Posts tagged ‘Family’

Funny Women: Marlo Thomas

Photo taken at the 41st Emmy Awards 9/17/89

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve only done three funny women posts. This will be the fourth one. The first three were on Susan Harris, Dawn French, and cartoon character Daria Morgendorfer. I’m going to come full circle because one of Susan Harris’s characters on Soap mentions Marlo Thomas. Jessica Tate, played by Katherine Helmond, muses that Phil Donahue and Marlo Thomas must be in a perpetual state of morning bliss when they each wake up in the morning to discover that they are married to the other one!

Marlo Thomas was born in 1937 to comedian Danny Thomas and his wife Rose Marie (not to be confused with the comedic actress Rose Marie from The Dick Van Dyke Show). She was named Margaret Julia Thomas, but that was shortened by her parents to Margo. Later, because she mispronounced her own name, the nickname became Marlo.

Marlo’s father was a Lebanese American and a big success in show business. Marlo’s mother was of Italian descent, and the family was Catholic. Marlo was the oldest of their three children.

Marlo went on to graduate from the University of Southern California with a teaching degree. She got into acting by taking a lot of guest starring roles, and eventually became the first woman to be the lead actress in a situation comedy about a single career woman. That Girl premiered in 1966, predating The Mary Tyler Moore Show and paving the way for shows like Murphy Brown, The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd, Designing Women, Ally McBeal, and, yes, coming back around to Susan Harris again, Golden Girls. The show was successful and ran for five seasons.

After That Girl, Thomas went on acting, mostly in television movies, and became active in feminist causes. Together with Gloria Steinem and others, she helped found the Ms. Foundation, a charitable fund for the advancement of women’s rights issues in the United States. She’s probably most remembered by people of my generation for helping to put together the book and movie and record Free to Be You and MeFree to Be You and Me explored and questioned popular gender stereotypes and Younger people will remember her as Rachel Green’s mom on Friends.

Later, Thomas produced Free to Be a Family, which presented alternatives to traditional nuclear families as being just as much a family as a mom, a dad, and 2.5 kids. Marlo is funny, she’s a feminist, and she’s been married for the first and only time, since 1980 to the previously mentioned Phil Donahue. Before the advent of the phenomenon called Oprah, he was the King of the Daytime Talk Show. They were married the year she turned 43.

Today, Thomas devotes her time and attention to her father’s children’s hospital, St. Jude, and has raised a great deal of money for a charitable hospital that never turns down even the most challenging cases of terminally and gravely ill children, based on their families’ ability to pay. That’s a legacy that she can be proud of.

February 12, 2011 at 8:03 pm Leave a comment

Working Moms Cause Childhood Obesity; Yeah, Right! And I’m the Pope!

Crop of Children with various body composition...

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I found an article on the internet today that’s just plain silly and blatantly sexist. Not surprisingly, it’s featured on Fox News. The article mentions a study conducted by a female graduate student that attempts to correlate the amount of hours a mother works per week with her child’s increased chances of being obese, as compared to moms who stay at home.

This article is so biased it incensed me. You know, in American society most of the time a man and a woman have a child together, and then they, together, have to feed and care for the child. That is a joint responsibility that all too frequently ends up on Mom’s checklist. Dad’s checklist hasn’t changed: go to work and bring home the bacon, mow the lawn, take the trash out, and fix stuff when it’s broken. Mom’s checklist has changed: care for kids and husband and make sure they have food and medical care and a clean, warm, comfortable home, and bring home the bacon.

Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s great that women work. If you’re a stay at home parent of either gender, I applaud you as well. If you can afford to do so, then children are always better cared for when a loving parent stays home with them. But not everyone has that luxury. The single dad doesn’t. The single mom doesn’t. The couples who work for low wages don’t.

Why didn’t the study attempt to correlate the amount of time that parents spend working with childhood obesity? Why didn’t the study take into account stay at home dads? Why didn’t the study also look at gay and lesbian couples who raise children? Why are we once again targeting mothers as being solely responsible for their child’s well-being and not calling fathers to task as well?

I’ll tell you why. This is the feminist backlash at work once again. Keep those women barefoot and pregnant! Don’t give them career options, fool! Marry them young and hot and make sure that they don’t ever crawl out from under your thumb. If they can make as much money as men can, then they will figure out that they don’t need men. The sad thing about the feminist backlash is just how many women help some men to perpetuate this inequality, ones like the stupid bitch woman who conducted this study.

Many women don’t need men nowadays, but that’s not a bad thing. We still want them. We still love them. And wouldn’t it be a better feeling for both sexes to know that we’re in relationships with people that we respect and love instead of people that we want to merely use for their wallets or their housekeeping services? Wouldn’t you like to know that your woman has choices, and she chose you just because you’re you?

There may be a connection between women working and children being obese, but it doesn’t mean that there’s a cause and effect relationship. The cause of children, or anyone, being fat is taking in more calories than you burn. If you want to lose weight, then eat less and move more. It’s that simple. It has nothing to do with whether or not your mom works or how many hours she does work.

The article surmises that women who work don’t have time to prepare healthy meals, and so the childrens’ diets suffer as a result. Why is this automatically the mom’s fault? Where is dad in this equation? Did he skip out? Is he working, too? How come he can’t help out and make a healthy meal? Did he lose the use of his hands?

I sometimes wonder on this blog why I seem to be in the tiny minority of people in the world who can recognize this injustice for exactly what it is. I told the woman who sits next to me at work how I felt, and she understood. She’s expecting a baby in two more months, and she and her husband can’t afford for either of them to quit working. These aren’t frivolous people. They own one car that they share, and they live in a one bedroom apartment in a reasonably priced neighborhood. She gets it.

February 5, 2011 at 12:11 am 18 comments

Gratitude: I’m Glad I’m Single

Xanax (photograph)

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I am not distracted from my God by the pressure to serve my man. There’s no question about who’s number one in my life.

Being with the wrong person is a hell of a lot lonelier than being with no one at all. I know that I wouldn’t be happy with any of the men who’ve shown interest in me in the past. I have no regrets about that.

My money is my money.

My stuff is my stuff.

My space is my space.

My time is my time.

I don’t have to ask permission.

I don’t have to compromise, and I mean that in more than just the sense of cooperation.

I share myself with people I enjoy, free from obligation.

I can watch every stupid romantic comedy that’s ever released, in the theater, on debut weekend…if I want.

Flirting. Nuff said.

I eat what I want when I want it.

I can decorate in all flowers, all pastels, all pink and purple and cover my entire bed with stuffed animals…if I want.

I never have to pretend that I give a rat’s ass about football, ever, again.

I can save money on Xanax by not having to worry about whether or not some man likes me.

I am responsible for myself alone. I do not have a man or children who are relying on my financial contributions to the household.

If I want to bury my nose in a book all evening, then I can. And no one will bitch about it.

Drama free.

Shit free.

No need for birth control or Brazilian wax.


My Self.

November 22, 2010 at 3:51 pm 5 comments

Cooking School: A Feminist Is Born

The Helping Hand in a Hamburger Helper commercial

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When I was in middle school my mom was in nursing school and for part of that time she had a practicum which required her to drive to another town. The other town was far enough away that she was going to stay in a dorm during most of the week and come back on the weekends. On the weekends she had a job at a nursing home as a nurse’s aide so no one could accuse my mom of not working hard.

This is how I learned to cook, if you can call it that. Up to that time, when I was probably thirteen years old, my mom would never let me in the kitchen. She didn’t want me underfoot and claimed that I made a mess and it made meal preparation take twice as long to let me help. That, and she was always afraid that I would hurt myself on a stove burner or with a knife.

My grandmother was not like that and loved taking me under her wing and letting me help her bake when I was growing up. But then that is how grandmothers are. How I miss my grandma!

So, when it became a necessity in my mother’s estimation for me to have a crash course in cooking, I learned how to cook only the stuff that was the cheapest stuff to prepare, stuff we could afford. I learned to make macaroni and cheese, with powdered milk, no less. I learned to make hamburgers and hot dogs (Yes, I had to “learn” how to boil water) and spaghetti and Hamburger Helper. I think that was my entire culinary repertoire. I taught myself how to make omelettes by that time, but I don’t think we would have had them for dinner.

One day, and I don’t remember if it was at first, when my mom was teaching me this stuff or if it was later (I suspect later, probably as I was doing dishes, because at first I would thrill to finally have kitchen privileges), it occurred to me how unfair it was that my dad, who was the other adult in the home, was not assigned kitchen duties. Why did I have to cook and clean because I was born with an extra X chromosome? Didn’t it make more sense for my dad to take on that responsibility?

My dad practically bragged about his helplessness in the kitchen. He knew how to cook exactly two things: steak and popcorn. We couldn’t afford steak, so my mom was probably concerned that we were likely to die from The Popcorn Diet. We probably would have, too. My dad’s idea of cooking even now is making Cream of Wheat in the microwave. And forget cleaning or doing dishes. I have never seen him do either of those two things. Mow the lawn, yes. Take out the trash, yes. Fix the toilet, yes. On the rare occasion, do the laundry. But forget cooking, cleaning or doing the dishes. That was woman’s work.

Now I’m not sure where that attitude came from, because my dad was actually something of a feminist and was the one who convinced my mom to go to school to become an EMT and then a nurse, because that was her dream. He encouraged her to pursue a career. He always told me I could be anything I wanted to be, well, as long as it was something he approved of. Namely, the list of occupations covered virtually anything but an actress, stripper or prostitute; somehow, they all got lumped in together. Sadly, when I was in high school I wanted to be an actress.

The thing is that my dad’s attitude was pretty much the attitude of most men at the time. I could say that it was because he was older than the dads of most of my contemporaries, but that wouldn’t be true. If you pull the covers and articles of popular women’s magazines of the time, I think you’ll find that a ton of them are about being a Supermom and having it all, work and life balance, something that’s still a topic that concerns women.

Anyway, I was already a kid that was overly preoccupied with issues of fairness and equality. Injustice bothered me so personally as a child, and I was partially raised in the time of Alan Alda and granola. When the backlash of the eighties occurred and feminism was somehow something that was now passé or the overreaction of women judged as strident harpies, bitter spinsters or butch dykes, I wondered what happened.

Why did we stop at the vote and the right to work? Why was it okay for us to have to work outside the home and then come home to a second job as a housewife, vacuuming in pearls? Why is it that the Equal Rights Amendment was proposed in 1972, and it is now the year 2010, and it still hasn’t passed? Why have we still not had a woman president? And why was I seemingly in the marginal minority that this bothered me?

No one else finds it strange that we have to give up our names to our husbands? Well, we don’t have to, of course, but you try finding a man who agrees with you that that’s unfair.

Every guy I knew would roll his eyes and say, “Well, when you’re married you become a family, you take on one name.”

And I would say, “I know. I got no problem with that. Why not my name?”

This usually got the response of rolled eyes. Sometimes, instead, they would look at me like, “What planet did you get beamed from? Can they send you back?”

I remember thinking when I was thirteen and cooking for my father and my brother, that if this was what marriage was all about that maybe I didn’t want to be married so badly. It seemed like a pretty raw deal for the woman. I thought, “What do I get out of this? Indentured servitude? No, thanks.”

This was, coincidentally, at the same time when I was in constant conflict with my mother, and so I would say the f word at every chance I got because I knew it irritated her. Her response, inevitably, was, “That’s so unladylike.”

And that infuriated me to no end. Unladylike? So, if my brother says it, that’s okay? What if I don’t want to be a lady? No, sirree. I am no lady. I’m a woman instead.

August 30, 2010 at 5:53 pm 1 comment

Married with Children

Yesterday was my parents’ forty-first wedding anniversary. They have been very happily married for all of those forty-one years. I’ve seen them disagree on things occasionally, but there were never any fights, and I don’t even think there were any arguments. I know there wasn’t any cheating. The two of them were raised in the same small town in Iowa. Their parents attended the same church. Their fathers worked in the same meat packing plant. They are very compatible, and the only thing that might have caused them not to be is their age difference. You see my dad is nearly twenty years older than my mother.

I always thought that that would be how it would work out for me, too, except for maybe the age difference. I always thought I would just run into some guy with whom I had an extraordinary amount in common in terms of values and worldview, faith and politics, and we would settle down and raise a family. I assumed that same said person would be on par with me intellectually and share my sense of humor and enjoy doing some of the same things as I did. (I knew he might like sports, but I was willing to compromise on this if he would go see an opera or a ballet every now and then.) I just knew that he was out there somewhere, but I never found him. As a young woman I never imagined that I would ever have sex with anyone but that one man who would be my husband.

I bet maybe that’s what Kate Gosselin thought, too, or at least she thought that Jon would be the last man she’d have sex with in her lifetime. She picked a man with whom she shared a very powerful mutual attraction and with whom she seems to have shared similar morals and life goals. And yet it didn’t work out. Now I am tempted to get on my moral high horse here and talk about how the Gosselins are exploiting their children for money or how the public are contributing to the dissolution of a marriage with their rubbernecking. However, since I have now purchased the first two seasons of John & Kate Plus 8 on DVD, I am guilty of being the public. And although all of those children in the Gosselin household are cute and endearing (with the possible exception of Mady with low blood sugar), people don’t watch that show for the kids. People watch to view the train wreck that is the Gosselin’s marriage. You can see it deteriorating bit by bit with every episode on screen, and I’ve only finished the second season. There are four.

First off, I’m going to say that Kate Gosselin is to be admired from what I can see on screen, for being an excellent at home mother in what must be the most difficult of circumstances. In addition to twin girls, she and her husband have six small preschool aged children who are all the exact same age. They were born premature, and though they are healthy, they have to endure breathing treatments. Some of the things that Kate gets criticized for, such as her obsessive compulsive cleanliness, her rigidness, her need to constantly plan and structure, are things those babies could not have survived and thrived without. Preemies need extra care with their health and hygiene, and children need structure and routine. In a household as naturally given to chaos as the Gosselin’s, this is especially true.

However, Kate is not to be admired as a wife. There are things she gets right. She lost all that baby weight. She obviously got a tummy tuck. After her husband complained about her dark hair on one of the TV specials that got them their eventual reality show, she highlighted her hair to a shade closer to the blonde that he remembered from their courtship. She made certain that all her children went to bed by 8 PM so she and Jon could have alone time. She bought her husband a vacation for his thirtieth birthday and made arrangements for the children to stay with friends while they had a romantic getaway. She keeps a beautiful house and is a good cook and as far as I can see provides well for her husband’s comfort.

But virtually everything else she does, she gets wrong. Jon is a loving and caring husband and father. He is by far the more laid back of the two in parenting style and just about anything else that you care to mention, but he’s not lazy. The TV show intersperses reality footage with footage of Jon and Kate talking to the camera about the footage. More often than not, she criticizes him. She hounds him, she nags him, she berates him, and she even yells at him and insults him in public.

Poor Jon has a pot belly that apparently can’t be alleviated with the help of a tummy tuck, and she constantly needles him about that, but when he begins an exercise program with an elliptical machine he installs in their basement and then loses eight pounds, she makes fun of him for that, too. She states her desire for him to take charge, and then she fully admits with practically the next sentence, that she would never allow him to take charge because he wouldn’t make decisions as well as she can, according to her. Jon can’t win for losing. It’s not surprising the Gosselins are getting a divorce. What’s surprising is that they lasted this long.

The things that make people fall in love with each other and stay in love with each other have less to do with tummy tucks and romantic getaways than they do with the way you make someone feel or the way you feel when you’re with that someone. If what you make someone feel like when you’re with him is small and insignificant and unnecessary, then he isn’t likely to want to stick around.

Maureen Dowd, the New York Times author who was later found to be guilty of plagiarism, published a book in 2005 that was titled, Are Men Necessary? In it, she bemoans the plight of the single well-educated career woman and states that men are not interested in smart women. And yet Maureen Dowd has attracted a ton of good looking, intelligent, powerful men who were interested enough to date her. So, what happened?

I think that, like Kate Gosslin, she made the mistake of thinking that men were only interested in women that were younger, thinner, stupider, with an ideal waist to hip ratio and a non threatening career. These are over generalizations. After all, a study came out as recently as last year that claimed that obese women actually have more sex with men than normal weight women. I think the real issue here is that maybe, just maybe, the woman who gets the man and keeps the man is the woman who makes him feel needed, makes him feel necessary.

June 29, 2009 at 2:35 am Leave a comment

The Rat Bastard — The Epilogue

Psych! You just thought I was done writing about the Rat Bastard. Well, you were wrong. We need to explore the actual end of the Rat Bastard and me. There’s some more stuff after the break up. This is because 1) I turned into that psycho chick that everyone, including me, hates, and 2) I’m a glutton for punishment. Also, I just thought of some more stuff about him that pisses me off.

After the breakup I thought about what I really wanted to do with my life that I could actually manage to do. Having already tried to obtain a position as a technical writer or any kind of writer and failed, gotten hit on by a single man who was a tech writer for Trilogy, failed, gotten hit on by a married man who was the editor of a trade magazine publication, and failed again, I was pretty sure that my career goals and aspirations were never going to come true. That ship had sailed. I no longer wanted to get married. You have to actually buy a lottery ticket to win the lottery. I knew! I could have a baby!

I knew on my salary that I couldn’t afford to pay for sperm. Trust me. I actually researched this. I knew that I would want to raise this baby on my own. Who would be a better sperm donor than my ex? I knew, after all, that he wouldn’t want to be responsible for a child, that he would be incapable of being responsible for a child, and having already abandoned two previous children, had a really great track record of not interfering in his baby mama’s or children’s lives. By this time, I was so mad at Rat that I wouldn’t want him to be in my child’s life. Why would I want to saddle a kid with THAT? No, this plan was perfect. He’d just provide genetic material and then get the hell out of my way.

I was thinking really rationally at this point. This is evident from the fact that I realized that I couldn’t afford to pay for sperm but didn’t make the leap of logic necessary to figure out that if I couldn’t afford sperm, then I couldn’t afford a baby, either. Whenever pesky thoughts like these floated past my brain, I just rationalized them with, “I can go live with my parents. They’ll be thrilled to have a grandchild.” That would take care of any coherent thoughts I might have had. I’d then go back to trying to figure out when I was ovulating so that I wouldn’t have to have sex with the Rat unless it was likely to be fruitful and purchasing folic acid tablets and pre-natal vitamins so I’d be sure to be fertile.

The Rat was in on this plan, in the beginning. First off, I’d never trap some man into impregnating me, not even the Rat (although I’m sure that if any man deserves to have this done to him it would be the Rat). So instead of entrapping him, I just played the guilt card of how he had totally broken my heart, tore it up in pieces and then fed those pieces to the wolves, so that I had no heart anymore to break. I told him he had ruined my life and made me miserable. I told him he had wasted two prime, babymaking years of my life with his lying and his spineless inability to come out of the closet, his using me horribly and dicking me around. And then…I told him that a baby would fix all that. So, in the beginning, the Rat was totally down with this plan. It was sort of like an opportunity at redemption for him.

The last time I had sex with the Rat Bastard was the last time I had sex with anyone for years. If I had known then what would happen, I would have enjoyed it a little more. If I had never met the Rat Bastard and still had the ability to believe in fairy tales, then I might say that the Rat Bastard refused to have sex with me anymore because he knew that my babymaking scheme was a horrible mistake and that he was saving me from myself, that he was saving a baby from being born into this world for what may be the world’s worst possible reason. But the more cynical side of myself that knows the Rat Bastard says that the Rat Bastard knew that I was still seething with rage, and he probably figured I’d sue him for child support at the first available opportunity. I wouldn’t have, but he didn’t know that.

When Rat refused to continue to participate in the babymaking scheme that’s when I really went psycho. I insisted that he part with every picture he had ever taken of me or of us. I insisted that he give me back anything that might serve as evidence that I had ever known him. I told him he wasn’t allowed to talk about me and that as far as he was concerned I didn’t exist. I sent him an email that said that he was good for only one thing as far as I was concerned, and that was providing sperm. And if he refused to provide said sperm, then I wouldn’t so much as walk across the street to spit on him. I destroyed all the photos and gifts I’d ever gotten from him. I purged the evidence. He did as I asked and brought me all the pictures, etc., and I destroyed those as well. I was so angry with him that I fantasized about hurting him, physically. If I could have figured out how to do so without consequences I would have done it…in a heartbeat.

He got a new job on the graveyard shift, and I started calling at different times during the day, when I knew he would be sleeping, and then hanging up. And that’s when I had my “snap out of it” moment, because it was left to The Train Wreck to confront me. I had to stop with the phone calls or Rat was going to go to the police and press charges for stalking. Once, when we were still together, I had awoken in the middle of the night to find the Rat Bastard in mid-coitus with my unconscious body. There was no foreplay or warning, and I was fast asleep. It hurt. It made me sorry I hadn’t gone to the police and pressed charges for rape.

As I previously mentioned, that was my snap out of it moment. I came back to reality and started channeling all my resentment in more positive outlets, like drinking. The last time I had sex with the Rat Bastard was the last time I saw the Rat Bastard, and I have no desire to do so. I gained a ton of weight, no doubt mostly from the drinking. But the weight was a good thing. It meant I didn’t have to worry as much about attention from men. I could focus on learning how to be a successful spinster and catch up on my reading, and my drinking. And that really is the end of the story of The Rat Bastard.

June 10, 2009 at 10:49 am 1 comment

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