Legalization of Love

I don’t purposefully seek out political conversations. I’m informed enough to hold my own and while I think my views will forever shift as I mature and have new life experiences, I don’t prefer to talk politics.

But rather, I enjoy hearing about other’s perspectives.

It’s in this way that I learn more about why people think the way they do and also see if their views are based on fact, religion, or emotional responses. Most of time, it’s a combo of all three. When it comes to civil liberties and rights, if I’ve done any campaigning, it’s been for women and when I’ve volunteered for campaigns (once in NC), it’s because I believed in the candidate’s platform and thought they could make real change.

So for me to voice my opinion on a topic that is way more controversial than it should be is a rare thing. But right now, I feel ignited to do so. It’s unclear if Albany will vote on the bill to legalize gay marriage in New York state today or if it’ll be delayed a few days. To pass Senate, the measure needs 32 votes and with 2009’s defeat, many are optimistic it will succeed vote.

It astonishes me how passionate people are about gay marriage. Sure, I come from the Bible Belt of the conservative South, a place where the fury of God is feared and redemption looms boldly, threatening the end of time. But I’m also fromAsheville– a town with a very large homosexual population and usually, a city that turns blue during elections. Regardless if you’re conservative or not, I’m not even sure why marriage has been on the state governments’ chopping board for so long.

Frankly, it’s none of anyone’s business – especially political leaders – who we decide to marry or who we decide to love. And under any circumstance, there is no reason why you should be kept from being with the person you love because that person happens to be of the same-sex as you are (and note I say sex, not gender, for they are not interchangeable).

Those who argue say same-sex marriage shouldn’t be legalized because marriage falls under “religion” and not “state”, claiming that the Bible says Adam shall not lay with Adam. Those for it say it doesn’t matter what a text says because the legalization of love isn’t up to the state or the church – a union is a union and should be recognized by law as so. Your genitals and what you do with them shouldn’t be a matter of opinion or determine what rights you have or don’t.

It infuriates me to think that my friends who are homosexuals are not given the same liberties I’m given because I’m heterosexual. If I can walk down the aisle, if I can have my husband stand next to me on my death-bed, if I can adopt a child just because I’m a woman who loves a man, there is no reason why a woman who picks a woman or a man who wants to marry a man, shouldn’t have the right to do the same.

And if we want to talk about stimulating the economy – perhaps on a very small-scale, but on one all the same – passing a bill supporting gay marriage would mean more fabulous galas and events, more homes or apartment closings, and more assets tied together.

But does that matter? Is that the issue? Or is it that so many were raised to believe that homosexuality is wrong and that with therapy gays can overcome their perceived disease? If I didn’t decide to be heterosexual, if I didn’t decide to be sexually attracted to men, what makes anyone think homosexuals picked what their orientation? Why are labels “gay” and “straight” necessary to qualify the validity of feelings or the intended success of a marriage?

And you know, yes, I consider myself a Christian. Yes, I sleep with men, not women. Yes, I have friends who are gay. Yes, I have friends who would never support this to pass. Yes, I was raised by parents with opposing views. Yes, I know what the Bible says.

And yes, I think homosexuals should be able to marry. It’s a civil liberty of being an American, of being human, and of being a person with the capacity to give and receive love, take care of children, and build and share a life with someone.

Though for now, the legalization of love will be handled by the states, in my mind, it shouldn’t be handled by anyone except the two people in the relationship. It shouldn’t even be an issue at all. If you’re aUnited States citizen or a child of this world, your right to say “I do” should never be up for debate.

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Confessional With Love Addict: Feminism

At the McDonald’s playground when I was seven, a little boy guarding the ball pit told me girls weren’t allowed to jump in. Disappointed, I returned to my mother who was sitting, reading, and waiting for me to finish running as wildly as my adrenalin would allow. Without a word, I started eating my plain hamburger and confused with my tired spirit, she asked why I wasn’t playing. I informed her of the Keeper of the Ball Pit and because I was a little girl, I had to wait for him to leave.

My mother, a woman who has never let a glass ceiling or any pair of balls stand in her way, asked me if he owned McDonald’s. I replied that I didn’t think he did. She asked if I thought he was better than me because he was a boy and I was not. I replied that I didn’t. Standing up, my mom told me to put my hands on my hips, march up to so-called guard and let him know what I thought.

And so, I did. After putting him in his place, I then pushed him off his perch, and dove into the balls, without looking back.

I didn’t know then my mother was a feminist and it wouldn’t be until college that I claimed the title for myself, but I’ve never been one to discount my value because I’m a woman. I’ve often been amazed by the women who fought (and continue to fight) for social, political, and economic equality, like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Margaret Sanger, Gloria Steinem, Susan B. Anthony, and Sojourner  Truth. It was an early sociology of women class that sparked my inspiration in historical and modern movements, and eventually led to a minor in sociology, specialized in women’s rights.

My background and my interest led me to start the weekly Confessional with Love Addict on feminism, with Michelle from Washington D.C.You can find her blog here. Below, we chatted about feminism and how it relates to the 20-something of today and dating.

Lindsay: Thanks for submitting such a great idea. Let’s start with the basics. Do you consider yourself a feminist?

Michelle: Absolutely! I studied Women’s Studies and worked on The Vagina Monologues all four years of college, and during that time I really realized the power and strength feminism has. Identifying with being a feminist has helped me realize so many things about myself, and it’s so empowering. I feel like I truly began to love myself when I started calling myself a feminist. I don’t understand how being called a feminist can have a negative connotation in some circles, when it’s something that should be celebrated and recognized as an incredible social justice movement.

Michelle: With feminism carrying a somewhat negative connotation at times, do you think being a feminist intimidates men?

Lindsay: I think it intimidates the wrong kind of man, yes. It is surprising to me the lack of guys who accept their positive viewpoints toward women. It is rare – even in progressive cities like New York and Washington D.C., where you live – to meet men and women who step up to the plate and call themselves a feminist. As you said, the word carries the idea of the stereotypical second-wave feminist who burns her bra and condemns men completely. But, if you’ve studied feminist theory, you’d know there are varying degrees and levels of feminism, and calling yourself a feminist in very basic terms just means you believe women should be treated equally to men and given the same opportunities in all areas of life. I think the wrong kind of guys can be scared of a woman who calls themselves a feminist because it means she’ll spark up a heated discussion if he asks her to wash the dishes. But really, that’s feminism in a nutshell – she just needs to be given the choice and not be asked to wash dishes because that’s her role or her place, but if she wants to wash, she can. If she doesn’t, she shouldn’t be told to do so because she has a vagina.

Lindsay: Since we’re talking about dating and feminism, do you claim your feminist values when on a date? Or in a relationship?

Michelle: I think that with my personality, it’s pretty obvious that I am a strong advocate for women’s rights. I definitely don’t mask my feminist beliefs while on a first date, but I don’t preach about them either. Although I am proud to be called a feminist, I don’t want it to be the only thing that defines me. I have never masked my feminist values while dating someone, and I have no problem calling out sexist behavior, but for a lot of people, they have never taken the time to think about women’s issues and the impact they have on our society. This doesn’t make them sexist–it just opens more opportunities for discussion and understanding (hopefully). I think that in a relationship, it’s necessary to talk about all kinds of topics that are important to each other, and for me, some of these topics are women’s issues. I have found that since I have structured my beliefs in those of feminism, I have become a better girlfriend. I care about the men I date, but I always have my values and goals put first–this focus has made me worry about things less, trust my instincts more, and appreciate my partner more. I feel like with my feminist values, I think of relationships less as a “I need my boyfriend! I need him to be happy!” mentality, and more so as “I really respect my boyfriend. I like how we work together to enrich each other’s lives”.

Michelle: Do you think feminism is hurting or helping women in the world of dating?

Lindsay: I don’t think feminism is talked about enough in relation to heterosexual relationships. We all know the marrying age is getting older, divorce rates are at an all-time high, and though we shy away from it in the media, domestic violence is growing too. Young girls are encouraged to believe they can have it all, but are we teaching them to fight for more than it all? To break through ceilings and to start relationships demanding what they want? Do women believe they can be in a relationship and be a feminist and attract a man who is okay with that? Or maybe, even date a feminist themselves? I’m not sure – it isn’t something my friends and I talk about consistently or something I write about, and I’m thinking needs more conversation. It doesn’t hurt the world of dating to be a feminist, but it means you’ll attract a different – and in my opinion, better – standard of men. I personally, will no longer date a man who doesn’t call himself a feminist.

Lindsay: I know I have dated a man who is the opposite of a feminist, though not for very long. What about you?

Michelle: I have actually been totally fortunate to have been in relationships with men that are respectful and supportive of feminism. This isn’t to say that I haven’t heard them say something derogatory or inappropriate about women, however. The best way to counteract that is to, of course, not ignore it. If someone you’re dating says or does something sexist, it’s important to point out their behavior and why it offends you. If you let something slip once, your partner won’t know it bothers you, and it could happen again. Honesty and respect is vital in all facts of relationship, not just when it comes to gender equality. Luckily, my boyfriends have always understood that I am a woman first, and their girlfriend second. I don’t think I could ever date someone who didn’t celebrate my fierce, independent, womanly self.

Want to have a confessional with Love Addict? Read how you can here.

I Could Have Been Cinderella

Once upon a Tuesday morning in Manhattan, I was greeted by the angry call of my alarm clock, demanding I rise earlier than any darling cares to do. Irritated that my sweet dreams in slumber town had been interrupted, I groggily tiptoed across the wood floor of my studio, and submerged in a steady stream of almost-too-hot water.

A stubbed toe and curse word later, I found myself riding the downtown train to the Southern part of the island I hardly visit. But when your job demands you arrive on Fulton Street in the wee hours of the A.M. to listen to bloggers and agents discuss the healthcare reform, you have no choice but to oblige. Maybe free coffee and breakfast help make the trip worth the long haul and the bright-and-early start time.

Like anyone who lives anywhere, I’ve found myself set into a routine of taking the same trains to the same places during the same hours of the day – with a few crazy weeks, here and there. And even if I don’t recognize the reoccurring faces, there is some sort of energy that remains static with repetition, or maybe I just get used to the route. Nevertheless, the trip to the business threshold of New York had far different inhabitants than the subway I usually take.

Mainly, there was a fresh plethora of beautiful men. And not just attractive, but ones without wedding bands. (A single gal has to look out for the married ladies, in case their man is tempted by her fruit, and she must remind him the only place his low-hangers are welcome.)

Though I noticed their Armani suits, Cartier watches, and Burberry briefcases, I was busily preparing for the event I was heading toward and had little-to-no-time to pull out The Look or place energy into smiling cleverly. And truth be told, since the start of this journey, I’ve relaxed a bit on the ogling and let the gentlemen (and the jerks) come my way, all by themselves. I mean, they are big boys, grown men, with jobs that triple (or more) my salary – surely they can approach a lady in a black mini blazer and pencil skirt. Right?

Yep, they sure can. Kind of anyways.

As I’m sitting, writing away, looking at notes, and planning what I could suggest to my publisher to add to the conversation, a guy of my type shifted in front of me. With a packed train, I watched his bag go right above my notebook and since it disturbed my flow, I quickly looked up to give the glare I never had until I moved to the city. But when I met his eyes, I let go of a little of the sleepiness-induced temper, and grinned. He did too. And he had dimples.

With only a few stops to go, I began to pack up, and kindly asked him to move over if he could at all in the crowded tiny cart. He obliged and replied, “Anything for you.” Catching on to his sarcasm, I thanked him and threw my bag over my shoulder. Not willing to put a move on him (as I would have six months ago), I waited for him to say something, since he obviously had an easy-in to a conversation with me.

“So where do you work?” He finally asked matter-of-factly. A little thrown off by his harshness, I let him know my position at the magazine, and the moment “editor” can out of my mouth – his face went from concerned and nervous, to smugly assured. “A writer, eh?” He said with a smirk as he cut his eyes across the train before looking back down at me. I nodded and shortly defended my job title – though I wasn’t sure why it was in question. “Well, I’m a senior vice president, at 30, at Blah Blah Blah Bank. When is your event over?” Confused by what my morning committment had anything to do with his job, I blankly said, “It ends at 11.”

Out of some sort of misguided and overly arrogant sense of self, he offered, “If you’re interested, I can have my secretary buzz you up and I can show you a good time you’d love to write about. ” Stunned he would have the nerve to make such a proposition to a woman he’s known a measly three minutes – not to mention, he didn’t even know I was a dating blogger, or my name, I dropped my jaw without even moving. Then the train stopped. I excused myself to get around him and confidently hurried away from him and up the stairway.

A few steps away from daylight and complete freedom from the businessman who thought he was more bad ass than what he really is  – I literally stepped right out of my high heel. I was in such a rush that it took three steps for me to stop, turn around, and realize I had actually lost one of my Jimmy’s. Flustered and fearing I would be late because I was so irritated with the dude – I went to reach for it and there he was.

Both of us seeing the undeniable irony of the moment, he smirked that annoying little smirk that for a split-second, seconds ago, I had been blinded by the accessorized dimples. As he was leaning to retrieve my shoe and probably go back to the office calling himself a prince, I snatched it up before he had a second to think. Placing it back on my hosed-foot, I sharply looked into his eyes and said, “No, really. That’s okay.”

Maybe I’ve stopped looking for happily ever after and perhaps I’m not even sure what “after’ indicates, anyways. But when given the opportunity to be banker’s princess, instead of being crowned worthy for an afternoon of delight, I would have rather talked healthcare for the rest of my career than dignify anything he said, jokingly or not, with any sort of recognition.

Walking to meet my boss and dive into a discussion that was surprisingly engaging, I thought about how many times I had imagined that exact moment. How many times during college I had been criticized (in the newsroom, go figure) for believing in fairytales. How at one point, my ringtone was sadly and embarrassingly “Someday My Prince Would Come.” How much I had wondered if, with my love for high heels, and a dreamy population of men who look like my image of a prince, I would indeed, have a completely idealistic interaction just like that.

And then when it happened, when I could have been Cinderella, I didn’t want this so-called Charming to come in on his white ride, or with his bulky bank account and sweep me away to a penthouse on Wall Street looking over the river. Instead, I’d rather steal his horse and make a run for it – once I made sure he gave my shoe back, that is.