Couple

Roommates and the Grey shadows

These days I had the opportunity to read the firts book of the trilogy “50 shadows of Grey”. I agreed with a friend of mine that it was an entertaining book: it will never be a Nobel prize. I refused to read the other two, because I think the end is quite predictable: after a tug of war, everything will get back to normal… In other words: at the end, the bossy one will be her and he will let her do so… Like in real life!
Yes, you guessed it: the book was recommended by women. After not reading that much for quite a long time, I accepted the challenge and I borrowed the first book (that I have already returned to its rightful owner). Before I read this one, I read a Marian Keyes book, a more entertaining and funny one, with a pinch of social responsibility. Her books will make me write another entrance in the blog.
I´m not going to debate if the trilogy deserves being a bestseller or not. I only want to point out some reasons why this literary genre is so successful now. I think there are two main reasons:
– The women´s sexual revolution. In our mums´time, even when they grew up after 1968, this revolution barely tickled them. Our generation and even the younger ones have broken the rules of old-fashioned conventionalism. At least in Spain we have been the ones that have learned and tried the sex toys: chinese balls, creams, powders, rings, poles, lingerie… I can´t judge American women but they seem to start discovering their own sexuality: there´s still lots of censorship in Amercan society.
– Crisis in Spain has created different type of couples: roommates that are still husband and wife and they can not live in different dwellings. Couples that share food, a place to stay and even kids but not affections. Women that, because of their circumstances can´t live on their own but they are alone, because they sent their partners to the sofa. All of the women, with different backgrounds but have something in common: sexual frustration. These women aren´t looking for a substitute in other men for many reasons: lack of desire to do it, not wanting a relationship based only in sex, not wanting to complicate their lives… In any case, the need is still there.
If we joint these two circumstances, it isn´t difficult to imagine that women prefer to give vent the frustration in a book that snap their imagination before finding a Mr. Grey that would complicate their existence. They prefer having locked in a book where he can´t hurt them but feel relief when they want and have him tied and controlled, as Mr. Grey wants to have “his submissives”.
feminism

Superguanajas (the multitask women)

Multitask
Before I start, I have to explain the meaning of this adopted Canarian word: “guanajo/a”. It comes from the arahuaco language and it´s used in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. It designates contemptuously a silly and/or stupid  person*… Pronounce it like this: “supawanahas”…
This Sunday I finally felt down: it´s not easy to assimilate that you are going to be without a job and you have to look for another one in no time. You feel guilty because you think you are responsible of many matters at the same time and you want the people that surrounds you to be happy… and you believe (with no scientific explanation at all) that you take all the merits. Normally this weight on my shoulders is not a problem but it seems that my body needed to say “Enough is enough!” and I had to cry to relieve tension. Yes, I am a woman after all: when I finished crying, even when I didn´t have a solution to my problem, I felt relieved. I know that men do not understand this reasoning, which has no reason at all, but I reccommend you to do what my partner did: he just held me in his arms. We do not need anymore (Damn! I should have made you pay for this piece of advice!)
Yesterday afternoon I laid down on the couch watching realities. In one of them you can be witness of the birth of a baby and what surrounds it. One of the cases I saw was about a couple that already had a two year-old baby and they were expecting their second kid. The father on one side was worrier about his best friend´s stag night than the birth of the baby; the mother on the other side, histeric, weighing up everything, with unhealthy remorse, because she felt she wasn´t doing things as well as she would like to. Her guilt made me feel sorry for her. Finally, we have the typical end: the mother tied up with both babies (thank God her mum was not as histeric as she was and she helped her out); The father went to the stag night one day after his second and last baby was born but only had a beer and came back early home. In the end, the father toed the line and colaborated with her: he took care of the two year-old baby so she could go to the gymn to get fit. When the programme finished, I was exhausted.
I decided to take Venus for a walk, trying to stop thinking about all I have to do to be a superwoman: the house, my daughter´s school, pay my debts, work, look for a job, recycle myself, learn new things, do exercise, make myself up, be a good cook, be a good citizen, good manager, good friend, good lover, good daughter, good mother, good pack leader… I took my new MP4 and I heard my all-time favourite band´s music (Duran Duran), went out and cleared my head a bit. I could do it and I was happy for a moment: I needed nothing else.
I saw a friend of mine during my walk. Last week she was sick and she didn´t think about going back to work yet, even when she is self-employed and this is one of the best seasons for her job (all of us spend what we don´t have on Christmas time). When I sat down with her she explained me she has suffered from ansiety´s attacks because all she had to get out in her daily life: house, husband, daughter, job… Many women don´t know how to explode by crying and she´s one of them. Luckily I can. She needed to have acupuncture done on her.
At the end, we agreed that today´s women have a strong pressure to be a superwoman: a woman that is successful in all aspects of her life… When we were saying goodbye, she declared this statement: “We are not Superwomen but Superguanajas!”. I guess I don´t have to explain the meaning of this word right now.
There are women that think the best situation is to stay at home and wait for the men to bring the money. The complications are not many and you don´t have the responsibility of all the spendings on top of your head… The only thing you have to worry about is to take care of the rest of the family, to be a good cook, mum, wife, friend, lover, household manager, stunning, take care of yourself, have the house tidy and clean… It´s not too much, isn´t it?
If you ask me, I don´t want to renounce to my work career. I come from a family full of fighter, brave and hard-working women. I couldn´t be at home, when I can develop other aspects of my personality in a job. I bought the  idea of a more fulfilled woman is the one that also works outside home… The truth is that she is more tied up also!
I didn´t have a New Year´s good intention but this is going to be one of them: I will stop being a “Superguanaja” trying to be a Superwoman and be a simple mortal, with her defects and obsession. To achieve this good intention I have to let other help me more, I have to learn not to wait for everything to be as I expected, not to be perfectionist with myself, be thankful with what life has given me so far and leaving away those remorse feelings… This only good intention is going to take me a long time, so I´m not promised myself anything else…
*http://www.deperu.com/diccionario/?pal=guanajo
family · Pets

Venus´ Story

Venus started to be part of my life almost eight years ago. Everything began with a phone call from who was my partner, one Saturday, November 4th:

– Hey, I call you because I just picked a hairy, four- legged bug.
– No way! You know that we have Chico, the cat, at home – he was a six-month old cat that shared our one-bedroom flat with us.
– I know but she´s so cute!

In the beginning, the idea didn´t seem funny to me but I gave up. I thought that, in the end it could be a good idea, as we were going to live to a house with garden, so we could be more confortable there.

That night I had a celebration and I didn´t have the chance to see the “hairy, four-legged bug” until the next day. When I saw her, the only thing I could do was shrug my shoulders and “fall in love” with her. Her legs and eyebrows were brown and the rest was pitch black. Her wide legs made me think that maybe she was a potential rottweiler… There was nothing far from the truth than that: many people bet that she´s a mix between griffon, beagle and yorkshire.

Her story with me started when an irresponsable person left her abandoned with her siblings inside a carton box in front of a hotel in the south of the island of Tenerife. One of those puppies has the leading role in this story. She was the luckiest one, as I heard… I can´t understand how there are persons that are so cruel and they can live without remorse… but this story is about Venus, the lucky pup.

From that moment on, Venus was part of the family. It was funny to see how Chico and Venus played together. When she first arrived they both had the same size: a month later she was taller than him and her colour was brown. She was a bit naughty but she soon learned that she wasn´t doing the right thing. In December Venus decided to eat my lentils soup (typical food for New Year´s Eve: it brings luck): It wasn´t her fault, it was easily reachable by her. She also had to celebrate the fortune she had that someone took her home… Since she was a puppy she has protected the houses she has lived and barks to what she thinks it´s a threat: I still remember the noisy way she greeted us one day, when we were still moving. She wasn´t three-months old and her barks were strong…

Venus had to confront a decisive time in her life: the arrival of a human baby. She left being the centre of attention to leave the space for the new “intruder”. Venus has always been very respectful with her: she knew that everyone was going to be disappointed with her if she would have harmed my daughter.

Soon she changed a leader for another: my partner decided to move on with his life and I had to be her master. We both adapted to the new situation slowly and learned to live together… At that time, all the commands were in French but now she is “bilingual” and she understands Spanish as well. She was taught to sit down, lay down, to shake hands and not to nap on the couch… The normal commands for a dog. It cost me lots of cheese but also patient and love.

Once more, Venus had to change house and left behind a great garden for a huge roof. Those were hard years, where her presence was mostly on that roof and on the street when we walked her. Venus has always accepted changes with stoicism. Her only requirement was that she knew I was around and, if I had to go out, I would be back.

At that time Venus didn´t like others to be her leaders but me. Sometimes she became a little jealous of my daughter but it never was more than a fright (showing teeth and gum and a small bite). Those years were hard and I realized she was part of my small family.

Step by step, she became more than a pet (satisfactions and sacrifices included) to be a being that accompanies you even when she only sleeps close to you.

Right now my daughter, Venus and I are sharing a two-bedroom flat with a small garden with my actual partner and, eventually, with his two kids. The dog has become the perfect link for the three kids: they get along quite well. They have something in common: they adore and spoil her.

It doesn´t matter how long she has to be alone at home (work, travel…), Venus always greets me moving her tail and bitting my hand while she cries of happiness. She even adores the person who rescued her from a sure death, her first leader. In the animal kingdom, there are a lot of  grateful beings…

Many times we have the perfect reason to go out: walk the dog. It´s the perfect solution when you don´t know where to go with the kids. She doesn´t get sick in cars and it´s very funny to see her when she pops out her head and her ears fly with the wind. Every day, she gets more and more clever: she rests in the car so when she goes out, she has all the energy to run, jump… and chase.

Venus is an expert… lizard hunter. All lizards are afraid when they hear her paws approaching. She has no problems with plants or stones between a lizard and her: She makes holes with her paws and with her head moves the vegetation to get to her prey. Once I had to open her mouth with my hands to free an alive lizard she hunted… My grandfather used to say that she was a born-hunter because of the shape of her ears: He knew why this statement was right.

She has impressed me lately. I realized that everytime I feel sick (headache, discomfort…), she has approached quietly to keep me company. My partner has been surprised by her lying down on the floor next to my bed… Right now she lays down close to me, keeping me company while I write these lines…

There are no reason why she doesn´t like some people from the building. If she hears them coming or going, she´s alert, taking care of her garden: territorial. Many have tried to become her friend but it´s almost impossible: not even with a ham sandwich…

It´s funny that sometimes I feel that it´s not fair that she waits for us outside shops or restaurants. My partner, not an animal lover, considers her part of the family. We understand that it´s not higienic to let dogs enter a restaurant but we feel it´s not fair on her.

That´s why I don´t understand people that buy a pure breed puppy for Christmas or birthdays. In the beginning they are loved because they are the new “toys” at home. After that, they become a problem: where can I leave the dog when I go on holidays? The result? They are abandoned anywhere. This holidays, while we were walking Venus through a forest (La Esperanza, Tenerife), we found the rotten rests of a dead dog. If he had an owner, this person had no enough heart or courage to gain his love, trust and all the satisfaction a pet can give you.

It is also true that there are many places where the dogs can´t get in to walk. I understand that there are misbehaved dogs that do not respect their owners. On the other hand, I understand that dogs are, first of all, animals with their instinct alive… If dogs are minimally well educated, they can´t not be a problem if they walk without leash close to their owner (yesterday Venus crossed ways with a runner and she didn´t care less for him). Maybe it is necessary to warn to those dog owners that leave their dogs without supervision while they are walking them, those who do not clean after their dogs and compensate those dog leaders with well behaved dogs close to one another, as the best human´s friends (as it´s been said).

(First published in three parts: http://maritza-in-english.blogspot.com.es/2010/12/venus-story-part-i.html in December 2010)
Update:
Almost two weeks ago we have to say goodbye to this dog-shaped angel. It was the toughest decision I ever had to take but I know it was the right one. In any case, she left this world after making a celebration of her life: people came by home and made a celebration. Her ashes are at home already, we have a lock of hair and made impressions of her front paws. She will live always in our hearts.
family · Work

Downshifting

slow-down-downshifting1

People that know me well know that I like to learn foreign languages. The ones that know me very well know also that I defend Spanish (my mother language): the “Spanglish” language that sometimes we speak without noticing it isn´t appropriate for me… Yes, I´m the contradiction made human. Sometimes there are some words that are difficult to express in my mother language: this is one of them.
I knew about the meaning just a few years ago, when I was practising myself and I was glad I wasn´t the only one in the world. Downshifting is a philosophy of life a little bit different from the “hurry-up” of our times. The main law is to downshift and go slower in all of your acts… Many people like me are doing it now,e even when they don´t know the meaning of the word. Many others may wonder how.
As always, the Scandinavians are ahead of everybody. It consists on not being so avaricious when it concerns to work (in other words, stop working as much as you can to get as much money as you can) and be content with enough to live… Right now I´m imagining many of you raising your hands, being surprised, calling me nuts. Its simply as trying to have an austere live, enough to live. No more, no less.
It´s understood that we all are trapped in a consumer society that “oblige” us to buy anything, even when we can live without it. I´m the first one to fall in the system but I try my best not to do it. For me it´s more importat to come back home to be with my family thatn anything else. It´s very important to be productive in your work hours. As some experts say, staying in our work lots of hours doesn´t  mean being productive: the work needs to be done.
I was like many of us: I wanted to improve in my career and get lots of money above all. I left a very hard work for an even harder one. The salary that was promised to me was more than OK with a reasonable shift. I thought that I couldn´t offer any better to my (at that time) small family of three (my daughter, my dog and me)… Ath the end, I got to lose one year of my daughter´s life (I lived to work all day) and summons at the court: I was defrauded.
I learned the lessons and I went to a job where I worked less hours but I was proportionally better paid. Of course, I couldn´t afford going out for a drink or diner every weekend but I could spend some more time with my family and for me. I learned to be happy with less money: I ajusted my spendings. I remember like yesterday when I called the credit card company (I only have one): the person that attended me couldn´t believe I wanted to reduce my card´s limit. My answer was clear: “My earnings has lowered, so my limit has to go down as well”.
Right now I have a job where I finish at six and enjoy life (that´s why we work, don´t we?). As a boss of mine used to tell us: “There are many moments in a worker´s life: time to wait for a client to receive us, time for bureaucracy, time to attend clients and time to rest”. And that´s what I do when I finish work: enjoy my (actual) enlarged family.
(First published in http://maritza-in-english.blogspot.com.es/2010/12/downshifting.html on December 11th 2008)
family · feminism · Politics · Uncategorized

Make feminism dissapear

patriarchy

How to write an article about feminism now that is so fashioned? How to make feminism be understood and why its existance? And above all: Why do I want feminism to dissapear?

A song from Offspring (Self Esteem) came to my rescue. It tells the story of an abusive relationship in which she brushes aside the boy, bugs out on him, insults him and even cheats on him… Ridiculous and funny situation at the time, right?: what a henpecked guy… until you change things up and it didn´t look like a parody anymore (and I´m not saying that all men are al the same and we, women, are always the victim).

That´s why that I decided to revert the roles like the song did so the persons that can´t understand what feminism stands for. Now I want you, men, to imagine a world in which:

  • You have to think carefully where to walk on the street in case someone comes to you and assaults you… more so if it´s at night time…
  • You have to take some of your time grooming yourself a lot (creams, make up, hair…) because society and the beauty canons for men say you have to do it. If you don´t, you´re not men enough.
  • You assume that you don´t have to earn the same salary than the rest, no matter how much you study or work, just because you´re men.
  • A position in life has been imposed to you that means that your professional goals and achievements are not important but if you were able to create and keep a family or how well dressed you always are.
  • To get that dream job you have to “pay the price” and let the powerful do or suffer degrading situations. If you don´t fall into line,  the most probable situation is that that job will be given to other that has accepted the contract holder´s whim.
  • When an abuse is reported from others to you, the idea that you consented the situation and all the versions of the story wouldn´t count, because you didn´t show rejection and let them did what they did. Yes, it has happened in Spain!!!
  • Even when you had straight As at the university, it is expected from you, guys, that you professional aspirations are left behind to form a family and support your partners in their own professional career…
  • When someone has to decide to reduce their working hours to take care of the family, the men are the persons that decide to cut their salaries and expectations, because that´s the situacion that is expected from them.
  • When a man goes out with many women he´s called a whore that is worth nothing and a woman that goes out with many men is a real woman. The double standard.
  • It´s possible that our boss at work force you to wear with certain clothes (normally sexy ones) and if someone resists to do so, this boss tells him that there are plenty men on the street that would like to have that job and won´t complaint as much.
  • The songs that we hear talk about women having affairs with men (at the same time or not), how they (the women) play with men, with their feelings, how the men are going to receive what they deserve and it seems absolutely normal. Your sons will hear it and will think it absolutely normal that a woman would come and abuse them: you wouldn´t care less that your son would hum these type of songs.
  • Women believe that men´s bodies were created just for their personal satisfaction: society has shown it as a normal situation. Any ad you see it´s a portrait of this idea.
  • The legislatives decide to create laws in which it tells men when it´s ok to reproduce or when it´s necessary to do a vasectomy… and all of them are women that do not understand the men´s nature.
  • Some women believe that, because men were created just for their personal satisfaction and they are in this world to serve them, when some men rises up and doesn´t want to continue a toxic relationship, they (the women) decide that “with them or with no one” and kill those men because.

Do you need more reverse examples to realise the situation? I could write many other examples but I don´t want to extent the article much more. For these examples and many more is why I desire feminism to reach its goal: to make a person be judged because of being a person, not because of his/her gender. When this happens, feminism automatically will stop existing, it wouldn´t have a reason to be. That day everyone will have to make a party to celebrate. I´m afraid that there´s so much to be done still that I won´t be seeing the day. We are on the way: don´t stop fighting.

I invite you to watch a video from 1971… not that far away…

family

Cooperation

 

family-working-together

We are sold: in the XXI century and we have many obstacules to surpass. And the examples can be seen around the corner, like a woman that forgot how to be herself for the sake of her children and also she has to take care of a third party as such, when he has to be a partner, her equal. Other that do all the homework and then complain that their partners don´t help (because they don´t give the men the possibility to do so). Women  that, even when they do a similar job, their salaries are lower than their male counterparts. Women that they don´t stop working, even when their working hours just finished hours ago…

I come from a direct line of working women. My great-greatgrandmother used to do barter on the La Gomera forest to the harbour, earning some money on the way by praying for people or animals. My grandmother emigrated with her family and came back to the Canary Islands where she started working in a small shop with her husband (my grandfather). My mum work at the Caracas University as a secretary when she was very young. When she came back to the Canary Islands, she was “only” a housewife. After some public examinations, she got a post as a civil servant. Years later she retired with a city medal. I can´t deny fighters´blood runs through my veins.

All of these can´t be done with their partners´cooperation (less my great-greatgrandmother´s case: single mother with children from different fathers at the beginning of the XX century). Without them, it would have been difficult to work outside home. In my father´s case, the change was radical: from not knowing to fry an egg to leave the kitchen spotted clean after he prepared a meal for us. In my own case, I can´t thank enough the invaluable my partner´s cooperation, attending my daughter (from a previous relationship) when I have to go to work in the afternoons.

Yes, cooperation, not help. We are no longer live in a world where the men were the only one that went out to work and women stayed home. Now it´s time to work together, organize our lives to have a healthier coexistence. Complement each other in the house chores: I clean, you prepare food, for example… And this cooperation has to be extended to the children. If this isn´t done this way, we will be ending with useless kids that depend on us and don´t appreciate what it´s done to make a comfortable home. The house chores are for all members of the family.

What happens with all those women that have non-cooperative partners? Nothing good, I assure you:

  • Strain sensation, like feeling that they have no time for everything
  • Helplessness, because she doesn´t feel valued. I know cases in which women separate after giving many opportunities and the partners, unconnected to the reality, don´t understand why, because they have been the main breadwinners.
  • Let´s be serious here: Who wants to have a marital relationship with someone you treat like your own child?
  • Identity crisis. If a woman dedicates only to work and be a mum, she will never have time for herself and her hobbies, losing herself on the way.

And given that in Spain the the family conciliation still crawls like a baby, lets do something in our own homes and start giving us opportunities: we deserve it.

And this is valid for all type of families…