An Open Letter to Amanda Chatel @ The Bolde
via 13 Fucks You Stop Giving When You’re A Grown Woman
Ms. Chatel, you may be a grown woman but there are things you truly need to learn. Yes, I understand you are sex-positive, so am I. You are a feminist, so am I. You may even be a self-styled bitch, and trust me I am one. I have no idea why you chose to divorce your husband (which based on some of your articles at the Bolde, I have to assume you did), but I don’t see that you necessarily did so for anything other than “unreconcilable differences.” I too am a divorcee, but due to far different circumstances than your own.
While I agree with some of your listing of assorted “fucks,” there are some with which I sincerely disagree. If you are one of those people who lives by the concept of TL:DR (note, I prefer definition #4), I will warn you that this is a very LONG post.
Giving a fuck about other people’s opinions.
When you are talking about general humanity, then yes…you are absolutely correct that the rest of humanity can go fuck itself when it comes to who you are, what you are and who you want to be next year or five years from now or even decades from now.
But there are people in your life whose opinion of you does actually impact you and your life.
I’m not necessarily speaking about parents or family here. You don’t have to be the person your family thinks you are (or what you think they think you are — because who they think you are and what YOU think they think are often completely different)
Think about it, I mean really think.
It matters to you what your boss’s (or anyone else up the food chain from you) opinion is. Why? Because if that opinion is negative, you probably won’t have that job. That can be good if you want to change jobs and don’t want to quit, but not in any other way.
If you are self-employed in any way (such as being a freelancer like yourself or an artist like me), your clients’/fans’/collectors’ opinions are paramount, because that’s how you make your living.
…that’s only two types of people out of the many whose opinion does actually make a difference.
And that “cesspool of negativity and a total waste” you speak of?
It is not about not giving a fuck about someone else’s opinion of you, it is about how you choose to react to that opinion. You can, if you wish, choose not to give a flying fuck. Even if your first reaction is to feel pain and negativity, you can still stop and assess whether or not that person’s opinion of you matters. You get to CHOOSE how to react to something and WHY you are reacting in that way.
There is a story I have (repeatedly) shared with the readers of my blog. It relates to going grocery shopping while fat. There are people who feel they have the absolute right to comment upon your grocery choices if you are fat. Now, there are many fat people out there who immediately abandon their grocery carts, and grab a Twinkie (or whatever their emotional self-comfort food is) and go cry in their car (or wait until they go home and do it there, unless of course they are a parent…in which case they wait until they are alone to breakdown). My sister, who was quite thin as a younger woman, would react by either ignoring the comment, or by staring at the commenter with the same superior look the commenter is giving her. Now, myself, since I am also a body-acceptance activist will either respond in a way that educates the commenter, or if they have been particularly obnoxious I will give the exact same kind of opinion about THEIR grocery choices. It’s all about choosing your response to opinions.
Giving a fuck about ridiculous fashion rules.
This is one I wholeheartedly agree with. I will wear WHAT I feel like WHEN I feel like it and HOW I feel like it. If that means wearing white after Labor Day, or wearing a mini-skirt when you are over 30, or even wearing what can be termed as ‘slutty clothing’ while being obese……it does NOT matter!
Giving a fuck about your ex.
I don’t know if you had children with your ex, and I certainly didn’t. But my sister did when she got her divorce. She and her ex, even though he cheated on her, have continued to co-parent their children. Unlike many divorced parents, they have never used their children to attack the other parent. They have continued to maintain consistent parenting. They have set (and maintained) a firm boundary that NO ONE is allowed to speak badly of the other parent in the children’s hearing.
Parents need to be aware of the impact their actions and choices have on their children. Kids see a hell of a lot more than most people think. And because your ex is also a parent of your child(ren), a good parent accepts that the health and welfare of the ex will be information you need to have, at least until the children are adults.
Now, just because I didn’t have children, doesn’t mean that I’m ignorant of how my choices may or may not impact my ex. Yes, he was abusive. Yes, he has maturity issues. And yes, I speak about him and his choices here on this blog. We share some friends from before our divorce, and I choose NOT to force those friends in common to choose between us. And I only speak on this blog about how his choices impacted me. I have no right to expose confidential information outside of that subject.
Do I care about his day-to-day life anymore? Hell, no! And choosing not to reveal confidential information is about ME, not about him. It’s about being able to look in my own mirror and respect the person I see there. I lost my principle of maintaining confidentiality, living with him. I refuse to compromise it now, even in relation to him.
Giving a fuck about being polite in bed.
EXCUSE ME? Are you kidding me?
No human being is “the star” in the bedroom, not even in a one-night-stand or any other form of casual sex (such as FWB). Sex is as much about the other person as it is about you. Just because in our culture heterosexual men have been taught that only their own pleasure counts, should not mean that we treat them like that type of man has treated us in the past.
Heterosexual women (because in my experience, many lesbians tend to be better about making the pleasure go both ways — but your experience may be the exact opposite) are absolutely shitty about communicating during sex. You want something? Speak up about it! Something hurts when it shouldn’t? Freaking SAY SOMETHING!
Lack of communication in the bedroom isn’t about “being polite.” It’s about being too damned scared or too damned insecure to actually speak up. If you have absolutely no clue about what you like or don’t like in bed (yes, there are women who don’t know this information about themselves — hell, I used to BE one), then speak up and ask the person you are with to help you experiment! If he refuses, get up and put your clothes on and leave — he’s absolutely not worth your time.
Giving a fuck about biting your tongue.
I have to wonder, in this case, whether you were raised with any form of courtesy or manners. Or, if you have not been taught the skills of tact or diplomacy. That is not a personal attack, because sadly there are a lot of people in the world today of ALL ages who have never been taught any of those particular adult interactivity skills.
I admit. I am blunt as fuck. But, there is a time and a place for diplomacy and/or tact. And sometimes that DOES mean biting your tongue when it comes to something that you are unable to control.
Being taught to be courteous, have manners, or to use tact/diplomacy does NOT mean that you are a doormat. Nor does it mean that you are willing to put up with being abused or harassed in any way. Nor does it involve any type of passive-aggressiveness, conflict-avoidance or any other wishy-washy behavior. What it does mean is that you learn how to rip someone a new asshole while still being polite.
A good example of this kind of courtesy is something I learned a long time ago. When dealing with customer service representatives — it does’t matter if it is face-to-face or just audio (because with things like Skype, you can still be face-to-face yet not in proximity) — a customer will get nearer to what they want if they are polite and reasonable, yet firm about the situation. This removes the defensive behavior of the representative in response to abusive or unreasonable demands. It does, however, require that you be willing to move up the ladder of authority which can take far more time than just screaming at the representative. Screaming to them never gets you anything but a sop to your rage. But courteous discussions with each level until you reach someone with the authority to do what you are asking usually gets you a win-win situation. I have, in the past, actually made it up to CTO (Chief Technical Officer) level before I got what I wanted. It simply took being courteous, firm and an unwillingness to put up with bullshit.
Giving a fuck about ending toxic relationships.
I have absolutely no disagreement here. Toxic relationships should be ended immediately when you recognize them as such. Sadly, some of us take far longer than others to recognize that a relationship is toxic and must be removed from our lives.
Giving a fuck about your mistakes.
I’ll admit, I’m on the fence about this one. I agree with what you said, but I don’t think you said enough.
A person’s mistakes do not define them, but they do require that amends be made if someone else was negatively affected by your mistakes. Let me give you an example. During my toxic marriage, I made many different mistakes with a number of friends simply because I was intentionally blind to the damage my ex was doing to me. I couldn’t allow myself to admit that I was wrong, and lost a lot of very good friends because of it. I have made amends where I can since I left him.
Flying your “Freak Flag”
All four of these items come under the same heading as attempting to “fit in” or “be popular.”
There is exactly ONE person in your life whose opinion, respect and validation are of utmost importance. That person is YOURSELF.
In fact, I’m not going to bother with the last two as I fully agree with both.
I do appreciate your work. This is simply a disagreement with particular pieces of advice. As with anything else written by others, YMMV.