Standardized Depravity

Our kids received yet another lesson in their own depravity today as the public schools in the state of Texas began administering the STAAR state standardized test this week.

It’s a good thing, “A requirement that fifth- and eighth-grade students pass the exams to be promoted to the next grade is being waived this year.” because, “The education agency has not set what scores will be needed to pass each of the tests.”

The kids learned that teachers are required to teach them how to pass this one test and that nothing else matters. The kids learned that teachers hate the test as much as they. The kids learned that the system does not trust anyone because of the few who are corrupt, and therefore they must have excessively stringent rules regarding taking the actual test (my “favorite” is the rule that states if a kid barfs on their test, the teacher is required to place the barfed on test in a protective bag and send it in for grading anyway). The list of “You cannot …” is long and glorious.

Sigh. Anyway, my 8th grade daughter completed her Math STAAR in less than half the time. Thankfully they are allowed one real book (no ebooks of any kind) to read. So she took the test and finished a book. Tomorrow she takes the Reading STAAR with all the rest of the 8th graders in the state, and in April she takes the Science and Social Studies.

I am thankful my daughter is well read and is a thinking person and learns beyond the public education system, otherwise the state would think she’s educated simply because she performs well on their $90 million dollar test.


Proof of The War Against Men

Candice Watters, in her recent article for Boundless, mentioned something that the respondents largely overlooked: that modern potrayals of men have been largely unfavorable.

You see it in the formula for popular TV shows: Beautiful, thin, smart, sexy, together woman marries (or dates) oafish, overweight, dumb, irresponsible guy. He’s the butt of every joke. She, the recipient of every word (and look) of praise. It’s not true of all women, of course, but it is a stereotype based, in part, on reality. And that reality is the sin we women were warned about in Genesis 3. God said, “Your desire will be for your husband …”

Well, (HT: Vox Day) we have more proof of this beyond that of anecdote.

Feminism has drawn attention to and fought against stereotypical and sexist portrayals of women in mass media, but new research shows that media portrayals of gender have largely done an about face in the past decade or so. There is a new “gender war” and the main target of discrimination is no longer women, according to research – it is men.

Gender studies have claimed that mass media portrayals and images are key influences that both reflect and shape society’s views of women and women’s self-identity. As well as attacking obvious sexist media portrayals such as page three girls and “girlie” magazines, feminists have challenged objectification, marginalisation, trivialisation and other negative portrayals of women in movies, advertising, TV drama and other media content. Their argument that such portrayals are damaging have won support from legislators and from many media professionals including film makers, advertising producers and editors.

Research shows that, while sexism against women remains, representations of women have evolved with less stereotypical portrayals and more women shown in heroic, successful, independent and sexually liberated roles such as in Buffy and the Vampire Slayer, Sex and the City and even in aggressive roles such as Kill Bill.

A 1995-96 study reported in a 2002 book, Media, Gender and Identity by media researcher David Gauntlett, found 43 per cent of major characters in TV shows were women – up from 18 per cent in 1992-93. The study reported that, on a character-by-character basis, females and males were equal in all criteria studied. Analysis of newspapers and magazines also has found portrayals of women improving – albeit there is still a way to go in some areas according to feminist scholars.

Until recently, gender theorists and media researchers have argued or assumed that media representations of men are predominantly positive, or at least unproblematic. Men have allegedly been shown in mass media as powerful, dominant, heroic, successful, respected, independent and in other positive ways conducive to men and boys maintaining a healthy self-identity and self-esteem.

However, this view has come under challenge over the past few years. John Beynon, a Welsh cultural studies academic, examined how masculinity was portrayed in the British quality press including The Times, The Guardian and The Sunday Times over a three-year period from 1999-2001 and in books such as Susan Faludi’s 2000 best-seller Stiffed: The Betrayal of Modern Man. Beynon concluded in his 2002 book, Masculinities and Culture, that men and masculinity were overwhelmingly presented negatively and as “something dangerous to be contained, attacked, denigrated or ridiculed, little else”.

Canadian authors, Paul Nathanson and Katherine Young in a controversial 2001 book, Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture reported widespread examples of “laughing at men, looking down on men, blaming men, de-humanising men, and demonising men” in modern mass media. They concluded: “… the worldview of our society has become increasingly both gynocentric (focused on the needs and problems of women) and misandric (focused on the evils and inadequacies of men)”.

The role of mass media in creating and or reflecting identity has long been debated and the findings of some studies have been questioned. Nathanson and Young admitted in their foreword that their findings were based on a small sample. Also, most analysis of media content has focused on movies, TV drama and advertising: mass media genre which are fiction and, therefore, not representative of reality and ostensibly “taken with a grain of salt” by audiences.

However, an extensive content analysis of mass media portrayals of men and male identity undertaken for a PhD completed in 2005 through the University of Western Sydney focusing on news, features, current affairs, talk shows and lifestyle media found that men are widely demonised, marginalised, trivialised and objectified in non-fiction media content that allegedly presents facts, reality and “truth”.

The study involved collection of all editorial content referring to or portraying men from 650 newspaper editions (450 broadsheets and 200 tabloids), 130 magazines, 125 TV news bulletins, 147 TV current affairs programs, 125 talk show episodes, and 108 TV lifestyle program episodes from 20 of the highest circulation and rating newspapers, magazines and TV programs over a six-month period. Media articles were examined using in-depth quantitative and qualitative content analysis methodology.

The research found that, by volume, 69 per cent of mass media reporting and commentary on men was unfavourable compared with just 12 per cent favourable and 19 per cent neutral or balanced. Men were predominately reported or portrayed in mass media as villains, aggressors, perverts and philanderers, with more than 75 per cent of all mass media representations of men and male identities showing men in one of these four ways. More than 80 per cent of media mentions of men, in total, were negative, compared with 18.4 per cent of mentions which showed men in a positive role.

The overwhelmingly negative reporting and portrayals of men in mass media news, current affairs, talk shows and lifestyle media was mainly in relation to violence and aggression. Violent crime, including murder, assault, armed robberies and attacks such as bashings, accounted for almost 40 per cent of all media reporting of male violence and aggression, followed by sexual abuse (20.5 per cent), general crime (18.6 per cent) and domestic violence (7.3 per cent).

Other major topics of media coverage of men were fatherhood and family, male sexuality, work and career, and men’s social behaviour. In all of these categories, men were predominantly reported and portrayed mostly negatively.

Fatherhood was also a prominent subject in relation to men, discussed in 361 media articles and features during the period of the study. Some media coverage positively discussed men as fathers, pointing to increasing recognition of the importance of fathers in children’s lives. However, along with recognition of the importance of fathers and the depth of many men’s emotional connection with their children, discussion contained an almost equal number of criticisms of men as “deadbeat dads”, “commitment phobic” and as perpetrators of domestic violence and sexual abuse within families.

Despite evidence of violence and abuse committed by women, such as a National Family Violence Survey in the US which found women just as likely to commit violence against men as men are against women, and a US National Incidence of Child Abuse and Neglect report in 2000 that found “where maltreatment of children led to death, 78 per cent of the perpetrators were female”, men are almost exclusively portrayed as the perpetrators of domestic violence and child abuse.

As identified by Mary Hood in a 2001 book chapter, “Developing new kinds of relationships between men and children”, a “feminist construction of men as responsible for child abuse has had consequences for the relationship of non-abusive men [the vast majority] with children. A side-effect has been to cast a shadow over the interaction of all men with all children”.

One third of all media discussion of male sexuality examined in the study was in relation to pedophilia which demonstrates the distortion inherent in debate on men, given that a very small proportion of men are pedophiles.

Male homosexuality has become prominent in media representations of men, highlighted in TV shows such as Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and numerous press reviews that followed its international launch. Homosexuality is lightly and positively portrayed in Queer Eye. However, the program and media coverage generally continues to reflect gay stereotypes, and homosexuality is negatively portrayed in media discussion of gay marriages and social commentary reflecting homophobia.

Significantly, male heterosexuality was found to be equally negatively portrayed. Male heterosexuality is widely associated with what is termed “hegemonic masculinity” which is described as violent, aggressive and dominating. Traditional masculinity has become a target of ridicule in many forms of mass media from TV shows such as Men Behaving Badly to major newspaper opinion columns and cartoons.

The new idealised image of men presented in the media during the past three years has been the “metrosexual”, a term reportedly coined by British author Mark Simpson and made popular by New York trend-spotter Marian Salzman, referring to men who are fashion-conscious and well-groomed – often to the point of becoming effeminate such as wearing make-up and waxing to remove body hair.

Recent research has shown “metrosexuals” to be mostly a fabrication of mass media – and not just advertising and TV drama. International current affairs show, 60 Minutes, devoted a major segment to “Metro Man” (August 24, 2003) and Australia’s other top-rating current affairs program, A Current Affair, devoted two programs to metrosexuals (September 19, 2003 and December 2, 2003). Men’s magazine Ralph (October 2003) published a quiz headed “Are you a metrosexual” in a tongue-in-cheek tone. But the underlying message was that, if a man is not a metrosexual, he is a sexist, football-loving, beer-drinking slob.

The research found that men are also objectified in women’s magazines and popular media in the same ways that women were in male-orientated media for several generations, but which is now regarded as blatantly sexist and “politically incorrect”. For instance, Cosmopolitan magazine’s “Guy without a shirt” section features male pin-ups such as David Beckham – for example, “Want to see Becks take a free kick – naked” (October 2003). The top-rating TV program, Sex and the City has extensively portrayed men as little more than sex objects and “handbags” for women’s amusement and pleasure.

In relation to work and career, men are mostly reported as power-obsessed “Atlas Syndrome” workaholics, neglecting their families and forming discriminatory “boy’s clubs” to prevent women progressing beyond the “glass ceiling”, despite many men claiming that this image is far from reality. Recent research such as Barbara Pocock’s 2003 book, The Work/Life Collision, reveals that, far from enjoying power and privilege at work, many men are suffering alienation from their families and even shortening of their lives through the stress of post-industrial work culture.

With the exception of a small minority of positive media portrayals of male heroes such as war veterans, fire fighters and rescuers, and an equally small percentage of portrayals of men as good fathers, husbands and citizens, the only males presented positively are men and boys who have been “feminised” and who exhibit their “feminine side”. The latter term highlights the gender bias against men in popular discourse.

Descriptions of male sensitivity, emotion and other positive attributes as men’s and boy’s “feminine side” lays claim to any good in men and boys as female. The implication and the message extensively communicated in popular culture is that maleness is innately and culturally evil and the characteristics of masculinity are undesirable and anachronistic.

Some try to dismiss concerns over negative representations of men arguing that they are simply reporting the facts; men are abusers, pedophiles, deadbeat dads and so on. Some men, yes. But, proportionately, only a relatively small number of men personify these negative stereotypes. Data from the Australian Bureau of Crime Statistics and international studies on violence and child abuse show these are substantially misrepresentations of men and male identity.

There are signs that men are concerned and conflicted by the shifting kaleidoscope of identities presented in mass media. During the period of research, a letter to the editor from a young man under the headline “Men in need of direction” stated: “The increasing trend towards this portrayal of men in advertising is a representation of the indeterminate role of males in modern society … men are less secure in the part they have to play in the social structure … for the young male, there is a great deal of confusion about the contribution they have to make to society and in relationships…”. The letter concluded by appealing against “lauding one gender and denigrating the other” (The Daily Telegraph, July 7, 2003).

The Australian Advertising Standards Bureau reported in 2005 that TV commercials drew a record number of complaints from men during 2004 and that the number of complaints by men is increasing while those from women are decreasing. The Australian Federal Government’s advertising campaign against domestic violence which targeted only men as perpetrators of domestic violence was labelled “propaganda against men” with many men criticising its “stereotypical portrayals” (The Age, January 3, 2005).

As they seek their identity and role in society, men and boys today are being plunged into a vortex of social, political and economic change; feminist philosophy that dominates thinking about gender, and mass media images and discussions that condemn traditional male attributes and masculinities and promote confusing new identities such as “metrosexuals”.

To the extent that the negative views of men and masculinity in mass media reflect social attitudes, these findings have alarming implications for men and boys and for societies generally. Just as women have struggled against misogyny, men today face an increasingly misandric world that devalues and demonises them and gives them little basis for self-esteem.

Boys face education systems that inadequately cater to their needs and lack positive role models to help them grow up as healthy men. By propagating negative views of men and male identity, mass media are perpetuating them and giving them social and political traction. Widespread views on men as violent, sexually abusive, unable to be trusted with children, “deadbeat dads” and in need of “reconstruction” have the potential to and strong likelihood of shaping future policy making and political decisions. Ultimately, negative public and media discourse on men and boys could have major social and financial costs for societies in areas such as male health, rising suicide rates, and family disintegration.

In a book reporting this research released in September 2006 by Palgrave Macmillan, it is argued that the negative portrayal of men and male identity in contemporary societies is not only a matter of concern for men, but also for women. What is happening to men has an impact on women who live and work with them and who care about the health, welfare and happiness of their husbands, partners, brothers, male friends and their sons growing up and seeking their role and identity in a changing world.

This article is based on research findings from a PhD research thesis completed in 2005 through the University of Western Sydney and published in Media & Male Identity: The Making and Remaking of Men released by Palgrave Macmillan, London in September 2006.

I happen to agree with Vox Day: portraying men in a negative light that is consistent with their actions in the world is not the issue, but rather portraying them in a negative light in spite of observable reality.

Just as portraying women as backward and stupid–always needing their husbands to forgive and correct them every 15 seconds–would be pure misogyny, portraying men as shallow buffoons–always corrected by their intelligent, civilized wives–is pure misandry.

I double-dog-dare our friends at Boundless to address this problem.

Glenn Stanton, this is your challenge.

The Trayvon Martin Case: My $0.02

A few months ago, we had an incident at my church.

I was one of several volunteers working security: I was handling the back of the sanctuary, and the entrance. In that capacity, I was the roving worker who kept an eye on the larger picture.

A suspicious looking man came in for the second service. I say “suspicious” not because of any ethic/racial issues–we welcome people of all races. He did not appear to be all there. We’ll call him John Doe.

I made it a point to greet John, as did other security workers. We were polite, congenial, and welcoming, even though we all were in agreement: he didn’t seem to be all there.

Making matters worse, during the service, John got up from his seat, walked to the other end of the sanctuary, and sat down. His new position made a clear lane between him and the pastor. This made me nervous, because one of my primary objectives is to protect the pastor.

(I recalled the First Baptist Church/Springfield, IL shooting, where a gunman walked up to the pastor and killed him at point-blank range. That was one of the main incidents that motivated me to start working security.)

Other security workers–alerted by something else about John–moved in behind him and sat down. I moved into a position where I would be able to intercept him if he made a move for the pastor.

We were concerned about his actions, but we still wanted to ensure that we did not harass him. As far as we knew, he was breaking no laws and otherwise had no criminal intent. His First Amendment rights were just as important as our Second Amendment rights.

After the service, the picture got clearer. John had followed a woman–Jane Smith, whom he had seen at a traffic light–into the church. She reported it to one of the security workers, and that is why they were sitting behind him. John had innocuously followed her into the church, because she reminded him of his ex-wife, whom he missed.

While we were talking to him, other folks snuck Jane out of the church. Our head of security–a local cop–ran a background check on him and it turned up clean.

No threats were exchanged. No punches were thrown. No weapons–and we had lots of them among us–were drawn. Everyone shook hands and left without incident.

I say that to point out a couple things:

(a) Just because someone doesn’t “look right” doesn’t give you the authority to go pick a fight with him. Neither Castle Doctrine nor “Stand Your Ground” Doctrine–which extends Castle Doctrine to you outside the home–gives you increased authority to escalate matters; it gives you the benefit of a doubt, putting the burden of proof on the government, when you defend yourself from legitimate threats.

(b) Had I–or any of the security workers–picked a fight with this guy, and escalated the incident to the point where weapons were drawn (or, worse, people were shot and/or killed), we’d rightfully be in a lot of hot water right now.

Now, let’s say I called the police and told them about John. Let’s say they told me to lay back and let them send an officer. Instead of heeding their advice, let’s say I went up to John and started confronting him. “What are you doing here? Why are you doing this?” Now let’s say he gets belligerent with me and a fight ensues. During this fight, he pulls a knife, at which point I pull my Springfield and win the Rock-Paper-Scissors game with a double-tap.

Self-defense? Not necessarily. Establishing who threatened whom–in addition to who threw punches–would be critical to determining criminal liabilities. On top of that would be a question of whether my escalation of the matter was contributory to the situation.

In such a case, I could be facing civil–if not criminal–liabilities.

So what does this have to do with Trayvon Martin?

(1) He had a right to be on that street, just as Zimmerman had a right to carry his firearm.

(2) That he “didn’t look right” was not a criminal offense. It was worth calling the cops, and perhaps keeping an extra eye on him. It was worth letting neighbors know to keep an eye out. But seeking him out on the street and confronting him? If you’re carrying a firearm, you have to be careful about escalating matters.

(3) That a fight ensued does not put Zimmerman in the clear. He was told–by the dispatcher–to stay put. At that point, neither his life, nor his liberty, nor his property, were in imminent danger. He did not have probable cause to show that anyone else’s life, liberty, or property were in danger.

(4) I usually agree with Vox Day, but this is not one of those times. That Trayvon Martin didn’t live in that neighborhood–his father’s girlfriend did–doesn’t give Zimmerman the right to pick a fight with him, let alone shoot him. And if Zimmerman’s escalation of matters led to a conflict that necessitated the shooting, then he’s not necessarily in the clear.

(5) Sadly, Zimmerman’s own comments to the dispatcher have given cause to those who claim racism. I’m normally very cynical of anyone who plays the race card. I have no use for the race-baiting tactics of Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton or the Southern Poverty Law Center.

But Zimmerman was engaging in racial profiling. And while that may be perfectly legal for him to do–as he is not in a law-enforcement role–it does not help him when he has escalated an incident, on the basis of said profiling, that led to a conflict which resulted in a fatal shooting.

While I would not want him tried for a “hate crime”, the key here is whether his escalation of matters leaves him criminally responsible.

While Zimmerman is innocent until proven guilty, what he has done here looks shady.

The Second Amendment is not a 007 license.

(1) OTOH: [Up]Chuck Schumer (D-NY) needs to STHU and butt out. The issue here is neither Castle Doctrine or Stand Your Ground doctrine, but rather whether Zimmerman’s escalation of matters constitute potential criminal liabilities.

(2) I disagree with Denninger: that Zimmerman had wounds on his head and grass stains on his back does not mean he was attacked from behind by Martin. If his confrontation of Martin resulted in a fight, then the dynamics of that fight could easily lead to him getting those wounds even if he was the escalator.

Fact is, Zimmerman was told to stay put. It doesn’t appear that he did that. While that does not necessarily make him a murderer, it does expose him to potential liabilities if his escalation of the incident was contributory to the scuffle.

(3) There are witness accounts suggesting that Martin was actually the aggressor, and that he attacked Zimmerman from behind. If the evidence comes close to corroborating this, then there is probably enough reasonable doubt to keep Zimmerman in the clear. If this is the case, then the issue becomes one of what did Zimmerman do when the dispatcher wave him off?

If he backed off, after which Martin attacked him, then Martin deserved to be shot.

If he went to Martin and confronted him, exchanged words, then–after turning his back–Martin attacked him, then Martin deserved to be shot, although Zimmerman’s confrontation would fall in the gray area. Criminal liabilities? No. But civil liabilities are not out of the question.

If he went to Martin and confronted him to the extent that a fight ensued, then there are a whole littany of issues: Was the confrontation necessary? Who threatened whom? Who made first physical contact? If the confrontation was not necessary, then he could be facing some civil–perhaps criminal–liabilities. There may be enough reasonable doubt to keep him clear of criminal prosecution, but the standard in civil cases is lower.

The larger culpability here, though, is MSM. They clearly do not report the whole story; they instead twist the story into a narrative of their liking, in order to sell it to the public.

Was Zimmerman an overzealous hero wannabe who got overly jacked up in this case? Probably. Does that make him a murderer? Not necessarily.

At the same time, the news media is clearly sensationalizing this case. If riots ensue over this, and people get killed, then MSM is at least partially culpable here. They’ll never get prosecuted in a court of law. They can’t be; it’s a First Amendment issue. Could Zimmerman sue them? Possibly, but that is hard to do.

(Richard Jewell–the hero whose quick thinking saved lives in the 1996 Olympic bombing–never really recovered, although he was able to reach a settlement with news networks. Jewell, as you remember, was innocent; the culprit was Eric Robert Rudolph, who is now doing a life sentence for several bombings, including that one and an abortion clinic.)

Stupid Comment of All-Time

I about choked on my coffee when I read this piece by “Sigrid”, in her attempt to attack Susan Walsh:


Your argument(s) (and I use “argument” loosely) about female promiscuity and its correlation to a litany of negative individual/societal outcomes notwithstanding, I find your tacit (0r perhaps not so tacit) support of “slut shaming” deeply disturbing. As a PhD student at a large university with two two nieces and one nephew in their first years of college (representative of your primary audience), I cringe that their earnest navigation (whatever that may look like) through the inevitably disorienting and murky terrain of their sexuality and sociality should be so crudely measured on a loaded and psychologically damaging binary of shame vs. exaltation. And I would posit that, indeed, it is the rhetoric and discourse emanating from that binary that exacts the profound negative toll on all of us. To “shame” anyone (although in your case you have a particular penchant for females, it seems) is cruel and counterproductive.

I admit, I’ve only recently become acquainted with this site, and I have yet to investigate whether you are a proper journalist, a working scholar in the academy, or a self-appointed pundit, but if either of the two former, you should be careful to so readily employ sweeping phrases such as “we all know” and unqualified pronouns (i.e., “they”, “few”…example below). Who, exactly, is “we all” and “they,” I ask?

“Fifteen years later, we all know that few found “newer, truer, less sexist and more ecstatic ways of being sexual.” They found ways of being sexual that were risky, superficial, awkward and unsatisfying. The sexual double standard is as prominent as ever, being biologically determined and therefore immutable. If anything, men have become hypersensitive to female promiscuity, warily inquiring about a woman’s number before investing one ounce of emotional energy.”

In addition, do you feel any responsibility to justify your claims to causality/correlation?

“…female promiscuity is not a problem “for one reason or another.” It is directly responsible for the near disappearance of fulfilling and intimate cross-sex relationships among young people in college, the mistaken and tragic sense that most college students have of themselves as sexual “losers,” the rapid rise of sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S., and the creation of a “spinster class” of women now in their 30s and 40s.”

I am an unattached woman in my thirties, and I just want to thank you for answering with such unflinching confidence that my status as a…what do you call it?…”spinster”?…. is the fault either of my own “promiscuity” (in my case, a drawn out virginity followed by a personal decision that I’m generally uncomfortable with casual sex, and am better in committed, monogamous relationships, though I’ve experimented some), or a cult of young women who actively engage in casual sex (oh…and maybe their “man-whore” partners…yes, lets *not* forget those). Who knew the answer (which happens to *also* explain the rise of STDs in the US!) was so readily at my hands?! I’m sure your readership breathlessly awaits the quantitative and qualitative data sets you’ve marshaled to support this “argument.”

Maybe if I include a photo, you can size me up and further illuminate me on my “spinster” status with some added commentary based on my haircut, fashion sense, posture, or general appearance, in the same way you did my colleague, Extragiraffe, who, far from a “douchebag” or “frat boy,” is a kind and incredibly decent human being, a respected and decorated academic-in-training who is well-read in feminist theory/praxis, and a thoughtful discussant on a range of issues pertaining to gender and sexuality. If I wasn’t already put off by your crude category-building and your amateur sociology, your sophomoric, evasive, and baseless response to my friend solidifies that I will discourage everyone I know (but particularly my nieces and nephew and their peers) from ever taking your web site or its logics seriously.

Here is my 1000 mph assessment:

(1) Extragiraffe is more than likely pulling a Hugo Schwyzer and embracing feminism only insofar as to land bed partners. (Russ and myself observed a fair amount of that dynamic at Southern Baptist Theological Cemetary, during days when the feministas were making their last stand.)

(2) Susan Walsh is right: don’t forget about the manwhores. Both sexes have their share in this mess.

(3) Sigrid has provided a great illustration of WHY MEN DON’T GIVE AN AIRBORNE RODENT COPULATION ABOUT WOMEN’S “SUCCESS”!!!!

I’m going to be blunt here, Sigrid, but, if the only two women left on this earth were you and a crack whore with AIDS, and God told me I HAD to marry one, I’d be gambling on a cure for AIDS.

You might do well to learn from Walsh on this one, Sigrid…

While Walsh has an MBA from Wharton, she doesn’t use her credentials in any attempt to show that she is smarter than everyone else in the room. She simply lets the facts speak for themselves, and provides insights into factors that have made life hell for men and women. I don’t agree with her all the time, but she’s right most of the time.

And that brings me to another point: YOUR CREDENTIALS MEAN LITTLE TO NOTHING OUTSIDE OF ACADEMIA! Those of us who work for a living couldn’t care less what you are doing in an establishment that has little connection to the real world. Fact is, Walsh’s MBA from Wharton is worth more than the PhD you don’t even have yet.

Oh, and you may not want to speak too soon about that PhD: the ranks of the academy are littered with folks–smarter than you–who got shot down just short of their dissertation defenses. Even in soft fields like education…

I’d kick you even harder, but I have real work to do. Hat tip to Vox Day and Munson for their smackdowns, though.

They’ll Find Out the Truth Someday

I hear this often in many different scenarios regarding children who will find out the truth about their parents someday. It is true that we do not have to tell our kids all the bad stuff, nor should we. And it is also true that most kids find it out on their own, someday, when they’re adults. Often this is spoken in a way that implies justice will be done because the kids will know the truth. Often this is spoken in a way to bring comfort to the innocent parent. However, I do not see it that way.

What kid wants that to be true about their own parent? NONE! We don’t want to discover our parent was trash, horrible, a cheater, an addict, an abuser, or whatever. And although children do not need to know these things as minors, adult children wish they didn’t know it, either, because they wish it weren’t true.

I found out some things about my mom and my dad this week that are horrible. I suspected some of it, but knowing it and suspecting it are, as I have learned the hard way, two very different things. It has devastated me. Wounded me. Crushed me. There is no peace or justice or comfort in knowing these truths – just more pain … more to grieve … more to forgive. I get so freakin tired of dealing with and grieving and forgiving my parents.

It was one thing when much of what I had to forgive happened long ago … it’s another thing when I discover their horrible behaviors and choices have continued and are more recent and even current. I’m livid. They think it’s all about them, that they can do whatever the heck they want and it affects no one. They think I’m an adult now, so they can do whatever sh** they want, and it’s okay, because it’s what makes them happy. They could not be more wrong.

People, your choices are never only about you – have you figured that out, yet???!!! It does not matter how old or young you are. It does not matter how old or young your children or nieces or nephews, or even if they are thought-of, conceived, or born yet. It does not matter. Your choices affect them.

Oh, and it most certainly does not matter if they know yet – get over that one, fast. You hurt people when you do the stupid thing you do, not when they find out.

So here’s my advice to people who think they can do whatever the heck they want and their choices affect no one but them – STOP. Get a clue. Stop being so stupid and selfish. It never was only about you. Your life affects many others whether you want it to or not. And especially if you have children, grow the heck up and stop being and acting like such a selfish a$$.

Financially Planning and Preparing for Marriage and Children

We talk about many things out here relating to planning (or lack of planning) to get married and have children, including age limitations, career, timing, and economics. One of the things I’ve hinted at from time-to-time is the cost of having a Special Needs Child.

Some say you should plan for the worst and hope for the best. I would not say having a Special Needs Child is the ‘worst,’ however it does put a family into a unique and confining financial situation.

My Special Needs Child is 12 years old and in 6th grade. I don’t talk about her specific diagnoses for many reasons … one is that they’re not really important in the overall scheme of things out here … another is that I do not care to argue discuss her diagnoses. People have many convictions and opinions about things, and I’m at a point in my life and my journey with my daughter that I really don’t care what other people think, and it’s a waste of my time to engage in such discussions.

However, in light of this recent article, I thought I would share a bit within the framework of how we plan, or do not plan, for life. One of my daughter’s diagnoses is on the Autism Spectrum. Because of this (accurate) diagnosis, and quite a few other (accurate) diagnoses, I am not able to work outside the home. In the last five or so years I have been able to work inside the home in ways that allow me to be flexible to care for my daughter.

While some of the opinions of the article are definitely debatable, the truth of the cost of having a Special Needs Child, especially one on with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, is significant. The “loss” of income, or the inability for both parents to provide full-time income due to the need to care for the Special Needs Child, is very significant in this day and time.

Our two-income homes have demanded more, so supply has risen to the occasion. It’s expensive to live, and it’s even more expensive to live on one income in a two-income-economy, and it’s even more expensive than that to live on one income in a two-income-economy with the medical costs of a Special Needs Child.

Wise is the youth/young adult who chooses to gain upper education with little to no debt. Wise is the youth/young adult who plans to live on one income when married and prepares to do so (I am not saying they cannot have a two-income-home; I am saying they should learn to live on only one income).  

We have friends who also have a middle-school child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. The wife took a full-time job this past year. After figuring their taxes and determining how much of her income has gone into work expenses, including gas and auto expense commuting to and from work … and then how much they must pay in childcare (one cannot leave an autistic middle schooler alone, and this kind of childcare is often very costly), they determined she is only bringing home $20.00 a day.

So, as we emphasize out here, be wise, keep your eyes wide open, and prepare well. Limit all debt to the smallest amount possible, preferably none at all. Avoid student loan debt at all costs. Prepare to live on one income when married, whenever that time may come for you. Choose a lifestyle that accommodates one income and discipline yourself to stay within that lifestyle. Then, when life happens, and it will in one form or another, you will be as prepared as you can be financially and mentally to handle it all.

Another benefit to preparing well mentally and financially is that you are open to explore other choices and areas where God may use you. Some of those areas are Adoption, Adoption of a Special Needs Child,  Ministry, and Missions. Another area is being flexible to relocate to care for aging parents or grandparents or to help family members or friends in other ways.

(I’m going to take a moment to praise my wonderful, new husband. He not only married me, but he married both my girls as well, including my Special Needs Child. He is never bitter or angry or anything negative concerning the care she needs and the sacrifices we make to provide that care for her. Our income is always very tight, and he is never bitter or angry about that, and he never holds a grudge about any of it. I am truly very, very blessed, indeed!)