in the news

Excuse Me, Jennifer Aniston?

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This weekend, I was reading an article on Huffington post that linked to another article and so on and so forth — you know how the Internet can be a time warp — and somehow I saw a link to the headline, “Jennifer Aniston Talks Motherhood And The Unfair Pressure To Have Kids.”

While I don’t closely follow Jennifer Aniston or most celebrity news, the headline intrigued me since I too feel strongly that people shouldn’t be made to feel weird if they haven’t had kids yet, or don’t even want any — yet this does happen way too often, particularly involving women.

So I clicked it. (The Internet wins again.)

The article referred to statements Jennifer Aniston makes in the January 2015 issue of Allure, and although her comments were brief, I was surprised at how candid she was on this topic and how much I found myself agreeing with her.

For instance, I completely understood what she meant when she said, “I don’t like [the pressure] that people put on me, on women — that you’ve failed yourself as a female because you haven’t procreated. I don’t think it’s fair.”

As a woman with no children myself, I was nodding and thinking, Right on, sister!

Until she said that not having children “doesn’t mean you aren’t mothering — dogs, friends, friends’ children.”

Excuse me?

This is when she lost me.

Who said women have to mother anyone in the first place?

Would this quote have made any sense if a man was saying it?

Try to picture George Clooney saying him not having kids doesn’t mean he’s not fathering his pets, his friends and their kids.

You can’t? That’s because he would never say that. No guy would.

And no one should about women, either.

Women do not need to mother other beings to be valid as people in our society. That’s the point I thought she was making.

This part of her statement was, if anything, proof that she buys into the expectations on women. Trying to spin them in a new way doesn’t hide that.

Now look, I’m not usually one to split hairs and dissect every nuance of a person’s statement. But in this case, I think she completely ruined the point she was trying to make with the idea that women can still be motherly without having kids. And I was unexpectedly bothered by that, as well as comments people have made saying her statement was “brilliant.”

Brilliant for a Stepford wife wanna-be, maybe.

On a side note, another aspect I disliked about what she said is the concept of friends “mothering” friends. Who wants that?! There’s only one person I enjoy being mothered by, and that’s my mother!

In fact, one of my closest friends once had another friend take on a motherly dynamic with her, and let’s just say it was not a fun experience for her! (Although those stories do make us laugh now.) So Jennifer Aniston saying that women can mother their friends, oh and their children, is just plain weird. I mean, do your friends really want you trying to mother their kids? “Oh, I told Johnny he could have a few more cookies. Look how happy he is!” Yeah, your friend is really going to love your motherly “help” there!

To be fair, I think Jennifer Aniston used the word “mothering” to mean being “loving” or “giving,” to counteract the notion of childless people, especially women, being selfish.

However, there’s a big difference between mothering and being loving and giving; you can by all means be all three — which is a beautiful thing, don’t get me wrong — but you can also be loving and giving without mothering in any form.  This is another reason why I found myself strangely disappointed when I read this. Her point had been making so much sense until then. I felt like she took so many steps back with her statement — all while she was trying to be so progressive.

But maybe I should calm down. Some would say that as a female, being easily annoyed like this isn’t the motherly way I should be acting towards others.

I apologize, my sweeties. Now please go have something to eat. You all look so thin…

Note: This post was written as part of LindaGHill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday, which was skillfully organized this week by author Leigh Michaels while Linda is away. This week’s prompt was “excuse,” which we could use either as a noun or a verb. I wasn’t sure what I was going to write with it until I read this and wanted to comment on it, and the idea of using Leigh’s excellent prompt as a verb in a rhetorical question hit me. 🙂

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Don’t Be Such an Open Book!

This past weekend, I was reading a news story about Black Friday sales. I won’t specify the source of this article, and you’ll see why in a moment.

In the story, shoppers were quoted as to what they bought and how much they spent. For the most part, the shoppers quoted weren’t buying anything too extravagant, and only revealed certain things about themselves.

But others were much more open about themselves and their purchases.

One in particular shared her full name, the pricey luxury items she bought and the fact that she’s visiting New York from Oklahoma for her 50th birthday. (Note: I’ve changed her identifying details here out of concern for her privacy on my part; I know this was in the media already, but I don’t want to add to the situation by spreading her information even further!)

I should also point out that her name is somewhat unique compared to other shoppers quoted; in other words, she doesn’t have a common name like Jennifer Smith.

Right away, then, her contribution to the article struck me as just too much, for her sake. Now anyone reading this would have all they need to find out exactly where she lives in Oklahoma, especially since she even included her exact age! And based on what she could afford to buy, she is also likely well-off — and probably wouldn’t be home for another day or so from the publication date, since she’s visiting from somewhat far away.

All of which is dangerous information in the wrong hands, if you ask me.

I decided to test my theory and Google her name and state; sure enough, only a few results popped up. I knew I had the right person because a couple of the results included her age range, which was a match for the information in the news article.

From that brief search, I now had her street address, her phone number, and a list of her relatives.

I continued my creepy experiment by mapping her address and checking out the “street view” of it. Once again, my suspicions were right — she lives in a very nice house that would lead me to believe she is indeed well-off.

And based on her openness in the article, she’s likely not too savvy about her personal privacy, so aside from the risk of robbery, she could be marking herself as a prime target for identity theft or even stalking.

Now to some of you more trusting types, I know I may be coming off as overly paranoid. However, it’s been documented that criminals of all kinds often get ideas as to who to target based on the information victims themselves put out there, or fail to secure properly. For example, it’s been reported for years that some home robberies have been linked to social media posts and that oversharing online has been linked to identity theft – so sharing such personal details in print media, which is eventually posted online anyway, is no different.

Look, just because a reporter asks you a question doesn’t mean you have to divulge everything. I think their Black Friday articles will be just fine if you only give your first name, for example. This media outlet is clearly OK with that, as they quoted a few other shoppers who did this.

I hope this post isn’t coming off as critical of her; I’m writing out of concern for people like her who don’t realize how they’re making themselves vulnerable.

Think of it this way: this media outlet had no qualms printing the information this person shared in good faith; had I been the reporter, I would have cleaned up her information in the story so that it would be less personally revealing to her yet still accurate and useful for my story.

But no one will care as much about you as you do, or should. So don’t rely on anyone else to protect you. Look out for yourself, and you can start by not being such an open book — please!

My Two Cents on “Dress Code” Rules During Royal Visit

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In November, it was announced that Prince William and his wife Kate will be visiting the United States, specifically New York City and Washington, D.C., in early December.

The news about this visit also specified that any media professionals covering the royal event need to adhere to a “dress code” set by Buckingham Palace. If they do not, they will not be allowed in to report on the events.

Here are the rules directly from the official website of the British Monarchy:

Attire for journalists covering Royal engagements

Journalists wishing to cover Royal engagements, whether in the United Kingdom or abroad, should comply with the dress code on formal occasions out of respect for the guests of The Queen, or any other member of the Royal Family.

Smart attire for men includes the wearing of a jacket and tie, and for women a trouser or skirt suit. Those wearing jeans or trainers will not be admitted and casually dressed members of the media will be turned away. This also applies to technicians.

I have some thoughts on this.

Let’s start with the “technicians” part.

How can even the technicians be required to follow these guidelines?  They stand on their feet most of the day and have to handle bulky cameras and other heavy equipment; would sneakers (aka trainers) really be that big of a deal? Especially if they’re the kind of conservative sneakers that are more like shoes, and are in good condition, as opposed to bright neon ones or ratty old gym sneakers? Would that really just ruin the event?

Secondly, and possibly even more importantly, how can people be required to adhere to these rules not only in the UK, but abroad?

That would be like me going to a party at someone else’s house but telling the host what I think they should wear. All the manners books in the world would tell me that I was being rude if I did that; if I’m not the host, I don’t get to dictate things like that. So how come that basic etiquette doesn’t apply here?

To be clear, I do understand the merits of dressing your best on the job, especially for a noteworthy event like this. I also agree with showing basic respect; I’m not saying it would be right to roll up in ripped sweatpants and a stained shirt, whether you’re interacting with royals or anyone else.

I can even understand media outlets telling their staff members to dress their best, so that their companies are represented well in front of such famous public figures.

I get all that.

But there’s something about Buckingham Palace mandating this dress code that bothers me. It seems so out of line. The technician clause seems especially unnecessary and uppity to me; I think that’s what set me off, actually.

For the record, I don’t even dislike Prince William or Kate; I’m not a follower of royal events either. This just stood out to me as not right as soon as I heard it.

In fact, the adverse side of me wants to see someone manage to violate this dress code.

I have fun picturing someone coming in seemingly appropriately dressed, being cleared to enter, and then somehow being able to quickly take off that proper outer layer of clothes — only to reveal jeans and a simple shirt underneath.

The horror!

This topic came up when I was speaking with family over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and it turned out it’s not just me who found this dress code to be a bit much. In fact, my mother thought it would be interesting to see what would happen if a well-known person or dignitary of some sort were to show up and – gasp! – be in violation of the dress code.

Let’s say it was President Obama, but he had jeans and a blazer on. Wouldn’t he have to be let in anyway?

That concept made me laugh as soon as she said it! She’s so right; it would have to involve a high-standing figure for this scenario to play out this way. And I would love it if someone too prominent to turn away did something like this, just to mess with the royals…although most public figures wouldn’t want to do that. Still, it’s fun to think about…and that’s my two cents on the royals and their “dress code” on our turf!

Note: This post was written as part of LindaGHill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday. This week’s prompt was: “‘sense/scents/cents,’ with a bonus word this week – ‘sent.’ Choose one, use them all or simply write whatever comes to mind- it’s up to you!” I went with sharing my two cents on this recent news story that we were just discussing over the holiday weekend!