#MeToo: Sexual Harassment and Assault Awareness

quietYesterday I saw women all over my Facebook sharing #metoo. The idea was to raise awareness about sexual harassment and sexual assault in that way. Perhaps if all women in someone’s Facebook feed shared the hashtag, it would make people realize how widespread the problem is?

The problem is indeed massive. Of course, there are levels to which women are touched by it. However, the fact is that ALL women experienced some form of sexual harassment or assault. Rape, verbal or physical sexual coercion, unwanted touch, predatory looks, comments on your appearance, “jokes”, aggression because you rejected someone – all these are just elements of the world where women are objectified. When women aren’t treated like people but like sexual objects, men believe they can do whatever they want with them: comment on, evaluate, touch or use at will for their own sexual pleasure.

Most women experience a garden variety of sexual harassment. Catcalling is honestly just a daily experience to which I never know how to react. As I work from home for instance, I like to go for a cycle or a walk during lunch. The problem is that the nearby construction workers take their break then. I can’t go past one not to be catcalled and neither can any other woman who’s on her own. Why do men do it then? Probably because they can. It’s certainly not to actually get anything out of it:

Catcalling makes me a mixture of angry and ashamed. I want to react or do something but mostly I’m scared. Perhaps if I reacted to a guy who’s on his own I could get him to think about his behavior but a group would mock me or perhaps become aggressive towards me. I’ve gone out a few times preparing myself to say something next time I’m spoken to and I’ve always chickened out. Now, I try to go out before or after they’re gone. I’ve lost, I’ve altered my behavior. That’s just catcalling. Being a woman, however, means a lot of fear in general. You’re scared of being raped too. You may second guess a guy’s intentions when he invited you for a cup of coffee to his house. You walk faster when it’s late and men feel like a threat. Sometimes someone gives you a predatory look and you feel that if circumstances were different he would hurt you but after all it’s not like anything really bad has ever happened to you, right? Are we supposed to count ourselves lucky because we haven’t been raped, though? Men don’t count themselves lucky because no one chopped their arm off or they didn’t get murdered, do they? Of course, it’s much more probable for a woman to get raped than to any of this to happen to a man. The point is that every time a woman feels threatened, she feels like this not because she’s crazy but because something could happen.

Something should be done to make people understand the problem. Will #metoo do it? I doubt it. It feels like preaching to the choir. The women who shared the hashtag in my feed are all lefties and that’s who likes on my own status came from. I haven’t seen any negative reactions but I haven’t seen any positive reactions either from anyone outside of my circle of expectations. I’m sure some people thought about some women’s statuses “she should only be so lucky that someone harasses her” but in the age of social media finger pointing they knew better than to share such views on Facebook. Perhaps the hashtag is not so successful in achieving its goal but that doesn’t mean it has no use at all.

As much as people may not change their mind because of this social media campaign, it has become a voice of female solidarity. We are all ashamed of our experiences with sexual harassment and we often feel guilty. It’s something we don’t talk about because often if we looked for sympathy after we are harassed we just found more sexism, even in women. When I was slapped on my bum by a stranger in Paris a friend of mine who was walking with me replied to my outrage: “Chill, it’s not like he’s taken away your virginity or something”. When I was maybe 10 a drunk guest house manager stopped me on my way from the communal toilet back to my room. He started hugging me and making inappropriate advances. Then I saw a ray of hope walking down the stairs: a female friend. She ran away when she saw us, though. I eventually managed to escape and then was shaken and outraged that she didn’t help me. She just said it wouldn’t have happened if I was wearing long pajama pants like she did. These are of course just illustrative examples not the entirety of my experience. All women experience sexual harassment and certainly they all experiences negative reactions to trying to speak up. The bigger the trauma, the more shame there is associated with it and the more potential there is for a negative reaction for speaking up from both men and women. Yesterday, however, some women had the courage to talk about unimaginably horrible events such as rape when they were still children, gang rape or sexual abuse in family. It is sad and it is so depressing that such things happen but maybe by talking about it, we’re making even more people share their experiences. In taking the shame away from the victims, we can finally move to focus on the perpetrators. It’s NEVER the victim’s fault.

Today a new hashtag is trending: #iwill to express what will we do to help to improve the situation. Can we really do something? What do you do? Any thoughts on #metoo, Dear Reader? Do you think it can truly help spread awareness? Feel free to share your #metoo stories in the comments. 

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Review: Atypical

atypical

Yes, yes, I know it seems that I’m obsessed with Netflix. I just can’t help myself! They have all these great series available…

“Atypical” is a story of an 18 year old Sam (Keir Gilchrist) who’s a teenager with autism (not an autistic teenager, as you’ll learn). The time comes for both him and his highly athletic sister, Casey to enter the world of dating. Their parents aren’t particularly happy about their children growing up, as it’s usually the case. The situation is particularly difficult for the stay-at-home mom, Elsa (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who all of a sudden after years of taking excessive care of her son has to redefine herself.

The show is a nice mixture of comedy and drama. The characters are relatable and we do feel for most of them. I’m not a specialist in autism but I think the series does a good job at explaining the disorder. It’s also interesting to see how a family deals with such a difficult situation. The parents aren’t overly idealised. They do struggle with the upbringing of a child with autism and they occasionally forget that they have two kids and not one. The story is very convincing but there’s something off with the mother character. That she’s overprotective is understandable but I was less empathic towards her crazy control issues (constantly asking her daughter to keep her door open?) and narcissism. I really wanted to throw something at the TV numerous times because of her but my husband told me not to and I’m an obedient wife.

Fortunately, the focus of the series is on Sam. He’s in a normal school and is seemingly copin. That doesn’t mean that other teenagers don’t make fun of him. It is horrible to laugh at someone just because the way they are but it’s also what people in high school do. The stuff he does is sometimes funny by “normal” standards and people will laugh. We allegedly live in the world of diversity and acceptance but it’s just appearances. Whenever something is different from our immediate comfort zone we ask other the question “Why?”. “Atypical” makes us see that for Sam the why is his disorder that neither him nor his family completely understands. He certainly should have a shot at things every human being wants such as a relationship, a job or friends. At the same time the world won’t change for someone who’s atypical. Like every one of us he’ll have to find his way to navigate his life in the imperfect world.

I’m looking forward to the season two of the series! I really would recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a bit of lighter entertainment. The series is very short as it consists only of 8 half an hour long episodes. Giving it a try isn’t much of a commitment and it’s really worth your time!

 

The Balancing Act: Rethinking Romanticism

rethinking romanticismI’ve recently experienced horrible responses offline to me expressing somewhat pragmatic views on dating. Perhaps it’s because romanticism is not only strongly incorporated in our culture but also traditionally opposed to reason. In other words, for many, you can be either a romantic or a cold, calculating person. As humans, however, we can rarely make a successful decision based on our heart’s desires or on reason only. The balancing act requires that we make decisions taking both into account.

Do you know this feeling when you meet someone and you just immediately feel this special connection? When you feel drawn to them and start to behave like a little girl around them, trying to impress them? Romanticism would have you believe that this is a feeling you should follow and even if it will put you in difficult situations, eventually it’ll lead you to this beautiful place called happily ever after. Well, no. The feeling I’ve described is attraction and has to do with lust. There’s nothing romantic in the fact that your body is urging you to have sex with someone. Attraction doesn’t care for your self-worth or well-being. It wants you to make babies. Sometimes it chooses people who are good for you, sometimes it doesn’t. This is precisely while following the “connection” on its own isn’t a good idea.

Now, if you actually follow this feeling you may end up in an even bigger trap set by your body, called being in love. Perhaps, it’s another mechanism that’s aimed for partners to be together for the first crucial years of the baby’s existence or to make you guys have a few babies. Maybe the reason why the initial feeling  disappears after 1 or 2 years is because the more babies we have with more partners, the better from the evolutionary point of view? Who knows. I really think, however, that there are  evolutionary reasons behind falling in love and it’s not only my theory. The author of “The Roads Less Travelled” shares similar views in his excellent chapter about the difference between being in love and actual love. The whole point is that as humans we can make better choices than basing such a big decision as a choice of a partner on an initial liking only. In fact, we should make better choices because we want more than just butterflies for a little bit and then misery with a partner who doesn’t understands us, who bores us or with whom we constantly fight (or all of the above). Yes, it’s sometimes difficult to say “no” when you’re feeling attracted to someone but be honest with yourself and stop glorifying it.

Of course, the romantics came with other ridiculous ideas to protect their promotion of following your “heart” = your loins (probably because of the consequences that often follow such choices). They’ll try to tell you that suffering is a virtue. This, yet again, is a harmful belief. Suffering is just something that happens to human beings, but sometimes we can avoid it and when we can, we should. No one is better, because they suffered more. Yes, there is something to say about using suffering to build resilience and learn that you will survive no matter what but that happens naturally when we’re teenagers. Causing yourself unnecessary suffering is silly. Where do you think the glorification of women who went or want to got through childbirth without epidural (with the consequent shaming of those who opt for it or even worse for a Cesarean section) is coming from? From the same way of thinking, trying to teach us that suffering is noble. According to these beliefs if you’re having a difficult start of a relationship it’s just a trial and you must persist through the difficulties to find a happy ending. How many romantic comedies having this pattern you can enumerate? Fiction is just fiction, though. Among other things, it’s also meant to make these dreams come true on the screen, which wouldn’t in real life.

Romanticism in its praise of strong feelings also promotes an idealized vision of dysfunctional relationships. It isn’t only about fair maidens being conquered by seemingly bad boys, who change the moment they meet the One. Following your heart is also supposed to mean crazy passion, mixed with even crazier fights. Break-ups and make-ups, alcohol, drugs. All of those are romanticized in mainstream cinema and books. Misfits can also be perfect matches, as if two broken people could actually create anything healthy and lasting. Being sensitive and emotional is one thing and not having your shit together is another. Praise of the latter was a great excuse for the exuberant hedonism of romantics such as Lord Byron, who had one love affair after another with representatives of both sexes. Of course, he was only following his heart! 😉 Modern romanticism just incorporated the old ideas and started to make blockbusters by reusing them.

Does this mean that we should ignore completely what our heart tells us? Of course not. Being in love is a great thing but it doesn’t mean that we have to follow it blindly. After the initial butterflies fly away, love can replace them. It’s love, however, that should be treated as a romantic thing that is. Commitment to one another, mutual support and stability are the things that should be valued as they are the ones that will lead people to the place, when at the age of 80, they still hold hands. Blindly following the in-love high will maybe also get you there but chances are you’re rather end up staying with someone you don’t like that much for eternity just because you had kids and you don’t want to put them through the trauma of divorce. Trust, safety and intellectual understanding are things that many people need and there’s nothing wrong with wanting them. If we’re in lust, I mean in love, with someone who we can’t count on and who’s in general unpredictable, eventually it will wear us off.

The reason why I always underline the need for certain pragmatism at the initial stages of dating is because it’s much easier to say “no” to a stoner broke ass wanna be rockstar on date one than to turn around when our pink glasses of in-loveness are already glorifying everything our partner does, not allowing constructive criticism. Even though it’s never too late to break up, some people, if they’ve gone too far, will decide to keep going. If you know you have such tendencies, use your reason too. When it shouts that you should run for the hills, do it. Don’t believe the mainstream culture that’s telling you that you have to go with the initial feeling of “connection”. We’re humans not animals, we can stop ourselves. We have brains and we can make better choices to to be in not only lusting but also lasting relationships.

Any words of wisdom, Dear Reader? Do you always follow your “heart”? Or do you add a little bit of reason to your dating choices?

 

 

 

Appreciation, Gratitude and How Not To Be a D**k

gratitudeWe want to have a happy relationship, vibrant social life, a satisfying career and who knows what else. As much as I agree that these are important goals and we should always try to better ourselves, sometimes in the pursuit of achievements we develop certain entitlement and forget to be appreciative and grateful for what we already have.

I’m assuming you can relate to the constant feeling of necessity and obligation. “I have to”… get this paperwork sorted, meet a deadline, meet up with a friend, go to a networking event, see this play, oh and spend quality time with my partner! We rush through our lives, turning into things we should be enjoying into tasks to be ticked of the list. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a powerful drive indeed! I don’t know how you deal with it but I often end up pushing myself so much that my mood is really bad and I perform the scheduled tasks half-heartedly, not getting out of them what I should. The feeling of being worn out doesn’t leave much space for gratitude and appreciation.

An overscheduled life naturally creates entitlement. If we wake up at 6 and need to be at the gym at 6.30 to come back home and have a quick breakfast to then go to work and stay there till 6 and make it to a social event by 6:30, we put a lot of pressure on life for sorting everything out for us perfectly. There’s no time to spill coffee all over our clothes or to have a flat tire. This isn’t to say that we should always account for such events but life sometimes does work out in different ways that we have planned it to. It’s not a conspiracy against us, it’s just a reality we should accept. Apart from the events related with objects that can cause unpredictable changes (hole in the last pair of stockings, an alarm clock that didn’t go off, an accident on the road, which caused traffic), there are also living creatures that may have plans different to ours. It’s not our dog’s fault that he got sick on a day of our important interview, for instance. And yet, we tend to get upset with both inanimate and animate objects. Why does it always happen to me??? Oh, the horrible world in which not everything happens as I planned it to!!! Raging at the world and other people who end up not complying with our ideal plans is honestly being a d*ck. Sure, it’s natural but it’s just not a healthy way of dealing with life. It causes us higher stress levels and prejudices others against us as negative people.

There’s another way of dealing with life, though. I heard Tony Robbins on Time Ferris’s podcast, not long ago, saying something to the extent: If you stop seeing life with a lense of entitlement and look at it with gratitude, you’ll immediately get a new life. In other words, there’s a way of looking at everything differently, regardless of the circumstances. I can choose to get bent out of shape this one time when I end up having a day when things just weren’t working out smoothly or I could appreciate the days when they do. We just expect that everything will work out the way we’d like to but honestly we’re extremely lucky when it happens. If we think about the probability of things going wrong, we truly are fortunate most of the time. So many other people in the world don’t have what we have and we just always want more and more and more. Life does get better if we become appreciative and there’s plenty of research on gratitude to prove that. There are also many ways to start this journey: from enumerating three good things that happened to you every day, through giving people thank you notes to contributing your little bit towards a good cause.

My final thought for today is that we keep going about our lives as if our existence was of utmost importance. We think that if we don’t do this or that, some horrible consequences will occur. That our company won’t survive without us or who knows what will happen if we miss a social event. Then sooner or later we get some sort of limitation from life to remind us that it’s really not all that serious. I remember when on day on my super busy schedule I broke my foot when walking to the gym, still in my probation period with a company. I ended up working at home one day and taking off the second one for a prolonged visit at the hospital. I had the most horrible scenarios in my head. How will I get to work? Will I manage to work through the pain? How will I do anything as a temporary cripple? My then boyfriend was going on a business trip the day after I broke my leg and we were moving in together a few days later. #englishrosiee crashed her car in an accident so couldn’t help me with chauffeuring, she also broke my bed just after I had my accident. Everything seemed to be going wrong! For the first few days, I couldn’t even make myself tea, because the pain was too much to put any weight on the foot and try to prepare something on crutches… And yet, I did survive the six weeks necessary for a fracture to heal. I repaired the bed, I managed to get to work, we moved in together. This period of my life was definitely far from amazing and I was quite sad most of the time, not being able to socialize properly or exercise. At the same time, I really appreciated having a partner who took care of me. The foot did get better eventually and after not even two months I had a more or less functional leg I could enjoy. There are people in the world who’ve never had that…

To sum up, it’s not life’s or anyone’s responsibility to behave in agreement with our plans. It’s a blessing when it happens and we should appreciate that, rather than rage when things go wrong. Perhaps, it is a blessing in disguise when things collapse occasionally, as it serves as a reminder, that we treat everything more seriously than adequate. Besides, if life never surprised us, what’d be the point of it at all?

Are you an appreciative person, Dear Rinser? Maybe you’re a horrible moaner? Glass always half full or half empty? 

 

Review: The School for Good and Evil

The_School_for_Good_and_Evil_book_1_cover

No, I haven’t gone completely crazy reading books for teenage girls. The official explanation for my interest is: one day I’d like to write a novel for young adults so I’m doing my research. Between you and I, I also occasionally enjoy this sort of a read.

“The School for Good and Evil” by Soman Chainani is certainly an interesting read. The book tells a story of friends, Sophie and Agatha. The girls are very different from one another, but they seem to get on well. Sophie dreams about becoming a princess, while Agatha just wants to be on her own. The lives of the girls will change when they’re both kidnapped to be educated in the School for Good and Evil. Will their friendship survive? You can find out from the book.

The novel creates a world in which nothing but fairy tales exist. Some students come straight from fairy tales, others from a village where they’re but readers of the stories. When you start your education, you are chosen for one of the schools, depending on your natural tendencies. The students of the school for Good (Evers) compete with the pupils of the school for Evil (Nevers). On the top of it, even within the schools the students compete with one another trying to become the best prince/princes or a villain. What’s good or bad isn’t as straightforward as some teachers would like it, though. The novel is certainly an introduction to moral ambiguity for young readers!

I really like the attempt to redefine fairy tales and there are many entertaining ideas in the book. It reads well and fast. I binged on it, even skipping my lunch TV watching! Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that it’s a great novel. It is a bit trashy, honestly. Apart from the two main characters, it is difficult to feel any attachment to the students. There are too many of them and they’re just not that well described. I felt like the author was leaving to much to my imagination in terms of both the characters and their environment. The descriptions of the fantasy world were mostly flat and even the action scenes were sometimes confusing. I often asked myself why? how? when? did this character appear? Needless to say, I’m not a teenage girl and as an experienced reader I should naturally struggle less. That’s precisely why I don’t see myself reading any more of these novels. Harry Potter and His Dark Materials still remain on my pedestal of fiction for young adults.

Do you indulge in reading teenage novels and/or watching movies for teenagers, Dear Rinser? What is you favorite childhood novel? 

Review: Grace and Frankie

Grace_and_FrankieI must say that new TV shows have been positively surprising me with their diversity (thanks, Netflix!). The choice of what to watch is no longer between series about financially secure 30 somethings looking for love and male lawyers series. It’s an oversimplification, of course, but let’s just say that a lot of shows deviate from the “safe” formulas and explore new areas. A good example of such a show is “Grace and Frankie”

Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin) fiercely dislike each other. They have to spend time together as a part of the same Coupleverse. Their relationship changes drastically when at the age of 70, they learn that their husbands are in love with one another and they’ve been cheating on the ladies for the last twenty years. The gentlemen want to get married and the two very different women are forced by circumstances to share a house. Grace is a well-groomed former business woman who enjoys her Martinis a bit too much. She’s rather detached in her behavior and appearances are of utmost importance to her. Frankie, on the other hand, is an unsuccessful artist with a soft spot for weed and a keen interest in spirituality. Their characters naturally clash, but shared misery (just think about your coworkers ;)) can bring people closer together.

The husbands are present in the story, but the plot focuses primarily on the experiences of their (ex-)wives. It’s a bitter-sweet journey for the audience too! Do you think that dating at 30 is difficult? Try doing it at 70! Grace and Frankie experience many ups and downs in their rather mature single life. There’s no beating around the bush about sexuality in this show, in particular, about mature sexuality. I really liked the lack of prudishness! As we know there’s a lot of ageism in dating and a TV show that speaks specifically about sexual needs and problems of older women is a novelty. Society loves to put breaks on female sexuality. Too young isn’t good (just watch 13 Reasons Why to learn about differences between parents’ ideas about their kids innocence and reality) and too old isn’t good either. According to many, women should only have sex in their reproductive years and that, preferably with one man they’re married to and with not too much pleasure. Well, Grace and Frankie are getting some well-deserved cock and mostly without much fear of “sex in the vagina” (you’ll have to watch the series to really get the joke). These women feel they deserve sex, love and professional satisfaction regardless of their age. It’s not Girl Power, it’s Granny Power, here.

“Grace and Frankie” is a series about the right to pursue happiness, regardless of everything. The husbands, Saul (Sam Waterston) and Robert (Martin Sheen), make a difficult decision of being together, disregarding the expectations of others. It’s not because they’re assholes and it’s an easy decision for them to make, it’s because they want to be true to themselves, even if it means unpleasant consequences. Grace and Frankie fight for their well-being, regardless of how many doors close in front of them. Last but not least, there are children of both couples, who make similarly difficult decisions.

“Frankie and Grace” isn’t a hahaha and hihihi show that laughs everything off. The characters seem to be real people with human problems, even if there’s a lot of lightness in the series. I think this is the main reason why I enjoyed it so much. I may not be 70, but who hasn’t been disregarded in their life because of their gender, age or other quality that people can be prejudiced against? Who doesn’t want to be loved? Who hasn’t faced the difficult choice between pleasing others and doing what they feel is right? At the bottom of all of our experiences and troubles, lays our need to simply be happy.

The only thing that’s wrong with the series is the opening song, which is a butchered version of “Stuck in the Middle With You”. Let me remind you how it should sound like, before you start watching the series that I really recommend.

 

Togetherness in Modern Relationships

togethernessIf you think about a serious relationship you probably imagine two people who live together, share finances and are sexually exclusive. As much as it’s my idea of what a good relationship (= partnership) is, I must say that I see a lot of diversity in this respect among people I know. That’s why today I decided to write about the issue of togetherness in modern relationship.

Let’s start with the living together part. Most people would say that a serious relationship starts when you start to live together, right? Yet this isn’t necessarily the reality of many long-term relationships. One of the modern solutions for having a cake and eating it (in this case having independence and not) is the so-called LAT; an abbreviation which stands for living apart but together. People in such arrangement are in an intimate relation but keep their separate apartments. They claim that it allows them to avoid fights over domestic issues and helps them have their independence, which in return makes them better partners. What I find even more surprising are couples in prolonged long-distance relationships. I’m not talking here about the scenarios when you met someone abroad, did long-distance for a bit and then one joined the other, or they chose a new country to be together. No. I’m talking about relationship, where partners live in completely different countries for years, due to work assignments or other reasons. It’s a common relationship pattern for academics, for instance. If you think about it, it’s not an entirely new construct. Due to emancipation of women, though, now both partners focus on their careers, rather than just the man being away. I may be a bit jealous of people who have so much ambition to sacrifice their relationships, but I wouldn’t really want that for myself. My husband travels every few months and I already hate that!

Sharing finances is another divisive issue. Honestly, especially in marriage, the “we” mentality seems to be the way forward. Separate finances are a mission and it’s just tiresome to upkeep them. In my mind you’re supposed to be a team so you work for a life together. Otherwise what do you do with money you received for wedding presents? Share it half-half? You take the toaster and the coffee express is mine? As I feel this way, of course, I’m constantly astonished by the behavior of some long-term partners. I’ve seen, for instance, numerous cohabiting couples, who always pay separately at restaurants. What is it a sign of? Does it speak of a lack of trust in a relationship or just of personalities of the involved parties? I split bills evenly with friends so this sort of “what mine is mine” mentality seems weird, particularly, for people who exchange bodily fluids and shit in the same toilet. Sure, sometimes there’s a big discrepancy between what partners earn, but if you feel that, by sharing with a loved one, they’re “taking it away from you”, then do you know what sharing is about? And isn’t sharing a big part of what relationships are about? I think I’m asking so many questions because I don’t know the answers myself!

Last but not least, there’s this kind of togetherness that has to do with sexual exclusivity. Yet again, a non-negotiable for me. I’ve tried an open relationship once and it left me heartbroken and generally in an emotional swamp. I’m really trying to be open-minded but I can’t understand how it can work for other people. The beauty of freedom is that I don’t have to. Polyamory has many shades, but it is important to point out that it’s voluntary (as in: I’m not talking about cheating here). Open relationships probably come to mind first. It means you have sex with other people (you can even have it as your Facebook relationship status so it’s a thing!) retaining a chosen level of secrecy from “I don’t kiss and tell” to openly comparing discussing other people you have sex with with your partner. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, given that representatives of some religions have been practicing polygamy (marriage to numerous people) for a long time. At least these days ladies can have some fun too! Men are clearly more and more open-minded towards their partners experiments in sexuality as swinging (NOT the dance) is not unpopular. Some couples stay “faithful” to other couples, while others like swingers parties (which are just orgies, really?). Let’s not forget about the simplest form of expanding the borders of a relationship, which is a threesome. Are such arrangements a sign of the modern crisis of commitment? I don’t think so. Just go watch “Rome” or “Spartacus”. Personally, I’m a proponent of having everything in moderation. That means one dick at a time, thank you.

To sum up, modern relationships exist in many other forms than the socially (or #zlotybaby) accepted ones. I may be conservative in my own life, but I’m also happy that there are signs of gender equality in those practices. Perhaps such solutions are not ways to find long-term romantic happiness and maybe sometimes such separatist tendencies are a sign that you’re with a wrong person, but at least now females can try to have their cake and eat it too!

I have a feeling that you’ll have something to say today, Dear Rinsers 😉 Do you think living separately long-term can work? How about separate finances? Multiple sexual partners, anyone?

 

Emmys 2017: Reviews of The Handmaid’s Tale and Big Little Lies

TVI’d been planning to write about two great series “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Big Little Lies” for so long that they received Emmy Awards before I managed to do so. Better late than never I guess!

The Handmaid’s Tale

“The Handmaid’s Tale” is a drama series. It’s based on Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel about a sexist theocracy in a world struggling with fertility. Women who can get pregnant are captured and serve as incubators to the ruling class of theocrats. They’re referred to as handmaids and the series focuses on the story of one of them, Offred (Elisabeth Moss). After her training in obedience and servitude, she is placed with an infertile marriage to whom she’s supposed to provide an offspring. You’ll have to watch the series to find out more!

The show is very heavy and depressing, especially for mainstream TV. However, it is very good and it does address important issues such as the emancipation of women, contraception, reproductive rights, feminism and sexism. I think especially given the worrying extreme right wing behaviors around the world, it is crucial to think about such issues. The message of the series is clear: it’s easy to ignore warning signs but the consequences of not reacting in time may be tragic. After all, Gilead is a country which replaced the USA.

The series is also worth watching due to convincing acting and interesting characters. The protagonist seems to be created in a way, which doesn’t make it easy for the audience to like her. And yet, the inhumane treatment she has to endure makes us relate to her on an empathic level, as we would to any human being in pain. It’s not only Elisabeth Moss (Drama Actress, Winner) whose acting should be praised. The other handmaidens, including Samira Wiley (Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, nominee), Alexis Bledel and Madeline Brewer give unforgivable performances. Ann Dowd (Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, winner) in the role of the ruthless superior of handmaids is excellent. Last but not least, Yvonne Strahovski as a seemingly emotionless Madame of the ruling class is a scary, yet pitiable character. You may like or dislike the series, but watching it will certainly be an unforgettable experience.

Apart from the above-mentioned Emmy awards and nominations, the Handmaid’s Tale received and award for the best Writing for a Drama Series and for the best Drama Series.

Under His Eye.

Big Little Lies

“Big Little Lies” is a series contained in one season, a so-called limited series. The story has a defined opening and an end. It is a rather uncommon format these days, as the makers try to usually squeeze as many season out of a series as they can. I’m a proponent of ending things when they’re still good, so I was very happy with this solution for the excellent show.

Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley) comes to Monterey with her son Ziggy to start a new life. She hopes a small town will give her the peace she’s been looking for. She quickly makes friends with Madeline (Reese Whiterspoon) and Celeste (Nicole Kidman), who are happy to have some “fresh blood” in their circle. Unfortunately, the alleged aggressive behavior of her son towards one of the other school kids causes her to also quickly gain new enemies. Renata (Laura Dern) is an overprotective mother and she starts a personal vendetta against Jane. On the top of this background, we learn that someone’s going to die. But who and why? Yet again, watch the series to find out, I’m not taking responsibility for spoiling your fun.

“Big Little Lies” looks like a predictable series about life in a small town, where seemingly perfect aren’t truly flawless. It’s much more than that, though. The series addresses important issues such as domestic violence, sexual and physical abuse, infidelity but also female solidarity and forgiveness. Similarly like “The Handmaid’s Tale”, “Big Little Lies” is a feast for the audience missing good female performances. Nicole Kidman received an Award for Limited Series Actress, while her co-cast Reese Witherspoon was a runner-up. Laura Dern won the Award for the best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie and Shaileen Woodley was a nominee in this category. Let’s not forget about Alexander Skarsgard who was chosen the best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie.

Last but not least, the music in the series is just magical. I could listen to the theme song “Cold Little Heart” by Michael Kiwanuka over and over again, but the whole soundtrack is remarkable. Zoe Kravitz, who appears in the series in the role of Bonnie, may not be an amazing actress but she has a beautiful voice and I was mesmerised by her version of “Don’t”. Please don’t miss this series. It’s really worth your time! If you don’t believe me, you should know that the series also received the Emmy awards for Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special as well as for the best Limited Series and was nominated for Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Drama.

Guest Post: Dating as a Vegan

veganGuest post time! Antonia from The Vegan Rainbow Blog shares her thoughts about dating as a vegan. Enjoy!

Dating in general can be a challenge these days, but dating as a VEGAN takes things to a whole new level. Especially, if you live in a meat loving city like Cape Town, where a ‘braai’ (BBQ) is part of the culture.

I’m a plant eater and currently single (let’s rather not get into detail here). Given my relationship status, I cannot tell you what it’s like to date a vegan as a vegan, but rather share my opinion on this controversial topic with you.

In my early vegan days, which is now 4 years ago, I couldn’t even imagine to date an omnivore ever again. I must admit, that my perception has changed over the years. It would definitely be more challenging to be involved with a meat eater, but surely not impossible. I guess it’s all about compromise. In every relationship one has to sacrifice something somewhere along the lines.

This might come as a surprise to some vegans now, but I’d definitely consider dating an omnivore again. It probably won’t be ideal and complicate things a lot in daily life, but in the end love wins anyway.

Should I really find myself in the situation of dating a non-vegan, there’d be rules. Sounds harsh at first, but I think it’s the only way to go. OK, let’s call them guidelines rather.

My partner’s kitchen for example, or the one that we’d once share together will have to get a bit of a makeover. Since I won’t use any kitchen equipment that had anything animal on them, I’d rather bring my own stuff. I’d probably even label everything for vegan use only. Nope, it won’t stop here –  so let’s all take a deep breath. The guy better has a big fridge too, because I’d want my own compartments to stock the plant based products. Sounds crazy? Well, the last thing I want is to have my greens lying next to or on top of corpses. It might be “just” meat for you, but I see dead animals. Sorry for telling you the truth at this point.

When it comes to grocery shopping I’d definitely insist on paying only for my vegan products. Separate bills will solve that problem in a heart beat. I know it sounds a bit weird, but I wouldn’t want to spend my hard earned money on anything of animal origin..Sharing costs for coffee, toilet paper etc. is no problem of course, but any non-vegan item will be for your own account Mister. I hope toilet paper is even vegan !? Never asked myself that question before…Anyone knows?

After reading all my thoughts on this topic you probably think I’d force the vegan lifestyle on my future prince. Well, unfortunately I have to disappoint you here. I might buy and bring my own things, but I’d never expect my partner to become a vegan. If it happens in course of the relationship, then it would mean the world to me, but it also has to come from the heart. If the guy only goes vegan in order to please me, then the relationship would be heading for disaster in the long run. In return I also wouldn’t appreciate it if my man asked me to drop veganism for him. Luckily I’m able to whip up the most amazing vegan dishes in the kitchen, so eating more of a plant based diet will come naturally to the man in question anyway. Who doesn’t want a girl that can cook?

There are brilliant movies on Veganism out there, but don’t worry, my future boyfriend won’t be dragged into a movie theatre to watch “Cowspiracy” or “Vegucated” whilst snacking on popcorn sprinkled with nutritional yeast. A cosy Italian restaurant for a Friday night dinner date will do too. It’s all about balance, right?

In my mind a relationship works best if you have many things in common, so I’d probably be better off with another vegan. If this is not meant to be, then I’m positive the universe has figured it all out for me and wants to challenge me somehow. Vegan or not, a soul mate is a soul mate.

You’ve guessed right, I’m a hopeless romantic that hasn’t given up hope yet! OK, enough of my relationship goals here. This is not supposed to be a Tinder profile after all.

At this point I bet, that all the single omnivore guys reading this post out there are now scared for life and won’t even attempt dating a vegan girl. So here’s my question for you: how would you react if a girl you fancy tells you that she’s a vegan? Please let me know in the comments so I can see if I’d even stand a chance. Or should I rather not mention it on a first date? This probably won’t work either because you might ask me out for dinner at a steak house. But hey, nothing to be scared of: I’m only another vegan that wants to save the planet, not a chick that boasts following banting, paleo or flexitarian diets. Oh and FYI, I’m not gluten intolerant.

In that sense good luck to all the singles out there. Let’s EAT, PRAY; LOVE

The Vegan Rainbow Blog

So, Dear Rinsers, what are your thoughts? Would you date a vegan? If you’re vegans/vegetarians yourselves would you date an omnivore? Are other dietary habits in such cases deal breakers or do you agree with our OP’s pragmatism? 

Making Friends as an Adult is a Lot Like Dating

friendsIt bloody is! So you said “yes” (or “I do” or other affirmative utterance) and you’re living your happily ever after. Of course you thought that dating is a chapter that belongs in your past. You were WRONG! Unless you’re one of the parasite people who believe that you should spend 100% of your time with your partner or you’re happy with the friends you made in primary school that you have very little in common with (a lot of Cape Town seems to be!), you’ll still experience something very similar to dating, namely, making friends as an adult.

1. “Clicking”

If you need a breeze of novelty in your circle of friends, going to different events with an open mind is an important factor of success. Unfortunately, in the ocean of humans, only from time to time you’ll seemingly “click” with someone. Most conversations will end up being short-term distractions with no long-term potential and you’re lucky if they’re more or less pleasant. Part of the trick is to realize that seeing someone you don’t really click with often, may make you have some warm feelings towards them. This is familiarity and it isn’t what friendship is about.

2. Asking out

So you clicked with someone and you’d like to see them again? Well, easier said than done! Asking someone out for a coffee has similar associations like actual dating and rejection is a part of it. Let me share a personal example with you: just after I arrived in Cape Town I bumped into a girl in a shop whom I met before at a party. She was very excited to see me (or so she said) and insisted on swapping numbers as she worked in the area I lived in. Few days later I felt like meeting someone for lunch and texted her. She didn’t reply for three days and then said something like “Sorry for the late reply. Super busy. Sure will see you soon” as if I was some crazy stalker. Just like with dating, you should judge people by their behavior not by their words. They TOTALLY want to hang out and you’re SO funny but when you try to organize something it seems like only never is convenient for them (just like in this New Yorker cartoon).

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3. The meet-up

There are millions of ways in which you may end up finally meeting up with someone, but one thing is certain: a one-on-one will leave you no doubts about whether you guys have enough in common to keep hanging out. Just like with romantic situations, sometimes one side doesn’t seem to feel the same way about things, but let’s be honest, life’s just too short to be around people whose company you’re not particularly enjoying. Between work, partners and passions there’s just not enough time to see everyone, so choose wisely. Your friends, just like your partner, may make you be a better person or just become a source of frustration and rage.

4. Will he/she text or should I?

Let’s say that you did enjoy the meet up and you think you can have some more fun in life with this person. Perhaps you’ll have it easy and someone will let you know that it was “great to hang out” or will send you a message about something you spoke about. Sometimes all you get is silence, though. “Did they not have fun? Should I text them?” you think. Taking initiative can be tough and it feels shit when you receive a lukewarm or openly dismissive reply but there’s no point in exchanging empty pleasantries.

5. Do I really like them or am I just bored?

Loneliness and boredom are your enemy and you can perceive a meet-up as cool just because you did something. I had a very good example of that when my three close girlfriends left the country, one after another, in a short space of time. As my husband travels from time to time, after they were gone and when he was away I honestly felt just lonely. It sucks when a good friend leaves your day-to-day existence and three of them leaving almost at the same time is a huge shock for even the most vibrant social life. At the same time, sometimes it’s better to read a book or dive into a hobby than spend time with people just because you’re lonely. You also can’t force friendships so in such situations it’s better to take a step back and focus on yourself. You’ll meet the people worth your time sooner or later so keep going out and socializing but don’t obsess.

6. Slow and steady wins the race

Clicking is important but adults have lives: careers, partners and other friends. Making time for new people you like is important but you don’t have to see them all the time and be BFs immediately. Keeping in touch is important, but I do get weirded out if a newly made acquaintance sends me messages, telling me about their days. Real bonding takes time and it can’t be done overnight. Besides who has time like in your teenage years to hang out every day?

7. The break-up

Your friends are an important part of your life. People with similar interests and goals, those who inspire you but also those with whom you just have fun are those worth keeping. As people do change, sometimes a shift from a BFF to a coffee friend is necessary. It’s just a natural part of life and it should be embraced. What is more, like with dating, you also need two to tango here. In other words, if you’re always inviting someone places, even if they come but never initiate anything themselves, it’s not good enough. Your objective is give and take situation. This brings me my next point which is: people who are just bad for you. Perhaps, like me, you’ve discovered that a frenemy seems to have a liking for the men you date? Maybe your friend, like mine, will tell you that you can’t hang out together because you’re a girl and now he has a girlfriend and it’s just not appropriate and you should always hang out in a group? Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter how many beautiful moments you’ve spent together and how much you’ll miss them. An unhealthy friendship has to be dealt with like a bad relationship – with a break up. You may choose a quiet withdrawal or a confrontation (which I only recommend if you think that change is possible). Choose your poison and remember that when it’s time to say goodbye, it’s for good.

8. Happily ever after

Some friendships never end, even though they may change and grow with us. I left my mother land six years ago and I still keep in touch with my Best Friend For The Polish Territory since high school. In this particular case we really have a lot in common in terms of intellectual understanding and this is something that living in different countries won’t change. I’m also in touch with another friend from high school, who is very different from me but somehow we always really understood one another. Even now in South Africa I have friends whom I’ve known since week one of my arrival in Cape Town. Sometimes I don’t see them for a long time but they’re still there and I know I can count on them if I need to. The big plus of friendships is that you can be polyfriendulous and no one will take offense in you having numerous friends.

What sort of friend-maker are you, Dear Reader? Have you not changed your circle of friends since you were still wearing nappies or are you a seeker? Do you find making friends as adults is more difficult? Tell me, tell me, please!