The poetic, playful and prophetic musings of quintessential voices trying to keep up with life

Monday, December 24, 2012

Don't Hate Me Cause I'm Sexy

I don't pretend that you're living under a rock and haven't seen the news, BUT IF YOU HAVE there is a bit of a controversy going on right now: The Iowa Supreme Court recently ruled that to fire a woman for being too attractive would not be illegal gender discrimination.

I know, I know. I'm thinking it too. How am I going to keep a job down?

Given the above picture (and hundreds like it on Instagram), I'm sure you understand my concern.

The case the Supreme Court ruled on was about a dental assistant named Missy who worked for her older boss for 9 years with no issues. The last year or so, the dentist (Dr. Knight) started making comments about her clothes being too tight (She wore scrubs to work, so, OK). They occasionally texted each other, like things about their kids. They were both married to other people and seemed happy. He was occasionally creepy to her. Whatevs, Missy's a chill girl. Doesn't bother her too much. Then one day she's called into Dr. Knight's office and his pastor's sitting there with him. Dr. Knight informs her that she's being fired... because she has become an irresistible temptation for him, and he thinks it's best that they don't work together anymore.

It turns out that Mrs. Knight (his wife) also works there and had recently found out that Missy and the dentist had been texting. She flipped out and demanded Missy be fired, which is what brought this on in the first place. Dr. Knight later called Missy's husband and told him that Missy was the best dental assistant he's ever bad, but that he's concerned if he and Missy continued to work together, he will be unable to resist and they will have an affair.

The Iowa Supreme Court recently ruled that Missy's case wouldn't even make it to trial, because no jury could reasonable find that Missy was fired because she was a woman. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that this had nothing to do with Missy Nelson being a woman, since Dr. Knight employees many other women. He fired her because he had feelings, and since in Iowa, employees can be fired for any reason except an illegal one, his feelings do not constitute gender discrimination.

Was Missy was fired because she was a woman? Yes. Dr. Knight has testified that he is a heterosexual man and is solely attracted to women. He has been asked if he would have been attracted to Missy had she been a man, and he has said that he would not. Dr. Knight has said, and continues to say, that Missy was a great employee; she was just an irresistible temptation to him.

There are many things about this which bother me immensely. Scrubs have suddenly become irresistibly sexy, so that's cool. She also wore Target long-sleeved shirts underneath, so let's all start wearing those to get some attention from DE MENFOLK. Dr. Knight, of course, brought his pastor in to inform Missy that she was a secret harlot, so that's also awesome. Or humiliating. One of the two. This decision to pry himself away from her was clearly so hard for him (a moral and pious individual) that he needed his pastor there to hold him to this and give him support. And, naturally, Dr. Knight assumes that Missy - who has never flirted with him or shown any signs that she was sexually interested in him, and who is 20 years younger than him and thought of him as a father figure - would be TOTES down for an affair. It's not like she's happily married with kids or anything. He just assumes she would be helpless to resist his succulent charms.

And now we come to my favorite part... irresistible. Oooh yes. He would be unable to resist making the sexes to Missy if she had continued working there. Dr. Knight just wouldn't be able to help himself guys! He would continue to have sexual feelings for her sexy scrubs and would be UNABLE TO RESIST. BOOOOBZ.

As I'm sure you know, people have this thing called self-control. It's that little thing that stops you from doing things like hitting other people, or raping other people, or stealing things. It's basically that thing that helps you resist things you know you shouldn't do. We don't let people steal things because that big flat screen tv was irresistible. We don't let rapists off because that girl's bod was SO irresistible. You know why? Because it's common sense - nothing is irresistible. People have self control, and we're expected to act like adults and use it, or face the consequences.

The Supreme Court claiming that Dr. Knight was just motivated by feelings might seem logical for about 5 seconds, until you think of what other arguments people can make... "Oh, I didn't fire that guy cause he was black! I fired him because darker skinned men make me uncomfortable." There goes racial discrimination! NO SUCH THING. Just people with feelings. Now, I like feelings, but firing someone for being black because you have feelings is still illegal. Why is this any different for a woman?

Don't get me wrong - I understand that it may have been uncomfortable for Dr. Knight to have worked with a woman he was getting pants feelings for. I get it. I understand why his wife probably got jealous, cause Missy really is a hottie and Dr. Knight clearly was interested in more... But how does that NOT have to do with her being a woman? And if it does, how is her being fired not illegal in the state of Iowa?

I'm a little biased about this case. My mom just happens to be the attorney for Missy Nelson. I'm a future law student, and I'm very interested in women's issues... However, I fail to see how the Iowa Supreme Court ruling makes any sense. Do you agree with their ruling? Do you agree with me? Do you find other people irresistible sometimes? DO YOU FIND ME IRRESISTIBLE? Do you steal things because feelings? Let me know - comment below!

Love - Madie

Links to news stories concerning this: 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Listen to Me When I Tell You to READ THIS BOOK!

Up until this point, the authors of this blog have yet to exploit our growing fan-base by trying to convince you to buy specific consumer goods.  That ends here!  Yes, this blog entry is not really going to talk about anything deep or soulful.  I just got through with finals…I’m mentally drained.  Deal.  It is, however, going to contain awesomeness the likes of which you may or may not have seen before.  I don’t know…I don’t really know what kind of awesomeness your specific life-journey has contained.  Anyway, this particular blog post is serving one purpose, and one purpose only: I want to convince you to read the book Poison Princess by Kresley Cole because I want it to become so popular they are forced to give into societal pressures and make it into a movie.  Okay, yes…it’s a book review.  BUT IT IS AN AWESOME BOOK!!  So read on and allow me to try and Jedi-mind-trick you into taking time out of your life to indulge in this particular literary adventure.

With the release of the Twilight books, the young adult paranormal romance genre has EXPLODED in popularity among readers.  Believe me, I’m a writer myself, and I do my homework on what's hot in the marketplace.  If you go into a Barnes and Noble, there is a subsection in the Young Adults book section just for paranormal romance.  Now, you’re probably thinking “Are you trying to sell us Twilight knockoffs or something?” That would be a huge NO my dear readers.  Let me explain.  The huge leap in popularity of the YA paranormal romance genre has started to draw in the heavy hitters, the world champions of the Adult Romance world…and these authors are no one-hit-wonders.  My favorite, as I’m sure you have gathered, is Kresley Cole. 

My idol.
This woman is my idol (sorry Rowling, but you’re a close second).  Since her debut in 2003, she has published NINETEEN novels in three different series, including a new tangent series with its first book having just been released this past November (I’ve practiced incredible self-control in not buying it before the end of finals).  Nearly all of her books have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, with two of them hitting #1.  She has also won two RITA awards (look it up), her works have been translated into seventeen different languages, and she has written both historical and paranormal romance.  Cole has actually traveled all over the world, and does extensive research into history, mythology, culture, and whatever else she needs in order to create her characters and her worlds.  The series she is probably best known for right now is called the Immortals After Dark Series, which currently contains twelve books (plus the tangent series that interacts with it), with no end in sight!  I could go on and on about these books, but they aren’t the ones I’m trying to sell you on (yet).

The Major Arcana - The Tarot Trump Cards
Poison Princess, Kresley Cole’s first venture into the world of YA paranormal romance, is the first book of a series she has called The Arcana Chronicles.  Cole incorporates the Tarot cards into the story, focusing on the twenty-two trump cards, or the Major Arcana.  See that…Major ArcanaThe Arcana Chronicles…yeah, Cole is brilliant.  The book’s main character is a sixteen-year-old girl named Evie Greene who lives in Sterling, Louisiana.  She is wealthy, pretty, popular…and has horrific hallucinations that she cannot begin to explain.  Having already been locked away for her “mental issues”, Evie is determined to have a normal, weirdness free life when she returns for her junior year of high school.  However, that wouldn’t make a good story now would it?  I don’t want to give too much away, but Evie’s hallucinations end up being visions of the future and a disaster of apocalyptic proportions decimates not only her hometown, but the rest of the world (this isn’t a spoiler because it says so in the front cover flap).  In order to survive, Evie has to turn to Jackson Deveaux, a rough-around-the-edges Cajun boy who has her on edge from the minute they meet.  I love him and want him to be real…that is all.  The story follows the two as they try to make their way across a ruined and dangerous southern United States, encountering other teens with strange powers similar to Evie’s along the way.

I read this book in two days.  I mean, I always fly through a Kresley Cole book, but this one grabbed me, shook me around a little bit, slapped me once or twice, and still wouldn’t let me go.  It kept me on my toes, making me laugh uncontrollably one second and chanting to myself “Don’t go in there, don’t go in there!” the next.  When I finished it, I almost cried because I wanted it to keep going (ask anyone who knows me…crying is not something I do).  I am not kidding you when I say upon completion of this book, I immediately hit up Google to see if there was news about a sequel (and yes there is a sequel coming out next year called Endless Knight).  The writing itself was fantastic, the story exciting, detailed, and from my perspective, flawless.  Cole doesn’t disappoint, throwing in quirky humor and adolescent angst amongst the mayhem and carnage.  Like all of her other books, she has done her homework, including such brilliant touches as Cajun French within the dialogue and incorporating the Tarot cards and characters into the story with ease.  Her characters are each unique individuals with developed personalities and characteristics, with their own goals and agendas to try and meet.  The romance parts aren’t cheesy or unrealistic, and will keep you on the edge of your seat as much as the action scenes.  Cole doesn’t hold back on detail, in any aspect of the story, which is a distinct trait of all of her books.  She keeps things pretty PG-13, though it does get pretty gory at times.       

Despite what you may think, this book is NOT just for crazy pubescent girls who scream a lot about nothing in particular.  This book has something for everyone (cliché, yes, but completely true).  Crazy awesome action, danger of apocalyptic proportions, coldhearted militia men, teenagers with freaking superpowers, a Ducati motorcycle, sexual tension, romance (of course), and on top of everything else that is going on there are zombie-like creatures roaming through all of the crazy.  They are called Bagmen, they are freaky, awesome, and perpetually thirsty (FYI, blood is an optional thirst quencher for these guys).  If that isn’t enough to convince you that you need to go buy this book, I’m pretty sure if you have an E-Reader, the E-book is on sale right now.

With Christmas time just around the corner, it is the PERFECT opportunity to go grab this book and lose yourself in it for a little while.  Actually, I don’t even really care if you read it…just go buy it and tell all of your friends and family to but so that movie-makers get the hint and start work on silver-screening this thing.  If ever a young adult book deserved to be movie-fied, it is this one (correctly, mind-you…no half-assing here)!  Seriously, though, if you are a fan of good writing and captivating plotlines that keep you wanting more, than Poison Princess is something you really should check out.  Trust me…I know what’s good for you.

Until Next Time World,
Erin B.        

Oh hey look at that...a handy-dandy link to take you to to find the book
Poison Princess at

Monday, December 3, 2012

Finding Your (Listening) Voice

Do you ever feel like you're simply not being heard by those around you?

Lately I've been struggling to find the space and language to articulate the problems I've faced with being a woman in graduate school, and not always being heard in the ways that I think I should be. But I think now I'm ready to share this tension I've been experiencing and what it means for me trying to move forward after my first semester of graduate theological school (!!!).

I used to be someone who only cared about being heard, and much of the time I failed to listen. Part of my reason for entering divinity school is because I want to hear the stories and struggles of those who feel like they have no voice and help them find a way to discover or use it. Regardless of if I ever choose to be ordained or pastor a church, I want to help people. Since my decision to pursue this ministry stuff, I feel I've gotten a little bit better at the listening part, but now it seems I've shyed away from the vocal prowess I used to have. It's not that I'm no longer opinionated or have nothing to say, but after certain experiences and conversations I've had with people I greatly respect, I've come to value the art of listening. It really can take you a long way, especially if you claim to want to help others in any capacity.

All of my educational settings thus far have been small-school, where everyone knows your know in a Cheers kind of way. Never before have I fully experienced life in a university, which was one of my reasons for choosing Vanderbilt University as the site for my M.Div. I wanted something different - a challenge. Don't get me wrong, I didn't come into grad school thinking it'd be a cake-walk. Even though I'm pretty well prepared (thanks Simpson College), I've already felt my thoughts and beliefs being stretched and challenged, and I appreciate that. But perhaps it's my wholesome Midwest sense of self that has betrayed me the most since being here in the South. There's a different mindset in this place that I'm still trying to navigate.

It's very evident that there are some brilliant students and faculty here, and I know I have a lot to learn, but also a lot to offer. Some may call that pride; I call it confidence. But sometimes, when all I'm looking for is casual conversation, the cut-throat academic predator starts to emerge from others, and I just can't take it. I realize many students are here to pursue their vocations/passions, or to figure out questions they have and find answers to them. That's totally cool - it's why I'm here too. But when social encounters become a contest to prove how much more someone knows than you, it makes it pretty difficult to want to interact with certain folks.

I feel kind of guilty admitting my angst over this - it probably makes me seem super selfish. If people are passionate about whatever theology, why should I be upset about that? They're just enthusiastic. Kind of like how I get when there is talk of running sports, Iowa, or food.... But there comes a time when excessive talk of things no one else can relate to just becomes rude. Let me paint a picture for you:

Recently I was at a divinity school function where I happened to be sitting at a table with all dudes, and I was the only woman. The table included a couple first years, a 2nd and 3rd year, and a PhD candidate or two. The conversation was primarily about differences in grammar and syntax of different languages (I know, WAY EXCITING). Since I only speak English and know minimal amounts of Spanish, there wasn't much I could contribute to the conversation. And it didn't help that at the time I was having a crisis of 'am I smart enough to be here?' lurking in the back of my mind. I tried to interject some jokes, even provided segues to other possible topics that everyone could have access to. Yet all of my attempts when either unnoticed or shrugged off. This went on for nearly half an hour. If I wasn't at an event where I had to sit at a table with these folks, I would have gotten up and left 20 minutes sooner.

I bring up this story as an example of a time when I tried to be heard, in a space where I'd expect voices of all kinds should be, and I wasn't. To be honest it was mostly because of the particular people who were present and perhaps the gender ratio (though I'm not saying male dominated groups are not ever aware to female voices/perspectives/presence...but PATRIARCHY). There have been many other instances similar to this one in the short time I've been here, in both formal and informal settings. But this moment left me with a lasting impression.

How important is listening? How can we be aware of when we need to be fully inclusive in conversations? And, most importantly for me, how should I react to these instances in the future - be humble or assertive?

Ideally, if one is seeking a position in ministry, listening is perhaps the most important skill to posess. And maybe that's why I was so surprised to be in an environment when I felt (at times) there wasn't much listening going on. I mean, I'm surrounded by future pastors every day - how come I feel like I'm not being heard?!?

But the truth is, not everyone is great at having conversation. I know I'm not all the time. And not everyone has been in a place where there is such a range of age, gender, expressions of sexuality, race or religious identity, or lack thereof. Sometimes we get nervous, we say things we don't know are sensitive, or use words that don't truly convey what we want them to. Our language is not one that easily forgives; it betrays us easily and frequently. Whether we are cognitive of that or not, we should be aware that people have voices, and if we are to be respectful of the person, we must also be respectful of their voice.

Sometimes we have a tendancy to segment a person from their actual body. I can acknowledge that a person is a human being with physical worth, but as soon as they open their mouth and say something I don't like, it becomes easier to dehumanize them. I find particular difficulty with this and those who speak hateful, untrue things about others... Bigoted, soul-splitting things... Certain political figures maybe? It becomes easier to render those people not human. Even on a lesser scale - when people talk about things that annoy us, or things we can't relate to - it becomes easier to disregard them as people not worth getting to know, or people without a heart and a past like you.

As much as I get annoyed when I can't say what I need to say or get cut-off mid-sentence and have to hold in a freak out, what I and others need to remember is that there is a time for speaking and a time for listening. Knowing the balance between the two is never clear-cut, but it is something we should all try and master if we want to make an impact among people. Even times when I feel "outnumbered" or as a lone representative of the female identity, having presence and listening can be a powerful thing, however subtle it is. This is not to say we should subject ourselves to being in spaces where speech is harmful to ourselves or others. (Pastoral advice 101: self-care includes your psychological state and THAT'S IMPORTANT.) There comes a point when those authority and assumed superiority need to be challenged. But we also need to be mindful of the situation, the people involved, and exactly why it is we feel like we're not being heard.

After talking with some people about my frustrations in this area, I've come to find out there's not really an easy way to address the issue. Some people just like to talk, and don't realize when they're neglecting other voices in the circle. Others feel an overbearing need to silence others as a means to assert themselves. Sometimes we just have to observe first and then find a way to approach creating an inclusive space for dialogue. It's pretty arbitrary, unfortunately. But such is life, right?

I will say that after expressing my concerns to individuals here, things have gotten much better. I'm also aware of those who I've felt silenced by before and only interact with them in smaller settings where there's not as much pressure to "stand out" in the crowd. It comes down to awareness, both of yourself and of others. And if I remember anything from this first semester at divinity school, I feel that's a pretty good lesson to have learned.

With peace,


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