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New Website!

It’s interesting to look back on these very old posts and see how far I’ve come. Now, you can too — I’ve moved to my very own domain site, which I purchased in 2009 and sat on for several long years. Finally, I’m making use of it. Come visit!

www.secretsociologist.com

Categories: Uncategorized

[Curiosities]

I wasn’t even finished watching the CNN replay of the service, and up come the funeral recaps. Journalists and blog commenters all over the place find themselves “shocked” that the funeral was tasteful at all. I know, right? All these black people in one spot, and oh wow! they’re behaving. But singing? And performances? While the coffin is sitting there? Creepy! Weird! Interesting!

When my father died nearly 10 years ago, my then-boyfriend attended the service. He was a Philipino Catholic guy who hadn’t ever set foot in a black church. The first thing he said after the service was, “Wow, it was so loud! Gospel singing, at a funeral?” It was pretty apparent that the mainstream funeral tradition and the African American one were two completely different things.

I remember when Jeremiah Wright brought the “black church experience” into the public consciousness. Sure, everyone had heard of Martin Luther King, but he was a speaker, an orator… people largely ignored that this style of speaking still goes on every single Sunday. The rhythm, the cadence, the manner of celebrating — all of this is familiar to black churchgoers, but not to the public, who remained curious and enchanted and relegated this experience, considered sacred by some, to unnecessary theatrics (of course, for us, the theatrics are an element of the sacred… but that’s another post).

On another blog, it was revealed that one of CNN’s clueless commentators described the repast as an “afterparty.” This reflects both the newscaster’s insensitivity and, on a larger scale, the inability to comprehend that Michael was Black. After so many years of being picked apart and claimed by everyone everywhere, some seem completely shocked that Michael’s death has “returned” him to his roots. As if to say, “Hey, Michael was an ordinary Black guy? But I liked him!”

But of course, despite all Michael’s self explorations and transformations, he was always one of us, always fought for us. I suspect I’m not alone in having to remind myself of this as we collectively mourn him.

Categories: Uncategorized

Disclaimer

In my previous posts about celebrity grief, I failed to point out something that some would consider a bit weird, given my stance on public grieving: I don’t watch the news. At all. On television I don’t watch much except reruns of my favorite shows & movies, a few comedies, or a “guilty pleasures” like Bridezillas or something. That’s it. I can’t stand television news and haven’t voluntarily watched it since the election (and the election before that) and maybe a presidential address or two. All the news I get is what I read online.

So, when asked if the media “overdoes” celebrity grief, my answer is an unequivocal “yes!” I haven’t watched a single “live news” coverage of Michael; the news spreads faster online anyway. And even online news is bothering me lately (tributes, pictures, custody fights, lurid autopsy details) so I have escaped that as well. I still stand by what I said about people needing to grieve for public figures. It sounds conflicting, but it makes sense to me.

Categories: Uncategorized

Brides are Sex-Crazed [You mean wives can be sexy?]

Every few days, a news story comes out that is one of those “Oh, they must have run out of stories” type of articles. Today’s is an absolutely ridiculous article that paints modern brides as sex-crazed loose women. The headline states “MySpace Generation Brides go for Sexy, Not Virginal” and that just about explains everything wrong with this article.

The article starts out as a trend piece, discussing why brides are choosing to emphasize their sexuality on their wedding day: low-cut dresses, boudoir photographs, etc. It quickly descends into “What is the world coming to?” ridiculousness, with inflammatory language about how weddings are no longer in churches, and how brides are no longer virgins because they live with their partners and oh no what’s wrong everything was SO MUCH BETTER BACK IN MY DAY.

Of course, this is going right over the writers’ heads, but what about the idea that celebrating one’s sexuality in the context of marriage is a healthy thing? For so long we have had this opressive idea of brides as perfect virgins (who were supposed to stay that way, except when the guy wanted to or when you needed some children) and it’s caused all sorts of conflicts and double standards. Now, we have a new generation of brides who are publicly acknowledging that sexuality and romance are essential in a healthy marriage — and we villify them, dumb them down, and insult them with articles like these. :::sigh:::

Categories: Uncategorized

Pick the Stereotype

Today I found this website, picktheperp.com, where you are shown a crime, then a bunch of mug shots, and asked to match the correct mug shot to the crime. Essentially, they’re asking you to match appearances with crimes, and it brings up a whole host of issues about generalizations, criminals, and the supposed idea of “innocent-until-guilty.”

I played the game myself, and I found myself looking at the pictures, making judgments, and thinking thoughts I’d rather not acknowledge. I mean, showing lists of crimes and then saying, “Here, judge these by appearance!” I’m deeply ashamed to admit that I gravitated toward stereotypical answers, and then forcedĀ  When the question came up, “Which one has been charged with assault with a firearm?” I had to struggle not to pick the angry-looking black guy… but he looked so angry! I picked someone else instead, but it turned out to be him all along. Dammit!

Or the question, “Which person was charged with never having a drivers’ license?” I thought more about this one–the question wasn’t “expired license,” but “never having one.” Everyone in the pictures looked too old to never have had a license, except the youngest person who also was the only Hispanic. Stereotype! Oh no! This is how it went mostly, and I got every question wrong because I refused to pick the person that “looked” like they matched the crime. It was like I had a block against it.

What’s the point of this? Is it to show us how we make instant judgments? To force us to confront stereotypes? Are the pictures randomly generated, or are they pre-determined lineups? Hm.

The only question I got right was the one where I stuck to my instinct: “Which person was charged with exposing himself?” No matter race, status, or anything else, dirty old men are instantly recognizable!

pick perp

Categories: Uncategorized

How Freedom from Fear Changed My Life

part 1

part 2

part 3

Two months after the breakup, I was 15 pounds heavier, exhausted, and living a quiet existence since I wasn’t working at the time. The shock of the loss had taken its toll physically; in two months I’d grown some gray hairs, my skin texture changed, and, inexplicably, I just looked older in general.

But internally, I was feeling better and more clear-headed than I’d ever felt two months after a breakup. I’d done everything I needed to: I focused on myself, I was self-affirming and free from the usual self-deprecation that threatened to grip me. I was probably more confident and self-assured than I was before the relationship itself. But something still wasn’t right; it seems I had one more corner to turn.

I kept going back to accountability. Yes, at this point I knew nothing was fundamentally wrong with me; I’d gotten it into my head that I didn’t deserve poor treatment or to be deserted. So why was I with someone who had the capacity to do that? How is it that I was with someone who didn’t understand what I was worth? And what had been the undercurrent of our relationship that someone could just disappear like that?

These questions made me incredibly uncomfortable; admitting that I might have even the slightest bit of responsibility for the pain I was in was so upsetting to me. But I faced it, and the results were kind of illuminating. Like so many things, the answer was something I hadn’t wanted to admit.

I was afraid! I was afraid of everything. As a single person, I was confident & successful. But in this relationship, I was always terrified. I was always afraid he’d leave (but just aware enough not to show it very much, which caused its own kind of stress). Every morning, I woke up thinking he would get up and leave at any moment, and might even have burst into tears the few times he failed to return a call or email. I tried carefully never to act as though I wanted too much of a commitment, and despite my feelings, never told him I loved him (for fear of scaring him) until it was way too late.

My answer to all of this was to acknowledge the fear, and figure out where it came from. I knew my crazy reactions to his behavior came from somewhere, but couldn’t figure it out until I read something about fear of abandonment.

Without recounting my pages & pages of journal writing, I figured this out pretty quickly. Some online resources suggest years and years of therapy, but I swear, I was changed in an instant. My crazy reactions, my vague sense of dread, everything was explained by this new knowledge–or rather, this new way to frame what I already knew.

I began kicking away fears right and left. Fears about co-workers, fears about friends, fears about family and weight and other things I can’t control… they all melted away.

As for my fear of abandonment, I knew two things: once you unabandon yourself, people are free to come and go in your life as they please (I can’t remember where I found this quote) and that the best way to deal with fear was to face it head on. Armed with these two ideas as my lifelines, I moved forward, prepared to live and think differently.

And I did.

A few weeks after my little epiphany, I reacted to everyone in a different way, and was repaid for it by the new terms created in all my relationships. People at work treated me more respectfully, I started making friends and attracting different people than before. Even my hairdresser stopped calling to make last-minute appointment changes. & taking advantage of my time. Everything improved, and I felt so much better.

About this time, I started paying attention to this guy in my summer class. I’d taken a class during the summer after the breakup, so I wouldn’t have to sit quietly at home with the loss for three hot, workless months. This guy had started suggesting we go to art museums and such, and I blew him off. But I realized all I was doing was being afraid, and once I removed that I thought, “hey, maybe this guy could be o.k.” So I went out with him.

The relationship, of course, was completely different from any I’d had before. Not only was he a completely different guy, but I was completely different. Sure, there were (and are) still some times when I feel afraid. And the first time he didn’t return an email right away, I felt the familiar overblown anger & fear, and was able to let go of it. I knew that I could never again depend on someone else to calm my fears, and I’d remind myself of that when I needed to. And of course, the irony there is that he always returns my calls. Actually, he always calls — I never have to be the one to initiate that.

I think I was always ready to let go of this fear, but this seemed like the last step that unlocked things for me. So one year later, I can’t help but see how far I’ve come, how I’ve changed as a person, and yes, look down at the shiny ring that symbolizes what’s to come.

Categories: Uncategorized

Follow Your Hearts, Girls [Engaged!]

On the personal front, I have a wonderful boyfriend now and things started to go well. We’d been hinting around about marriage and lifetime stuff, and we’re in love. So one day I mentioned to him how I feel.

I have to stop here and say that this was incredibly hard for me. One one hand, I really felt like I should be honest and my gut feeling was to tell him how I felt — that I want to be married and wondered if he felt the same. But on the other, I couldn’t believe how hard it was to take that step. Not only did I have some fear — what if he disagrees? — but there was an overwhelming sense that I *shouldn’t* be the one to say something about marriage.

In my head were all those stereotypes, those images of desperate women chasing men down the aisle, the echoes of misguided feminists, the remnants of all those Cosmo headlines I tried so hard not to pay attention to, all conspiring to help me keep my mouth shut.

Eventually, I thought, “Who cares?!” I decided long ago that I’d never live ONE MORE DAY in a relationship where I couldn’t say just how I felt, and it’s likely that my boyfriend loves that quality about me anyway. So I timidly brought the subject up, and guess what! He was waiting for me to bring the subject up.

And now, we’re engaged!

Quit listening to Cosmo, SATC, and the feminists that tell you to pretend you don’t want to be married. Be honest with yourself. Speak up. Follow your hearts, girls.

Categories: Uncategorized