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January 2016

Dear HuffPost, when did the “B” word become okay?

Enough bitching about Jennifer Lawrence already.

As an avid consumer of social media, I saw the recent Jennifer Lawrence scandal go viral. At issue was her behaviour toward a reporter following the Golden Globes. What made mass rounds was a seconds long clip taken out of the context from what was, in fact, a 6 minute press conference. At the gathering, Lawrence’s dry tone had been firmly and graciously set, not to mention well-received by the audience (listen to the laughter). Even if you did view the comment from a negative perspective, let’s face it – at worst, she was peevish.

I was choked up that this outspoken, elegant young woman – who so thoughtfully and courageously crafted a letter about Hollywood’s wage gap between genders – would be blasted for nothing more than voicing an annoyance.

Moreover, she delivered it with the same deadpan tone and humour, she’d been using throughout the entire conference. And, while I’m not a fan of colloquial terms, her use of “bro” also kept it lighthearted. In fact, she was harmless enough that the reporter himself laughed heartily. He then asked her another question, which she answered with sincerity.

Keep in mind, the man had his cell phone up while asking her questions. Instead, she wanted him to speak to her directly to her.  Not an unreasonable request and not one delivered in any way that deserves backlash.

But backlash there was.

Who’s being harsh?

That one 52-second clip garnered all kinds of criticism. She’s been called rude, harsh, scolding. Media headlines have pondered “did Jennifer Lawrence go to far”. According to one gossip columnist  (who wasn’t there to witness it) Lawrence “made fun of the way he spoke, his cadence. That’s what made it so uncomfortable, the scolding and derision disguised as teasing.

Um…ooookay…perhaps she hadn’t seen the video either because there was no “making fun of the way he spoke”. That’s pure fabrication.

Moving on…

Her “roasting of a reporter”, “slamming of a reporter” and “telling off of a reporter” also made international news. The UK’s Daily Mail called it an “outburst”. What’s shocking is, if  you go back over old reports, they labelled Mel Gibson’s massive meltdown as an anti-semitic “rant”.  In other words, using descriptors that essentially make both behaviours comparable.

Even Anne Hathaway was criticized for running to Jennifer’s defense.

Oh.My.God.

In a week where David Bowie, Allan Rickman, Glenn Frey, and Celine Dion’s husband and brother died – this is the news covered by entertainment media?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending Jennifer Lawrence, the celebrity. I’m defending the female. This is my point of contention.

PuffPost’s derogatory language

I was already annoyed about the hype. To my mind, this nonsense wouldn’t have made news had a man behaved the same way. In fact, if it made news at all in that case, I suspect it would have been positively touted as a disarming example of how to handle an irksome reporter. I also don’t think that it would have made news if an older female celebrity had acted the same way. Too late to train the Helen Mirrens of this world. Come to think of it, how great would it have been had some of our more established female celebrities run to her defense?

Here’s what really angered me though – I saw a headline on Huffington Post that read: Stop Praising Jennifer Lawrence for being a B*tch.

Wow.

When did it become alright for mainstream media to boldly and unapologetically use derogatory language toward women – or any group for that matter? The B word may be culturally popular, but it’s still a pejorative. How is this okay? Will the N word become popular? Ummmm probably not. What about the C word? Maybe, I mean, it’s not racist.

Have we become so accustomed to this slur that we’ve lost our outrage?

It was bad enough that Jennifer’s unremarkable behavior made news, but that a media giant would approve the use of that kind of language floored me. “Puffpiece” Post is not so puff when you consider its vast audience and cultural influence. One might argue that the media doesn’t start trends, it leverages them. Perhaps that’s true. But when a cultural trend is picked up by the media, it starts to solidify. From there, a powerful cycle of reciprocity begins.

Does Arianna Huffington really approve of this?

Also, if you have to use * to get it by an editor then consider another word. How does * change the meaning? After all, it’s meaning that’s at issue, not the spelling of the word.

Did you know that there was a show on ABC called “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 C”? It had originally spelled out the entire word, but ABC censored it and the —- was made. Again, how is removing the vowels, but keeping the meaning, any better?  Who’s coming up with these “alternatives”.

Holy sh-t!

I have one friend who I playfully use the B word on and this exchange dates back years. It’s between us. Otherwise, it’s a word I use cautiously and certainly wouldn’t use in my writing. Given how it’s actually entered mainstream media and is boldly blasted across a headline, I hope we all become a little more reticent and more protective of our right to respect.

The outrageously unfair Jennifer Lawrence debacle leaves me with three commitments to myself:

  1. I’ll be more vigilant about the derogatory language that blatantly disregards my gender
  2. I’ll have a heightened sensitivity to a woman’s right to express displeasure or a preference
  3. In the case of Jennifer Lawrence, I’ll learn from her diplomacy. I like how she handled that reporter. He clearly meant no disrespect and she treated him accordingly. It was civil, congenial and handled with aplomb by both of them (though not the media!)

On a final note, congratulations to Anne Hathaway for speaking up. I’m impressed. I wish more female celebrities had come to Lawrence’s defense.

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear.

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Karma is me.

IMG_0525They say  you get wiser with age. I’m not sure that wise best describes me. I’d lean more toward “lessons finally learned” and here are three of note: They’re about closure, clarity and Karma.

Closure doesn’t mean you get the last word.

Over the years, I’ve found myself in relationships that ended when I wasn’t ready. Some were professional. Others personal. All were over before I knew it. They felt unfinished. I still had pain to express, questions to ask and actions to defend.

I remember times when I’d replay the final scene in my mind – an exacting director incessantly shouting,  “Cut. Let’s try that again.” I’d fuss with the words. Change the protagonist and, finally, create the ending I wanted. That is – had I been given the opportunity for closure.

Then, one day, my notion of closure changed. Suddenly a whole new avenue of insight opened. Here’s what I realized:

When someone says it’s over, it’s over. It’s that simple. It’s that final.

As disempowering as that might be, it’s also empowering. To recognize what is, and what’s isn’t, within your control is freeing. It allows you to focus on reality and rebuilding. It’s been said that, when one door closes, another one opens. I don’t know if that’s true. If it is, yeah closure. For me though, grasping that closure doesn’t require a counterpoint, is positive and liberating enough.

Light casts shadows

Growing up, I had to handle difficulties that caused me to veer off course from what might be called a normal childhood. In doing so, I missed avenues usually laid before us as we mature.

In later years, I found myself crippled by a need to understand experiences I had undergone and the people who were part of them. I wanted to identify wrong turns I had taken – and why – so I could detour if I began turning toward the familiar again. Moving forward, I wanted to find avenues that would make both the journey positive and rewarding.

But it’s hard to find anything in the dark. I needed clarity.

So I explored my childhood. I know, I know, it’s not “au courant” to look back. Goal setting, forward thinking and Anthony Robbins all have their place. However, when your soul is a tangled mess of wrong turns along the only roads you thought existed –  and you’re at risk of getting lost forever in the maze – then sometimes going back to the beginning is the best way to get to a better place.

So I did. I’m glad for it. Wrongs were righted. Questions were answered. I was enlightened. The darkness lifted. I could look ahead and see a brighter landscape.

There’s just one thing with clarity – light casts shadows.

Suddenly the brightest memories and people in my life began to dim, some slightly, some deeply. Yet, some not at all. Those were the keepers!

Light also creates contrasts. I began to compare people, experiences, stations in life. It too was painful. But it helped me set standards and define boundaries.

All to say, finding the truth can change how you see everything. So be prepared for the full spectrum.

Karma starts…3…2…1…now

I was dating a man some years ago who actually broke up with me via email. I’ve since heard this is common, as are text breakups. However, I’m not 20. To me, this isn’t common. It’s cowardly.

A friend of mine was floored. She thought I was so much better than him in the first place (female friends are the best!). After spewing a side-splitting diatribe, she said “he’ll get his karma.”

And that’s when it hit me – Karma was already at play.

In popular usage (admittedly, I’m simplifying a rich spiritual belief),  Karma means what goes around will come around. Do good and good will come to you. Do bad and bad will come to you.

But I don’t think it “will”. I think Karma is more immediate than that. Here’s why – if you’re someone who does wrong without basic regard for others, then you’re a dishonourable person. You’re someone I’d never respect and, given my worth (or, rather, self-worth), that’s Karma right there.

I’ve realized that the people who’ve hurt me the most are the people I think the least of – and that’s Karma. That I would prefer to me to them – that’s Karma. That they’d never again be invited into my life – again, Karma.

The reverse is true too – if you’re someone wonderful, then you get me love, respect and loyalty in return. That’s Karma.

So there you have it, when it comes to people’s actions toward me, Karma is immediate and me.

Final words

I mentioned early on that I wasn’t sure where I’d go with this blog. Because it’s a personal one, I have an open field. That means, I can bore you with more of these wisdoms (you’ve been warned). It also means that you’re welcome to provide me suggestions and contributions. The blog is for all of us. My hope is to create a community of women who can share opinions, information and insights.

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