow wandered through his mind in search of something to connect with.--Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The quote, of course, is from the scene in HHGTTG where poor Arthur wakes up, extremely hung-over, and spies a pair of bulldozers outside his home. In his post-inebriated state, the facts of the situation - bulldozer, yellow, home - take some time to percolate before making sense

Adams' words quite reasonably describe how I often feel while reading non-fiction articles, books, and blogs. One comment might wander through my mind for days or weeks before connecting with something I've read previously, others might connect immediately.

The latter is the case for today's idle thought. I picked up Valenti's Full Frontal Feminism after reading that Hugo Schwyzer added it to the syllabus for his Intro to Feminism classes.

So far, it's all a given and rehashes most of the blog writing I've read from Valenti herself, as well as Amanda, Pam, and the gang and others.

One sentence though, about Valenti's experience meeting former President Clinton and the resulting "Boobgate", wandered through my mind briefly.

Valenti says:

If you're a younger woman, no matter how much work you do, someone is always going to claim that your success is due to the way you look or to your general fuckability.

Somewhere around my move back to Oregon in 2001, I had a conversation with my friend Glenn in Boston. If I recall correctly, I was commenting on the career shift I was making at the same time, moving from doing counseling into working in computers. Glenn maintained that I'd have no problem at all finding a job in computers. Anyone would hire me, he said. Not because I'm smart, skilled, and have been working with computers and programming since grade school. No, of course not. I was young and female. The "quota" argument.

Once I started writing, the wandering thought connected with another, vaguely related, instance. A close friend of mine has spent several years now fighting the impression that, simply because she is an attractive woman working in a company with a large number of men, she MUST be sleeping with most or all of them. The men spreading this rumor never seem to take into account that A) she's married and her husband works for the same company or B) she's obviously not having this supposed affair with them.

Sadly, there isn't a direct answer to this kind of problem. It's education, one man at a time, one person at a time (because women are just as likely to accuse each other of succeeding based on our looks), that we are smart, intelligent, wonderful, organized, human beings.

Primal Pleasures: Food and Sex, and how they relate

Because GRRLS Rock!Poppy Lochridge2 Comments

I came across this in my morning trawl through feeds. This is all theory I've read before, but somehow, this made me think (briefly, in that half hour I get to myself before I have to lever myself towards the shower and onwards to work).

Her[Susan Bordo] essay “Hunger as Ideology” was included in the composition reader I used, and I assigned it to my students. Bordo, a feminist philosopher, analyzes numerous food advertisements in close detail (reproducing the print ads in the essay) to show the cultural messages that underpin the selling of food. Given that ads rely on pre-existing cultural tropes to get their messages across, they can tell us about the ideological underpinnings of our culture. Some of Bordo’s findings:

-Voracious hunger is considered a sign of manliness.

-Hunger for food and desire for sexuality are constructed as analogous, but this is a gendered analogy. When women are targeted, “their hunger for food is employed solely as a metaphor for their sexual appetite.” When men are targeted, the metaphor goes in reverse: eating delicious food is depicted as a sexual conquest. (The examples for this include hilariously awful ads of men whispering sweet nothings to their Betty Crocker desserts.)

-Female hunger is represented in terms of misogynistic fear: sex is imagined as a form of eating in which the woman consumes and destroys a male object of desire.

-The only acceptable female desire in ads is the desire to provide food for others.

-Women are depicted eating in private, secretly, and this act is explicitly represented as a “substitute for human love.”

from Kate Harding's Shaply Prose

As a woman of some size myself who grapples with several weight-related body issues - health, cholesterol, attractiveness, even finding clothing that fits properly - reading this today made me think: is there any relation between sex and food in the years when I gained most of this weight? If I were to chart out, year by year, the process of going from 110 at 18 to 220 at 30, would I find any surprising correlations?

What do you think? Do you think you'd find any connection in your past between your relationship with sex and your relationship with food?

Another Case of the Smelly Female Body

Because GRRLS Rock!, Perversity Abounds!Poppy Lochridge2 Comments

I'm sure if you add up the number of scented and de-scentING products for both men and women, women would only have a slight edge. After all, the personal care market markets to men almost as heavily as to women about the smell of the natural human body. This may just be the one thing that pushes us XX-types over the edge, though. I have yet to see - nor do I expect it to arrive shortly - a musk scented razor for men who can't bear the possibility of - what, exactly? Depilitating with something that doesn't smell like food? Holding one of the thousands of things that the average human might pick up in a week that doesn't carry an attractive scent?

All of which is to say - WHY on EARTH would we *need* razors with scented HANDLES? Y'know, I can see them trying to sell us on some kind of scent added to the moisturizing aloe strip that's standard on razors now. In a very loose theory, that aloe strip might even be replenishing our skin's need for unnatural citrus or lavender smells. But the HANDLE? WTF?