Critiquing "Feminist" Marketing (Part 3)

In the previous posts Critiquing "Feminist" Marketing (Part 1) and Critiquing "Feminist" Marketing (Part 2), we discussed changes in and repercussions of mass media's co-opt of the "feminist" message, and we examined the overt versus subliminal concepts inherent in each.  Now we move into the realm of why these subliminal messages find fertile ground within our minds.

Our eyes are our windows to the world.  They're what helps our unconscious determine what is real and what is not.  They show us our tribe, connect us to the people we love, respect, and hate, and they help us find our place within that social order.  Now that we've moved beyond 100-person villages -- Who is our tribe, and how do we know them?

We now have virtual tribes composed of real, physical humans and the virtual people that mass media brings within our personal sphere.  We see the same newscasters every morning and every night, we see and hear the same television and radio hosts over and over, and we are bombarded by model hawkers constantly.  At a certain point, our brains begin to subliminally incorporate these people into our tribe.

Critiquing "Feminist" Marketing (Part 2)

In the previous post Critiquing "Feminist" Marketing (Part 1), we compared the messages between a current Verizon ad and a Nike ad from the mid-'90s.  While the overt messages inherent in ads that speak to women have changed over the years, so have the subliminal ones. Recent years have brought us more modern interpretations of the female experience, including its lice-ridden underbelly.

In the mid '00s, Dove began the "Campaign for Real Beauty".  Early in the campaign, the FCC banned this "Pro-Age" ad because it apparently didn't conform to FCC regulations:

Holey rusted door, Batgirl!  We have Victoria's Secret models parading their perfect bodies on stage, we have scantily-clad cheerleaders gyrating at every profession sporting event, and we have teen pop stars wiggling their advocation of adult sexuality to preteens, but Christ forbid that normal, older, fig-leafed women be visible on television.  Ever.

Never mind that these older women are more "covered" than said models, cheerleaders, or pop-stars, and never mind that these older women are not parading, gyrating, or wiggling.  Just know that a woman over the age of 25 who shows more than 8 square inches of exposed non-face, non-hand skin is so patently offensive to the US public that complaints provoked the FCC to use the grey areas in their guidelines to ban said ad.

What wasn't banned was the "Evolution" ad, and it's actually my favorite:

Even without the digital trickery, I'd look like a supermodel, too, if I had a team of hair and make-up professionals at my side every morning!  While digesting this ad, considering it's wider implications, I held my breath waiting to see what was next.

Supplementing the "Evolution" ad, consider another mid-'00s video in which a digital artist transforms a normal-looking woman into a glamorous goddess thanks to the wonders of Photoshop (sorry for the pop-up ad on the video, just click the [x]):

I am particularly fond of the instant weight-loss and skin perfection.  The hair extensions are a nice touch as well.  Doubleplusgood on the removal of the spectacles.  Compare the two pictures, and you could be forgiven for thinking that these women are sisters instead of the same person.  Of particular angst to me is that the creator/poster of this video had so many requests for same that she posted links to tutorials showing aspiring digital artists how to accomplish these same tricks and pointed out where the eyelash brush can be downloaded.  Instead of outrage, worship? Kill me.

In the next post we move further into why and how the cultural programming of impossible beauty standards works and the effects of same.


Critiquing "Feminist" Marketing (Part 1)

The messages inherent in the ads that speak to women have changed over the years.  While we do still have plenty of housewifely cleaning product ads, recent years have seen more modern interpretations of the female experience. Some have been spectacular, but others could use some help.

Let's start with Verizon's current "Rule the Air" ad:

What bothers me about this ad is the overall impression that Verizon is trying to ride the Third-Wave Feminist train to Shangri-La.  Every young female in this ad is picture-perfect, and all but one has long dark hair.  These girls all look the same, and they're from/in wealthy environments with the world at their feet. Platitudes abound, and the weight of thousands of years of Western culture is absent.  The only two females of color are the ones who speak about "prejudice" and whether or not she is "white," and that bothers me.

Classism  is ignored for sexism, and in this world simply having an above-average IQ and a Verizon cell will allow you to shirk the bonds of femininity. As an anthropologist friend of mine said, "The air is free as long as you can pay for it."  Verizon's motto here, "Rule the Air", is, more accurately in my mind, "Rule, my ass."

Compare the Verizon ad above to this classic Nike advertisement from the mid-'90s:

This ad has quite a bit to say, and it effectively says it.  Girls are important, and girls sports are important -- just as important as boys and boys sports.  At a time when challenges to, and increased enforcement of, Title IX (regarding unsubstantial or nonexistent female sports programs) were both vying for the soul of the nation, this ad was instrumental in changing public sentiment.  Even if you didn't buy these shoes, the message stayed with you and helped change our culture.  While a friend of mine has argued that Nike has since lost whatever soul it once had, this video was, in its time, a paragon of social conscience.

In the next post we move from substantive social commentary in media marketing to the programming of impossible beauty ideals.


Respecting the Memory of "Us"

When I was younger, the nights were worse than the days.  When I tried to quiet my roiling brain, thoughts of the missing man I loved would poke their snouts into the swirling river of thought commanding my brain.  Every bit of hard-fought calm met an equal measure of pain.

Long into the night,  I would lie on my side in my bed, knees pulled to my chest, arms wrapped around my knees,  unable to breathe except in gasps, tears sliding down my face occasionally, sometimes so late into the night that I would have to call into work sick the next day.

Now it's the mornings that kill me.  Not even coherent yet, the presence of his absence rings in my mind afresh.  Another small death, another tolling of the bells. The throbbing of the bells, the sobbing of the bells in unhappy Runic rhyme.  The rolling of the bells, the tolling of the bells keeping shrieking time for my broken heart.

I can't help but know throughought my being that I need not ask for whom these bells toll . . . They toll in respect for our memory.


(apologies to John Donne and Edgar Allen Poe)

How to Date a Women’s Studies Major: Just Don’t

Brittany Hunt @ The Miscellany News has posted a hilarious piece, How to Date a Women’s Studies Major: Just Don’t, about the pitfalls of dating radfems.  While I don't necessarily agree with with everything in the piece, the serious points she makes about stereotypes and the men who are afraid of (or are intimidated by) radfems bear consideration by those of us who consider themselves feminist.  Make no mistake: Hunt is talking about radfems in her piece, not your garden variety (and much more common!) feminist.

While Hunt's piece does bear reading, I'd like to seriously address her bullet points here in my own feminist voice:

Remember: She's a Lesbian Until Proven Otherwise

How do I describe how infuriating it is to have people hate me due to a figment their own imagination? Seriously, people -- If you're going to dislike me, do it because I'm boisterous, loud, outspoken, aggressive, obstreperous, direct, brutally honest, suck with interpersonal politics, have a potty mouth, demand equal treatment, or any one of a number of other characteristics I actually posses in abundance.

If you're so full of hatred and self-loathing that you can't see past your own insecurities and guess as to what gender sex partner I prefer, then redeem yourself a bit by waiting until you actually experience something about me before hating me, okay?

But if She Isn't, She's a Total Slut 

Your expectations of when or if I'm going to have sex with you has very little to do with my politics or your financial worth.  My sexual activity has much more to do with my hormonal cycle, how charming you are, and whether or not I'm emotionally involved with someone else.  The slightest whiff of expectation from you transforms my vulva into the Antarctic -- Dry to the touch, cold, and most uninviting.  Whether or not I love the cock in general has little to do with whether or not I'm going to love your cock.

Speaking of male sexual expectations regarding feminists . . . No, we're not all on The Pill.  No, we don't all love having abortions.  No, we're not all superfreaks in the sack.  No, we're not all VD-free.  No, we're not all into rampant promiscuity.  Some of us can't use hormonal birth control, some of us are intensely anti-abortion, some of us only like Missionary-only sex, some of us are just as irresponsible as some of you are when it comes to safe sex, and some of us are actually fairly chaste.  

Deal with it, and stop assuming things that are going to get you slapped, sued for child support, or a venereal disease while you stand there whining, "But she was a feminist!"

Don't Hold the Door for Her

I can't tell you how many times I have an exchange like this with a male stranger:
Man: Holds door open and allows me to pass through ahead of him

Me: Why thank you, kind sir.  I appreciate that!

Man: Relieved look.

Man: I'm really glad!  I never know when I'm going to get yelled at for that!
I never cease to be amazed that holding a door is considered by anyone to be anything except common courtesy.  I hold doors for people all the time . . . The elderly, the young, the infirm, people carrying things, etc.  Sometimes I hold it open behind me, sometimes I hold it open in front of me to let them pass.  All of it depends upon my mood, the situation, and my level of observance. 

Holding a door is no different that "Excuse me," or "Please pass the salt," so . . .
Men: Keep holding doors when you want to do so!  Most people appreciate it.

Women: Get over yourselves!  You are not advancing the cause by yelling at strangers in public for extending common courtesy.
Talk About Your Emotions

Yes, talk about your emotions but don't go overboard.  I am a proud human, and a feminist, and as a result I'm generally not going to be a whiny or over-emotional type.  There's a huge difference between bitching about an encounter at the office that pissed you off, explaining why it pissed you off while you're trying to work through it and whining like an impotent victim and moping for a week.

If you're more emotional than I am, if you're more "sensitive" that I am, I'm not going to be impressed.  Everyone has moments of weakness and struggle, but if it's overboard and if it's a pattern, I'm probably going to toss you like an old pair of shoes. 

Check it -- I am a strong person, and I keep strong people around me because I don't have time or patience for anything else.

Congrats!  You've Made it to Your One-Year Anniversary -- Things NOT to Buy Her as a Gift

Unless you're replacing items I already own that are broken, that I've run out of, or it's a gift card from a store you already know I love to shop, beauty products and kitchen products are right out.  If you haven't figured out by the 1-year mark what I like and/or what I need, and you're not creative enough to come up with something on your own, then you really ought to re-evaluate your own observational skills while you're e-mailing my best friend to ask her advice. 
Hints for the BEST Anniversary Gifts:

If I read, books are a hit if you've taken 10 minutes to look at my bookcase or paid any attention whatsoever to what I talk about.  Take your ass to a locally-owned bookstore and talk to a clerk if you're at a loss.

If I'm a science nerd, science museum trips are a winner because it's an experience with you

Receiving flowers at the office is a total win because I get lots of attention from my co-workers.  This gives me a chance to bask in the limelight and talk you up with everyone else being jealous!  Whatever happens, don't have them delivered on the last day of my workweek -- Send them early if you have to, because wilted Monday flowers are simply sad.

Stay away from topics you don't know -or- consult with a knowledgeable person early.  The book item I already talked about?  Do this with fashion accessories or technical gadgets or anything else that you're not into but I am.  If you don't, you'll look incompetent at best and uncaring at worst.  This is why men and women squabble after gift-giving: The appearance of not putting enough thought or effort into the gift that it makes some kind of sense.

Be sure that any object you choose (if you choose an object) is fully, 100% returnable/refundable.  At least if you mess up, the two of you can make an afternoon of exchanging/refunding it for a more suitable item.  This afternoon can be, if planned properly, a second anniversary celebration.  If you pay attention, you can turn a fail into a win!
I hope that my effort to supplement Hunt's humorous piece with serious points has been educational.  I invite our Janes and Joes to comment about dating feminists and radfems.


Girl Dies by Suicide After Rape-Allegation-Related Terror

A fourteen-year-old Michigan girl died by suicide November 8 after schoolmates bullied her due to a rape allegation involving her and an 18-year-old schoolmate.

The only things that are truly clear at this point are:
  1. Samantha Kelly, 14, had sex with Joseph Tarnopolski, 18, at his home on September 26.
  2. June Justice, Kelly's mother, filed a criminal complaint with the local police department.
  3. Local police interviewed both Kelly and Tarnopolski.
  4. Kelly's statements changed over time - at one point she said she was a willing participant, at another she said she was coerced.
  5. The police arrested Tarnopolski for third-degree criminal sexual conduct (regardless of Kelly's mindset, she was too young to legally consent), then released him on bail.
  6. Tarnopolski then Tweeted to his classmates that "All girls are, are liars and backstabbers! I hate you all. Way to ruin my life. Seriously, now this will be on my record for life!"
  7. Neighbors and students divided themselves along pro-Kelly and pro-Tarnopolski lines and the latter faction terrorized Kelly.
  8. Justice and Kelly approached the media to protest/publicise Kelly's maltreatment by schoolmates and neighbors. During this interview, Kelly's face was obscured but Justice's was not. 
  9. Kelly's maltreatment intensified.
  10. Kelly scrawled a note on her bedroom wall, the date of the of the sexual event, then hung herself in her family's mobile home on November 8.
Tarnopolski says that he and Kelly planned the consensual sexual encounter together and that nothing like coercion was involved.  The state of Michigan's age of consent is 16.  Kelly's mother insists her daughter was "forcibly made to have sex with an 18 year old."  The Wayne County Prosecutor's office has dropped the case against Tarnopolski because their only witness, Kelly, is dead, and they have no other evidence. 

Tarnopolski says he feels "a little bit" bad about Kelly's suicide but that her parents are responsible, not him. Justice says that she encouraged her daughter to speak to the police about the incident to prevent emotional suffering caused by bottling up a rape.

Tarnopolski says that he's not the one who disregarded a confidentiality agreement he and Kelly were going to sign that would kept the event quiet, protecting them both.  I can't find a reference to Justice acknowleding a confidentiality agreemnet was arranged. 

Justice does say she and her daughter approached the media because Kelly was being terrorized by neighbors and classmates and they couldn't get help anywhere else.  Tarnopolski said he was unaware of any maltreatment until after the news broadcast, but that even afterwards neither he nor his friends terrorized Kelly. 

Justice's reaction to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office dropping the case against Tarnopolski, from a local news broadcast:

Another report from a local news outlet, this one includes a brief interview with Tarnopolski:

A local news outlet's longer interview with Tarnopolski and his attorney:

Even though I've had a first-hand taste of the battle Kelly was fighting (topic for another post) . . . After reading the articles linked at the end of this post and after watching the videos above -- especially the interview with Tarnopolski and his attorney -- I was almost, almost, just this close to giving Tarnopolski the benefit of the doubt, extremely poor judgement and suicide girl notwithstanding.

Then I found out that another, similar, criminal complaint involving another underaged girl was filed against Tarnopolski two days after Justice and Kelly were interviewed by a local news station about the harrassment.

Think about that for a minute: Two days after a victim publizes the unimaginable level of harrassment that would soon drive her to suicide, another underaged girl comes forward to say something to the effect of "I, too, was raped by Joseph Tarnopolski"?

Local police have referred the second case to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office which isn't releasing any information except they're processing it.  Tarnopolski has since withdrawn from school due to threatening e-mails that have left his family afraid to leave their home.

To think I was ready to give this speaking filth the benefit of the doubt!  This piece of gangrenous humanity is only 18, and it's already clear that he's a victimizer, a predator. 

Here's where I'm reduced to a lesser person than I aspire to be most days, but so be it . . . I am glad that his tormentors have caused him to leave school.  I am fucking overjoyed that his family is afraid to leave their home. Honestly, I hope that, after he is imprisoned, they have to move a thousand miles away and change their family name to escape what he's done.   Justice has a dead daughter, so the Tarnopolski's would still  be better off.   

I desperately hope the other girl can find the strength within herself to stand proud, and to say it loud, that "I, too, was raped by Joseph Tarnopolski!"

A memorial to Kelly, created by a friend:

 Additional sources used as background for this post:


A Joe’s Take on Treating Child Sexual Abusers

I was a boy, and I was sexually abused in my family from the age of 11 or 12 to nearly 20. As a result, I might have a different perspective on how we should deal with abusers.

Zero tolerance, as expressed in most law, is an attempt by well-meaning legislators to capture that rarity which is the full-on pedophile. In that sense I say go for it and get those people into some kind of treatment.

The problem arises in that as disgusting as kiddy porn is, it's an after-the-fact response, sometimes years or decades after. By then it's far too late to help the child in question.

Then, of course, there's nations like Thailand who nod and wink as organized child abuse is traded on to increase tourist traffic. I don't buy for an instant that authorities in Thailand don't know who is running and controlling this appalling business or are completely unable to do anything about it. Mind you, it does draw true pedophiles as well as those who have fantasies. (And no, I don't understand what might cause those fantasies but as long as they aren't acted on I see no need to hunt those people down.)

The problem, as I said, with kiddie porn is that a response to it is after-the-fact rather than preventative.

As I said in my previous post, most abusers were abused themselves as children and come from within the circle of trusted adults and then, most often, from parents. To attack this head-on means exploding the myth of the nuclear family as some sort of perfect construction for the making and raising of children. In the United States and, to a lesser degree in Canada and Europe, this is well-ingrained and very well-defended.

Of course, there are professions that DO attract pedophiles and those who are in danger of repeating what happened to them. In no particular order they tend to be caring professions such as medicine, teaching, the clergy, therapists, police, coaching and, well, I'll let the reader complete the list. Any profession or trade that brings the pedophile in to near-constant contact with children where they can establish a trusted and trusting relationship with the child and its parents.

Each profession closes ranks around offenders, or has a history of that. The most obvious, for now, being the Roman Catholic Church. They're far from the only ones, though.

And each of these professions is surrounded by a mythology all their own, created by Hollywood or by themselves as wonderful, caring people who genuinely want to help their young charges and in the vast majority of cases they are. But amongst the angels there are devils.

So it means attacking the unattackable symbols of our society/civilization and I don't know of a single politician willing to take that one on.

Sending someone with a few pictures of child porn on their hard drive to jail for 10 years is akin to sending someone to the same jail for 10 years because they have an ounce or two of pot in their possession. In the former you aren't, in all likelihood, busting a true pedophile just as much as in the latter you haven't busted a dealer.

What abusers like my father needed and still need, and this is potential and actual abusers of both genders, is caring, non-judgmental treatment for exactly the reason I stated. They are very likely to be victims of abuse themselves and know no other way of expressing great affection. Jail isn't the place for that.

The true pedophile, on the other hand, really ought to be locked away in the same place we put psychopaths and sociopaths because they're another chip off of that self same block.

And then, we ourselves, need to look on those at the lower ends of society's rungs as what they most often are the outer grown up shell of shattered children who never, ever chose the life they now lead.


A Joe’s Child Sexual Abuse Story

Children cannot protect themselves from sexual abuse, and civil liability won’t heal them. How do I know?
I was a boy, and I was sexually abused in my family from the age of 11 or 12 to nearly 20. As this began, in-family, in the 1960s, who was I supposed to tell even in the faint hope I'd be believed? There was no faint hope of belief in those days.

“Stranger abuse” is rare in the extreme for most of those of us who survived childhood sexual abuse, and to us it’s actually an interesting word for the occurrence. It's nearly always a known and trusted (even loved) adult rather than a total stranger, so right then and there the option, to the child, of screaming, yelling, and making a scene is pretty much erased.

Dammit, we love and trust this person! Get it? And the first approach is always in an empty house/apartment so even if that thought was to occur to a child what the hell is the point of trying?

The first response is, after the shock of it all, that we've done something awfully wrong and bad to find ourselves in this situation. Not true, of course, but this is a child’s mind we're dealing with, as I was, so this adult must be punishing us for something we've done.

After that, not too surprisingly comes the overwhelming shame.

As the abuse is repeated, we become convinced that our value, little as it is, is defined by the sex act and little else. The hell we live in makes any other assumption all but impossible.

Some people believe that children are capable of protecting themselves from undesired sexual activity with adults. I'm not at all surprised when I see/hear this because that's the excuse used to excuse this abuse and almost always has been. The thing that saddens me is that people actually seem to believe it. I'd hoped and prayed we, as a culture, were beyond that.

People who believe that children can protect themselves from sexual abuse need to understand how broken we are from that first encounter until we are, should we be lucky and incredibly fortunate, able to come to terms with what happened, with the reality that we did nothing to bring this on and cause it, and that we are people with value for things other than the sex act.

I said understand because others will never know the life we lead after this has happened or the self-blaming, self-accusing, self-loathing world we find ourselves in.

Most of us don't survive long as adults, which may please some as both male and female victims are the vast majority of prostitutes out there. And no, I don't mean high priced call girl types, but street types. The ones you drive by and scowl at and write nasty letters about. If we're men we're often the street hooker's customers.

We're a significant portion of alcoholics and addicts out there self-medicating just to feel "normal". Of course, we have no idea what normal is but we reach for it anyway.

Some of us grow up to be fairly functional in society¸ at least from the outside. We don't behave well and we can't form stable relationships, but we function. Some of us are very successful if you measure success by money and possessions.

Should we form a bond, we then find ourselves back in a family situation again, swearing to God that we won't pass on what happened to us. Until . . . until . . . The day we do. Because we were taught the only way to express the deepest of love is in the sex act and nothing else by the parent or trusted adult that started us down this road taught us anything else.

Not that all of you will believe this, nor do I much care if you do. I'm relating first-hand experience as a victim and survivor just by the miracle of living as long as I have.

I'm 57 and research indicates that most of us die, by our own hands or the hands of others, by our late 20s or early 30s.

I'm incredibly fortunate. I started to deal with this around people that, even though they didn't understand, walked through it with me and didn't judge me. Even in the 1980s when it was felt that this sort of thing NEVER happened to boys.

I know better now, though it hasn't been easy. Recovering from alcoholism and then met face to face with this again. The 12 steps were invaluable as were members of the program. Two women were invaluable to me, the associate priest at my church and the priest in training there.

Two others have been almost as invaluable. One, the first real bond as an equal and well beyond merely the sexual aspect of a relationship taught me that breaking up isn't the end of the world or a reason to go into mourning but a reason to celebrate that relationship and the time we had together. The other is my partner who forbids me from taking myself too seriously and helps me see the value and joy found in a simple snuggle.

The therapeutic "community" has, for the most part, been more an impediment than it has been a help. There are a number of reasons for that but while they've been largely kind and supportive they've also been largely useless to me. For the most part they still are.

If I knew someone had picture of me taken during the abuse and wouldn't get rid of it, I'm not sure if I'd be angry or sad but for a small period of time I'd feel victimized all over again. If I won a lawsuit about said picture? I also know, deep in my being, that if someone had showered me in money I'd be dead by now. Probably from over drinking or a drug overdose. It really is that simple. I wasn't ready for it. I'm not sure I really am now.

It's not that I want to forget it happened, it's that last thing I want to forget. It's formed such a major part of my life, for better and for worse that it's in my cells. A part of my being.

That's why I question the nascent movement to provide civil liability for these sorts of things. It strikes me that some feel that money is sufficient recompense for a life destroyed and may inhibit a life rebuilt. Sadly, that is far too often the result of one of us suddenly having a boxcar full of cash.

I may sound emotional at times, but I know no other way of dealing with this than emotionally. Humans are emotional creatures not logical ones. Pretending to be logical and rational at all times almost killed me. Justice can and ought to have an emotional edge to it as long as it doesn't degenerate in to revenge.

Next time anyone passes a hooker on the street remember that is someone's daughter or son. They no more chose that life that I chose my alcoholism or chose what happened to me. They just weren't lucky enough to find a way to be functional in life as I've been.

My abuser?

My father. Who was abused by his favorite uncle, who was abused by his father, who was abused by his mother and so it goes deep into the family tree. As does alcoholism.

And I don't hate any of them any longer any more that I hate alcohol, though I fear it.

As far as I'm able to, I've forgiven my now deceased father. Maybe he's finally found the peace he never knew in life.

That doesn't change the damage he did to me, it doesn't excuse it, but it somewhat explains it.

Over-legalizing such things accomplishes nothing but turning us back into helpless pawns in someone else's game yet again.

There's no amount of money in the world that can give one of us our childhood back again.

All we can do is build on the shattered remains, and claim our birthright of a healthy and happy adult life where we can love and accept ourselves for who and what we are as whole persons, flaws, warts and all.

There isn't a court judgment in the world that can give that to us.

I wish that people stopped pretending there is.


Requesting Feedback on Logo Ideas

Greetings this fine day, dear Janes and Joes! 

We've been playing with logos and branding ideas for quite a while, but actual designers are outside of our budget.  We have come up with the below on our own and are asking you for feedback. 

Does either of these logos say "Jane" to you?  Do you like them? Why or why not?  Please be as specific as you can.  We'd like to incorporate your feedback because, after all, this blog is for you, dear reader. 
Yes, there's a bit of a green orb thing going on here.  We have our reasons for that.  Please, comment away!


You're Good for Me

Quarter past 9am and working hard when I receive a text from my girlfriend Angela —“I miss u bad.”   I respond, “Me too, blue eyes.” 

Later, I find myself looking at pictures of her on my Blackberry.  As I scroll from one picture to another, with the earphones in my ears playing our song “You’re Good For Me,” I feel it!  There it goes again!!  A tingle here, a tingle there, and soon it becomes a repeated pattern occurring  from my heart to my soul. 

Each picture I scrolled, I smiled, and with every smile I felt her inside me…   After I finished looking at all the pictures, I text her:

Each day that goes by, my love for you grows
heavier and intoxicating…when I see your picture,
it makes me want to be with you more and when I hear
your voice it tickles my heart.  Oh my love, you’re good for me.

Song Lyrics:  “Good For Me”

 To be with you is easy
 I know you’re good for me
 This feeling inside me
 Oh it sends me sky high

 To feel for you is easy
 Oh baby…
 I know you’re good for me
 This feeling inside me
 Oh it sends me sky high

 You’re good for me, my baby
 So good for me, my love
 You’re good for me, my baby
 So good for me, oh love


A Dream About a Co-Worker

I had a wonderful dream about a co-worker this morning!  (No, not a sex dream, you wily things!)  The reason the dream was wonderful is because normally, if I dream about co-workers, I dream about beating them up or seeing other bad things happen to them. 

Yes, I work things out in my dreams.  Sue me.

This morning's dream was different . . . Not only was something bad not happening to the co-worker in question, but he was actually helping me out of a bad situation!

In my dream, I'm a paramedic with a partner.  The partner is neither my real-life co-worker or anyone else I recognize.  My partner and I are walking through the woods in winter with icicles hanging from tree limbs and snow on the ground, trying to find a lost child. There are others searching, too -- I can hear their voices in the distance.  The situation is dire -- The child is presumed injured, and he's been missing for 12 hours. 

Hurry.  He'll freeze.  Hurry.  He'll die. 

My partner and I move further apart.  The voices in the distance become faint.  I an quickly covering ground, my eyes sweeping back and forth across the ground.  Seeking.  Searching. 

Hurry.  He'll freeze.  Hurry.  He'll die.

Eventually, I realize I'm alone.  I can't hear the others anymore.  I stop moving.  I look up.  Clouds now obscure what little sunlight there was when we began, and a mist has begun to fall.  Both conspire to eradicate all shadow and reduce visibility to maybe 25 yards.  I've been looking at the ground so long that I've lost track of where I am.  All I can see are trees, rocks, scrub.  The wind increases, I stumble over nothing, and I realize that I tumbled out of the ambulance without my coat. 

I'm cold.  Too cold.  Waaaaaay too cold.

I stop, close my eyes, and take stock of my physical condition.  Violent shivering slowing as I focus on it.  Exposed skin beginning to tingle. Arms and legs stiff.  I manage to jam the back of my hand into my neck hard enough and long enough to warm up both pieces of skin without blocking blood flow to my brain, then I take my carotid pulse with the back of my hand.  Slow.  Irregular. 

The adrenaline kept me from realizing.

I call out to my partner, to anyone.  No response.  I call louder.  No response.  I reach for my radio.  I find the holster empty.  Left behind?  Lost?  Doesn't matter.  I am out of sight of everyone else, and I am out of sight of where we began.  I could be miles from anything or anyone.  My shivering has stopped completely.


I scan the area for . . . What?  What the hell was I just looking for?  Possible sources of shelter, that's it.  I try to say "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs" out loud.  I can't recognize what comes out of my own mouth.  Maybe better after a nap.

Can't think.  Can't speak.  Exhaustion.  Trouble.   

I scan the area again, and this time I notice a copse of trees that I hadn't noticed before.  I trudge towards them.  Walking has never been so difficult.  Breathing is difficult.  I'm weaving and stumbling, all but throwing myself forward.  I don't even really feel so cold anymore. 

Trees.  Maybe shelter.  Trees. Out of options.  Trees.

Fifty feet from the trees, I notice some boulders inside.  Twenty five feet from the trees I realize there's at least two feet of ground coverings -- pine needs, leaves, etc.

Between rocks. Break wind. Cover leaves.  Maybe warm enough.

Ten feet from the trees, I stumble, fall, can't get up.  Prone, on my stomach, too stiff to stand, looking at the trees. 

Oh, well.  Nap time.

As I close my eyes, someone steps from the trees and moves towards me.  An unknown time later, someone is dragging me.  I open my eyes and see my real-life co-worker!  Even in my degraded mental state, I know he's not supposed to be here . . . That he's from a different . . . Place?  Life?  Universe?

It's okay, I've got you now.  You're going to be okay.

Drag.  Drag.  Smack! My head hits a rock.  I don't think he noticed.  Drag.  Drag.  Drag.  I try to help by pushing on the ground with my feet, but I doubt this is helpful.  My eyes close again.  Drag.  Drag.

Here, can you crawl?  I can't push you.  In there,  can you crawl under there?.

I open my eyes again and see a pile of leaves . . . so large compared to me on the ground, but not even as tall as his chest.  I flop and flail, trying to make my arms and legs move, trying to burrow into the pile of leaves.  With his pushing and my flailing, I eventually make it into the piles of leaves.  The leaves are apparently covering two large rocks, and he pushes me in between them.  He burrows inside the pile of leaves with me.  I realise that behind me a something thick and fabricky -- A blanket?  A coat?  A piece of fluffy cloud?  He pulls it around me, pulls me to his chest.

It's okay, you''ll be okay, they're already looking for us. 

Slowly I realize that we are cheek-to-cheek, that he is wearing a heavy winter coat, and that it is unzipped.  The fronts of our bodies are firmly in contact from head to feet.  He's pulled the other blanket/coat around me and has pulled its edges around us over the top of his own, creating a cocoon around us.  I realize that the steady drumbeat that I had thought was my own blood in my ears is actually his whispered voice.

It's okay, we'll be okay.  It's okay, we'll be okay.  It's okay, we'll be okay.

Time passes. My brain begins to start working again.  Eventually we hear my partner calling my name.  I crawl out from under the leaves.  I'm still clutching the fabricky thing.  My partner is there when I finish crawling out of the pile, oddly looking past me towards my co-worker with an unfriendly look.  Oh, my God, the kid!

How about the kid?  Did they find him?

Well yeah, but what the hell happened to you?  And who's jacket is that? 

I smile and look towards my real-life co-worker, but he's nowhere to be seen.  I realize that my partner was looking at me oddly, not at my real-life co-worker. I'm standing there, clutching a winter coat I don't recognize, having just crawled from a leaf pile I didn't construct, and wondering who or what just saved my life. 

The dream ends here. 

And I was real-life grateful this morning to see my real-life co-worker when I got to the office!


LOVE What You DO!

Our newest Jane, Jeannette Marshall, is a business optioneer with sales expertise accumulated over 20 years.  She's a consistent top-performer and award winner willing to share the professional opinions and ideas she's accumulated from actual success. Today she's sharing her strategy for creating her own blog and using it to increase her own knowledge while burnishing her brand and becoming a proven authority in her field . . .


One element I always look for when I look at the gazillion of sales blogs or websites is testimonials or background on the blogger.  Basically, asking the question:  "What does this person have that I can learn from?"  Granted, there are those like Anthony Robbins who we really don't question that any longer because his claim to fame is selling himself.  Likewise, there are very successful real estate tycoons, but none measure up to Donald Trump, who really excels at selling himself.  Yet, it never ceases to amaze me that so many master Bloggers don't back up their authority on the subject by quantifying their results.   That is where my point to my Blog starts.  I am open to examination.  Why?  Simply because I have proven success yet am constantly stretching my learning and qualifications.   If I don't expose my ideas and look for challenges to those ideals, then I have failed myself.  I have stopped learning from others.
Jeannette Marshall
a/k/a OptioneerJM
 There are several critical elements to sales success.  So here I am to apply some of those critical elements to my Blog.  First of all, I had to establish an objective.  Okay, fair enough.  My first Blog did exactly that, even if I've narrowed it further to keep me on track.  It really started out with genuine positive feedback from comments on sales philosphy on Linked In.  Thus, the objective emerged:  share ideas, tips and advice.

Next, define goals.  After taking and exceling at the Google Analytics Basic "Search Engine Optimization" (SEO) and "Search Engine Marketing" (SEM) right around the time I started the Blog, I  realized that I wouldn't be able to be an authority on sales, without understanding all the key elements impacting sales today.  The most relevant is Social Media.  It is changing traditional sales methodology at lightning speed.  To assume that all the same techniques that I applied a year ago, five years ago or more, are applicable today without incorporating Social Media into the equation is naive on my part.  Therefore, I realized that the GOAL I needed to set was to learn:  "How social media impacts sales by using my own Blog as a conduit to gain that insight". 

Thirdly, research competitors or learn from the experts.   If you are with an organization or product/service just starting out just like I am with my Blog it can be quite intimidating to tackle those giants already established before you.  However, I took the time to look at them, research a bit and learn from those already successful (one of my guiding principles).  I've used this tactic so many times.   In my case, I interpreted that many blogs promote sales techniques yet underline you should hire them or buy something, usually a book or course.   If you look objectively and absorb the most successful traits that you can relate to, you can emulate them in your outlook to turn that Goliath obstacle into an advantage. 

Next differentiation.  Many giants are so caught up by their size or their own "press" that they fail at self-examination.  A starter has the advantage after they microscope their competitors and analyse them they can uncover a nugget from where they might find an area where they differentiate themselves.  Differentiation  gets easier after you go through the steps of setting objective, goals, followed by research.   I applied the links among objective, goals and research to decide to "Share what I know without an ulterior motive (i.e. seek speaking engagements, sell a course or book)".   There was my differentiation that I believed would set me apart from many sales bloggers.

Finally, and not the least important - measurement.  You cannot tell how you're doing without some sort of measurement stick. In real sales situations, you are measured by increased sales, new customers, improved profitability, expanded sales base, etc.  In the world of social media it is how many Twitter followers you have, even better, quality is measured by reTweets. With blogging, it is by followers, yes, but more when  you can check stats to see if you have traction by views or click through rates.  Don't forget to click not to count your own page views!  I like to monitor whether I am providing value -  I interpret from comments, feedback or sharing.  I post my results so others can watch my progress and because I KNOW there will be progress, I am not afraid to share.  Next, after I have established myself for a year, I will measure how I stack up against other sales Bloggers. 

Geez, I almost forgot the most important of all.  Not only does it take what I learn from the blogging pros by having a catchy title, it also communicates what I also learn from the icons of business -- LOVE WHAT YOU DO!

~Jeannette Marshall
  a/k/a OptioneerJM

The Google Suggest Crystal Ball - US vs. Germany Edition

We previously briefly discussed the Google Suggest choices to complete "why do women" : (United States Google)

What many people don't know is that Google has various landing pages and returns different results depending upon the origin country of the Internet connection used to query it.  So, by default, my machine loads because I am in the United States. 

In the UK, for example, the address is, for Japan:, for Indonesia:, and for Germany:, etc.  You can type these in or find them by, ahem, Googling the word Google and the country in question (such as Google Indonesia).

I find interesting the comparison between the Google Suggest choices, when returned by Google US and Google Germany, for the same phrase "why do women":

US Google users seem to have a negative view of the female character in general (lying, nagging, and two references to cheating as well as a shot at abused women) while concurrently focusing on their physical attractiveness (facial hair, thongs, and baldness).

German Google users seem to have different and less judgmental cultural views of women than US Google users, with only one reference to cheating in common with the US but also an observation of a gender difference regarding fashion and the observation of openly-displayed female homosexuality being more common than male homosexuality (something I've seen referenced in other places with regards to Western culture).

I've never lived in Germany, travelled there, or know anyone from there, so all I can do is wonder if this is really an accurate representation of the overall German culture or simply that of German Google users.  Just because Google is ubiquitous here in the US, and US Google users are representative of the wider culture, are these things the same way in Germany?  And what types of German people are online?  Is it almost everyone not in abject poverty, as it is here?  These are things I don't know, so I can't guess if German Google Suggest is at all representative of overall German culture.

I hope the reader Stuttgartgirl who commented on the Sex Boxen post reads this and can offer input on German vs. US cultural attitudes towards women. 

Hell, I hope anyone with input shares it!  :-)


Working a Job I Hate for Health Insurance

I'm at the same job I was in 10 years ago.  The job has no path for advancement, either professionally or monetarily.  I'm a walking knowledge base for everyone who comes into contact with me. I've been there so long that I sometimes can't immediately answer "How do we do this?" because "how we do this" has changed so many times over the years that I can't be sure if what I'm remembering is the current "how we do this." 

I can't tell you the last time I learned something new.  God, how I wish I could change employment.

Why can't I jump?  Health insurance -- It's the ball attached to the chain clamped to my leg that will eventually drown me in the clear, calm depths of professional obsolescence.

Here's the situation: My health insurance premium is approximately 30% of my net payroll.  I only pay 25% of that premium, but on the open market even crappy-coverage policies have about the same premium as the fairly good group-coverage policy through my employer.  Why is it so expensive?  I'm a child-bearing age female, and insurers won't rider maternity coverage on an individual policy.  As a result, adult females pay a shit-ton more than adult males for their insurance coverage.

Private insurers won't rider maternity because they don't want to deal with arguments/arbitration/lawsuits about whether or not any given other condition is the result of pregnancy.  An example is high blood pressure.  Imagine that I become pregnant, and my blood pressure rises (which commonly happens in pregnancy).  The insurance company then refuses to cover visits or medication for my high blood pressure because it's "pregnancy-related."  I say it's my freaking circulatory system with a problem, not my fetus or womb, so they need to cover it.  The next thing you know, the lawyers are called in.

<snark> (Maybe that's how the health insurance industry keeps seeing double-digit returns for the last God knows how many years . . . Not paying lawyers to argue with their customers?) </snark>

So, individual health insurance policies on the open market are absolutely unaffordable for any woman whom I would say "works for a living."  Not the first time in my life I wish I'd been born a man, let me tell you!

Add this individual-policy health insurance situation to the fact that the only industry within which I've worked in 15 years has been completely outsourced or offshored within the last 10 years, and the issue becomes clear.

I, as a never-married woman of the means delivered only by her paycheck, have to stay in a job that has been beneath me for the last 5 years because I have to maintain health insurance.  No one else is going to do it for me. 

I can't go without health insurance because, if something happens, public health services won't be available until I am literally destitute.  My state is so strict on the "literally destitute" concept that I watched my mother become ill and die at the age of 52 as the direct result of not being able to pay for health care while working her minimum-wage, no-insurance job. 

Because my mother didn't have $1K+ liquid from her minimum-wage paycheck (and, sadly, neither did I) to pay for tests to determine exactly what was wrong with her, she and her doctor treated what they guessed was wrong with her.  Every month or so, she scrabbled together another $100+ for another 5- or 10-minute conversation and another prescription to treat the next guess.  Within a year of the start of this cycle, she was dead.

Whatever I have to do, the same will not happen to me.  I will not die because I couldn't afford health care.  Disregard what the Republicans say -- "Just go to the emergency room!" -- People in this country die every day because they can't afford health care.  I know, because I watched it happen to my own mother.

And I learned . . .

Keep health insurance or die painfully with those closest to you in more pain than you are.

So, every day I go to a job that I should leave.  For more reasons than I can outline right now without falling into insensibility, the job is a bad fit for me dispositionally and outdated for me professionally.  I did everything right -- I've worked hard, been dependable, made the most intelligent decisions possible, always supported my co-workers and supervisors, learned as much as I can about the business and the customer, and have never been fired from a job in my life.  In general, I'm a stellar employee capable of great production and requiring little oversight. 

And now I'm bloody fucking stuck.

Much of the problem with my professional advancement is because I work in a predominantly male industry, but the reason I haven't been able to jump ship as often as I should have to keep my payroll and advancement in line with my male peers is because of the health insurance issue.  Yes, the non-insurance job in my industry pay more, but they're irregular (read: temporary) and don't pay enough more that I can lose 30% of my net on a crappy (read: doesn't cover much) individual health insurance policy.

While I've spent my entire life aspiring to be (and mostly succeeding in showing) that I'm the better employee of most of the people (not just the men) around me . . . I've been stopped dead in my professional tracks by two different types of sexism -- one systemic and based upon finances (health insurance), the other subtle and based upon gender differences (my industry).

The only thing that keeps me from bouncing off the walls with the injustice of health insurance premium inequity (no, men can't bear the pups but men have to help make them!) is the knowledge that even if my Fairy Godmother came down to Earth and suddenly made this right, I'd still be stuck not being able to change jobs because so very few of the ones in my industry even offer health insurance, regardless of the cost.

Every time I think about this, I make no headway on a plan or a solution. I end up at the same point every time, and I don't know whether to get drunk and bomb random health insurance offices or shoot myself in the head to relieve the frustration of the trapped.  After all, prisoners do commit suicide to be free.

And here I am again.  I had thought that writing about this, defining it, naming the monster, would help me clarify the situation, bring a solution into crystalline focus.  And once again, I end up feeling like a prisoner, trapped within the cage of what I so desperately worked to obtain (a job with insurance!), the thing that I so desperately need to maintain.  The health insurance that gives me the tiniest bit of security also prevents me from evolving, progressing, changing, living.

Health insurance.  A pox on all of your houses!!


*What* Magazine is This Supposed to be Again?!

Okay, enough is enough.  I've simply had it with inappropriately-included, Photoshopped-to-better-than-life female models on magazine covers, most specifically when the magazines in question have nothing to do with making women appear more attactive. (Yes, beauty magazines suck, too, but that's a separate topic for another day.)

I imagine that a neighbor standing near me as I pulled this lovely bit of tripe from my mailbox probably received burns from the steam that shot from my ears:

I hid the words so that the full effect of the graphic was evident, then I asked approximately 15 people I ran into during an average workday what type of magazine this is.  The by far most common answers were women's beauty and young men's (e.g. Maxim, Stuff) magazines.  The next most common was was sports/fitness.

Do I need to specifically tell you, dear reader, that I don't subscribe to beauty, young men's, or sprots/fitness magazines?  Well, I don't.

For comparison, this is the cover of the above-magazine's closest competitor for the same month (November 2010).  Again, I blocked the words to bring the graphic forefront:

Look at these two covers.  If I paid you money for your honesty, would you ever in one million years have said that these two magazines were competitors?

I thought not.

Now, let's look at these covers side-by-side with just the words applying to the main cover story of each showing:

Compare these two covers one more time and consider: If I gave you a lifetime subscription to the one of your choice for your honesty, would you ever in one million years have said these two magazines were competitors?

I thought not.

May I just say that sex shouldn't be used to sell everything?  That there really are some things (like baby clothes) that are just inappropriately hawked when sex comes into play?

Seriously, Editors: What are you, 13?

The first magazine has been doing this for the last several years.  At first, the change was minor and could have been considered more "modern." Then it ramped up in both frequency and audacity.  After the leathered-up dominatrix with a whip (!) cover, I really blew my stack.  I wrote an angry letter, and many other readers did, too.  I was filled with sister-love when I read their outraged comments.  I felt vindicated and justified and not, as I feared, a bit too prudish for the 21st Century.

Then the magazine e-mailed me an invitation to participate in an online focus group for an upcoming cover . . . Finally!  I could do something about this misplaced appeal-to-the-masses garbage!  I was so excited and mission-oriented as I clicked the link . . .

Yeah, all of the covers they provided for us to choose from were already inappropriately sexed-up.  There wasn't a realistic or even non-laughable picture to be had, so I chose the least offensive one.  Of course, that one didn't make it to my mailbox.   I guess that's what focus groups are all about -- the least common denominator.

This last cover is my last straw.  I hereby refuse to renew my subscription to this magazine, and I'm pissed off at this point that I renewed for two full years last time.  I've actually enjoyed its competitor more over the years, anyway.  It's brainier and not trying to break into the god-awful beauty magazine industry.

You've been patient, so here are the actual, complete, unedited magazine covers.  Read 'em and weep, dear Janes and Joes.

The first was my needy best friend years ago who grew into a shallow tramp.  The other is my best friend now, the uncomplicated one who I could spend endless afternoons with drinking coffee and using my brain.