Suffragettes and modern women: fighting the same old fight nearly 100 years later

Really. Go read this article, and think about why we are still having these same discussions, with such little change in content, nearly 100 years later regarding the rights and abilities of women in America. Think about this when you go to the polls on Tuesday.

image via

The messages you find on anti-suffrage postcards from the 1910s are not dissimilar from what you might hear from Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly today in the 2010s. Suffragettes were drawn as conniving coquettes, ugly, mean spinsters or, worse, ugly, mean wives who left their families helpless as they attended town-hall meetings. Scenes of women politicians showed them hatching diabolical plots to undermine and emasculate men further. In England, particularly offensive cards took sadomasochistic delight in the force-feeding, while sympathetic cards depicted women as beat-up cats, referring to the Cat and Mouse Act.

“Married Suffragettes were depicted as nagging wives, that was a common one, and the wife was always big, and the husband tiny and puny,” Purvis says. “Or, if they were single, Suffragettes were depicted as very ugly women with big feet, protruding teeth, hair pulled back in a bun, and glasses. They were depicted as quite mannish and unattractive so that no man would want to marry them.”

“Even when you hear some of the contemporary discourse about the conservative women who go into politics, when you listen to the Michele Bachmanns or the Sarah Palins, there are strong connections back to the arguments and ideologies of the Remonstrants. Should women with school-age children work? Who is the primary giver in the home? Should men co-parent? Yeah, we’re having the same debates.”

Now, in 2012, it’s possible the women’s vote could effect the outcome the U.S. presidential election. You would think we’d also have moved beyond gender stereotypes depicted in these postcards, but they’re still strong. In fact, in the past year, a lot of breathless articles have been passed around declaring “the end of men.” American women, it seems, have gone and reduced the male population to sniveling man-children, just by making small advances in academics and business.


I, for one, am tired of fighting this fight.

Music for packing

Tomorrow night I’ll touch down in Ohio and I could not be more pleased. Jon likened my demeanor to a child on Christmas Eve, and that’s probably a fair comparison. It’s been many moons since I touched midwestern soil, and this corn-fed Ohio girl is going to adhere to all stereotypes of a good American, drink good beer and laugh and dance with my friends, kiss my loved ones, and be blissfully happy for 12 days. Thank you providence. Thank you credit card.

“Love it or leave it” is not a real foundation for arguments about America

Yesterday I came across an article with the provocative title “10 Things Most Americans Don’t Know about America” and, of course, I read it. As expected, the comments section for this article was a hot mess of people screaming “if you don’t like it, get out!” (while ignoring the fact that the author, an American, says that he already did “get out”, but that he loves it as any American-born citizen generally does, adding that the points raised in the article are just some general commentary that he’s picked up on from his travels and life experiences). And the whole thing just…makes me sad. The “love it or leave it” idea that is so often espoused by ignorant citizens of the US is uninformed at best, xenophobic and vitriolic at worst. The fact that some Americans possess the point of view that America is not as exceptional as so much of its society often thinks it is (and in keeping with the propaganda that we’re fed from a young age) does not and should not make us pariahs or wannabe terrorists who are unable to appreciate our country and its plethora of wonderful qualities. Not to mention the fact that people who have never left the States are still entitled to the opinion that America isn’t perfect.  America is awesome. We know that. It doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.

So yes, America is amazing. I love the US, I’m glad I was born there, and I will never give up my citizenship to that glorious land, as long as I’m alive, even if I end up living in the United Kingdom forever and raising a family/building a career/buying a home here. My American identity is important to me, even more so after having spent lots of time outside of my much-loved homeland. But the fact that I, and any number of others residing in and out of the country, can see that America is not perfect should not be as big of a deal as it is often made out to be. Blind patriotism is just as offensive as a nihilistic attitude.

Some of the bullet points from the article in question included the idea that “few people are impressed by us”, “the quality of life for the average American is not that great”, and “the rest of the world is not a shit hole”. These are great points, and I urge you to read the article and hear what the author is saying (or, you know, ponder it in your mind). Honestly, in so many ways America is fabulous-but in others we are NOT doing so well. Infant mortality rates, the general healthcare of our citizens, the proliferation and legalization of fake, overly processed foods by a subsidized industry that has no interest in the health and well-being of the average American citizen, sky-rocketing obesity rates, massive widespread unemployment, our education system-lots of things need some fixing. And it’s okay to admit that and have a reasonable discourse on ways to improve the country. Any reasonable person can see that.  And I would argue that caring about ways to make our beloved country better is, in fact, proving one’s love for one’s country.

My main point here is that I take offense to the idea that anyone, American or not, should never attempt to criticize the things that happen/are happening in America in a public forum for fear of being told to “get the fuck out”. I dare say that being a responsible citizen implies that I care about what happens in my country. It is patriotic to want and expect more from your country and the people in it. And it’s not unpatriotic to point out when things aren’t going so well. Other people feel that way too. And it is un-American to quash dissent because you don’t like what someone else has to say. Our country was founded as a result of political dissent. Let’s not forget that. “Love it or leave it” isn’t really an option, and it paints a false dichotomy.

Happy 4th of July!

Happy American Independence Day dudes and ladies!

Mine started out with a great treat-Jon woke up early and surprised me with American-style pancakes. He’s a keeper, that guy. We didn’t have any syrup, but who cares, right?image

The weather was completely terrible and rainy for most of the day (and even kind of cold, it’s been in the low 60s) but the sun came just in time for my work day to end and for me to hit the gym. Which was needed…..image

because we had dinner plans at this place. image

And I ate this. And a footlong coney. imageAnd the place was rockin! There was an entire table of 20 dressed up in costume. Which I thought was dumb and partially offensive, since I didn’t hear a single American accent at the table, only Brits, but I’m not going to let their ignorance ruin my holiday. (Who dresses up as Mickey Mouse for the 4th of July? Marilyn Monroe? A football player? AN IPOD?? WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH AMERICAN FREEDOM)

Anyway, it was nice. Not as nice as having the day off of work and hanging out in the sunshine drinking beers and cooking out, but it was about as nice as it could get. So happy 4th everyone!

You were born inside of a raindrop

Last week (the week before?) when I saw Dave up in Nottingham, we talked about how, or if,  I’m liking England and my official status as legally residing citizen here. We talked about how Seattle is similar to English weather and how it doesn’t really rain as much as everyone says it does, but when it does rain everyone can’t stop talking about how “it always rains”. And I am so guilty of this. And Brighton is so beautiful and idyllic in the sun. But in all honesty the sun isn’t out that much. And it isn’t so much the rain that bothers me. It’s the lack of sunshine, the cloudy days, the sea that runs into sky so you can’t see where one stops and the other begins. The gray/grey. The iron skies-they weren’t kidding. The near constant need for a sweater or coat or both. And it gets me down. Jon says that he hates the weather too, that I just talk about it more.  And I guess it could change, I could adapt. I may adapt eventually. But I think it’s more than that.

I’m having a hard time being so alone. Making friends is no easy thing, even when you’re loud and friendly and not particularly afraid to talk to new people. And it’s not like when you’re little-there are no play dates or school sports to join, no way to immediately find people who have the same interests and similar personalities, are at the same phase of life as you and are open to new friendships, and joining new groups runs that awkward thing where people in the groups already have other mini-groups of friends. Teaching is weird, in that everyone is different ages and runs out the door the second they can (….just like the kids).  For me, there is no meeting Lindsey for drinks at Surly Girl off the cuff on a Thursday because we feel like it, no football games with Kellie, no trying out a new restaurant with Rachel, no going over to Joe’s on a Saturday night with a few bottles of wine to bullshit for hours with him and Mike. No driving up to Morrow County on a random weekend to visit my parents then escape back to the city after I’ve filled myself with dumplings and the latest familial gossip and all the country road driving I can stand, fields of corn dotted with barns and houses. No watching my niece play with her millions of toys and grow into her pigtails. There is no meeting anyone new who doesn’t know me more than the American who moved here to live with her husband. It’s all so superficial and I feel so transparent that it hurts. I am invisible. I am lonesome. And I just want to put Jon in a suitcase and run back to the sunshine and the four solid seasons, even the coldest snowy ones, and the hipsters and the familiarity of Ohio. Is that too much?

Jon came home from work while I was writing this and when he hugged me I couldn’t help but cry a little. And we talked about all of this, and how I can’t seem to get a leg up around here, and how the realities of both being unable to find steady, reliable paid work, combined with the lackluster weather, plus the distance between me and everyone I care about (that I’m not married to), is a hard row to hoe. We live here not necessarily because that was our choice but because our choice wasn’t much of one at all. If being together and being in one of our home countries was the ideal, and one of those countries made it easy for us and the other put up every possible obstacle, well, that wasn’t much of a choice. Because we want to be together, somewhere, anywhere. And so I’m here. And believe me, none of this would be happening if I didn’t love Jon so goddamn much-England is beautiful and has many wonderful things happening-but I spent so much time in my early twenties traveling and figuring out where I wanted to be, only to fall in love with someone from across the ocean just when I figured out how much I love my home state. And that’s okay. Life happens, things change. And here we are, trying to make the best of this situation that no matter what, pits one of us thousands of miles away from all that is familiar. But sometimes it’s so hard. And if just one of these things would change-weather (yeah….it’s been this way for centuries, nothing’s going to change), a good and/or satisfying permanent job, or making some actual friends-things would improve so much, so fast. I know it. After all, it’d be nice to know that I have a choice between hanging out by myself or with my husband-it’s weird when those are your only two options. Also-probably not that healthiest of relationships.

So nothing has changed much yet, five months in, and I’m patiently waiting because there isn’t any other option. Working as much as they’ll have me at my teaching job through September. Writing on the side and trying to find more. Skyping with family on the weekend and keeping up with everyone else, however vaguely, via Facebook and twitter and this little space on the internet. Hoping the people I love don’t forget me. Hoping there is a chance for us to reconcile the situation we have found ourselves in, someday. But right now-I just want some sunshine. And not just a few hours in an evening after a long cold day of rain. An actual warm sunny day. C’mon England. Help me out. I’m trying really hard. And there is so much more hope in the air when the sun makes an appearance.

Goodbye/Holiday Party

It was so nice to be able to roll my goodbye party in with a holiday celebration! Keeping the focus on merry vibes rather than goodbye vibes kept me from crying all over the place. We had a candy cane cocktail, boozy hot chocolate, and myriad other beverages, along with some delicious nibbles. It all came together really well. I kept the tv running every Christmas movie available on netflix, and had some good vinyl(in my humble opinion) on rotation. There was an amusing gift exchange, which left me with a corn-decorated coffee mug and a traffic cone that may or may not have been stolen from OSU property. Score.  Of course, lots of pictures were taken. Sorry I’m in so many of them, but I guess that’s not a huge surprise!

Oh and my (possibly drunk) father requested a picture of everyone there, which resulted in this:

Fun, right? So in sum, it was a great party, and a lovely way to say goodbye to all my favorites.

On a more serious note, last night Jon and I spent some time in the emergency room (A&E, as I’ve learned it’s called in the UK). We were out to dinner with some old friends we met in Korea when Jon looked at me, said “I feel strange” then proceeded to immediately pass out. He came to, then a minute later his eyes rolled back in his head and he did the same thing, except this time he also started choking and proceeded to throw up. Again, he came to (although he was an awful green color), and although we’d called an ambulance, he said all was well, so we told them not to come. However, when he once again lost consciousness about 20 minutes later, enough was enough, and off to the hospital we went. They took blood and did an EKG, but there wasn’t much of a result. Basically they chalked it up to his heart stopping sending blood to his brain, causing his brain to go into survival mode and shut off everything else. This also could be a form of food poisoning or something, although that seems pretty damn unique for food poisoning, don’t you think? I do. So we came home and Jon has been told to stay in bed for a couple of days. Today he seems to be doing a bit better, although still feeble. This wasn’t how I expected my first couple of days to go! I’m thankful though, that he’s doing alright, as this was one of the most terrifying things that has happened to me. Watching my husband wilt before my eyes, eyes rolled back and skin pale, was just…horrible. So horrible. And I felt completely powerless. On a side note, the NHS (national health service) really is wonderful, despite what anyone says, and all I could think while we were at the hospital was that the ambulance and all the people taking care of him-the services involved-would have cost us thousands of dollars in the US, with our combined lack of insurance. Here, the experience, while terrible in itself, isn’t going to put us in debt. Thank goodness. Here’s to hoping we ring in the new year on a better note, and in good health!

Rocky beaches, Green Wine, Accents, etc.

Brighton Beach. Now, Brighton isn’t where I’m staying, but it is a 15 minute train ride south to the very popular beach town.  “Beach” meaning purely next to water-in this case the English Channel. It’s a rocky, unforgiving sort of beach, but perfectly suited for beer drinking, and for some brave souls, swimming (more like frolicking in a crazy manner to keep the blood flowing after the initial shock of freezing temperatures). People have been there in droves all the times I’ve been so far, and it’s a really pleasant place to be when the sun is shining and you’re walking on the boardwalk, hot or not. The Pier has all manner of carnival-esque attractions, none of which we rode because we value our lives. However, when I was in Brighton just Wednesday the weather was downright gorgeous. The sun was shining, I dare say I was sweating. But no camera then-damn! That was the day that I had my first British “pie”. It was filled with all sorts of deliciousness. Goat cheese, spinach, sweet potato, cheddar. Yum! I’m really coming around on this savory pie thing that the Brits do. Just like chicken pot pie, which I loved when I was a kid, but much more wide-spread and found in virtually every pub/restaurant you walk into. Served with chips (delicious thick-cut fries, which I can’t get enough of) and green beans. I could eat pie for every meal.

After our pie lunch at a very cool place called The Mash Tun (where we found ourselves two days in a row), Jon and I made our way to an Asian market that Jon knew of a few blocks away. We were on a mission to find some Korean things to cook up, and we succeeded. Gochujang, glass noodles, mandu, and my favorite ramen were all for sale! The only thing missing, ironically enough, was kimchi.

I have to say it-I love Brighton. I love the vibe, I love the street style of its inhabitants, I love the architecture. It’s got everything I look for in a place to spend my time. And since it’s so close to Jon’s parent’s place, it’s the natural place for everyone to go.It’s like the Miami or South Beach of England-everyone goes there to enjoy the sea views and the sunshine (even if there isn’t very much of the latter).

And here is the quaint little village where I’m spending my time.

Like a lovely little postcard!

I know I may be just having some sort of traveler’s thing, loving this place, but I feel like the general attitude of the British people is really jiving well with me at this time. So many things that keep happening in America give me the chills-Arizona’s immigration laws, Texas’ Board of Education changing their textbooks, BP filling the Gulf with oil day after day, health care reform getting such terrible backlash..I could go on. And I don’t want to come across as whiny or holier than thou at all, because I love America. Adore it, really! (Ask anyone who has ever traveled with me and endured my shouts of USA!USA! at the drop of a hat) And I’m proud to represent my country, on a very modest level, when I travel. But I’m tired of being disappointed so often, and sometimes on such a large scale. It’s nice to go to a country that’s mostly gone through it’s growing pains, and is generally comfortable with who it is-multiple party system, crazy people, and all. And I KNOW that the UK, and England specifically, has it’s own-very large, very respectable-problems. But they’re just so damn CIVIL about it all! I’m just saying that this is how I feel now. I feel comfortable. And hopeful for America, eventually. Fingers crossed.

And now, time to get off the soap box for the evening. Vodka, red bull and World Cup await.