Monthly Archives: October 2008

Can People Ever Really Change?

A recent female caller wondered if she should stay with and even marry a guy who spent the full first year of their relationship being violent.

I immediately said, “You’re a grown woman.  If you want to play Russian Roulette with your life you have the right to do that.  Please, though, have your Fallopian tubes tied so that you can’t bring any babies into this situation to either be hurt directly or indirectly by a messed up, violent home-life.”

She wanted to know if people can change.  Well, the correct answer is….YES!  Of course people can change.  When people are motivated and disciplined and committed to being, thinking, and doing things differently, they can most definitely evolve in a positive direction.  It does take time and simply acknowledging the need for change is not (contrary to popular thought) 50% of the problem.  You all know that’s true because every one of you remembers making a New Year’s Resolution – which clearly acknowledges a need for change – and even a plan….which just evaporated with time and ennui.

Therefore, in the context of this woman’s call, a person prone to violence is not one who is going to make a quick change.  The caller wanted to know if there was hope that in the future…no matter how distant…that he could be different.  Well, sure – IF he makes the commitment and is committed long term to whatever it takes to change his way of looking at the world, intimate relationships, and his own identity.

An interesting fact is that when people do make such profound changes, they rarely are interested in the people who wanted them when they were less positively functional, as they recognize that it takes a less functional person to be attracted to same.  Said in a bit ‘o different way: emotionally healthy people, even though they may protest love and compassion, just don’t commit their lives to a recalcitrant, unwilling to change, difficult, or dangerous person.  It is because of their own sad inner dynamics that they find solace in being involved with an unhealthy person…it makes them feel needed or puts the responsibility for their unhappiness somewhere else or is simply a place to hide from the threat of not being capable of a good life.

This particular caller thanked me for my advice…I asked her to tell me what my advice was; she said, “I don’t want to play roulette with my life.”  I gave her kudos for making a healthy and good choice.  I also told her that she’d feel stupid for the time already spent, lonely for the company, scared of being alone, and more…but that this decision was still a healthy and good choice.

You see…she is the one in her life she had the power and the necessity to change; focusing on him was just a way to hide from that.

I love the beginning of happy endings…and that call was one of those.

Dumb Is As Dumb Does

Let me just start out by saying that women are not inherently dumb.  But, gosh darn it, some of us do some pretty dumb things…especially in the name of “beauty.”  I am charmed by the way that Joan Rivers makes fun of her own predicament with one too many way too tight face lifts on a television commercial….she grabs her face and questions whether or not she’s smiling because she can no longer feel her face to sense her own expressions.  That’s funny – but the odd look of her face isn’t.

I get too many women calling my radio show wanting permission to get all sorts of things done to their bodies to seem more attractive when, in fact, their husbands couldn’t care less…they just want more loving access to their wives’ sensual bodies…imperfect or not!  It rarely seems to matter that their husbands lust for them just the way they are.  Astonishing.

Now women are lining up for torn tendons and ligaments as well as herniated discs by wearing higher and higher heeled and platformed shoes — 6 to 8 — inch stilettos are selling like crazy.  These shoes, which feature peep-toes, have been made popular by important role models such as Victoria Beckham, Jennifer Lopez and Jessica Simpson.  It would appear that women want to imitate sex symbols, without necessarily being sexual with the men who love, adore, support and protect them.  So what is it?  Women want to look good to other women but not their own men?

Men do like women in high-heels, because they are daring and show off the curves of a woman’s legs.  In fact, the stiletto was invented in the 1950′s by Salvatore Ferragamo for the sex siren, Marilyn Monroe.  However, her heels never went over 3 inches…and that somehow didn’t stop women from copying the style, or men from drooling over her image.
     
Having the fashion industry push the limits of shoe heel height just to start a new trend to make more money is free commerce…having women be so foolish as to respond positively is just plain dumb.
    
It gets dumber: some women (older but definitely not more mature), are getting injections of a cosmetic filler such as Restylane or Juvederm to plump up the balls of their feet so they can more comfortably wear these ridiculous shoes…that makes them more comfortable, but definitely not safer.
    
The last time women were this dumb was in the 15th century in Europe when upper-class women wore 11 inch high blocky platforms called Chopines.  They had to have servants on each arm to help them walk without falling.
    
There may be a price to pay for beauty, as the saying goes, but the price shouldn’t be giving up good sense or good health.  And I wish more women who are wives would spend more time concerned with what their husbands want to see of them than what Jessica Simpson is wobbling around on.

Don’t Blame Me!

I had an interesting call just the other day.  A husband and wife, each on their second marriages, called because the family dog, a dachshund, was consumed by a coyote.  The wife wanted to know how or if she could ever forgive her husband for this “National Geographic” moment.  It seems they’ve been feuding for quite a while: he doesn’t like the dog to pee in the backyard and make the grass yellow; she doesn’t like the dog to be loose in the street to pee because he could get eaten.
 
While these two were fighting, the dog got eaten.

The righteousness in her presentation was astounding. It seemed she was willing to dismiss yet another marriage because she labeled her husband responsible for the dog’s demise as he let the dog out.

I asked her who the ‘alpha’ person in the dog’s life was – every dog, no matter how attached to all family members, identifies the ‘alpha’ person as its owner and “main squeeze.”  She immediately jumped in to say it was just everybody’s dog.  He quietly offered that she had the dog before they married.  Oops!

I then told her that she was responsible for the dog’s death as she was not taking responsibility to walk the dog three or so times a day for its exercise and for it to eliminate itself where (a) it wouldn’t damage their home property and (b) she could make sure the dog was safe.  That she was sad her dog was dead was reasonable; that she was looking for a cause of this event was reasonable; that she was blaming other than herself in combination with what is “nature’s way” was plainly unreasonable.

I suggested she apologize to her husband and promise, should she want another dog, to take personal responsibility for that animal.

This leads me to a recent news headline, “Icelanders irate at lenders who ruined country.”  It seems that only one year after winning the United Nation’s “best country to live in” poll, with its residents rated the most contented in the world, the result of a country’s decision to swap cod fishing for a complex debt-laden economy exacted a heavy toll.

They were encouraged by the government to upgrade to a more luxurious lifestyle by buying houses and cars that were financed by 100 percent loans with extraordinarily low interest rates based not on their own money, the strong krona, but based upon a spread of foreign currencies.

According to news reports, “Icelanders are also increasingly angry, looking for somewhere to point blame for the country’s spectacular fall.”  “Somebody has to take responsibility,” said one father complaining that his son has lost his savings.

It took one 21 year old print machinist, Alvin Zogu, to give the most mature response: “We can learn from what they did wrong.  We can make better decisions.”

While governments and banks can offer “pie in the sky,” it takes the individual decision to gorge themselves with pie while dangling in the air to cause the ultimate fall.

Everybody Lies, Everybody Cheats

One television show I’m both intrigued by and ambivalent about is called House.  It’s a medical drama in which the main character, a physician, is a diagnostic genius…except that he almost kills his patients a number of times until he brilliantly deduces the correct problem.

One problem he and his associates always have in diagnosing these strange presenting disorders is that, as Dr. House says, “everybody lies.”  It would seem that patients will withhold information essential to their proper treatment because of shame, guilt, embarrassment or to get out of some potential problem — even if it threatens their lives!  Sometime during the one-hour drama, for better or worse, the truth comes out.  Moral debates sometimes arise about the value of truth and honesty.

During my radio program, I have often cautioned people about being too flippant with honesty…it is, in fact, not always the best policy.  For example, “Your child is ugly and below average in intelligence!” or “Aging is sure being mean to you…look at all the wrinkles between your chin and your chest!”  Now, they may be honest assessments, but must all truths be spoken if they are going to hurt someone with no reasonable or positive motivation or intent?  My answer is, “no.”  My answer is to find something sweet and kind to say…there always are those aspects of a person or a situation.

However, there are circumstances where the truth is essential; and sadly, so few of our young people believe that is so.  Every school age child in America knows that a sitting, married President looked right into the television news cameras and lied about having had a sexual relationship with a young, single intern.  What was astonishing was how quickly his supporters and political party members were to dismiss this kind of lying since it was “personal.” 

It’s funny how “personal” impacts the world.  ABC News produced a story about college cheating using the most advanced devices our technology has to offer.  The piece centered on a Texas college freshman, Kiko Kho, who had used a see-through plastic pen, opened up the back and slipped in a strip of paper with vocabulary words on it so that she would pass her French exam.  If you think it is remarkable that she admitted all this to a reporter…hang on to something…she posted a video on YouTube detailing how she’d pulled off her cheat that received more than 120,000 hits.  Did she show remorse and argue against cheating?  Nope.  She did admit “it’s not a good thing to cheat,” followed up quickly by “everybody has done it.” 
    
Our young people watch television political talk and debates and hear time and time again…”that’s not true,”  “that’s false,” or “that’s a lie.”  When I was a child all I heard about was that President George Washington didn’t lie about that cherry tree…that was something to aspire to!

In Jasper, Indiana, two of three challengers for a congressional seat have agreed to be hooked up to lie detectors during an October 21 debate, but an official with the incumbent’s party dismissed the idea.  The Republican Party Chairman made this proposal to Democratic Incumbent and the GOP and Libertarian challengers.  The only one who declined to comment was the Democratic Incumbent…now that just looks bad.

I think all political debaters, product promoters, attorneys, teachers, scientists, and students in exams should take advantage of lie detection technology…and that’s the truth!

Shame on Oprah!

Here’s a simple test for you to contemplate: 
What do you get when you leave a golden retriever dog in a car on a hot day with the windows cracked a bit, and the dog dies from being cooked in that car oven?  Well, you get arrested for felony animal cruelty, with bail set at $20,000 while you await your trial, which, if convicted, will get you about three years in jail.

Okay, did you get that one right?  Probably.  Next test is:  What do you get when you leave a human child in a car on a hot day with the window not cracked a bit, and the child dies from being cooked in that car oven?  You get to be on Oprah! with an entire audience of dewy-eyed women exuding understanding and sympathy.

Disgusting.

Here are a few view responses to that program:
“I too saw that Oprah episode.  I scoffed and hissed as I watched the ‘sympathetic nodding’ of Oprah’s audience who were apparently relating to the distracted, forgetful ‘busyness’ of a mother who was asked by her husband to drop the baby off at day care that morning.  According to this woman, that was something her husband normally did, and it was outside of her daily routine.

She had a lot on her mind and was concentrating on what the day had in store for her at work.  That was her reason for forgetting the baby in the car!  I just wanted to scream!  Then a thought came to my little pea brain.  I wondered if these ‘understanding’ women in the audience would actually ‘understand’ if their husbands forgot their birthday, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or Mother’s Day because he was stressed and busy, concentrating on work, blah blah blah. Hmmmm…..yeah, I don’t think so; we all know what these women would think of their controlling, nasty, insensitive husbands for forgetting these important things in life.”

Oh yes, there was one thing that mother did remember.  With the forgotten, ignored, unimportant human being in the back seat, she evidently did make a hurried stop to get donuts for the staff, which means the child was also left alone in the car while she got those all-important calorie-laden munchies.

Right after I brought this travesty up on my radio program, I received an email from a single, twenty-three year old man, who had been watching this Oprah episode with his girlfriend of two years.  His immediate take was that the woman, the audience, and Oprah were being utterly disgusting, offering sympathy to a woman – a mother – who didn’t have her child on her mind.  It seems he went on and on to his girlfriend about the sacred obligations of a mother – i.e., putting the child first – and about how awful it was to see women clucking in sympathy for this neglectful mother and not for the buried child. His girlfriend was in sympathy with the audience and was aghast that he would have such a “cold, cruel” non-understanding point of view.   

He decided at that moment to break off with her, because he couldn’t see any woman with that point of view being his girlfriend, wife, and certainly not the mother of his precious children.

I tell you, I was very impressed that we have such real men among our young people today. 

When Oprah and other feminist, liberal, influential women take the point of view that children are not the first priority, when they coo over the “pain” of a mother who leaves her child to slowly cook to death in a car instead of storming the citadel demanding jail time for reckless endangerment, neglect and manslaughter, then we have women telling women to have compassion for irresponsibility, self-centeredness and murder.  When we have compassion for evil, we show disdain for the innocent victim.

Shame on Oprah.

Do Financial Crises Cause Marital Crises?

The world’s finances are being shaken to their core because of – well – cheating and greed.  Nonetheless, people are being laid off, large companies are going out of business, small businesses can hardly pay for even minor fees to keep themselves afloat, and the price of gas keeps yo-yoing.  The good news is that you can buy a car for under sticker price…as long as you don’t need a loan; you can also buy a house for a pittance…as long as you don’t need a loan.

A number of financial advisors have reported that their biggest problem is not the most obvious one, which is explaining what folks should and shouldn’t do with their cash, savings, and investments.  As it turns out, their biggest problem is how husbands and wives are turning on each other with blame and rage or turning away from each other with blame and fear.

Feelings of concern, anxiety, sadness, confusion and fear are, frankly, reasonable emotions when tornados, hurricanes, and earthquakes hit your community…it is reasonable to slap your own – and maybe each other’s – foreheads, regretful that you both didn’t plan better.  But ultimately, it happened to each of you and all of your neighbors and you have to respond in a constructive way despite your personal pain.

Feelings of concern, anxiety, sadness, confusion and fear are, frankly, reasonable responses when the financial bottom falls out from under you.  It’s not unusual to want to look for the cause of the disaster whether it is a bank CEO, the President, the Treasurer, modest-income people who borrowed to live beyond their means….or….your spouse.

“Kicking the dog” because you are upset with your day is animal cruelty.  Kicking your husband or wife when you are both in the same lifeboat is also cruel, and it is destructive to the marriage and the family.

Perhaps it is true that one or both of you made some financially unwise moves with investments or by spending too much and living beyond your means with credit cards and loans.  I think that in these situations it is always best for the person in charge of the “errors” to simply own up to screwing up, apologize, and then offer to help make things right.  Once your spouse has thrown himself or herself on your mercy, do not ever make them feel stupid or bad in an attempt to regain a sense of superiority or control. 

When things go wrong, turn TO each other with compassion, solace, and a pledge to be a team and work it through together, survive it together, brainstorm together, and work together.  No matter how sad you feel, this is the time for lots of attention and great sex.  Endorphins and orgasms go a long way to keeping you both cheerful about life and life with each other.

The financial situation in America and the world, as well as the Dow, will come back up.  Make sure your marriage weathers the storm so that you can both be there to enjoy it.

More on Feminist Studies

In response to last Thursday’s (10/9/08) blog, in which I was critical of the Department of Feminist Studies at the University of California’s Santa Barbara campus (and all those in the USA for that matter), I received a personal letter from Leila J. Rupp, Professor of Feminist Studies and Associate Dean of Social Sciences which confirmed that I was right in assuming that they would never invite me to address their students.  She writes:

“You’re right if all you have to offer is indoctrination.  We are interested in education.”

To reiterate my “points of indoctrination,” I wondered whether this Feminist Studies program would be all inclusive:  Is it going to be critical or celebratory over home-making, traditional family values, home schooling, religion, mothering only after marriage, qualities of a good wife, at-home mothering, avoiding divorce (except in cases of abuse, addiction or affairs) and choosing adoption over abortion?

I also suggested avoiding abortion as birth control, “shacking up,” friends with “benefits,” and buying the lie that hired help and day care are equivalent or superior to a Mommy.

It is amazing how these simple concepts have become “indoctrination” and controversial.  If these issues cannot be presented, what in the heck does the Feminist Studies program call “diversity?”  Perhaps it’s just different ethnicities all saying the same thing.