Thursday, March 30, 2006

Put your best face forward

It's not what you know, or even who you know. It's what you look like. That's the perception of 11,130 members of Monster.com who responded to a poll on whether changing their appearance could improve their job prospects.

From HR.BLR.com:
Most Workers Say Plastic Surgery Would Help with Career

More than half of workers say having plastic surgery or cosmetic dental work would help them advance their career, according to a poll by Monster.com.

Fifty-three percent of respondents to the online poll said plastic surgery would help their career. Thirty-one percent of respondents disagreed, and 14 percent were unsure.

More than 21,000 people responded to Monster's online poll about appearance, plastic surgery, and the workplace.


Since Monster is a job listing as well as a job seeking site, I'd be curious to know what percentage of these respondents were looking to hire people compared to the number looking for a job.

This is not a scientific poll, but a self-selecting one. The numbers may be skewed by the fact that those satisfied with their employment--or even employed at all--are less likely to visit the site, thus participate in the poll. I'd be interested in a gender and age breakdown of the results, as well as a listing of what procedures they believe would give them an advantage. There's a big difference between thinking that dental bleaching would be a benefit and believing that breast implants and face lifts would give a worker a leg up.

Any way you look at it, these numbers are discouraging. Given that the number of middle-aged and older workers looking for jobs is significantly higher than it was 10 years ago, thanks to downsizing and outsourcing, they're probably looking for any way for a 50-year-old to level the playing field with 22-year-old new college graduates.

These are fuzzy numbers, true. But to me, this indicates a high level of suspicion that age and appearance discrimination exists in hiring today. What was once the realm of visual entertainment seems to have entered the mainstream mindset.

Are older workers at a true disadvantage? Would cosmetic procedures make them more attractive candidates? Beauty, or lack thereof, has been proven to be a source of discrimination.

According to Robert J. Stonebraker, Winthrop University:
Drawing on three surveys encompassing more than 7,000 respondents, economists Dan Hamermesh and Jeff Biddle tried to statistically isolate the impact of beauty on earnings.3 In addition to gathering data on employment and earnings, the interviewers rated the respondents' physical attractiveness. Respondents were categorized as either strikingly beautiful or handsome, above average for age, average for age, below average for age, or homely. Overall, 34 percent of the respondents were rated as striking or above average while only eight percent as below average or homely.

Even after adjusting for such factors as education, experience, age, race, and occupation, the authors find that beauty has a significant impact on earnings. The impact is not as great as that of race or gender, but it is significant nonetheless. Respondents rated as striking or above average earned a wage premium of about five percent, while those rated as below average or homely suffered a wage penalty of about nine percent. The total earnings gap between the two groups was about 14 percent. Interestingly, the impact of physical appearance was somewhat greater for males than for females, though the difference was not statistically significant.


This says nasty things about our culture. Perception cannot change until practices do, and to be forced to consider cosmetic surgery to find a job or gain advancement is disgusting. The Monster poll exposes how wide spread this belief is. Now lets go after the cause.

(Cross-posted at I See Invisible People)

Friday, March 24, 2006

Becoming Convinced

The realization is dawning on me that hosting the "Together in Spirit" radio show is as much about the all pervasive guru teaching me as it is about presenting the wisdom of my amazing guests to the listening audience. Each week I seem to come away with something that changes the way I approach my practice or that gives me new insight into what I am already doing.

The recent sequence of shows has been especially instructive. One week I spoke with James Twyman and came away with renewed clarity that it is only the switch from ego-perception to divine-perception that can ever free us from our habitual creation of a world that seems filled with suffering. Trying to train the ego to create an experience of heaven on earth is like trying to train a tree to fly.

The next week I had two Enneagram experts come on and they affirmed that the ego creates what they call stories, and that I also think of as filters, to interpret the world it sees and that it is these filters that distort our understanding of reality and cause us to live some distance from our true selves. (Different people have different habitual filters, which the enneagram describes classified into 9 personality types.) Once again, it is the ego causing us to experience samsara instead of nirvana, not any quality in our external situation, and its key role is distorting perception so that we perceive and interpret according to its beliefs instead of having a direct experience of reality and getting to learn from that.

Now, as I prepare for the appearance of Byron Katie on the show this coming Tuesday, this understanding gathers still more power over my perception. Each time I have a guest coming on I spend a considerable amount of time familiarizing myself with their work. I have been reading both of Katie's books and have listened to recordings of her workshops, as well as trying the process called "The Work" on myself. I not only had some valuable and freeing realizations as a result of this, I also have experienced a shift in my perception.

I could go back through experiences with guests from previous weeks also. I have learned from each of them. I highlight these last three simply because it is now that I feel the full momentum of this process shifting my actual state of daily perception. I have long been exposed to the ideas I relate above, but for the last couple of days I have truly felt an identity of "true self" as myself, while witnessing the filter of ego as it functions without any aggression towards it, but also without being taken in by its stories.

I also have lived within this experiential reality before, but this is the first time it feels integrated within the development of a deeper state of understanding. All other times it seemed more like a gift of grace -- one that suddenly descended upon me without any rhyme or reason and that left, whether after a day, a week or a month, with just as much mystery.

Doing this show, which I first embarked upon as a way of gifting others, has become a huge blessing in my life. Of course, that should be expected. What we give to others is what we gift to ourselves. Just nice to have it confirmed once again -- and nice to share it as a reminder to you as well.

I just hope the show's sponsor is equally pleased with how things are going. The current season ends on May 9 with my interview of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, the head of the Shambhala buddhist lineage and publisher of the Shambhala Sun magazine. Not sure where it will all be heading by that time.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Childcare Survey for BlogHer

The BlogHer group is currently investigating childcare options for the conference in July. If you think you'll be attending and have thoughts or needs on childcare, PLEASE PLEASE take this survey so your ideas/concerns/requests can be taken into consideration.

I know at SXSW, it was a blessing to find Grandparents Unlimited of Austin, who connected us with a great lady to care for Jenna during our Sunday panel, and then during the two parties we attended in the evenings Sunday and Monday. At the same time, we got to enjoy meals together, swimming together, we took her over to the conference where she experienced part of the Cluetrain panel and spent three hours building a Lego city--all wrapped into two days plus. She loved Austin, riding the trolly, and it was a great experience for her.

For me, attending BlogHer is tied to having access to childcare. What are your needs? Take the survey and let us know.

THANKS!!


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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Re: The Muppets

I recently completed a multi-part story about loneliness, love, coming out, heartache and redemption. It's a bit of a roller coaster and it wasn't always easy to write but in the end, it's an uplifting (I think) tale.

Please check out Re: The Muppets to share in my journey from a lonely and confused young girl to a woman who found strength in herself and the love, comfort and support of a remarkable group of friends.

It took me a while to finish and at times I wanted to quit but I received so many amazing and encouraging comments and emails along the way. It turns out my personal experience with debilitating sorrow and heartbreak isn't all that unique in this amazing community of ours. For me, this experience has been a deeper testament to our power and resilience.

Thank you for the opportunity to share.

AXINAR'S: The Great South Dakota Sex Strike

AXINAR'S: The Great South Dakota Sex Strike

From a fellow comrade who took this from another brilliant mind....

Think about it...

Say it with me now....'Lysistrata'

It's Hard Out Here For A Fem'nist

Hello Fellow Blog Sisters!

Thank you very much for welcoming me into your community!

"It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp" won the Oscar for Best Original Song at the 78th Academy Awards this past Sunday (3/06). In response, I have quickly spun up a retort:

It's Hard Out Here For A Fem'nist

I invite your thoughts on how a song sympathizing with men who traffick women would be nominated in the first place, and ultimately win?

Here's a quick look at pimp/prostitute statistics: "Eighty percent of the women were sexually assaulted by pimps via sadistic sex; 71% of pimps use drugs to control the women; and 34% of the women received death threats from pimps personally or to their family." - from “Sex Trafficking In the United States, Coalition Against Trafficking of Women Study,” Raymond, Hughes, Gomez (3/01)

Thanks for letting me share your space! :)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

When Someone You Love Has More Secrets Than You Want To Kno

What happens when you marry the person of your dreams, and everything appears to be hunky-dory....and then you find out that he/she's hiding something...like that maybe he or she is gay....

The NYTimes has a story today on what happens when gay men marry straight women--or what's now being called the Brokeback Marriage phenomenon:
. . . an estimated 1.7 million to 3.4 million American women who once were or are now married to men who have sex with men.

The estimate derives from "The Social Organization of Sexuality," a 1990 study, that found that 3.9 percent of American men who had ever been married had had sex with men in the previous five years. The lead author, Edward O. Laumann, a sociologist at the University of Chicago, estimated that 2 to 4 percent of ever-married American women had knowingly or unknowingly been in what are now called mixed-orientation marriages.

Such marriages are not just artifacts of the closeted 1950's. In the 16th century, Queen Anne of Denmark had eight children with King James I of England, known not only for the King James Bible, but also for his devotion to male favorites, one of whom he called "my sweet child and wife."

Other women include Constance Wilde, Phyllis Gates, Linda Porter, Renata Blauel and Dina Matos McGreevey, wed respectively to Oscar Wilde, Rock Hudson, Cole Porter, Elton John and James E. McGreevey, the former governor of New Jersey.

Although precise numbers are impossible to come by, 10,000 to 20,000 such wives have contacted online support groups, and increasing numbers of them are women in their 20's or 30's.

On the whole these are not marriages of convenience or cynical efforts to create cover. Gay and bisexual men continue to marry for complex reasons, many impelled not only by discrimination, but also by wishful thinking, the layered ambiguities of sexual love and authentic affection.



I'm glad that The Times did not devolve into the gross, ubiquitous generalization that gay men marry because they need a "beard." Nope. Sometimes the men don't even know they're gay until later on:
"These men genuinely love their wives," said Joe Kort, a clinical social worker in Royal Oak, Mich., who has counseled hundreds of gay married men, including a minority who stay in their marriages. Many, he said, considered themselves heterosexual men with homosexual urges that they hoped to confine to private fantasy life.

"They fall in love with their wives, they have children, they're on a chemical, romantic high, and then after about seven years, the high falls away and their gay identity starts emerging," Mr. Kort said. "They don't mean any harm."


These men want homes, and children...they want that Suburban Dream that all of us want. They want to be upstanding members of the community, they want their marriages to last. They, truly, do not mean harm.

Men do many things to deny their homosexuality--they compartmentalize it, go on the 'down low' (as Oprah likes to say), they even go to pro-dommes to be punished for their feelings while indulging in activities their bodies crave.

Sexuality is very, very complicated. Intimacy is very, very complicated. We can't just compartmentalize it away, and hope that our Higher Natures will carry us thru to do The Right Thing at all times.

We are, after all, human. With feet of clay. Bound to fail. or at least fall over...

But the article has a couple of serious flaws. It never deals with men whose marriages end because their wives discovered they are lesbian. That happened to a couple I knew back in New Jersey--friends of my ex-husband. He ended up with the kids. Not because she was a lesbian, though...because she really didn't want to care for them. Who knows exactly why she felt that way. But it was, I'm sure, sad for both of them...

And I remember, when I was a kid, the couple that lived across the street. My mother hated the woman because she had a lover. Turned out that her husband, who she divorced, finally, when her daughter was old enough to understand, was gay. Geri and Paul had worked out an arrangement--they had separate sex lives--that worked for a time. But who knows what happened there. Maybe her lover wanted to marry her after years of being the Other Man. Maybe her husband wanted to have his own lovers at his house rather than catting around...

Who knows? None of us knows.

Now, I can hear young friends of mine, in their 20's and 30's saying "that's right!Dump his ass! He might come home with AIDS!" But dumping a person one loves isn't always easy. And someimes women marry gay men who don't know they're gay for the women's own reasons:
Mr. Kort, however, said that women should look deeper. "Straight people rarely marry gay people accidentally," he wrote in a case study of a mixed-orientation marriage published last September in Psychotherapy Networker, a magazine for which this reporter is the features editor.

Some women, Mr. Kort said, find gay men less judgmental and more flexible, while others unconsciously seek partnerships that are not sexually passionate.


That, apparently, was the case of Cole and Linda Porter, who were devoted to each other, not just because he was gay, but because she had her own issues with sex and preferred to live with a man who did not demand that from her.

Women, too, compartmentalize. For their own reasons. Women sometimes want the affection more than the sex.

Yet sex is easy for some of us--and Love is difficult. Sometimes love, without sex, or sex dwelling separate from the love relationship, is far easier to deal with, and to understand, than that messy combination of sex/love/marriage/baby carriage.

We all have our reasons for staying with a person--reasons many times others outside of our relationships are not entitled to know. We all have our reasons for forgiving someone for not being Perfect. We all have our reasons for staying with someone, and staying in a relationship that might not be the Whole Enchilada that we are brought up to believe every relationship is supposed to be--because maybe there's a part of that Enchilada that is far sweeter and more comforting than soldiering on alone, and waiting for Mr. or Ms. Wonderful.

And maybe it's just that, as we get older, we understand that sex/love/marriage/baby carriage are a phase of life, that it's not all of life for ever and ever until death do us part as those vows say. Maybe we understand that marriage, as it is constituted by both Church and State, is a social contract; and that the heart and sex organs can't be reigned in forever and ever under such an enduring and legally complicated contract.
Paulette Cormack, a teacher who lives in Napa, Calif., has been married to her husband, Jerry, a retired city planner, for 36 years. For 34 years, Mrs. Cormack said in an interview, she has known that although she and her husband are sexually active together, his erotic desires otherwise focus almost exclusively on men. "It's not easy, but I truly do love him," Mrs. Cormack said.

Mr. Cormack is now involved with another married gay man, and Mrs. Cormack has had extramarital relationships. Neither has explicitly discussed this with their son, who is 25.

They remain intensely committed to each other. Last year Mr. Cormack nursed Mrs. Cormack through four months of treatments for cancer of the fallopian tubes. She eventually made a fully recovery.

"What is intimacy?" pondered Mr. Cormack, as the couple sat in a coffeehouse in Berkeley, Calif., after watching "Brokeback Mountain" with others in similar situations.

He added: "I am totally committed on all levels to Paulette. I felt so intimate with her when I was caring for her during her cancer treatments — to me, that's a stronger expression of love than whether I'm having anonymous sex with a man."


How we live, how we love, can be trivialized and called things like "Brokeback Marriage" but the thing is, we cannot understand the nature of another couple's relationship. And, for most of us, we can't even judge our own--because we might not know the true nature of our partner's deepest, darkest needs.

Because maybe, out of fear of losing us, they can't tell us.

We can rest our minds in certitude, in a self-righteous "I know my partner better than anybody" mindset-- but, truthfully, life has taught me that we can never be certain of some things about our partners. And, sometimes, perhaps, it's the unconditional love and devotion, devoid of the heavy words of the marriage social contract and mandatory weekly sex, that is, in the end, what holds some couples together.

Nothing, and no one, is perfect. That we love, and are devoted, is sometimes perfect enough.


(crossposted here)

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Movies Are America

Hope you stop by to read the rest...

... Old Hollywood, that's what I remember come Oscar time, as we celebrate the brilliance, the magnificence and the creation and splendor of what movies have evolved to today.

As for all the trumped up controversy, a sort of revisiting of O'Reilly's war against Christmas mania, substituting movies instead, well, it's obvious that conservatives don't have much respect for the American people or the resiliency of the human spirit. There's not a person of independent movie going age that can't distinguish crap from cinema brilliance without the right-wing distinguishing the difference for them. Why Republicans hate, no let me rephrase that... Why conservatives are afraid of movies I'll never understand. It's got to be their basic disrespect and doubt, their distrust of the American spirit itself.

John F. Kennedy trumpeted the arts, and so did Ronald Reagan. George W. Bush and his bunch cower in the corner at anything remotely creative. It threatens their dogma, the ideology of group think and status quo. Kennedy would have thought George W. Bush a cretin. ...

Call for Writers/Editors/Moderators etc for New Gender Issues Website

Hi Sisters,

Since last March, I have been running a Gender Issues Digest mailing list that collates the latest gender issues-related newslinks and goes out every 2 weeks to a growing group of Women's Studies groups, Rhodes women, academics and young feminists across different nationalities, creeds etc.

I am kicking the project up a notch in order to encourage/facilitate discussion and interaction. To this purpose, I have purchased some webspace to set up a non-profit Gender Issues website that will integrate the following:

1. Regularly updated Gender Issues links (a fortnightly/monthly digest will still be sent out to subscribers and the website will have an option to subscribe for new readers).

2. A section where Op-Eds and Articles on all aspects of Gender Issues will be published. This will cover everything from Feminism to Gay Rights to Dating.

3. A group blog for rotating columnists.

4. Message boards for discussions and space for announcing gender issues events, conferences etc.

There are plenty of feminist/women's issues websites and online communities out there but what differentiates this project is:

1. It focuses on Gender Issues rather than solely on Women's Issues.

2. It aims to showcase the diversity of opinion, creeds etc that characterise proponents of Feminism and Gender Issues. In particular, some priority will be given to voices from the developing world and ethnic minority women. This is not to say that the site will neglect news/articles/writing from North America and Europe but rather, this is an effort to present the widest cross-section of feminists/gender issues activists around.

The team I am building/looking to build will be very international and from all walks of life. Hopefully, the project will (eventually) have correspondents from different cultures and geographical regions.

The site is being designed and built at the moment and I am gathering the core team together. So if you are interested in being a rotating columnist, forum moderator, co-webmistress, blogger or part of the editorial team, or even if you have any questions about the project, please email me at pinkfuton@gmail.com

Thanks for your kind attention and looking forward to having some of you onboard the project.

Vote for Your Favorite Women Bloggers

The Koufax polls are now open. If you peruse the nominated blogs in the various categories, you'll see lots of women represented this year. Take a moment and hop on over to Wampum to vote in the Leftosphere's best blog awards contest.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Sisters of the Blogosphere,

I am so honored to have been interviewed by Yvonne Divita of Lipsticking: Smart Marketing to Women Online and so I wanted to share it with the Blog Sisters.

Yvonne is one of the amazing contributors to E-Women Online Tactics, the report I recently launched that is a compilation of the Internet Marketing Strategies by female online marketers.

Yvonne and I met online and we have been corresponding regularly ever since. One of the most wonderful aspects of having a blog is the new connections that I’ve made virtually. I have had the opportunity to develop friendships with people who I never would have met otherwise. I am so happy to be meeting so many inspiring women bloggers like Yvonne.

Here’s part of her introduction to the interview:

"This week, I chose Wendy Maynard of Kinetic Ideas… a blog with great ideas, and wonderful pictures. Wendy and I met via the blogosphere - and we became fast friends. I admire her upbeat, chatty writing, and the gems she shares with others, on marketing, on branding, and on connecting. I learned some new things from this interview, I think you will, too."

I think you will get a big kick out of the interview and you will LOVE Yvonne’s blog if you've never seen it, so click here to see the whole thing.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wendy Maynard
Kinetic Ideas

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Violence Against Women Starts in South Dakota

“…Planned Parenthood, NARAL and the rest of the leading repro choice organizations have sent out messages indicating that they’ll be there to fight this legislation as it heads to a Supreme Court show down. While I am glad they’ll be there for that, I am distressed at the implications of their messaging. It’s the equivalent of seeing someone about to be raped and doing nothing to try to stop it, and then handing the victim the hotline phone number after it’s over. .” - Irene Weiser, executive director of Stop Family Violence

The above is part of an email I received from Irene, who runs a very small outfit doing a very big job. Obviously, she's talking about the South Dakota abortion bill. I’ve done a post on it supporting Irene's run at the South Dakota legislature.

I hope you stop by and if you can, give Irene a mention on your blog.

STOP FAMILY VIOLENCE: Democratic Ethics vs. Corruption of Morality

Feelings...good, bad, indifferent

It’s hard to know what to focus on when my mind seems so scattered...

All my training, all my study of the disciplines that should help me (yoga, meditation, deep relaxation, visualization) seem to fail when I need them the most.

I can help students, most of them are perfect strangers to me, but I can’t seem to help myself and the more I try to *relax* the further out of reach the ‘peace of mind’ seems – there’s a detour on the path of my own tranquility.

My seated practice has suffered mainly because I’ve been in so much pain I can not sit – my neck, my shoulders, my knees, my hips – I feel like I’ve become an old woman before my time...I creak, I crack, I pop and at once I am frustrated as well as sympathetic to some of my students with similar physical ailments

I just feel like the days blur, I am going through the motions and I don’t even have a clue – numbness just takes over...

Last night I was at dinner with my friend, Mr. C and I got to talk to him about how I feel - like I have always had to be strong and I am tired of being expected to be that way ALL THE TIME – even most of the time...why isn’t it OK to stop, to not fight? Who is this fight for, me? Who is it ever for? Is it selfish of me to want to just stop?

Once, when one of my dearest friends was faced with a serious illness (she had colon cancer and they missed some of it when they removed it and they did no radiation so it spread to her bones – awful just awful) – she was being treated with chemo, well chemo is toxic, very toxic and most of us are affected by that but it was nearly fatal for her – she was being poisoned and she had to be hospitalized and the things she was going through at the time were just horrendous and I remember one phone call early on where she called me crying and began talking about how she wanted to die – really wanted to – she needed to talk about THAT feeling with someone because her kids just would not listen to her – she wanted to talk about her own funeral. It was (and still is) one of the hardest conversations I have ever had to have with a friend, but I listened, why? Because I OWED her that much – she was my friend – she was my sister at heart and with that conversation it dawned on me and I’ve never forgotten that we have to remember it’s OK to live with those feelings too – it’s OK to ALLOW your loved ones let go – the ONLY reason we don’t want them to ‘give up the ghost’ as it were is purely selfish on our part – we will miss them – we don’t want them to leave our universe…not realizing that they will always be with us, in our hearts, in our minds, in our intertwining of spirits that makes us all a part of something bigger...something sacred and joyful...something that can never be taken away.