Thursday, July 30, 2015

www.the-woman-made-in.ro

Hey there sweethearts! 

I’m just going to cut to the chase because I’ve been working on this blog for so long it has almost become boring. But it only took me so long because every time I researched more on the subject, I ran into more and more interesting facts that made my thoughts spread like a spider web and made me lose track of what I really wanted to point out. It’s like a bad tooth with deep twisted roots, if you know what I mean. So here goes.

Today’s debate is about women’s evolution in the Romanian society, their role in the public and private life as well as the stereotypes they are still confronted with nowadays. Yes, most of them apply to women worldwide, that’s for sure. But I will try to present the “customized” Carpathian view of our own interpretation of what a woman should be or is today in Romania.


The shemale

As I said, I did a little bit of research so you guys can’t blame it all on me haha. So let’s start with a little bit of history and evolution and then we can get down and dirty with my own personal opinion. I’m going to leave that right at the end so I make you read all this! Haha. I want to think I’m that important that you’ll go through the entire however many pages this will turn out to be, just to see what I am bitching about! But honestly, I came up with the subject because of my own experiences so I am entitled to have an opinion on it. It’s my opinion and it has nothing to do with being feminist or helping women evolve and so on. It has to do with the fact that I am just another person in this world we all share and my gender doesn’t make me less smart or capable. And if a man and his gender can’t take that or simply understand it, then it’s his problem and he should do something about it. You know…

My main focus is the “household wife” stereotype upon the Romanian woman. I know we face more than just one stereotype – like wanting to have a career makes you a careless and improper mother because you’re neglecting your child; not wanting to have children it’s unthinkable and so on. Nevertheless, I believe the image of the house wife in Romania is among our worst problems. At least for me, as I have been confronted with it first hand and have seen it, time and again, in the women around me. It’s been going on for generations, it’s getting better now, much better, but we are still struggling in many parts of the country, including the more “outspoken” and bigger cities.


In 2008 a study conducted in Romania over how women’s position in society has evolved, said and I quote: Romanian women have transformed from <proastele bărbatului medieval în tovarăşele inginer > (“the stupid women belonging to the medieval man to his engineer work mate”) to the success stories they are today (sometimes). It continues by saying that despite the fact that Romanian women have evolved at the same pace pretty much with their sisters across Europe, our evolution here halted the moment communism took over. Then again, long before communism, women here have always been treated separately than men, almost all the time, even through specific legislation, written or unwritten.

Namely, in Medieval times, women were the “idiots” who needed to be looked after. Dimitrie Cantemir – this guy was twice the Prince of Moldavia and he was one of the first Romanians to bring the woman in the public eye through his writing - of course, we talk about the court ladies, daughters and wives of the nobility, the only ones worth while to be taken into consideration. But even so, that was a remarkable progress in men’s mentality, who were accustomed to ignore the feminine part of society all together.

Legislation at the time said that women <trebuie judecate mai cu milă> pentru că <iaşte mai proaste şi mai lesne spre cădere decât bărbaţii> (“must be looked upon with mercy because they are just a little bit more stupid and more prone to fail than men”) as the first Romanian code of legislation mentioned in 1643. All that being said, girls received the right to marry after the age of 12, married women had to obey their husband, follow him everywhere and accept to be treated with violence. Divorce wasn’t even an option. Within the nobility ranks, some women were allowed to handle transactions regarding the land, some middle class women were accustomed to trading and the poorer ones got hired as servants.


In the 1900s, most of the Romanian population lived in the country side and handled agriculture so the Romanian peasent woman was a constant source of debate for the intellectuals of the time. The distinction they made between the noble women and the poorer ones was somewhat remarkable: “Boieroaicele sunt frumoase într-adevăr, dar cu mult mai prejos în frumuseţe decât femeile din popor; acestea le întrec în frumuseţe, dar de cele mai multe ori sunt uşuratice şi pline de năravuri din cele mai ruşinoase“ (“The noble women are beautiful indeed, but far less beautiful than the common women; those surpass them in beauty, but most of the times they are trashy and covered in sins of the most shameful kind”).

At the same time, women, regardless of their “nobility”, took care of everything regarding the household, especially when it came to birth, marriage and death. They also handled traditional medicine, cleaning, cooking, raising and educating the children, clothing – right at this point, you were granted a seat in the front row to witness the birth of a stereotype.

In the city, women had begun looking into education a bit more, but in as far as their rights were concerned, the differences were beyond obvious. They didn’t have access to education (only a few levels), no acess to professions, child custody and of course, no political rights. There were small groups of women specialized in tailoring and textiles, but the “servicing” and boarding schools for girls, meaning schools for future wives and mothers, predominated women’s world in Romania.

The first to take a few encouraging steps towards the modern world were the aristrocrat women who had contacts in Europe, could travel and had access to more education. They established small organizations that allowed other women from lower levels to be educated and they insisted that education “makes a woman better.” The beginning of the industrialization era was the starting point for women to want more, a different role in society. To struggle for a higher level of culture, less dependency on men and their household, less of the inferiority culture they were enslaved to. This is where the battle for equality with men began in Romania.

In 2011, Discovery Networks said that Romanian women are satisfied with just a little even though they do want to improve their life. Only that their only source of inspiratrion is the TV as Romania doesn’t really provide encouragement and motivational sources for women to go out there and do better.

In terms of taking care of themselves, most Romanian women believed, for a long time, that a hair cut at the saloon and a mani-pedi was a real treat. Now they have built more courage to spend money on their eyebrows and waxing instead of doing them at home while SPA treatments and massages are gaining considerably more ground.

Financially, most women in Romania contribute with up to 40% of the family income. Yet, according to a study made by Eurostat in 2010 only a little over 50% of the women have a job in Romania.  And out of those, only 30% of them are managers in a company. Most women consider they don’t receive the support they need to become better managers and move up further, as they are mistrusted for being “the softer” kind. Which leads some of them to change attitudes to fit the men’s world they work in, causing them problems on a secondary level, namely at home.

Yet, fours years ago women had clearer ideas of what they wanted in a partner: he should have a job, be good at it, he should be intelligent, loyal and independent. A little tanderness and sensitivity came very high up on the scale next to these traits. That same year, a study conducted by the Queen Mary University in London stated that Romanian women are braver than men facing physical pain (just sayin’… haha)


At the same time, due to the changing society where only half of the women made it through a job they enjoy, the other half had to find more promiscuous ways to carve through life so we witnessed a lot of Romanian women going for plastic surgery, especially breast augmentation, rhinoplasty and lypo absorption. Looks and (what they believe to be) power work together for these women.
In 2012, just when we thought that women were getting out there and changing society’s perception over them and their role in the family and public life, a comparative study between the women living in the Western countries vs Romanian women (conducted for a period of 10 years), showed some worrying facts: statistically speaking, 76.5% of the women were still handling the cooking by themselves, 66.6% the cleaning and 72.7% the dish washing. Women are still the main engines behind the organization of major family events such as Christmas and Easter, guest dinners, laundry, children, teacher meetings etc. while men continue to be more of a public administrator, a family PR representative outside the home. And even though so many women in Romania complained of having to “carry the house on their backs” they rarely divorced because of this reason.

The conclusion of the study was that the Romanian woman, despite being unhappy with the small share of responsibility her partner has in taking care of the household, does nothing to make it better. Which shows not only that society wants her to be a good wife that way, but she believes that’s the only way she can be a good wife. And that’s the sadest part. It’s understandable then, why, based on this sterotype, Elena Udrea (a major politician here) came in a TV show with a knitting kit. It would have been difficult to come in with a frying pan, but her gesture shows that she defines herself as a woman according to tradition. Only 21.7% of the women questioned in the study said that for them getting no help from their partners leads to separation. And it’s true that most men only cross the border in a kitchen to make a coffee, as this space essentially, remains the woman’s turf.

The editors at the “Daily Mail” also underlined the fact that combined with the commercials for detergents, kitchen utensils showing the woman “where she belongs”, society adds to the media “enslavery”: the woman is cleaning the windows, fills the washing machine, poures the steaming soup into bowls. If she ever drives a car, she is “having a headache” and advertises pain killers.




And here we are! In 2015, women and men in Romania, theoretically, have equal chances and opportunities in life. In reality, the Romanian society still believes women belong to the household, that they are still rather helpless, prone to flirting, hysterical but sensual while men are purely experts, professional and serios.

Reasearching Google on it’s Romanian page for the words “women should” you are offered the following options: “be euthanized”, “be locked in reservations”, “be kept in reservations.”, “wear a vail on their head”, “should not do”, “should know about men”. At the same time, through the same, every internet user can find out that Romanian women are: “dum”, “best looking”, “slutty” and “beautiful.”

Meanwhile, women in Romania spend over 4 hours and a half per day taking care of their home and family, while men a alocate less than 2 hours a day, says a study called “Time usage in Romania” published by the SNI (Statistics National Institute).

Women are still perceived as the (almost) sole responsible for the household, while men still consider them selves as (almost) the sole financial providers in the home. Of course, in reality things are quite different: women work outside the house as well, but due to our patriarchical mentality, they are also the ones who have to take care of most of the household chores, which psychological studies call “double burden.”

If we back up a step or two and take a look into our children’s education, in July 2015 a study on the school manuals of 1st graders and gymnasium students shows that in every manual the woman only appears as having pretty much one job (of a teacher) while the rest of the time she is shown in the kitchen. The most common picture of a little girl is that of watering flowers which symbolizes the obedient nice girl. “Recomandarile Consiliului National pentru Combaterea Discriminarii privind o reprezentare mai echilibrata a masculinitatii si feminitatii au ramas fara efect. Tatii continua sa fie prezentati ca parinti mai putin importanti, iar mamele sunt descrise ca fiind esentialmente parinti, ipostaza lor cea mai relevanta fiind efectiv la cratita - fara nicio ironie.” (The recommendations of the National Council Against Discrimination towards presenting a more balanced representation of men and women were left without effect: the fathers continue to be represented as the less important parent in the household, and the mothers are described as being essentially the main parent, their most relevant role being effectively behind the stove – no irony implied.)





“Persista stereotipurile ocupationale: in toate abecedarele digitale am gasit o singura mentiune verbala explicita a profesiunii unei mame, anume profesoara. Altminteri, mamele exceleaza in bucatarie, existand diverse ilustrari ale felurilor in care gatesc si servesc mancare. In manualele de educatie civica de clasa a IV-a, lectia privind 'Conducatorul grupului' este adesea dominata de personaje masculine - copiii avand de ales ca lider al clasei, in textele prezentate, chiar si intre trei baieti.” (The ocuppational stereotypes persist: in the digital manuals for 1st graders we found only one explicit verbal mention of a mother, namely being a teacher. Otherwise, mothers excel in the kitchen, being presented in various poses cooking or serving meals. In the Civic Education manuals for 4th graders, the lesson regarding the Group Leader is often dominated by male characters – the children having to choose a leader from the texts presented, sometimes even from three boys.) The same manuals (including 3rd grade) imply that anything related to science, philosophy, art and culture is more of a man’s job, with only one exception: Isadora Duncan who is presented as a dancer.


The conclusion of the study is: “Personajele din manuale sunt puternic stereotipizate: bunicii sunt sedentari si nu aud bine, femeile sunt mai ales mame care pregatesc masa, invatatoare sau doctorite - in timp ce barbatii apar intr-o diversitate de meserii, dar prea putin ca tati” (The characters from the manuals are highly stereotyped: the grandparents are sedentary and can’t hear very well, the women are mothers before anything, teachers or doctors – while men can handle a variety of jobs but are shown too little in their role as fathers.)

Back to adulthood, in 2015 the patriarchal society, the conservative mentality and lack of better legal and institutional mechanisms to punish the violation of the principle of equality and treatment in all areas of a woman’s life are still an issue. The way to change this, on a long term, meaning very slowly and by involving multiple factors and institutions, would be through family and school, media and the political environment.

Are women “guilty” somehow for their status in society? For still not getting this equality in real life? I mean aren’t they working hard enough for it? Are they physically and mentally inadequate to occupy the same jobs as men? Are we truly unfit to rule?

Women are simply not aware of their own strength. That’s what they are guilty of. They don’t acknowledge that there is a lack of balance and even when they are aware they can’t do much to change it because they would be going against a tide too great for them to face. Society in general and especially the civic movement should be more active in building confidence in women. And I assume society includes men as well.

Women today cannot be defined, just like men, because they are so diverse: due to family situations, different professions, personal, economic and social traits. The woman “tomorrow” though, should be defined through a greater level of self-awareness, sorority with the likes of her, transformation and a will to make that equality happen by paying close attention to details and differences between circumstances.
Oooops!...
Mela

So! Getting down and getting dirty. That was all studies and conclusions. But what about our own opinions? I believe, many of us have gotten so used to accepting “our role” that standing up when the buttons are pushed too hard transforms into fear, reluctance and even rebellion against the other women who did have enough and do want to do something about it. Why rebellion? Because sometimes too little is won in the bloodshed of morals and reasons and battles of egos with men to compensate the loss of dignity and courage we sacrificed when standing up.

I have recently (more so than before) ran into “alpha males” who have tried to reassure me (themselves actually) of their superior position in life and work – over mine. I always, more or less politely, depending on the severity of the situation – have invited them to leave the room and keep the door open just a tiny little longer for their frustrations to also move out. Anything like that left behind, might mess further with my karma.

I am sure this stands true in some "good" men's world. However, these women wouldn't be providing such services to a "boy" for whom they must bust their hump and help make ends meet while he tells them they need to be a VS model and his manhood sucked on command. For that we have special locations that cost. Pleasure doesn't come for free, there and at home. 
Or perhaps it's a simple misinterpretation of that saying where a woman has to be a man's wife, whore, mother all in one to satisfy him. Right gents? :)


I do not understand why some men feel like – if you’ll please excuse my French – measuring dicks with me. I know that I laugh and smile a lot and look like I’m worry free in life with not much brain power going on up there in my head. Hell! Some of my friends don’t even know I can cry, ‘cause I look so happy all the time. But let me tell you something. You know nothing! Yet, some men I run into, in various circumstances of my life, feel like they do and conclude there’s not much there sitting on my shoulders and they can “play” me. And then when somehow we end up in a tight confrontation and they don’t understand just how I could spill something smart out of my mouth and bypass their initial conclusion, they tell me I have an “attitude”. Or, that I always want to be “right”. Whatever that means. I bet they can’t even define that notion because their ego always associates it with “losing”. See, a good strong debate with equally rational and well-grounded arguments is not a battle of wins and losses. It’s what it is. A debate. Where both people engaged could be right and wrong at the same time. Or one is wrong and the other one is right but as long as you appreciate the value of the conversation and understand the background to their reasoning, the debate is still not about who wins or looses, but about the knowledge you’ve gained; about both the topic and your debate buddy.


But no. For some men, a debate with a woman is an argument, a strong hold that must be kept safe from her crazy siege of “melodramatic nonsense”, when in fact half of the time they don’t even understand what you’re saying despite actually, physically, listening. So that’s the usual norm in every day life.

Now. Let’s see the “private sector” of my life. The theory where I am still supposed to be the social/event organizer/family reunion planner in the family is still very much alive. In my ex marriage I acted most of the time like an executive assistant to my husband, scheduling everything from our vacation, to Christmas, to Easter, to guests coming for dinner and would just let him know when it’s happening and whether he needs to buy flowers or not. And sometimes he didn’t even do that ‘cause he forgot, ‘cause he was too busy and whatever I asked him to do was not important. And yes, it wasn’t always like that. When he didn’t have the “financial power” he had later, he would help with things around the house, like cleaning and dishes and taking out the garbage and discussing grocery lists together. Then things went to the next level. He hired a cleaning lady “to help you, ‘cause I know you’re busy”. That was a poor excuse not to do it with me anymore because the house was so much bigger. He looked at it like work, I looked at it like time spent together because we spent spent so little anyway. This would have been our chance to have family time, laughing and chatting even if it took us 3 hours to clean the whole damn thing. And then – again – I would do the dishes after dinner so I don’t wake up to a filthy sink (when waking up ahead of him to make breakfast for both!) and washed them clean after breakfast so I don’t go through the same before dinner. He would come home sometimes and have a coffee and leave the dirty mug with water in it. I’d come home and ask, why didn’t you wash this? It’s a mug with stains of coffee, not oil! It only takes rincing to clean it. He would say: “Am lasat-o la inmuiat!” (I left it in to soak!) BOY! OH BOY! Of course, he got rid of that when he got a dish washer. But guess what, with just the two of us, there weren’t that many dishes to consume the electricity and water with a dish washer for 2 plates. So I still did them by hand most of the time, unless we had guests. I tried leaving them on dirty for a week. He didn’t touch them.

And the cooking? He was an avid meat eater. And everything had to be done like “momma” does it, with very salty and soury veggies in everything. I couldn’t possibly eat so much meat and so spicy and salty because of my health. So I had to cook for myself and for him. I once invited him to help me out. We did meatballs, soup and potatoe stew. It took us together, a couple of hours to do that. I told him: “How would you feel, after spending your entire Saturday morning and early afternoon cooking, to have your man come home and tell you he doesn’t like this or wants something else?” I would pour that soup right on your head boy, that’s what would happen! You don’t really appreciate it when you don’t do it yourself.

Don’t get me wrong. My ex is a good man, a remarkable professional and a fun guy, otherwise we wouldn’t have gotten married in the first place. But half of my marriage was also based on a partnership that supposedly we had. I too worked, and unlike him, who owns his own company, I couldn’t come home and rest if I had a headache. I left the house first most of the time and there was a time when I came home last. And yes, I was tired and yes, cleaning is not by far a passion for me. But I wanted to do it together with him, because we barely spent any time together during the week. And groceries together so we buy things we both want to eat. Love after all is based on respect. And respect doesn’t mean tricking me into hiring staff to help me out because you actually don’t want to do it. It’s hard fighting your husband over the pretext that he’s in fact giving you a helping hand with the household, when he knows you expect him to be there for you, not the cleaning lady. I texted/emailed and called him to tell him who we’re meeting and when and what he had to bring. I should do that with my boss alone, not my husband. I only hold one job and I don’t bring it home with me. So don’t bring your boss-self at home either.


Then there is work. I am a very lucky employee to have a really nice man for my “boss”. He could be an example in a lot of things, because he is in fact, a leader. I know I’m making him sound perfect, but he doesn’t even realize when I tell him, many times, the difference between his Western mentality of approaching our daily interactions and what I got here, in Romania, from other men I have worked with. Oh boy! I don’t think he’ll ever get it.

On the other hand, I am sure all of you ladies out there doing work in a men’s world or some big corporation – you know what I mean – have ultimately run into some boss who is heavily inclined towards shoving down your throat “his executve” position, even though he’s not your direct supervisor. Those of you who have not met them yet, lucky mommas! I see. These kind of people live and feed off their title. Without it they are insecure and feel unnoticed. Let me explain something. I don’t do my job out of fear of an “executive”, but out of respect for a leader. Needless to go into the “leader” vs “boss” theory. I am sure pretty much everyone knows that. A leader guides, a boss demands. A leader is a “we” with his team, a boss is an “I”. A leader pushes his team first when claiming the awards, a boss takes first row to get the prize and mentions the team in a way where he stands as the “glue” that made the entire thing possible. A leader is like a good quality perfume. You only need a little to smell good all day. A boss is like a one man show wearing bad cologne. He blinds you at first with the way he sells himself, then intoxicates you with my “I” aroma all the time.

So, when I meet someone like this, who tries to patronize me / show me my “position” in the world / remind me he has more responsabilities and pressure on his mind than I do / that I have probably not “earned” my ground to stand up to him and that all the “diamonds” falling out of his mouth should be an instant priority for me - basically I am an independent “slave” because I am not an “executive” – when I meet someone like this, why do I need to even look twice at him? I know: because my job is at stake, isn’t it? Well, the tricky part is not all men are like that and the ones that really count, Thank God, don’t act like el ombelico del mondo and judge a situation correctly to see I’ve “disrespectufully” treated such an “executive” the way he has treated me.

People – what makes you think that if I don’t hold an “executive” title I don’t have the brain or experience to hold a manager’s position? Has it ever crossed your mind that maybe that’s not my purpose in life? To be a manager? That some people just like doing something they enjoy, alongside a team they enjoy with a paycheck they enjoy (more or less haha). But that’s the whole point! For some people the big salary and the position doesn’t weigh as much as a decent life, my own free time, my hobbies: my love for my life! So, bug off! Don’t judge me because of my position! I’m not a friggin’ stereotype! I have worked with men with impressive positions and some of them were row models, some of them were kids. So the title doesn’t always tell the story of the man/woman inside!

Conclusion.

I know women who are very successful, strong and respectable, married with kids. And life is not always easy for them and they may sacrifice their family, but they manage it in the end. I know women who are successful enough spending half the time work and half the time with family. And there are many women who just like having a job they enjoy, normal work day, normal pay check and they are just as bright and could learn and become a manager any day. So they chose to have less and that is very much ok. All three categories apply to every single man out there.

But I have also noticed that there are women who have advanced to a certain point with their career and then have become scared and personally, I don’t think they were scared because they thought they couldn’t make it. That they weren’t manager material. Their fright comes from applying pressure on them, being kept low and demotivated because they “need to work more”. Believe me, I understand “positive criticism” better than most people. I’ve been getting that from my boss for the past 7 years and a half. I can tell the difference in between someone “sugaring you” into believing you’re very close to achieving your goal when in fact they don’t care how you do, in fact, when you believe you have done more than enough, they run you down because they didn’t want you there in the first place. They just allure you and keep you on a hold, to then tell you, you weren’t aggressive enough. Or eventually, you didn’t live up to the expectations – especially after they gave you sooo much time to prove your worth!

Men find business women uncomfortable. Like a friend of mine said, for men a good deal is concluded, finalized and refined arounda a good drink. And drinks like that become a separate exclusive world for men. How many times didn’t you see the gents having a brandy and smoking a cigar in a coner, drowning in the smoke, looking all classy and serious? A woman goes in there, she is immediately seen as an intruder and the flow of conversation is interrupted. I told him, a woman looks so much better anyway with a glass in her hand, sitting in a velvet armchair, with crossed legs and a slit above her long legs. You know what he said? We wouldn’t take that woman seriously, because she’d look slutty. I bet that if a man saw me in a different environment, he wouldn’t think of me a slut, but a catch. Why can’t we fit? Business woman can conduct business discussions so they should be welcome.

I hope, I really hope, women in Romania think more of themselves and by that they won’t feel selfish and out of place, but motivated, beautiful and confident that they can handle whatever job they like, a family and a man who learns to support them and get the best out of them. And perhaps like this, we can battle the 50% left that go out there and have sex for money, date rich old men to make a living because they enjoy fake stardom and easy money. And through this, I won’t have to put up with half of the men looking at me thinking that I am a piece of meat no matter my shirt skirt, long legs and naughty ass. Unless you spot my brain in there while you compare me with the wanna-be-sex fantasy – cheap woman in your mind, you’re chasing the wrong “peace of meat” brother!

So I’d love and really be interested to know how you ladies, from different countries see your status in your own culture. And hey! My Romanian fellows, pitch in and give me your opinion on it. Better yet, give me some examples of your own experience that draw an image of what you feel your status is now in our society.


P.S. I will conclude with one more stereotype as to a case that right now is taking Romania by storm. An 18 year old girl was raped by 7 jerks and the law let them loose. So now we all battle that decision to put them where they belong - in jail!!! Yet, people in that village where this happened, like in many others across this country, said “she brought this on herself for getting in a car with boys (it was just two boys who were supposed to be her friends – and afterwards they took her in the middle of a field and called upon the other 5 low-lives!) and more so it’s her fault if she dresses in short skirts and stuff like that.” Excuse me. I could be butt ass naked and in the middle of foreplay and decide to stop the whole thing because whatever-the-fuck-reason I consider proper. And that man would have to stop. Because I too, would accept a man’s NO if he wanted to stop. Yes, it’s a frustrating issue and you don’t understand what the hell is going on, but it’s their/my/his right to stop. So wearing sexy outfits is not a call for rape! It pretty much boils down to another older issue: if a woman sleeps with random men because she fancies it, she is a slut. If a man sleeps around with random women, then he is a macho man. The worst part about this case, which shows the breed of young men this society still nurtures in its darkest corners, is that a “fan” of those idiots stated in their support that “rape is not actually rape, it’s surprise sex!” How about a surprise kick in the nuts, you poor human residue!

Some things will never change: women are the weaker sex, but not in the fact that they are not smart, tenacious, capable, motivated and strong.
Some things don’t have to be earned and fought for: respect, tolerance, acceptance, support, appreciation, care and ultimately love.
And some things ought to change: our mentality over this “war” as some call it. If we treated men like most of them treat us, you’d start a “war” too. Patience. Understanding. A little effort to cross that bridge. Less judgmenet and a little bit more faith in the strength of the weaker partner at your side.


Don't get me wrong. No one's trying to upset the "natural balance" of things and have you gents clean, cook and raise kids. But it's time you took a more active role in it because the times are such that you're not the sole bread providers in the family. We are too so that excuse fails to justify your lack of attention to household chores and helping your woman to change diapers, clean the house when she's exhausted - the best way you can - or take charge of grocery shopping if she doesn't have the time to do it. It won't kill you. Like it hasn't killed us for centuries. Now women can hunt too. Be a hunter with them. Not the hunted. After all even the “head of the family” needs a “neck” to turn around. Without it, you’d just be stuck. And you’d have nothing to gossip about haha. Or categorize. Or battle. Or get mad at. Or be annoyed by. Or love and hate at the same time.


And life would be so boring without us. 

The Proper Ways



Alright my darlings. It’s been a while. I actually did write half a story but sort of got stuck with it. You know how it goes; when it’s there, it’s there. When it’s not, well it obviously takes a while to finish. Writing doesn’t just happen, not even when it comes to a simple blog.

So while struggling to end the other story I ran into an episode of my life where I was faced with the utter question of Faith in God. Attention: in God, not religion or church. I know for a lot of people these may seem as one and the same, but for me they’re not. Not entirely. God. Religion. Church. They go that way in terms of importance when it comes to me. I got so fired up about this and so mad and feel so misunderstood that I just need to take it out somehow.

Nonetheless, it’s such a delicate subject and so tangled even in my own head that I don’t really know how to tackle or where to start with this issue. I am sure I have mentioned this before; I am not your usual Christian, or faithful person in general. Do I believe in God and that He exists and performs all sort of miracles and so on? Yes. Yes to all of the above. Do I believe He writes our destinies to a certain extent? Yes again. So then you wonder, where is the problem? Well the problem is in the way I treat my relationship with God. Or so it seems…

I will make this one comment in the beginning to clear the situation right from the start. This is about God and I, not the Church and I. I do not pretend under no circumstance that I have read the Bible or that I am extremely literate in religious writings and so on, but, there is no way anyone can convince me that most of the stuff I see in churches (traditions, superstitions etc) come from the original teachings of God or Jesus. I will not and cannot understand a woman being kept at the door of the church (or simply in the back) while her baby is being baptized (despite being submitted to “cleansing” sermons before the actual baptism) because of being considered “impure” due to giving birth. While the father, most likely a “living saint” (sorry gents, some of you really don’t deserve it, as neither some women, but this is general talk alright!) gets to sit upfront and witness this incredible moment in his child’s life. I don’t understand why women cannot be priests; I don’t understand why not wearing something on my head is in any way outrageous when I go to church as if my faith in God and my respect or gratitude to Him rested in my head being covered. It’s not like I’m coming there spilling my boobs out and showing my ass, smudging the icons with my shameless red lipstick. I am as decent as any other person so what’s the fuss with the scarf on my head? I don’t understand why a woman is not allowed to go into church during her period. Without her period she cannot bear children and as far as I know, children are considered the miracle of God, so why does that make me impure and banishes me from church. Eva right? Why do I have to bare her sin a million generations later? I thought we were supposed to be judged for who we are, not through the deeds of others. Example: it’s like I got a Roma (gypsy) guy for a boyfriend and even though his family is great people and he, himself is a beautiful person, he would be judged through his keen not through whom he is. So this kind of judgment is considered bad in terms of morality, tolerance and acceptance according to divine and human regulations, right? But a woman being judged based on Eva’s apple episode is not? This is not unjust, unkind and intolerant in any way. It is the way things are and we don’t have to question it. Forget it. I’m not going to go into these kind of details anymore. The point is, church is one thing and God another. Sadly, the way we preach religion, people’s perception of it and the lack of priests who can actually make you understand why some things happen the way they do, instead of quoting from the Bible endlessly and telling you “this is how it has to be done” only manages to draw people like me away, not closer.

Because yes. Some people are questioning due to reason and logic. Some people are built like this and I surely didn’t build myself this way. I guess that makes me a bit of Judah doesn’t it? The one who never really believed unless he saw for himself; the one who betrays God and turns his face from Him. Well no. None of that. My face is as straight forward as it can be and looking with bright eyes right at God. God is my friend, He is a father figure. Yes, He is an entity out there, a supreme being, much stronger, all knowing and better/perfect than I am, which is perfectly fine. No, I do not have a problem with authority in not considering Him a mighty power that I must bow to and plead for help. He is an authority and I do not question it, but He is my friend. Now how would I act with a friend? How would I act with a Father?

I figured from my chat with friends and my mom included (very religious person by the way), that my problem is in the way I pray and approach God. For years I kept being told you have to pray to God constantly, not just when you need Him to help you with something. I used to pray all the time when I was very young. I do come from a religious church going family. Then when I was about 10 years old something happened to me (a guy tried to rape me) that got me really mad at Him. I acknowledge to the day that He somehow didn’t eventually allow the guy to finish the job, but then again I was left with shit to deal with for the rest of my life. And my question to Him was, why? Pretty classic right? I was a kid! I didn’t even curse. Less be a villain in any way to deserve something like that. My mom would immediately say, you should just be grateful he did save you and the entire thing didn’t eventually happen. True. But then God is supposed to love me and protect me. Why would He ever allow me to end up in a situation like that in the first place? I assume you realize at 10 years of age I wasn’t making passes on to a guy to allure him with my sexual looks. It’s painfully hilarious to even think about it, considering I spent days afterwards rubbing the skin off me because that guy made me feel so dirty by even trying. So why would He hurt me so much, for what? I would never do that to my kid. Or to my friend!

Now, I say. Mom is my earthly authority. She is divine to me for giving me life, for putting every single effort into raising me and so on. God is my Father figure. So. I told mom. You don’t expect me to say thank you, every day, for everything you did for me: giving birth to me, looking after me, calling me, buying a flower for me, keeping me healthy and so on. Because you know I am. You know I love you without me saying it morning till evening. Still, when it really pains me and I turn to you for help, you don’t go “I’m sorry, you didn’t state your love, appreciation and gratitude to me all the time so now you can’t expect me to just help you, right?” Same with God. Mom says, you need to be grateful for the small things. That you’re alive, that you’re healthy, that you have a job. That you have your family here and so on. Alright. I am grateful for all that. God wanted that for me, He gave all that to me, He gave me life, He gave me health and a suitcase full of talents when I was born. But this was my default package, just like with mom. He gave me this ‘cause He wanted me here. He wanted me to be born and I don’t think he expects me to thank Him for every breath I take. So He gave me health. I think I am showing my appreciation for this gift by working on maintaining myself in good shape, by not doing drugs or God knows what else. So he gave me a job. I worked for that job, I studied and I still learn as I go using all those gifts He gave me in the first place. That is gratitude. Is like my mom is proud of me seeing whom I’ve become and that her education paid off. So that is me thanking Him for this. As for my family, I am grateful for them being here and being healthy. And I have thanked Him in words and by taking care of them myself in as much as possible.

So, all this considered, I am allowed to get mad at my “dad” just like I get mad at my mom sometimes. And feel like He’s not listening to me, not helping me when it matters most. I lead a simple life. I don’t want money, never wanted it. I don’t want fame and fortune, I never asked for any of that. He knows just how little I want but how incredibly important that thing I want is for me. Of course, one would say, you may think it’s little, maybe it’s huge actually. Mom says: it’s selfish to get mad at Him (first of all she thinks I can’t get mad at God because it’s not proper to get mad at such a powerful being). People say: God is beyond and above you, you mustn’t treat Him as your equal. But with humility and love and appreciation. I can’t do that. God is sitting right next to me and sees how I feel. How I suffer, how I laugh. And sometimes we laugh together. I believe He has set a course for me that I have done my best to follow, sometimes falling onto back alley roads leading to a dead end but luckily I am a strong believer in my senses and my instinct and I always got back on track. But other than that, I think he allows life to unfold. What I call, free will. He gave me the power to make decisions. If I make the wrong decisions in life, it’s not His fault. But when I do make the right calls and I struggle and I fight and I see other people, really going the wrong way towards the same destination, yet they get there and I don’t, it gets me really mad. So I sit down and ask Him, how does this work for you?!?! I know you’re having fun with me watching how creative I can be sometimes, finding ways, one year after another, just to make my dreams happen and you let me because you’re amused with what else I can come up with. But at some point I could use just a tiny bit of luck. Or divine intervention, because some things depend on me, but some don’t.

People say, you have to ask God in words for what you want. I don’t think so. When we went to the Prislop Monastery to see the grave of Saint Arsenie Boca, I went more because of mom. She didn’t tell me much about him, so I really didn’t know what to make of the whole experience. I sat in a long queue for like an hour and a half and when I got to the cross this nun hurried me to move on because there are people waiting. “You should have prayed on the way here” she said. I was like… what? Other than the fact that mom gave me a push saying “pray!” like I had it all recorded in my mind and all I had to do was press a button, now this woman was forcing me to be deep and emotional on command. What do you mean “pray on the way?” I came here to see this man, to spend a moment with him, otherwise I could have just stayed home and face the direction towards his grave and start praying. Why bother come all this way. But hey, forget me. I am an ignorant and an "atheist” for most people’s understanding of my belief. There were hundreds of people in wheel chairs, sick and with really important problems that have come and waited in the rain for hours. You can’t tell them to hurry! But that’s the church again, turning into a business. Pisses me off. Anyway. When mom said “go” I ended up in front of this cross, with little knowledge about this man and I’m supposed to believe he will do some miracle or help me in any way. I didn’t even know what to do or say. I just put my hand on the cross and thought “you know what I want.” I can’t be anymore honest than that. I only want one thing and one thing alone, more and beyond and above anything else in life. And I want it so bad I think you can see it with the naked eye, it’s coming out through my pores. You don’t even have to be God to see it. My human earthly close friends here do without having unnatural powers.

But no, I have to sit down and pray and ask God for what I want. In words. He knows. He knows it better than anyone. Why do I have to say it in words? I think the best friendships I have are those when sometimes I am so overwhelmed with pain and sorrow and worry that I can just meet my friend and share the same room with her/him and not say a word. Because sometimes silence is the perfect treatment and she/he will know that something is going on and will let me (selfleslly!!!) feed on their positive energy to recharge. Without a word. If they can, surely God can too.

Well, I am sure I can go on bubbling about this for ages. The thing is I feel judged, misunderstood and blamed for the way I believe. People who simply have faith cannot understand my way of believing. I cannot simply believe if I don’t understand. That doesn’t make me unfaithful. In the least, it is in my human nature to be imperfect, to question and to ask. The same brain I use to do good and to improve my life and the lives of those around me (in as much as I can), is also asking these questions. I have not found a priest to the day to sit down with me and be a mortal just like me and be honest with me and truly reveal the teachings of God through our understanding, instead of just giving me quotes and asking me to just believe. I can’t even decide something at work if I don’t understand the circumstances.

I believe religion has to adapt to the world now. To understand that perhaps believing in God is taking new forms and new meaning in the context we live now. That we are touching extremes in many chapters of our lives and that people are more scared, more hurt, less sensitive and more prone to depression than before. Because we have learnt much more than 2,000 years ago, because we are greedier for more, in every sense that goes and yet, we still need to believe in something. We still need and want to believe in Him. But by imposing rules, traditions with no common sense explanations when we barely have time to understand our own lives and children is simply not the way anymore, as long as I am concerned. Perhaps I don’t make sense. Let me exemplify.

The sermon for a wedding here, in our Orthodox church is sitting in there, 1 to 3 hours reading from the Bible and from other books. On going. And following some teachings in those books. That’s it. From witnessing weddings in other religions and in other countries, I see this is not the case. They do read from the Bible just like us, they do say what God has to say about the union between a man and a woman. But then they discuss family and what family means today. This is the essence of all things. And then they discuss about the newly formed couple introducing them to their family and friends, strengthening this bond between them as a new cell in society and a new family body within their own keen. You learn who they are, how they came to be together, what they are looking for in life. Does this approach guarantee that the marriage will last? No. But neither does reading 2 hours from the Bible. But at least it’s meaningful, clear and easy to digest. It makes you feel like you are really part of this world now and God is up to date with us constantly changing. If church is truly becoming a business in some parts, then they should know that image risk is the worst case scenario and by not knowing how to portray God properly, by explaining to the “unfaithful’ what He is truly all about from their own experience as messengers of the divine, then they push idiots like me away. And I am sure God loves me just as much as His usual followers and He’d like me to understand what religion and faith is all about.

I am not sure I am getting my point across. It is much clearer in my head, but I am so hurt, enraged and disappointed with feeling misunderstood. It’s like, I already have my own quarrels with God, I don’t need the world to judge me for the way I handle my relationship with Him. Especially when it would be so easy for me to judge everyone else. So easily.

So here it is. My improper way of praying.

Mwuah,
Mela

PS: I intend to go see Arsenie Boca again. Meanwhile I have read so much more of him and understand who he was and is so much better. So now I am excited to go back and have a chat. And despite (hopefully not!) the aggressive nun, I will go around the fence and sit down in the woods next to his grave and have my talk with him. God’s like: “Oops. I’m off the hook. He’s turn now to struggle with the insane.”