Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Faith: Children of Divorce

A study just came out that children of divorce have a weaker connection to God and religion than compared with children who grow up with a married family.  The first reaction I saw to this article was, “this is the first positive outcome to divorce”.  And yes I laughed, after all we are universally born atheists.  But there is a huge underlying problem in this.  Religion and family are so delicately balanced that at the onset of divorce, it is so easy to say goodbye to religion as well.  It makes me wonder just how many people out there are getting married for religions sake being the primary reason.  This raises all sorts of societal implications regarding the true importance of marriage.  Would it be so important in our society if not for religion.

I know in my own personal experience that within the month my ex and I got engaged he was offered a promotion and a raise.  Being engaged with plans to marry says something in the corporate world, something favorable about a man’s character.  I am not quite sure this is the case with woman, as the assumption is that once that lady walks down the aisle, the kids will start popping out.  But it also says something about faith and morality.  If a person is the marrying type, then it stands to reason that they have strong family values and a good moral compass.   They can plan, see their future, which is proof of this strong foundation.  These core values are rooted in many religions throughout the world.  So it is no wonder that religion prays so well with marriage. 

“You don't need religion to have morals. If you can't determine right from wrong then you lack empathy, not religion.” – Unknown (I am leaving this unknown, as some people have credited this to Morgan Freeman, however there are sources that look like it was said prior to him).  With more atheists having freedom to share their views with less backlash, it is no wonder that the breakdown of marriage directly affects a child’s ability to see the value in religion.  An organization that puts such strong focus on simple human behavior is bound to see a slide in their attendance and subscriptions when eyes are opened to the notion that empathetic human beings with strong morals can exists in the absence of religious guidance.

George Carlin said “don’t just teach your children to read, teach them to question what they read. Teach them to question everything”.  When we educate our children to their full capacity, we provide them the most valuable gift, critical thinking.  It is not just enough anymore to follow in the political, and religious footprints of our parents.  We are not raising little clones of ourselves, instead we are raising individuals who have the chance to make a difference in the world.  To have the freedom to think, and choose to be the people that they want to be, for themselves and not an invisible being.  I clearly remember when I realized that could be a good person without the fear that something or someone was watching me all the time.  I do not think there is any direct correlation between my mom getting divorced and my lack of religious belief.  But I do feel very strongly that because my parents were breaking their ties, I learnt the skills to think critically about their situation, and this for me lead to a natural questioning of religion.  

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Step Parents, Obligations, and Assholes

If you tell a person who is lovingly taking on the major challenges of being a step parent that they are locked into this role for life you are an asshole.  Let me explain.  There are many people out there who live in a fantasy world of happily ever after and all that jazz. If these people find a single parent to be a part of their inner circle of friends, the goal seems to shift from praising that single parent for being a strong and amazing individual towards finding that single parent a partner.  That is all well and good if that is what the single parent really wants and needs, but then what pressures are being put on this proposed step parent should a partner be found?

Let me outline the following based on a lifetime of real world experience.  In actual fact, the step parent is one of the most difficult roles to play in a family. For anyone to put the added burden that they are now a parent for the rest of their lives, through thick, thin, divorce, etc is asinine.  They in no way made the decision to create life, and therefore do not have the implicit responsibilities of a child for the rest of their lives just because they are in a relationship with the biological parent.  I cannot stress this enough, you are an asshole if you think that the step parent needs the extra burden of being locked into a relationship with the child for the rest of his/her life.  It’s a crappy gig, and in no way shape or form is that extra pressure a requirement, or should be placed upon especially by an outsider. 

Many step parents are amazing individuals who have the ability to not only form a loving bond with their new found partner, but also agree to take on a surrogate role of parent to the children.  But the role is only under the implicit understanding that those two adults involved stay together.  There is no rational judge who would order the step parent to assume the rights and responsibilities of a child that is not legally theirs if the relationship failed.  I am horrified to hear that some single people think that remarrying is a way of sharing their offspring type burden.  It just is not the way.  Step parents do not pay child support when they divorce, they are under no legal obligation because they did not create the human being.  And I believe this is rational and just.

Now, if you know me, you may be asking yourself right now if I am being a hypocrite in that I maintain a relationship with my stepdad post divorce from my mom and have for a number of years.  And absolutely I do, and it is a relationship that I value much higher than most in my life.  But it was a not a relationship that existed because it had to.  When my parents divorced, my step dad and I both agreed that neither of us were going to allow the divorce to have any impact on our relationship.  Together we happily agreed that he was my dad and I was his daughter even if he was no longer with my mom.  This was not an expectation, or an obligation.  At the point of divorce we both could have walked away from each other, or just maintained a friendship.  Instead we mutually agreed to continue a father daughter relationship.  And there are thousands of examples out there of walking away, and or friendships and continued parent child dynamics.  It is a personal decision between the step parent and the child. 

So then let me repeat.  If you try to force a step parent to have the lifelong burden of your child as a price of admission for dating you, then you are an asshole.  If you are an outsider to a relationship and you suggest to your single friend that their new partner has to make a choice to have your child in their life for the rest of his/her life then, yes, you are an asshole.  Clearly this post touches a nerve with me, and I hope that I have changed a few of your preconceived notions regarding step parents if you had any.  I lucked out with one step parent that I will have for life, and others whom I will never see again.  And I do not judge these people for not keeping me in their lives.  It’s a two way street and sometimes being a step parent is just too tough a job to keep when a marriage ends.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Is Your Relationship Reaching the Ultimatum Point?

Women are so often told that men just need a little nudging in order for their women to get what they really want.  And often this mentality snowballs into the often given advice comprised of time to shit or get off the pot.  That scary point in the relationship where you face the great divide and all your friends and family tell you that you need to give that boy an ultimatum.  “He either loves you or he loves his job”, “he either marries you or he leaves you”,  and of course “it’s either you or it’s her”.  Just writing these little words I have shivers running down my spine.  Why do so many of our relationships end up at this point of no return, that judgement day so to speak.

I am absolutely guilty of doing just this action that I now loath.  I gave my ex fiancĂ© an ultimatum to either marry me or end things.  Yup, I, with head hung down low did this terrible thing.  The worst part about it was that although I got exactly what I wanted, I was miserable.  I am not sure it always turns out that way for people.  Perhaps my case was just an extreme.  But it really gets me wondering what could possibly be the best case scenario from listening to that advice of our loved ones who always have our best interests at heart (sarcasm is tough in written form).  When you give the ultimatum is it suddenly happy ever after?

I know a man who was an alcoholic.  He met a woman and fell madly in love.  They had a couple of kids and one day the woman sat the man down and gave him an ultimatum to quit drinking or to lose his family.  The next week he was attending AA meetings and cleaning himself up.  It has been nearly 20 years since that ultimatum was given, and perhaps it was just the wake up call that this man needed.  But I often wonder, now that the kids have grown up, and he is no longer in fear of losing everything, would he start drinking again like he jokes about from time to time?  Did this ultimatum actually make him happier, better, and whole?  Or was this just the right time and right place for him to get his life in order and all these years has he actually harbored a grudge for this woman?  I wonder this because I know the guilt of forcing someone to do something against their will.  It is a sickening feeling and I personally had troubles living with myself after I did it.

The final point I want to make in regards to giving ultimatums is this.  It seems simple enough, but seriously, put yourself in the other persons shoes.  How would you react, how would you feel, and how would you feel in 20 years.  A person who holds your life hostage like that is not someone who is ready to be in a healthy and loving relationship.  A person who believes that an ultimatum is the only way to seek change, and get what they want is a person who has poor communication skills.  The relationship is already at fault if it comes to that point.  Some real internal soul searching needs to be done as very often, the person seeking the quick fix, take it or leave it response, is actually the main problem.  Why?  Because they are the one with the problem and can find no other solution than to commit relationship terrorism.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Online Dating in My Youth

My first real foray into sexual exploration was through none other than the internet.  This was back when the internet was rather new and there was dial-up.  Home computers had no cameras or picture messaging options so imagination was needed.  I remember setting up my first profile for a chat site in which you had to list your age, height, hair colour and male or female.  Your profile had a little avatar which you could design a bit to suit your personality at that moment.  I was either 14 the first chat site I went on, or I lied and said I was 14 because to this day I still know my original online nickname.

These online sites were at first a way to simply chat with new people as I was a bit reserved at school and did not have a knack for making a bunch of new friends at once.  Once I gained a bit of confidence I discovered that you could chat while playing games, which I spent hours upon hours doing.  Oh yes, I was that girl who flirted while playing cribbage online.  But I also found that there were private chat rooms where things could get a little bit naughty.

Each time I logged on, I actually felt myself get a little bolder and braver.  The first time I was asked what I was wearing, I typed pj’s and then quickly logged off.  I later went back online and told the guy that the dial-up connection went down.  It was an excuse I would often use in the next year or so every time I felt things were going too far.  But as I said, I was using an online personality and I discovered I could change it at will.  I was flirting with a few guys at once, using different versions of me with each one.  Pushing boundaries and testing their reactions.  If I said one thing, would it turn a guy on?  If not what could I say that would get him going?  It was a major place for me to play, and explore my likes and dislikes as well as safely discover the likes and dislikes of men.

My parents were always curious as to why I never brought guys home.  Why I never dated, so much so that they were convinced I was gay.  How could I have possibly admitted that I was dating tones of guys online?  Back then that would be inconceivable.  I did not even admit this to my friends. It is not common place to admit that any sexual exploration was done through an online forum especially at the time I know I was doing it.  

Even today the idea of dating online still seems taboo.  Just last week I received a cartoon whereby they discuss the myth and reality of how people meet.  If the couple says “we met through friends” reality is they met at a bar.  “We met at a bar” reality is that they met online, and finally if they say “we met online”, then she’s a hooker.   Yes I laughed, but still I have always and will continue to tell people that E and I met online.  Why, because I think it is important in our sex negative world to show that relationships and not only booty calls are found online.  It is was and is still not common place to admit that any sexual exploration was done through an online forum especially at the time I know I was doing it.  

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Sex Negativity in the New Year

It is a new year, and after a much needed break I am back to blogging only to find without any surprises that we are still living in a sex negative world.  The most current story right now is about the woman in Delhi who was gang raped and murdered by allegedly 5 men.  Upon reading this story, the outcry from the populous about woman’s rights and how when the father reported his daughter missing the police tried to sluff it off as her just running off with a friend.  Why are woman’s rights not equal in status around the world to men.  How can we possibly have a conversation and movement towards the sex positive if we are not even equal with men?

I wrote previously about how we need to stop debating woman’s bodies in politics.  And that is true in North America, we should no longer debate the do’s or don't s surrounding what woman are allowed to do to keep their own bodies safe, and operating in the most sex positive way that works for them.  We are individuals who should be free to choose, especially once the age of consent is reached.  However, I reluctantly admit that there are a multitude of third world nations that need to start debating.  They need to debate to start recognizing woman and their bodies as actual beings and not mere property.  As something to derive pleasure from and not fear and hatred.

Over the Christmas Break I read a book called “Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women” by Geraldine Brooks, and it absolutely opened my eyes to a few things that I tried really hard to ignore.  I did not believe that this mentality of female hatred affected me, however more and more I am finding that there is a direct correlation between how I am treated by men of middle eastern dissent in my own country and how they view woman.  On New Years Eve I was ignored by our cab driver who only wanted to interact with E.  As luck would have it, it was my turn to pay and the cab driver was noticeably upset that he had to accept payment from me.  At the time this did not seem such a big deal to me, but that is part of the problem.  That I myself, am taking an apathetic response to being treated as less than a man by an individual who is working in Canada.  There is no reason that I should accept being treated as unequal, and yet whenever it happens my first reaction is shock, then I say to myself that they just do not know any better and let it slide.  And the reality is that with that mentality nothing changes.  

So I am starting a new year of posting on a bit of a low note, however I know there is much more in the way of pro sex to come.  It is a new year of posting and as I stated in my last post of 2012, I can only write what I see and what affects me.  My outlook and perspective are unique and I hope that you will enjoy the year to come.  Happy 2013 to each of you.