The Importance Of Being Gender Neutral In Discussions

As a woman, I often talk about issues surrounding things that women are generally concerned about, ranging from serious topics to the trivial. In my experience with this, there is one important thing I have learned, and that is the concept of being gender inclusive when discussing sensitive subjects.

Aside from blogging, I am pretty active in commenting on other blogs and contributor communities.  I read a lot of content from others and think about the topic matter as well as the delivery from the author. One thing that seems to set readers off more than anything else is when they feel that their gender has not been acknowledged when it comes to certain issues.

For example, there are a lot of women bloggers that often talk about rape and domestic violence and how women are often victims to these crimes. It’s fine to write about these things considering how many women are being affected. However,  where they can go wrong is when they talk about them in a way that makes it seem as though men are never victims and women are never perpetrators – like in places where they make a list of warning signs for abusive relationships and every point starts with, “He tries to tell you what to wear” and “He gives you a curfew when you go out with your friends.” There’s no mention there of the idea that a woman could be an abuser.

Ok so let’s take into the account that they might not be doing this on purpose, considering that most people understand that men can be and are in fact victims of rape and domestic violence. I think it’s easy for women get caught up into the discussion from their own points of view and forget to mention how men can be included, and wherever there is a blog post like this, there will be men that will read it and take it at face value. I am even guilty of doing this on my blog, and there have been men that will comment and point it out, and I am glad they did. It made me think and realize that I needed to do a better job of considering the male pov and in some way make a note of it in my writing.

This isn’t just for the sake of being politically correct either. It’s for the sake of respecting the reality for men as well as women. We can’t normalize the idea that men are never victims of rape or domestic violence, and that’s essentially what we are doing when we always fail to mention it in our blogs and discussions with people.

Just something to think about next time.  

Why Women Need To Raise And Enforce Their Standards

Women of today are often complaining about how they can’t find any good men to date or settle down with. Either the guy is a jerk, or lazy and unmotivated, or has some other major flaw that prevents him from being good boyfriend material. It’s understandable that these ladies are unsatisfied, but could there be other reasoning for this other than there just not being any good men left?

The other day, I came across a post by James Sama called The Simple Way To Get Men To Put In More Effort. He highlights a probable explanation of why men could be putting in less effort into building relationships with women.

If a man’s goal is to get a date with a woman or to build a relationship with her after a couple of dates have already happened, we are seeing a decline in society of how much effort he must actually put in.

Why? Because women are accepting less. And therefore men are putting in less effort. And if a woman is too “hard to get,” men are being trained to think that there will be another woman who doesn’t require as much effort, so he can just change his focus if he wants to.

In conversations, women will tell you they have pretty high standards. They’ll talk about how they want a man with good character, intelligence, someone that knows how to treat a lady, has a good job, etc. However, only a small percentage of them follow through with those standards. Many women  end up taking whatever guy that shows interest and then once she realizes that he’s not her dream guy, she starts to think about ways she can encourage him to become what she has always wanted in a man.

If it seems like men aren’t putting in enough effort, it could be because they think they can get away with it, and a lot of times, they do… because women are letting it happen.

It’s time for women to start raising the bar. Instead of just saying they want good men, perhaps they could prove it by not getting involved with jerks, players, and bums that make little or no effort or don’t offer much else in a relationship. Just don’t give them the time of day or assume they are going to change.  And of course women should hold high standards for themselves too and make sure what they are bringing to the table is relative to what they want from a man in a relationship. It wouldn’t be fair to expect him to put in effort if she isn’t.

It’s time to think critically of our choices in relationships. Are you settling?  

 

Contemplating A New Domain Name

I just recently renewed this domain name for another year. I first registered loveashley.net in 2009 and I can’t believe it’s been that long already. When I came up with it, I thought it was perfect seeing as how I wanted a personal blog. In the last several months, I have tossed around the idea of changing the name in the future as the direction of my blog is also changing a little bit. I’m still not entirely sure how I would categorize it. I still want to keep the personal blog aspect of it and write about noteworthy events of my life, but also combine it with some of my writings on relationships, culture, and social issues. How would you define a blog like that? A “life blog” maybe?

I went ahead and renewed for one more year because I figured that if I were to change the name of my blog, it would take me the whole year to figure out what I would want to call it. I have a few ideas that I have written down, but one obstacle is that I really want a .com extension. Finding a domain name you like that is available in a .com is unlikely these days, which sucks so I might have to get more creative.  We’ll see how it goes.

I am looking for something that defines or resonates with the general feel of this blog and I’m open to suggestions on ideas for new domain names as well, so if you have any fun or creative words or phrases that you think are cool, throw them out there in the comments.

5 Male Bloggers I Follow

I once looked at my blog reader list and realized that I needed to add some diversity.  At the time, it was most lacking voices from a male perspective so I started digging around. I have managed to find a few gems.

 

1. James Michael Sama – This is the guy that most dudes should be taking notes from. James is a professional writer and speaker, and his blog tagline is “The gentleman is the new bad boy.”  His blog focuses on relationships between men and women where he offers advice from a true gentleman’s standpoint.

2. Single Dad Laughing – Dan is an amazing blogger and an amazing dad. This is a guy who picked up the pieces of his life and decided to do great things instead of letting bitterness get the best of him. His blog posts range on a variety of subjects, but he always manages to keep it quirky and interesting.

3. Good Men Project – A team of bloggers from a mostly male perspective, with some female voices as well. A wide range of topics can be found here, but they are all high in quality with great ideas and advice that both men and women can enjoy reading.

4. The Matt Walsh Blog  – Confession: This is kind of a hate-read item. Ok, so I don’t hate him, but I think about his blog in the same way he thinks about abortion.  He’s a self described Christian conservative, and it shows. He’s a radio personality gone political blogger, from a very judgey right wing perspective.  If that sounds like you, then you might enjoy his stuff.

5. The Manly Housekeeper – Mark hasn’t been actively posting in a while, but his blog is still worth reading. He is a husband who enjoys cooking, cleaning, and household tasks, and he lives to write about it. Definitely a great read for men or women.

I am always looking for new blogs to read, to if you think yours is someone you know has one that is worth taking a look at, leave a link in the bottom. Sometimes my comments go into spam moderation, so it might take a few minutes to show up.

 

How Men Can Avoid Being Nagged By A Woman

It has become typical for men to complain about women in their lives nagging them. When they were growing up, their mothers nagged them to get chores or homework done. When they are dating, their girlfriends  gave them a hard time about not calling or texting back when they promised. When they are married, they are hounded by their wives to get errands completed – or so this is their perception.

Many men are hypersensitive when it comes to being reminded of anything by a woman. Just one reminder about a task that needs to be taken care of automatically goes into nagging territory. He then becomes annoyed that she sounds a little too much like his mom or his boss.

The good news is that there is a way to avoid being the victim of incessant nagging. For example, when someone asks you complete a chore, you can:

  • Tell them whether you are going to do it or not. If it’s something you really don’t want to do, make a deal with them. Compromise.
  • If you agreed to do it, offer to let them know when you will. Example: “Yeah, I can do the dishes after our meal.”
  • Actually do it at that time. Don’t forget or carelessly put it off.
  • If there’s a reason you can’t complete the task at the time you said you would, let them know so they won’t feel the need to ask you about it again.

The failure to communicate is a big part of why nagging becomes a problem. As annoying as it can be, no one likes to have to nag someone else. Generally when a woman nags, it’s because she still cares. It’s when she is silent that he has something to worry about.

Random Things About Me

Most people guess that I am several years younger than what I really am.

My idea of the best date is going to a theme park.

I was in a calendar for  a local radio station.

Political position: Independent, with more liberal leanings

Religion: Agnostic

An introvert.

I have a fascination with skeleton keys.

And masquerade masks.

I often enjoy Disney and comic villains more than the hero.

Movie genre: I love psychological thrillers

I’m the oldest of four daughters.

My favorite band is Halestorm.

I love the literary and performing arts.

Humanist/Egalitarian

Never been married and no children as of yet, by choice.

I love Anne Taintor creations.

I’m short, 5’2.

In a relationship.

Non-smoker.

Drink only occasionally.

No tattoos, I doubt I will ever get any.

Other than being a writer, my other career choices would be musician, dancer, or psychologist.

 

If you want to know anything else, just ask. :)

Taming a Player: Secrets to Turning a Bad Boy Into Boyfriend Material

Imagine this: You meet a guy in a studies class and he’s absolutely amazing. The two of you have been on several dates and you have been hitting it off really well. There seems to be a potential for things to progress although you agreed to his suggestion to not get serious too quickly. Things aren’t exclusive yet, but you have high hopes. Then the terrible reality hits, you find out that he’s a player. A friend that that knows him fills you in on some of the dirty details about how he is and since she has mentioned it, it starts to make sense why he won’t add you on Facebook.

All your girlfriends would suggest to stop seeing him immediately, but you don’t want to give up just yet. It’s been said a million times before that you can’t change someone, but you still think that this will be different and can’t help but wonder, ‘What if I can beat the odds and somehow inspire him to commit to me?’ You aren’t sure if it will happen, but you’re feeling up for the challenge.

Before anything else, it needs to understood that there are two main types of players in the dating world; 1)The ones that genuinely don’t want to commit to one girl for the time being and 2) The ones that are only playing the field because they think that’s what guys their age are supposed to do.

The latter are guys that may actually want to have a more serious relationship with one girl, but they have gotten this idea that younger women don’t want to settle down either. They assume that since everyone their own age seems to be hooking up as opposed to having a monogamous relationship, they might as well just do the same. These pseudo-players are the ones that have the potential to be turned into great boyfriends.

You have to understand that guys are players with girls that they don’t take very seriously. A player might like a lot of these girls, but he knows he’s not going to be settling down with any of them. For this to change, you have to encourage him to see you as better than these girls. You have to show him that you are different and that there is a reason why he should commit to you.

  •  Make an impression. Show him a little bit of everything you have to offer. You are intelligent, hard working, and level headed. You can make one hell of a steak dinner, fix your own car, love camping, and you kick ass at bowling too. Guys love a girl that knows a thing or two about a variety of things in life.
  • Keep an air of mystery. Don’t reveal everything about yourself all at once. A guy will be much more interested in a girl that is always surprising him with her wit, brains, talents, changes in style, etc. When you talk about yourself, stay humble and then show him how great you are through your actions. It will also leave him wanting more.
  • Don’t be at his beck and call. He has to know that you aren’t someone he can manipulate into running to him whenever he wants. That means, don’t let him booty call you in the middle of the night or ask you to come over to his house on a short notice. Doing so will only reveal that you are just another girl he can play with. You want want to earn higher respect than that.
  • Read up on pickup artist material. Many players are into the game aspect of being a pickup artist.  It will benefit you if you have an insider’s knowledge and get a head of his game. That way, you can dodge his bullets and and even send them flying back if necessary. This will show him that you won’t be played and are above the other girls he knows.
  • Have a life outside of him. Guys are attracted to girls that can be happy with or without him. You don’t want to seem clingy but you also don’t want to appear not interested. Let your guy know that you like him but he isn’t the center of your universe. You will still make time for family, friends, school, work, and your hobbies.
  • Hold off on sex. There’s nothing wrong with casually hooking up as long as you know what you are getting into. However, if you want your guy to take you seriously, it’s a good idea to take yourself seriously. Many men are more reluctant to commit to a girl if she sleeps with him right away. Making him wait will prove that you are good for more than just hooking up.
  • Stand by him and be supportive. A guy will be impressed with a girl that shows him that she is on his side. Encourage him to do well in school school and with his extra curriculars. Cheer him up when he’s had a bad day. Show him you are truly interested in his life and that you will really be there for him when he needs someone.

If all else fails, it might be time to let this one go. You don’t want to invest very much time into a guy that isn’t that invested in you. It all boils down to a very real truth that a guy can only change if he wants to change. If he’s dead set on being a player, then he will continue to be one until he feels he has had enough. Then one day in five to ten years, you will probably unexpectedly hear from him. He will tell you that you look great and he might even ask you out. At that point, the tables have turned and it’s your call on whether or not he’s the one that’s worth it.

[Originally posted on Unwritten]

Finding A Middle Ground: Let’s Banish The Chivalry Spectrum

[This article is the first piece I have posted for Unwritten that was published today. I'm happy to be a part of the team and hopefully will be reblogging my posts from there on here from time to time.]

Chivalry as we know it today is usually associated with men behaving in a kind and polite way towards women simply because they are women. Examples that really come to mind for me are things like holding the door open for a lady, bringing her flowers for no special occasion, paying for dinner on a date, offering to help with heavy objects, or walking her to the door at the end of a date.

It seems relatively straightforward and trivial, but strangely people have some pretty strong opinions on chivalry. In fact while reading thoughts from both women and men all around the blogosphere and hearing talk around campus, there seems to be a mish-mash of varying opinions with more than just two sides of the argument. Allow me to define this spectrum of chivalry by the guys who set the extremes:

The True Gentlemen: 

First, we have men who are genuinely and generously chivalrous. You might see this archetype to be most common in older men, Gen X or before, that may have been brought up with more conventional values than men of younger generations. These men were taught to regularly treat women with kindness and respect and will gladly go out of their way to make a lady feel special, safe, and protected. They don’t usually expect much in return and mainly believe that this is how men should treat women in general, but they will still tactfully speak up when disrespected or unappreciated by women.

The Chivalry is Dead Guy:

Then we have men who don’t believe in chivalry at all. This is a popular mindset among less traditional Millennial men, although there may be older men who take on this way of thinking as well. These are the guys that might say things such as ‘chivalry is dead and women killed it’ and probably believe that women are partially responsible for the decline of men who behave like gentlemen. It’s not that they don’t like or respect women, they just don’t believe that women should be treated like they are special simply because they are women. Either that or they could be humoring the efforts of feminism when it comes to the idea of gender equality.

Not only is there a male spectrum of chivalry, but there is a female spectrum as well.

Mrs. Expectations: 

One one side, there are women who truly expect men to be chivalrous toward them on a regular basis. Some people today might call them spoiled or entitled, which has sparked some debate in recent years. Some of these women could also just be a product of the same traditional values that gave us the true gentleman, growing up idealizing the concept that they are ladies and men ought to treat them well and to go out of their way for them because they are women. These old fashioned women might become upset if a man doesn’t take advantage of an opportunity to hold the door open for her, for example. Some might not always thank the man for his kindness since it is believed that men should pay this kind of attention to them regardless.

The Feminist: 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are women that do not exactly welcome chivalry from men. They believe that chivalry is in fact outdated and they prefer it that way. This view might come from a negative past experience they had when a man acted in a way that made them feel like they are obligated to reward him back for his generosity. Some women could also be confident and prideful in the ability to do things on their own, even if they struggle. This ideal might come from the notion that women can do anything that a man can do without the help of a man, and a man that comes along that challenges that idea may be seen as offensive or condensing. At times these acts of chivalry are even assumed that men just want in their pants.

With this information I ask the question: Where is the middle ground between the sexes on the spectrum of chivalry? With all of these opinions on the topic, there’s one that doesn’t seem to be discussed nearly as much, which is the neutral stance.

When it comes to chivalry, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a man versus woman issue. Why can’t a rule be that whoever approaches the door first should be the one to open it for others? There are some men that would be pleasantly surprised if a woman held a door open for him if the opportunity presented itself. We could all do well by being chivalrous toward each other no matter if we are a man or a woman, so let’s banish the spectrum of chivalry all together and end this divide once and for all.

10 Movie Characters We Love To Hate

When it comes to our favorite movies, as much as we love to cheer on the “good guy,” we also love to have characters that we despise. There’s an element of excitement that comes with having a passionate dislike for the characters that are in the way of the protagonist. Without these people, the film would pretty much amount to nothing. Here is a list of some of the most popular characters that people love to hate:

Regina George (Rachel McAdams), Mean Girls

Why are we so obsessed with her? She’s the epitome of rotten teen girl brattiness and she kind of represents that snotty popular girl we all knew in high school as well. Be honest, you might have enjoyed watching her get hit by a bus just a little. I don’t know, maybe we just can’t get past our big lesbian crush on her.

 

Connor Mead (Matthew McConaughey), Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past

We couldn’t wait to see how karma would come back on this womanizer. He lies, cheats, and uses women and then wonders why he ends up lonely with no one who trusts him or cares about him. Not an unlikely story. Let this be a lesson to both ladies and gents.

 

Mike Chadway (Gerard Butler), The Ugly Truth

This character was beyond obnoxious, with this sexist and offensive banter, and his incredibly cynical view on relationships. There was much anticipation for Katherine Heigl’s character to smash his logic and completely put him in his place. Instead, he falls for her and for some ridiculous reason, she ends up falling for him back… I guess that’s Hollywood for you. Whatever.

 

Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), The Devil Wears Prada

Meryl Streep did not disappoint in delivering the perfect adaptation of the very intimidating, mean-spirited, ball-busting boss that we all are afraid to find ourselves slaving away for one day. Thank goodness most of us won’t ever have to jump through hoops to impress someone like this, at least not to the extreme in this film.

 

Marianne Bryant (Amanda Bynes), Easy A

Many of us have encountered a character like Marianne: a judgmental, condescending, slut-shaming high school girl, motivated by her strictly religious standards. Many of us just wanted her to mind of own damn business, which Emma Stone’s character Olive so very tactfully advises her naysayers to do at the end of the film.

Cal Hockley (Billy Zane), Titanic

It’s no wonder why Rose wanted to literally jump ship. Cal is an arrogant snob who mistreats Rose as his fiance. He becomes a man-handling control freak when he suspects that she might be up to something with another man. It’s too bad he didn’t go down with the ship, but at least he didn’t get Rose.

Mark Zuckerbug (Jesse Eisenburg), The Social Network

The real Mark Zuckerberg was commented to saying that he wasn’t pleased with the portrayal of his character for this movie because he didn’t feel it was accurate of his character. That’s not surprising to hear, considering that the character in the film was a bit of an annoying punk kid with some misogynist undertones. Let’s consider that perhaps his character was embellished a bit to create more drama to the story.

Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), Harry Potter

With most movie villains and antagonists, there is usually a dark past with a meaningful motive for doing harm and getting in the way of the good guy in a story. This is not so with Umbridge. She doesn’t seem to have any legitimate reason for being the source of evil-doing to Harry, which is why we just can’t stand her.

Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard), The Help

Miss “Two Slice Hilly,” bless her heart. She is everything a person can despite in a character. She’s pompous, disrespectful, prejudiced, demanding, and self serving; a completely horrible person. She definitely got what she had coming to her though, which was not one, but two slices of humble pie. Brilliant!

President Snow (Donald Sutherland), The Hunger Games

This man is not just evil in an obnoxious way. There’s something about him that makes our blood boil even more. A true power hungry tyrant, we can’t help but take pleasure in despising him and daydream about taking him down in our own thoughts with even more force and ruthlessness than he could imagine.

 

8 Lies We’re Told About The “Real World”

When we are young, we always hear about the “real world,” which refers to the time in our lives when we are finally no longer being supported by our parents and we are out on our own, making our own living. We hear from various sources about what this real world is supposedly like.  Here are some things about the real world that I was told that ended up being untrue.

1. “There are no labels.”  When I was in high school, there was a lot of buzz about who was a goth, punk, preppy, stoner, etc. For some reason, everyone loved to stereotype each other based on what clothes they wore, music they listened to, and what other interests they were into. I remember hearing several people older than me exclaim that it wouldn’t last because labels like that don’t exist in the real world. Well, maybe adults don’t care as much about those specific types of categorical classifications, but they are still definitely judging the hell out of other people and labeling them, only now it’s most often based on other things like their political or religious beliefs, economical status, etc. Things really haven’t changed much in this respect. 

2. “Dating becomes easier.”  I used to hear this statement a lot when I was somewhere between 15 to 19, usually when I  was having a bit of boy trouble. They’d say, “Don’t worry. These years are the hardest when it comes to dating.” That at least made me hopeful that one day in my 20s I would finally have a relationship that would be smooth sailing. Now, it seems like this was one of the biggest lies ever. Since adulthood, dating and relationships became a carnival filled with rigged games and roller coasters with many twists and turns. Then when in a serious relationship, there’s a whole new set of issues to deal with that I was never warned about. I sometimes wish that I could go back to the days when my biggest worries were about what I was going to wear on a date and making it back home on time.

3. “You should finish college if you want to be successful.”  I was told this over and over again while growing up. Of course, finishing a degree seeking University program has been the key to many people’s success, but I have learned that it isn’t for everyone. I have watched many people spend money on getting that piece of paper saying they are qualified for this career, only to continue working in retail because they somehow still aren’t getting hired for their dream job.  I have also watched people live their dreams and become a success with only a high school diploma. It has been said that a degree doesn’t have the same value that it used to. Maybe it depends on the field you are wanting to get into but either way, it’s worth looking into before you waste any of your time or money.

4. “College will be the best years of your life.” This one could be true for some people, but it certainly was not the case for me. I never really got too much into the campus scene. I didn’t care for living in a dorm and college roommates were the worst. Yeah, I met some people that were okay, but didn’t maintain friendships with them. They were just kind of into their own lives. I partied a little whenever I felt like it, but  that was nothing special either since I always preferred going to a club or bar. I was just already over the whole college scene by the time it arrived. My idea of fun may be different, but I have been having much more since those days.

5. “Honesty is the best policy.” I always believed in this mantra. I thought that being honest was the right and noble thing  to do in most cases, that was, until I started working in the real world. I quickly learned that in interviews, people that were telling their employers what they wanted to hear were far more favorable than the people who were  telling them the truth. Hiring managers didn’t really want honesty in interviews. They wanted positive, enthusiastic, and sugar coated responses to their questions. I also watched as my old bosses would lie to their customers. I learned my lesson after being honest with a customer one time and getting yelled by my supervisors  for it. I asked them, “So you want me to lie next time?” In response, I got a very bold and affirmative, “Yes!” It’s kind of sad.

6. “You have to choose between a career or family.”  A popular saying is, “You can’t have it all.” In other words, you supposedly can’t be both successful in your career and a successful parent at the same time. You have to choose one or the other, and if you don’t, you will likely suffer from being shamed as a neglectful parent or someone who is not working to their full potential at work. However, I have personally seen this myth busted quite a few times. I won’t say it’s easy to balance work and family, but I definitely don’t think it’s impossible.

7. “Time heals all wounds.” We have all heard this one at some point in our lives, and we hear it personally from people we know when we are going through times of grieving over the loss of someone we care about. They want us to have hope that we won’t have to deal with this ache in our hearts forever. How true is it though? Well I don’t know about anyone else, but I think back to all the bad breakups I have had and loved ones I have lost and I realize that the truth is that it’s still often very hard. We may never fully get over losing someone, but instead we learn to cope with the heart ache and carry the memories of them and we can smile as we think of them, and that helps move us along with our lives.

8. “Success comes with hard work.” Working hard to achieve your goals may often be a key component for being successful, but I have also learned that there’s a little more to it than that. Sometimes people are hard working for years and never get anywhere. Then there are people who never lift a finger and get lucky. I’m not saying hard work doesn’t matter, but along with it is networking and people skills, the right connections,  help from a variety of people you know, and a little bit of opportunism.