Thursday, November 6, 2014

Because I Don't Shy Away from Tough Topics

As a woman in tech, I see news every day from woman after woman who has been verbally or physically harassed or assaulted at her job, conferences, walking down the street. I have many things I do to cope with that, and escape, but my favorite escape is watching sports. Hockey (Red Wings), Football (Lions), and Baseball (Tigers), in that order.

I love the Red Wings with my whole heart and soul, and the community that I have surrounded myself with on the internet related to hockey and the Red Wings is amazing. I have been especially fortunate in the last few months to find some really incredible people on Twitter, and some of those interactions have led to exchanged emails and other forms of contact outside of the world of Twitter.

You see, the group of people I follow on Twitter in my hockey list give me all the warm fuzzies. They're funny, poignant, and honest. I always have Twitter open when the Wings are playing, because I love watching the list explode with celebrations, thoughts, opinions, aptly timed photoshop jobs, and gripings about the Wings and the NHL scrolling across my screen. A friend of mine said it perfectly, "It's like watching a game with your best friends, every time." He's right, that's exactly what it feels like.

Despite this, it doesn't insulate me from stories like this, this, or this. And it's stories like these that feel like a punch to the gut, like I tweeted earlier.

Thinking on it, it makes me feel like I'm the biggest idiot in the world. Because sexism is everywhere. Though I try with hockey, I can't escape it. Especially because I'm a woman. I am immediately identified as a target simply because I have two X chromosomes. Even before the events that I linked to above came to light, I knew that sexism in sports was there, I knew. But just how bad it really is didn't hit me until today. It shouldn't have been a shock, because I've argued with men over the rules of hockey when they're wrong, and they don't believe me, because I have boobs. We look it up, and shocker! I'm right, but am I given credit for that? No.

I've had a cousin who doesn't watch hockey at all, asks me if I know who Patrick Kane is while I'm watching the Blackhawks play the Wings.

I've answered questions at the rink, and gotten looks of stunned disbelief that the chick in heeled boots knows what's going on.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

I actually hesitated at the thought of writing this post, because I am afraid of the backlash. Terrified, actually. But am I any better than the author of the Jian Ghomeshi article if I don't speak up?

I also frequently will write up a tweet or forum post, or whatever, and pause before clicking send/publish/submit. Because a) I don't want to make an idiot of myself and b) if this is shared by someone to the wrong person, am I in danger?

The fact that I have to think about part b in 2014 is depressing. Everywhere should be safe. I should be able to rant about how terrible the reffing has been this season without wondering if I'm going to be told that I don't know what I'm talking about, no matter how right I am. I should be able to profess my undying love for Pavel Datsyuk and his incredible talent on the ice without wondering if I will be taken less seriously if I do.

That's not the reality that we live in. The reality is that I can shout back, all women can shout back, but shouting back can make it worse. Every morning we wake up, shake off the dust of yesterday's awfulness and hope that more allies come out to support us, that more people will realize how wrong they are in their misogynistic views. We tell ourselves it's going to get worse before it gets better, and at the moment, the outlook is feeling pretty dim.

Better days need to be coming, because right now, the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and we can bend.

Please don't make us snap.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

What Not to Say: A Collection

There are certain times in someone's life where some serious shit is going down.

This is one of those for me. A few months ago, Adam and I decided to part ways. No details will be shared here, because it is not my way to air dirty laundry in public, but know it is amicable, and know that eventually, we will be ok.

Because of this major life event that is happening, I've had a lot of conversations with various people, and all of whom have had very different reactions. Dumbfounded, shocked, and stunned seem to be the most common. Apologetic, angry, depressed, are also common.  One very special person in my life thought I was joking, I reassured her I was not, then she joined the flabbergasted camp.

Everyone has their guesses as to why, but really it's no one's business. Coming through this has shown me that, even though divorce is much more common these days, many don't know how to speak to the person going through this, especially if it is amicable and no one has done anything wrong to make the other person leave.  This seems to be the biggest stumbling block for people.

Based on my experiences, here is a collection of things not to immediately assume or say to someone who is getting divorced. All of these things have actually been asked of me.

1. Asking if one of them is gay.

Amicable does not immediately mean that one of them is gay. If one of them is, kudos to them! But if the person you are asking is, and isn't ready to come out yet, you've just put them on the spot. You're asking them to trust you with a part of their identity that they may not be ready to share with you yet, if they ever do. And, given that you're asking them this giant question when they are already going through one of the hardest things they've ever had to, doesn't inspire much confidence in them to share that with you.

2. Affairs

As with many of the items listed here, it is totally possible that this is why a couple might be splitting up. But, again, it's none of your business if this is the case. If the person you are talking to is the one who has been cheated on, you're asking them to share something that is most likely humiliating to them. And, if you're talking to the person who had the affair, it's still probably not something they are going to share with you. Chances are that they already feel bad enough about it, and don't want to make it worse for the person they cheated on the next time that other person sees you.

3. Is it about kids?

Not everyone in this world wants to procreate, and that's ok. If it is about kids, that's about as sensitive a subject as you can get. What if they can't have kids? What if they lost a child and didn't share that information with you, but now, how do they explain it to you? They shouldn't have to. Now you've drudged up horrible memories for this person while they are already in a sensitive place. I know that's not what people are intending when asking this question, but you need to be cognizant of that before you ask if it's about kids.

4. I'm sorry.

You might want to apologize to them. That's a pretty normal reaction. Please keep it to yourself until you can discern whether or not that's something they actually want to hear. If it's the right choice, even if it's hard, and it sucks, somehow, you saying sorry may make the person feel like you're invalidating their choice, like in some way it was the wrong thing for them to do, even if it's not. The better thing to say here is to ask, "Should I say, 'I'm sorry'?" Then, if the answer is yes, feel free to say I'm sorry as much as you want.

5. Advice

Unless they explicitly ask you for advice, hold your tongue. No. Keep it in your brain. You may think you know, but you do not. You may think you're helping, but you are not. It is not your marriage, you are not in it, your advice is not wanted unless it is asked for. Period. End of story.

6. Asking for more notice

This choice sucks. This decision sucks. When you ask to have been given a sign or notice that something was wrong, you are making the situation about you. It is not about you. It is about the person grieving in front of you, asking for support. You may have wanted more notice, but it's too late for that now.

7. If the person says that they don't want to talk about it, don't.

If you feel the need to talk about it, ask the person's permission to talk to someone you trust about it, or go see a therapist. Respect their wishes. They are going through the roughest part of the storm, not you. You need to be there for them to have a shoulder to cry on, and for you to give your support to. If you don't think you can be supportive, tell them (nicely) that you don't support their decision and that they need to talk to someone else. It's kind of a dick move to say that to someone, but I would rather have someone say that to me than ask me eighty billion questions, trying to get me to talk about something I really don't feel like talking about.

8. Is there any chance of fixing it?

No. No. No. If there was, they wouldn't be telling you that they are getting divorced. Even if they end up fixing it, you asking won't make them think, "Oh, wow! You're so right! I can totally fix this!"

9. The right decision isn't the easy decision.

This decision sucks, even if it's a mutual choice to end the marriage, or if one spouse understands why the other spouse is leaving. It is a horrible thing to go through and amicable doesn't mean easy.

What someone who tells you this news is looking for is support, love, and understanding.

They're looking for someone who will ask, "What do you need from me?" or "How can I help you?"

That's what someone in this position needs.

"I'm here for you, whatever you need."

Walking in a Winter Wonderland...

Photo used under Creative Commons from Silver*Rose

We are coming up to my favorite time of year!

The holidays, the gorgeous snow, the happiness and joy of the changing of the seasons.

I love this time of year.  LOVE IT. I have a snowflake necklace, earrings, decorations. The chill in the air, sweaters, sweater dresses, snow angels, snowmen, and, most importantly, hockey.

Aaaaaaaand then last winter happened. Last winter in Michigan was absolutely horrendous. It has completely killed my love of snow. Which really sucks. Because as you can tell from the above, I frickin' loved this time of year.

I was really hoping that the despair and spite I was feeling towards winter in March would dissipate by November. Well, it's the first of November, and I am still thinking "UGH, Snow."

I am hoping that a mild winter is coming our way, so that maybe by the time fall 2015 rolls around, I will be more excited for snow. I miss being excited for this time of year.* :(

I am hoping that I am not alone.

*This doesn't apply to hockey. I am still ridiculously thrilled that the season has started. And, oh my god, did you see last night's Wings game?! WHAT.