Thursday, April 21, 2011

If my title includes the name of someone famous, more people will read this...

To those of you wondering, I turned in the essay which was due two weeks ago.  I have also started the essay due two days ago... if the couple ideas I thought up count as "started".  I haven't even created a word document for it yet.

The semester is draining down, there's really not much going on anymore but homework.  Though the chocolate covered strawberries at lunch today were very delicious.

For the essay I haven't really started yet, we had to interview our mothers... basically with questions about their lives.  (I've done this part.)  Then we're supposed to "discuss the interview" using material we learned in class.

The class, as I mentioned, is "Psychology of Women", which is more a class on how societal factors influence women, and how we still haven't achieved equality.  It's a feminist class, really, looked at through the lens of psychology: social psychology, though, where you analyze how outside factors influence a person (the boy behaves that way because his parents fight) rather than inside factors (the boy behaves that way because he is insecure).  It has honestly been a very depressing class, often leaving me angry, or upset, or just hopeless.

I think it left a lot of us hopeless about our future, honestly, because today when we were discussing the course as a whole and our professor asked us "what are you going to do about it?" one girl gave a response that saddened me.  "I used to really want to have kids," she told us, "but after reading about all the challenges that children bring to a career, I don't really want to anymore.  I want to be able to be free, to travel and not be tied down to one location raising the kids.  I mean, I guess I could raise kids and wait to do all that, but..."

But what?  It just doesn't seem possible?  That's when it hit me.  Our class had focused on all of the negative aspects of everything and left little hope for a better future.  We were left thinking nothing was possible.  That having children would only hurt us.  That, even childless, we probably wouldn't be able to get the career of our dreams anyways.  Cause that what our male-dominated society has done to us.

Talking to my mother, however, showed me the opposite.  Rather than "we can't afford childcare so the wife chose to quit work", an attitude we were warned to look after (what kind of choice is that?), my mother wanted to be a stay at home mother, so she quit as soon as my parents could afford it.  See the difference?  It's a big one, in my mind.

It's the difference between bashing a woman's choice as an inevitable one, and allowing women the freedom to choose.  It's the difference between saying that there is only one appropriate way for women to do things in order to be equal, and realizing that maybe telling women what to do in the name of feminism is just as bad as telling them what to do in the name of sexism.

I'm not saying I haven't loved this class.  I'm not saying that I think all women should be stay-at-home moms.  I'm not saying I don't think the system is pretty screwed up as it is.

What I'm saying is that feminism shouldn't scare women into thinking they can't have the life they want to live... as long as the choice truly is a choice, and not just a need they convinced themselves they wanted.

... okay, I think I can start my essay now.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The kind of professor you really want...

As I write this, there are two essays I should really be working on.  Both are supposed to be 4+ pages, which isn't really that bad.  One is due Tuesday, which I haven't started or really even thought about yet.  The other was due a week ago.  I need to do analysis on data I got from a survey.  I've written an introduction and sorted my data in an Excel spreadsheet.  Both are for the same class: Psychology of Women.  A number of my classmates are at the same point I am.  So I guess I'm not really worried.

Earlier this semester, I got a sage piece of advice from a current senior.  She told me, when picking classes, that I should email the professors of these classes and ask for a syllabus.  That way I have a good idea of the workload of the classes as well as what the class actually is about.  If the professor doesn't email you back, she said, you probably don't want to have them as a professor anyways.

I'm starting to disagree with the last point, only because I know full well my psychology professor probably wouldn't have emailed anyone back.  She's not very good with email.  She's also pretty slow at getting tests and papers back.  But she's definitely one of my favorite professors so far.

We all know that you should ask other students about professors.  You can also check  Before I came to Scripps, I talked to a former student, and asked her about professors I should and shouldn't take classes from.  My psych professor was a definitely not.

But as I'm sitting here, thinking about how I should be working on one of two essays, but not being worried about finishing them on time, I disagree.  I'm glad I didn't listen (forgot about it, actually).  I guess you should talk to more than one student about their opinion of professors to actually decide.

It's not that I've been slacking.  Man, I've hardly had a break from homework and internship applications for the past 3 weeks.  I've gone to church, and stopped doing homework in order to have fun at around 8 on Friday and Saturday nights.  I've slept decent hours, but not enough to recover from getting sick (or make up for what's starting to seem like chronic insomnia).  I simply haven't had time to get everything done without going crazy.

Luckily, I have a professor who understands that.  One who doesn't expect her students to be on top of everything when she's behind.

To all my friends about to go into college: I hope you get a professor like her sometime too.

Now to write my essay... or do math homework... maybe.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

If there's one thing I've learned...

There's a message I've been getting hit with hard recently. You know those times when it seems like the entire universe is trying to make a point?

After a conversation yesterday at church, I had a thought cross my mind, about the importance of community, of having people you can be authentic with who will be authentic with you. Yesterday being Wednesday, which is close to Thursday, (and tomorrow will be Friday, Friday) which is when I post stuff if I can, I was starting to mull over what I should post about. So, when this thought appeared, I thought "this would make a good blog post!" I started writing it down but then the service started. Our pastor asked us to start talking to the people around us ... about what goes well with french fries.

The church service I go to is called "The Garden" and, in keeping with the theme, every week there is a theme for us to "grow in". This week, the theme was french fries.

He picked french fries because of the tradition at this service: that anyone who wants to can join in a trek to a nearby burger joint for french fries (and fried zucchini - one of my new favorite snacks). We eat fries, talk about whatever topics come to mind (duck jokes, Freudian psychology, and woot shirts, to name a few). He named it as something we gather around to find community, just like friends go out for coffee, families come together for dinner and the like. (Talking to someone at lunch today about how my family always ate dinner together when I was growing up, and he strongly expressed his jealousy. It's something we all long for, I think.)

I started going to the service fairly recently. I was scared as heck but I knew I needed to try it. A year and a half into college and I still hadn't found a Christian community I was happy with (the people who tried to force community on me by reminding me of its "importance" certainly didn't help). I wanted to find a church but I'd only been to one and it was so far gone from my beliefs that I wasn't sure I could handle another church service I didn't agree with. A friend of mine asked me if I wanted to come to the nearby Methodist church with her, and I jumped on it. (Attending a new church is much easier with a friend, even if it isn't someone you've shared religion with much).

I loved the service but couldn't get myself up for another Sunday morning beyond those my job required of me. So when I heard about the Wednesday evening service, I was stoked. So the first Wednesday this semester, I dragged myself across the street to church. And loved it. And kept going back.

Then one week I was fed up with everyone asking me to come out for fries afterward... every week. So I pushed my homework schedule around and went. Spring break, I went again. Now I can't stop.

I've found something there that the on campus Christian group somehow failed to give me: people who care. People who have been through hell and are still somehow happy. Not "I'm a Christian, so all I need is Jesus to get me through" obligatory smiling mask that I get from a lot of people my age. True happiness, along with a true willingness to be open. I love when people care about me, but its a lot easier to be friends with people who let you do the same. And, though french fries, I found that community.

I read something a long time ago that college students should make sure to be a part of something off campus, because it will make college student issues seem smaller in comparison to the bigger world you sometimes forget is out there. They were right. When I hear my friends talk about convoluted custody issues and heart attacks and seizures, it hardly seems to matter that I can't get my computer to hook up to a printer. When I hear my friends talk about not being able to find a job post-graduation, the cover letter I'm editing is no longer a big deal.

Mostly, though, it just feels good to have that community. People who genuinely care about me. People I can genuinely care about. And people I know will usually be around on a Wednesday night to share fries (and fried zucchini) with me.

Maybe it really is like the book I'm reading says... I don't think it's a coincidence that, just this afternoon, I came across the line that said that sharing food, more than handshakes or, really, any other activity, forges the bonds of friendship.