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5 Dating Rules for Single Moms That Could Save Your Child’s Life

Monday, October 21st, 2013 - by Megan Fox

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I have been focusing on the detriment to society posed by single motherhood in my series found in installments here: Part 1, and Part 2. Today, I want to talk directly to single mothers who truly do want to find someone to complete their family and create stability in the lives of their children. Since it is true that dating poses the biggest threat to the well-being of children parented by a single mom, there are steps that need to be taken before wading into the dating pool. If you don’t want your child to end up like Adrian Peterson’s young son, beaten to death by a live-in boyfriend (allegedly), then please take this seriously.

You are a mother first, not a woman with “needs”. Your children have needs that come before yours and if you don’t want to see them on a cold slab one day you need to see to their needs first. There are good men out there who will be excellent fathers to fatherless children. But you must, as a single mother in your search for love be focused on finding love for your children. Not all men who love you will love your children and most of them, statistically, will hurt your children. So be very, very careful. Your children’s lives depend on you.

A child raised by a single mother is 10 times more likely to be abused by a live-in boyfriend than any child in a home with two biological, married parents. This is a fact. If you as a single mother know that your child is 10 times more likely to be abused by your boyfriend (which now you do because I’ve told you) how far would you go to make sure it never happens to your child?

To start, follow these simple rules to lessen your chances of being on the wrong side of the statistics.

First up, slow and steady wins the race…

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Let’s Talk About Sex

Sunday, September 15th, 2013 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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I still haven’t seen the latest film version of Les Mis. The promos were enough for me; the shot of Fantine singing “I Dreamed a Dream” while choking back tears as her hair was being shaved from her head was a sickening image that haunted me for days. I will never watch Les Mis for the same reason I will never watch Schindler’s List: When you have a clear understanding of the horror you are confronting, the safety of the fourth wall isn’t enough to keep your insides from shaking loose in rage, horror and sorrow.

Anne Hathaway ended her Oscar acceptance speech with the statement: ”Here’s hoping that someday in the not too distant future the misfortunes of Fantine will only be found in stories and never in real life.” Yet, the Hollywood machine that made her a star has woven the pornographic exploitation of women into contemporary pop culture. In her criticism of the liberal reaction to Lovelace, feminist writer Megan Murphy observed,

“…the only thing that’s really changed since the 70s, when Deep Throat came out, is that porn has successfully woven it’s way into our everyday lives. It’s our fashion, our entertainment, our celebrity culture, it’s in the bars and at the parties we go to. That the foundation for our current reality was built, in part, on the abuse and exploitation of this one woman, Linda Lovelace, is not insignificant.

Linda Lovelace was called the poster girl for the sexual revolution, if that tells you anything about the sexual revolution… Women really got screwed on that one (pun acknowledged). Informed of our liberation, we became free to become the public, rather than just private, sexual playthings of men. What was different now that we were “liberated” was that we had to like it. We had to be turned on by our own objectification and enjoy whatever male culture deemed sexy. Our own “liberation” was used against us, to shame us into subordination — albeit with smiles on our faces, moaning and groaning in feigned ecstasy.”

Clinging to what Murphy has dubbed the “empowerment narrative” many liberal critics panned Lovelace as “pro-family, anti-porn” careful to note that today’s porn industry has resolved many of the problems of its preceding generation. Having covered the disturbing trend of male sexual domination in pop culture, both in HBO’s Girls and presidential-themed romance novels, I can’t help but agree with Murphy’s conclusion: the liberal media willingly turns a blind eye to the disturbing trend of female sexual abuse in pop culture.

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Meet Matt Graber, Your New Leftwing Heartthrob!

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013 - by Kathy Shaidle
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Matt Graber: Sensitive Man

A friend sent me a link this morning, with the subject line:

A white Guy in a Keffiyeh places a thinly disguised personal ad in a feminist blog

I’m in a rare generous mood, so I feel compelled to share Matt Graber’s stirring manifesto — is that word “sexist”? — at The Feminist Wire:

Please don’t call me “man” or “dude” any longer. I will not join you in friendship or partnership on a male-supremacist, patriarchal project. I will not condone the view that women are born to provide you with sexual gratification, and to do care work for you.

I will not be your wingman. I will not support your objectification of women’s bodies. Women are not accessories to you, regardless of how much money you have. In social settings such as parties, bars, or clubs, I will not accompany you when you violate the personal space of others. When they refuse to allow you to enter into their personal space, I will not ease or comfort you.

Brace yourselves: There’s more.

But then the comments from the blog’s primary readers — women — take it to the next level of epic.

They aren’t impressed by Matt “Don’t Call Me Dude!” Graber’s epic beta male white-knighting.

Uh oh.

One sample:

This is really cheap, unevolved feminism looking for cookies.

Poor Matt. He must be very confused by this reaction.

He just wants to violate a little personal space be loved and understood and appreciated.

Now, I know we’re all sick of the #NotTheOnion hashtag, but this op-ed really seems to be… real.

Unless a sarcastic guy (or even a very clever woman) wrote this pitch-perfect parody of campus-speak circa 1994, then arranged for the ideal “Che!” headshot to go with it, and got it all accepted as legit by the gatekeepers at The Feminist Wire.

In which case, I salute you, Sir/Madam.

For the rest of us: Palette cleanser, stat!

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Meet The Least Likely Songwriter to Have A Top Ten Hit

Saturday, August 31st, 2013 - by Chris Queen

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These days, most pop music consists of style over substance. Regardless of talent, today’s top stars like Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Justin Bieber are largely more concerned with dance moves and video poses than songwriting chops – which makes the appearance of a delicate ballad like “Oh Sweet Lorraine” by Green Shoe Studio featuring Jacob Colgan and Fred Stobaugh in the iTunes Top Ten (#10 as of this writing) a pleasant surprise.

What’s even more astounding is the story behind the song. Stobaugh, the songwriter, is a 96-year old Illinois man who wrote “Oh Sweet Lorraine” in memory of his wife of nearly 73 years who passed away in April.

On a whim, the widower entered a songwriting contest that he saw advertised in a local paper with a love song he’d written for his bride.

Green Shoe Studio, the company running the contest, couldn’t accept his handwritten entry (the competition was digital-only), but they were so touched by his story that they decided to produce his song — and a short documentary about it — anyway. That video, which was posted in July, recently went viral, and the exposure has sent “Oh Sweet Lorraine” soaring up the charts.

What sounds like a cute little consolation prize of a story turns out to be a touching tribute to lifelong love.

“After she passed away, I was just sitting in the front room one evening by myself, and it just came right to me,” he says of his song. “I just kept humming it and singing it. That’s how I came to write it. It just fit her.”

The resulting song is simple, but that’s the beauty of it. “Oh sweet Lorraine,” the chorus begins, “I wish we could do all the good times over again.” The song continues, “Life only goes around once, but never again.”

The resulting song is one of the sweetest, most beautiful songs you’ll ever hear. The folks at Green Shoe Studio deserve kudos for taking a chance on a lovely and deeply personal lyric, and Mr. Fred Stobaugh has every right to be proud of his song. No doubt Sweet Lorraine is smiling down from heaven at the tribute.

Here’s the documentary. (Warning: you’ll need a tissue or two.)

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The Civil Wars: The Power of Music and the Hope of Restoration

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013 - by Chris Queen

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The last few months have been a roller coaster for the Grammy-winning acoustic folk-country-pop duo The Civil Wars. In November, they announced a temporary hiatus due to “internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition.” Though they recorded a second album, members Joy Williams and John Paul White are currently not on speaking terms. That second, self-titled album debuted at number one on The Billboard 200 album chart.

While White is also not speaking to the media, Williams sat down with the Huffington Post, where she talked about the duo’s relationship, her own family, and what music means to her. Interviewer Mike Ragogna asked her point blank about the band’s hiatus, which Williams addressed carefully:

It was a true bump and it was a series of difficult situations that John Paul and I kept trying to make the best out of and then, at a certain point, the reality is that we’ve always really worked well together professionally. But you spend a lot of time on the road and those hours get long and you’re in close quarters, and friction and tension is bound to happen. It’s as age-old as time, bands having disagreements and finding themselves not on the same page all the time. The reality is we are working with some very real tension and a bit of a breakdown at the moment–and I say “at the moment” intentionally–and it’s something that we’re navigating. …I still hold out hope that there’s a possibility that John Paul and I could mend our fences and come back even stronger as a duo.

Williams talked about how proud she is of the new album and how the pain brought about more honest music:

It was born out of some strife and pain, but I feel like in the midst of all of that, it made for an even more raw and, in my opinion, moving body of work than we even did on Barton Hollow… That’s maybe some of the good that comes out of the difficulty that John Paul and I have found ourselves in as of late.

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Buddha and the Elephant

Sunday, August 18th, 2013 - by Charlie Martin

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There is a story in the Jatakas about the time a mad elephant, released by the Buddha’s enemies, charged down the street toward the Buddha. People are screaming and running, the elephant is tearing up shopkeepers’ displays and smashing things, and Buddha’s disciple Ananda tried to drag him out of the way. Buddha said “Relax, Ananda, I got this,” and stood in the elephant’s path. The elephant was used to people screaming and running, and here’s this guy in an orange bath sheet just smiling at him. Uncertain, confused, the elephant — his name is Nalagiri, by the way — Nalagiri hesitated, and the Buddha walked closer, confidently, like the king of mahouts. He gestured, and Nalagiri knelt, his madness gone, and presented his head to be scratched.

You might as well remember Nalagiri, he’s one of my favorite characters and I’m sure he’ll be back again.

One of the first things that attracted me to Buddhism was that it treats animals as first-class citizens. I’m one of those people who never met an animal he didn’t like (although I’m a little jittery about spiders) and I never really got why the pastor said my dog didn’t have a soul but the obnoxious kid sitting behind me in Sunday School did. I had also learned, even at eleven, that someone who treated animals badly usually didn’t treat people very well either. But it wasn’t until much later — really, it wasn’t until the months after 9/11 — that I understood how important that feeling toward animals is.

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An Act of Radical Virginity

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt

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Being over twenty and a virgin in NYC is enough of a radical act that a woman turned it into a one-woman show and built an entire comedy routine on it.

Alexis Lambright was a confirmed virgin in NYC for 10 years. Determined to hold on to her innocence, the Catholic schoolgirl was committed to a life of celibacy — until marriage. But when she realized that dating in the most superficial city in the world wasn’t virgin-friendly, the 28-year-old funnywoman living in Sunnyside, Queens, turned to comedy as therapy: She created the one-woman show “The Alexis Lambright Tell-A-Thon: Combating Adult Virginity,” which is running at the New York International Fringe Festival on select dates from Saturday to Aug. 24.

It used to be perfectly normal to be a virgin till marriage, at least for women. In fact, in most societies it was the expected thing.  The pivotal turning point in Jane Austen’s Pride and  Prejudice comes when one daughter, Lydia, elopes and lives with a man who has no intention of marrying her.

Even during my own upbringing, which, granted, took place in Portugal where things were twenty years behind the times, while virginity before marriage was no longer universal, girls at least still pretended to be holding out.

But I’d heard from Scandinavian friends that in their lands it was considered strange and indicative of something wrong with you if you were a virgin much past puberty – and that culture seems now to be here too.

To be sure, we always knew it was coming, since movies like Splendor in the Grass made it sound like not having sex could send an otherwise sane woman clean off her rocker. In a way it is a logical consequence of safe and reliable contraception.  Whether you believe that women are naturally as sex-crazed as men, or that women would have as much consequence-free sex as men given the chance, the fact remains that all of us, men and women, are in fact social animals.

When the society we live in decides that “normal” people are all rutting like deer in fall, and that if you don’t do it there’s something wrong with you, those who don’t fit the model will at least try to pretend they do.

Under those circumstances, holding on to your chastity becomes an act of radical defiance.

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Bad Advice: Abandon the Hot Mess?

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

Submit your questions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice!

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Dear Bad Advice,

My friend is a hot mess. We’ve been friends for a long time, and she wasn’t always like this, so I kept hoping it was just a phase, and waiting for her to emerge from the other side. But this has been going on for over a year now. Basically, she just creates drama. She goes out with a bunch of new friends who gossip about each other all the time, so whenever we hang out she just barrages me with endless stories about who’s which girl’s enemy now, and who cheated with who’s boyfriend, and all this other stuff that’s just stupid. And she’s gotten into this pattern where she’ll see a guy for a couple of weeks, and then pull away and go on and on about how clingy and annoying he is for still pursuing her; or, if the opposite happens, she’ll turn it into this huge drama about how she’s going to get him back. I don’t think she even knows any of these guys enough to care as much as she sounds like she does. She doesn’t want to do any of the stuff we used to do together, like go to the movies, and I think it’s because there isn’t enough gossipping and backstabbing in it. I miss her as a friend, though, and she wasn’t always like this — she used to be sweet and fun to be with and non-dramatic. I don’t know where all this came from and I don’t know how to tell her to try and straighten it all out. I just want her to know I think her decisions are destructive and I’m worried about her as a friend.

- Drama Disinfectant

This is going to sound like bad advice, but if you don’t want drama, you don’t want to be with this friend.

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Girls on Boys: The Body Politic of Goddess Feminism

Sunday, August 11th, 2013 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Check out the first nine installments of Susan L.M. Goldberg’s ongoing series dissecting HBO’s Girls:

June 6: A Biblical Feminist Confronts The Girls Goddesses, Part 1

June 16: Sex Mitzvah’d: Virginity Isn’t Easy for Girls

June 23: Money: Is That What Girls Goddesses Really Want?

June 30: Millennial Girls Are Easy: Sex, Power & Porn

July 7: Sex for Girls’ Sake: Porn, Art, or Both?

July 14: Single Issue Goddess: The War on Women’s Intellect

July 21: Her Body, Herself: The Right Size & Shape of Girls

July 28: Girls: Best Friends Forever-ish

August 4: Girl on Girl Action: Girls and the Female Gaze

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Dustin Rowles writing at Salon recently accused Lena Dunham of “reducing men to walking hard-ons.” His observation is as hysterical as it is true. It is also unsurprising given the huge goddess feminist influence on the show. After all, if women are nothing more than physical objects valued for their sexuality and fertility, men must necessarily be just as flat and lifeless, except for their phallus, of course.

But Dunham’s commentary on men isn’t as simple as all that. Her straight male characters, Adam, Ray and Charlie play off of one another providing a running commentary on the state of the Millennial male psyche. Rewarded with the lead male role, Adam is the goddess feminist’s male archetype embodying all of the alpha-male characteristics goddess feminists have been taught to both lust after and loathe. In the background are Charlie and Ray, symbolizing love and intellect. Having reduced both themselves and their men to nothing more than sexual objects, goddess feminists have no time for emotion, let alone intellect. Therefore, Charlie’s undying love is spurned in favor of Booth Jonathan’s sexual prowess, and Ray the unfulfilled scholar tearfully contemplates his lack of purpose and motivation with an unwanted dog at his side.

Critical of the show’s male characters, Colin Horgan commented: “Put more bluntly, faced with the women, they just don’t know what to do with them. So, they debase and dismiss, categorizing as if browsing videos in a porno shop.” For Horgan, the male/female relationships on Girls are so disturbingly confusing because they’re solely sexual; after all, this isn’t the cast of Friends who happen to date each other once in a while. Yet, instead of encouraging more non-sexually based relationships among the characters, Horgan caves to goddess feminist critique: women aren’t empathetic to men because their need to be controlled is what makes them desirable. That does nothing to address the issue and everything to justify it. It’s as if to say, “Well, we’re all just sexual beasts and that’s the way life is.”

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Bad Advice for Autistic Dating

Thursday, August 8th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

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From The Atlantic this week:

The aspects of autism that can make everyday life challenging—reading social cues, understanding another’s perspectives, making small talk and exchanging niceties—can be seriously magnified when it comes to dating. Though the American Psychiatric Association defines autism as a spectrum disorder—some people do not speak at all and have disabilities that make traditional relationships (let alone romantic ones) largely unfeasible, but there are also many who are on the “high-functioning” end and do have a clear desire for dating and romance. …

Certain characteristics associated with the autism spectrum inherently go against typical dating norms. For example, while a “neuro-typical” person might think a bar is great place for a first date, it could be one of the worst spots for someone on the spectrum. Dorsey Massey, a social worker who helps run dating and social programs for adults with various intellectual disabilities, explained, “If it’s a loud, crowded place, an individual on the spectrum may be uncomfortable or distracted.” Sensory issues may also make certain lights and noises especially unpleasant.

Confession: I’m fascinated with the unique lives and challenges of people with Asperger’s autism spectrum disorders. I’m drawn to articles like this one because one of the characters in the adventure YA novel I’m working on right now shows Aspergian traits. He falls in love with a princess, and must endure all sorts of upsetting and routine-destroying adventures. To try and understand and portray how he would interact with his princess and other adventure companions, I’ve read a lot of articles and books about dating advice for people with Asperger’s Syndrome (which according to the APA doesn’t exist anymore, but that’s a different blog post). I love Penelope Trunk’s ruthlessly honest writing about her life with Asperger’s. And I love how people with Asperger’s have gained new mainstream attention (and widespread acceptance) through portrayals in shows like The Big Bang Theory (Sheldon Cooper) and Community (Abed Nadir).

So, what’s wrong with this article? It doesn’t really delve into the challenges that are very thoroughly specific to relationship-seekers with Asperger’s. In fact, most of the challenges the article describes just sound like the foibles anyone puts up with when dating. I don’t doubt that people with Asperger’s suffer them to a higher degree, and possibly have less wiggle room to adapt their personal outlook to overcome them. I just think that: 1) There could have been a much more in-depth article written about the truly unique dating challenges that only people with Asperger’s face; and 2) an article like this perpetuates the myth that anyone who experiences the challenges it describes, when dating, is “weird” and very different from the rest of the dating masses, and that they’re doing it all wrong.

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Why It May Be Easy for Huma Abedin to Stand by Her Man

Monday, July 29th, 2013 - by Robert Spencer

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One thing the mainstream media knows about Huma Abedin is that she is elegant. Time reported on how Weiner’s “elegant and accomplished wife… declared her love and support for him, visibly pained at having to speak in public as the sad, sordid details of his repeat behavior were exposed yet again.” The Wall Street Journal lamented:

Watching the elegant Huma Abedin stand next to her man Tuesday as he explained his latest sexually charged online exchanges was painful for a normal human being to watch.

What they’re less sure of is why this elegant woman would stand by the increasingly ridiculous Weiner. Time thinks, rather fancifully, that it’s because “divorce can still be stigmatizing in some social circles where parents are particularly ambitious about providing the absolute best environment for their children” – and because, well, Huma just “loves this guy despite it all.”

Most others, however, agree that it is because she is seeking power and influence, and thinks – however improbably – that Anthony Weiner is still the pathway to them. Even Weiner’s sexting partner Sydney Leathers said of the Weiner-Abedin union: “It almost feels to me like it’s more of an arrangement, or a business relationship, than a marriage.” She said she thought Abedin stuck with Weiner “for the power, for the fame, for the stature.”

Maybe so. And she also may be staying in it because Weiner’s indiscretions just don’t matter to her that much – not necessarily because they have a sham marriage, but because Abedin is approaching the marriage from an Islamic perspective.

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Girls: Best Friends Forever-ish

Sunday, July 28th, 2013 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Check out the first seven installments of Susan L.M. Goldberg’s ongoing series dissecting HBO’s Girls:

June 6: A Biblical Feminist Confronts The Girls Goddesses, Part 1

June 16: Sex Mitzvah’d: Virginity Isn’t Easy for Girls

June 23: Money: Is That What Girls Goddesses Really Want?

June 30: Millennial Girls Are Easy: Sex, Power & Porn

July 7: Sex for Girls’ Sake: Porn, Art, or Both?

July 14: Single Issue Goddess: The War on Women’s Intellect

July 21: Her Body, Herself: The Right Size & Shape of Girls

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“A friendship between college girls is grander and more dramatic than any romance.” So writes Hannah Horvath at the height of her OCD, somewhere between punching a hole in her eardrum with a Q-Tip and hacking her hair off.

The contrast between seasons 1 and 2 of Girls is apparent down to the aesthetics of every episode. Season 1 was bright and colorful, season 2 was bland and rather monotone. Season 1 featured four uniquely fashion-plated females, while season 2 featured Marnie slugging out, Hannah displaying her rotating wardrobe of ill-fitting shorter-alls, Shoshana in bed and Jessa nowhere to be found. None of this comes as a surprise given the fact that season 2 saw the break-up of the fab foursome of HBO.

But what of the grand drama that is female friendship? How has goddess culture impacted the way we view female friendship? What can a Biblical feminist glean from scripture when it comes to forming lasting female friendships? And what do the friendships on Girls say about how we as a culture should and do approach female friendship today?

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Bad Advice: It’s Okay If Your Friends Date Losers

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

Submit your questions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice!

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Dear Bad Advice,

This is more of a general question than a specific one. I seem to have a bunch of female friends who only date losers. They’re nice, normal, non-dramatic girls themselves who deserve a lot better, but they seem to get into these relationships, over and over, with guys who are just lazy, inconsiderate, commitment-phobic, or lacking social skill. They’re not abusive guys; they’re just not as good as I know my friends could get, or deserve. I don’t know why my female friends keep going out with them, and keep putting up with those guys long after it should be obvious they’re losers. I’ve tried telling them they should do better for themselves, but they get angry or dismissive or they just ignore my advice. It doesn’t do anything to dispel the idea that “good guys always finish last.” How do I get them to realize they could do so much better?

- Protective Friend

This is going to sound like bad advice, but just let your friends date losers.

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The Facebook Enigma: When Social-Networking Sites Infiltrate Our Real Lives

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 - by Becky Graebner

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As a Millennial, I’ve gotten used to relationships starting via Facebook. Dating wasn’t “official” until my Facebook status said “in a relationship.”  As far as friends went, after meeting one time, it was socially acceptable to find that guy from the bar and friend him on Facebook—then wait a few hours before messaging him…hoping he’d ask to hang out again.  In the beginning it was cool: friend everyone you know–and their grandma.

However, hundreds of Facebook friends and seven years later, I’m tired of my Facebook and its power over me.  I feel this odd sense of confusion if I don’t check it for a few hours and I was starting to feel burned out and annoyed by the constant, idiotic updates from some of my “friends.”

The BFF-obsessed girl who is in love with the Caps Lock Key:

Ohmigod. Tonight I had the BEST night EVER with my BESTIE, (insert annoying name). OMG I LOVE you GURLL. BEST FRIENDS FOREVERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR :) :) <3

Gag me.

The kid who is really hoping to sound cool:

I am SO HIGH right now.

Really? I hope the police see this.

The person who needs some serious attention, ice cream, and a Sex and the City marathon:

Thank goodness you are out of my life. I am SO much better without you. Now I know who my real friends are and I don’t need you. I will never let you back into my life.  I am so much stronger now.  I’m in a good place. 

Please grow up. Then, call a shrink.

See what I mean?

Some people “delete” their Facebook as a sign of mental strength—only to reappear a few weeks later with 100 status updates about their awesome willpower.  Forget you.  I wanted a long-term solution.  So, after years and years of accumulating friends, nourishing Facebook friendships, and pruning some of those annoying (above) stragglers from my friends list, I decided to do a Facebook purge.

Honestly, when I told some of my real-life (not just digital) friends that I was going to go through my page and systematically delete people, they were aghast.  HOW could you do that?  That’s sad! Why?

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Bad Advice: Slaying Facebook Trolls

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

Submit your questions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice!

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Dear Bad Advice,

Recently I cleared out my Facebook friends list. It was getting out of control and I wasn’t seeing updates from people I cared about, because my newsfeed was so clogged up with people I haven’t seen in years and don’t really care about. The weird thing is, even though Facebook doesn’t notify you when you’ve been deleted by someone (at least, as far as I’m aware) a surprising number of the people I’d removed from my friends list noticed, and sent me angry or surprised messages asking me why I’d removed them! I barely interact with these people on FB or away from it, and I have no idea how they managed to notice so quickly, or why they seem to care so much. Any advice on how to respond to them?

- Tired of Facebook Fiends

This is going to sound like bad advice, but sometimes you just have to give someone the cold shoulder.

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Bad Advice: Stop Trying To Be Friends with People

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

Submit your questions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice!

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Dear Bad Advice,

I have a coworker that I can tell is not doing well. Her work performance is fine, and I never have anything to complain about there. But I can tell she must be going through a rough patch in her life. She looks haggard and doesn’t seem to put as much care into her hair and dress as she used to. She doesn’t look happy and she’s gone frequently (for scheduled absences). I heard a rumor she might be seriously ill with something chronic. She’s single and lives alone, far away from the rest of her family. I get sad thinking she doesn’t have anyone to take care of her. But I don’t know how to approach her to offer help. I want her to know I’m here to listen, too, but I don’t know how to tell her that. We’ve worked together for years and never been close. What should I do?

- Concerned in the Cubicle

This is going to sound like bad advice, but don’t try too hard to be nice to this person.

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Sex for Girls‘ Sake: Porn, Art, or Both?

Sunday, July 7th, 2013 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Big surprise, I think not: There’s a porn parody of Girls out there. The real question is: What’s the difference between a show that graphically explores all forms of the sex act and a movie that does the same?

Depending on who you’re talking to the distinction requires the presence of one of two things: the demand for critical thought, or the presence of a penis on camera, something that is apparently a “strongly held taboo” in TV land. According to the show’s creator, Lena Dunham,

…a big reason I engage in (simulated) onscreen sex is to counteract a skewed idea of that act created by the proliferation of porn.

This defense is enough for critics and viewers who believe that since Girls isn’t doing sex for sex’s-sake it can be called art. The real question is, in a postmodern environment that produces an academic journal devoted to Porn Studies, can the demand for critical thought truly demarcate the difference between pornography and art? For the consumer, is there really a meaningful difference between HBO and the Playboy Channel? When does art about sex become porn? How should biblical feminists deal with the challenge of pornography that claims it’s art?

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Bad Advice: Stop Having So Many Opinions

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

Submit your questions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice!

politics

Dear Bad Advice,

I’m very passionate about politics. I read about it extensively every day, from both sides, and I watch a ton of news and analysis shows. It’s more than an interest — I think it’s important for everyone to be involved and to educate themselves on how our country is being run, and take action. But my friends feel differently. They keep telling me to find something else to talk about. How do I make them understand that they should be interested in politics, because it concerns them too?

- Concerned Politico

This is going to sound like bad advice, but listen to your friends and shut the hell up every once in a while.

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Money: Is That What Girls Goddesses Really Want?

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

moneygoddess

Check out the first two installments of Susan L.M. Goldberg’s series:

June 6: A Biblical Feminist Confronts The Girls Goddesses, Part 1

June 16: Sex Mitzvah’d: Virginity Isn’t Easy for Girls

*****

“You know, I want to have children. I really want to have children.”

“Of course you do. And you will have children at a time when your life is set up for it.”

This simple two-line conversation between pregnant Jessa and supportive Hannah in the hours leading up to Jessa’s “abortion party” illustrates the number one struggle young women face: To birth, or not to birth. It is an ironic struggle given the fact that women have classically been worshiped for their fertility and typified, first and foremost, as mothers. In the case of Girls, the irony is furthered by the fact that Jessa sought out girlfriends over her own mother for counsel and care in the face of an unexpected pregnancy. (“Unplanned” is so gauche; even the most unintentional sex has guaranteed biological consequences.)

Jessa’s mother isn’t the only absentee parent on Girls. Shoshanna turns to her aunt for advice, and Marnie’s mother is a cougar who’d rather “just be friends.” Hannah’s mother takes the cake in bad parenting. Cutting her grown daughter off financially sounds like a smart act of a wise and caring parent until, of course, the conversation devolves into mother referring to her daughter as “a major f*cking player,” and justifying the financial break as a way for her to afford a lake house: “I’ve worked hard, I want to sit by a f*cking lake!”

Which returns us to the heart of Hannah’s response to Jessa’s innate need to have children: It’s all about money, or, rather, the stability that comes from money, which for most modern women translates into having a professional career, the definition of which is devoid of child-rearing. Have we entered a new era of child sacrifice? Has career-worship become an idol inspiring generations of women to sacrifice parenthood? Or is the idea of a “career” a fresh veneer that has been slapped onto an age-old pagan mentality?

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Bad Advice for 5 Game of Thrones Characters

Thursday, June 13th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

Sansa-Stark-sansa-stark-23449182-734-567

Submit your questions about friendship, relationships, careers, family, or life decisions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice, PJ Lifestyle’s new advice column every Wednesday!

George R. R. Martin is often accused of nihilism for his brutal treatment of his characters, without any discernible purpose or “moral” to the story. I say: not every author puts a moral in his story, but that doesn’t have to stop a thoughtful reader from finding one anyway. Now that season three of Game of Thrones is over and we have our Sunday nights back, it’ll probably take all summer just to recover from the trauma of this season and prepare for the next. Here’s my half-silly, half-serious attempt to put the “sense” in “senseless graphic violence.”

Sansa Stark: This is going to sound like bad advice, but it’s time to do something stupid.

Sansa is paralyzed by doing what’s right: sitting still and obedient in King’s Landing and playing the good little hostage. But her good behavior isn’t rewarded — in fact, it’s punished. Sometimes, despite all the morality tales we read as kids about how good behavior always leads to peace and happiness, life puts you in a situation where you’ve done all the right things and still find yourself trapped in an unbearable situation. In cases like those, it’s time to think the unthinkable — it’s time to make the seemingly “incorrect” decision. For Sansa, that would be running away. From the outside, show fans are cheering for her to do it — but from her vantage point, it’s the unconventional and wrong thing to do. My impression has always been that she shies away from it not only because it’s dangerous, but because it’s frowned upon. So when you feel like a hostage to your own circumstances, take a step back and ask yourself: what is my complete docket of options? Are there any obvious ones I’m ignoring because they come with some risk or they might provoke someone’s disapproval? Don’t be a Sansa. There are no castle guards holding you back. Take control of your own life.

Gendry: This is actually going to sound like great advice, but don’t accept oral sex from strangers.

Seriously. Leeches.

THE LESSON IS OBVIOUS HERE, PEOPLE.

Often people feel that way after meaningless sex.

Often people feel that way after meaningless sex.

Tyrion Lannister: This is going to sound like bad advice, but it’s time to put your parent(s) in their place.

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4 Rules for Holding Your Marriage Together When Tragedy Strikes

Monday, June 3rd, 2013 - by Rhonda Robinson

okstorm

My daughter just got back from Moore, Oklahoma. Along with a team from our church, she spent the last few days helping families sift through the rubble that was once their homes. They spent hours searching for the smallest pieces of their lives.

When I asked her what struck her the hardest, she told me,

Watching the families look at the debris, or the crosses in memory of the children that died. The blank look of disbelief on their faces — they’re not in there. Then when you hug them, they just drop into your arms and cry. I remember that feeling. I remembered when that was us.

So do I.

In the midst of tornado sirens five summers ago, we were summoned to a small room in the basement of a hospital. Behind closed doors, two strangers, doing their best to be kind, said to us the most horrific words I ever heard. They told us our youngest son died at the scene.

What I once knew as my home, my family, and my children — even myself  — all changed. There was no going back.

An June 2008 entry from my journal:

It is as though my life has exploded into thousands of little pieces. Daily I strive to carefully pick up another piece. What I am finding is that each piece is part of a puzzle. And I have to ask God where each piece fits.

To my surprise, the picture of my life that the pieces are forming is a much different picture than the one I knew before.

You can’t stop the storms of life from rolling in. You can, however, allow them to deepen your relationships rather than destroy them.

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Advice for Grads: Stop Working So Darn Hard

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

college-graduate

Submit your questions about friendship, relationships, careers, family, or life decisions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice, PJ Lifestyle’s new advice column!

This week, I’d like to offer some Bad Advice to recent college graduates. Here are some pointers, practical and spiritual, on how to cope with adult life. Share them with a grad you know and it might actually get him or her to stop bugging you with questions about how to be a grown-up.

Personal Life: This may sound like bad advice, but pay your friends for rides, and go to a bar by yourself every once in a while.

1) Whenever a friend drives you somewhere (especially if you asked them as a favor), offer them gas money. Okay, this is less of an “adult life” thing, and more something you should have learned since you were old enough for you and your friends to drive, but it becomes more important as your friends move off their parents’ bankrolls and start getting those fun student-loan notifications in the mail.

2) Friendship is a lot harder when class schedules and a multitude of school-run clubs don’t bring you together on a regular basis, and you no longer live in a building full of people your age who freely socialize between rooms or suites. So, put the work in on the friendships you want to keep: schedule lunch meet-ups or happy hours, ask your friends about their days (because you are no longer spending most of it playing Rock Band or going to class together — he might have done something you weren’t there to witness!), and then honor your commitments.

3) If you feel all alone in a new city and there aren’t many people your age at your office to befriend, join a Meetup group, take up a hobby, go to a networking event, and, in the meantime, while you build up your group of friends, don’t be afraid to do stuff alone. Don’t sit in your apartment by yourself every night because you’re still getting to know folks. Some people are so scared of being seen in public without a companion that they’d rather stay inside all the time and get to know no one at all. Don’t be one of those sad people.

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5 Disney Films That Define Key Family Values

Friday, May 24th, 2013 - by Chris Queen
Walt Disney with three of his grandchildren at the opening of Nature's Wonderland at Disneyland in 1960

Walt Disney with three of his grandchildren at the opening of Nature’s Wonderland at Disneyland in 1960

Ask almost anybody to name the most important things in their life, and chances are family will make its way onto the list. Family — or at least the idea of it — lies at the core of most people’s existence. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, God designed the family to be the catalyst for spiritual, physical, and emotional growth. The biblical idea of family is built around mutual respect and well-defined roles. You can find plenty of advice in the Bible on how to live life within the family:

“Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 5:16

“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” Proverbs 1:8

“A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish man despises his mother.” Proverbs 15:20

“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” Colossians 3:20

“Fathers,do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Walt Disney lived these values too. He loved his daughters and grandchildren, and his ultimate goal was to provide quality entertainment for families. He designed his theme parks to be fun for parents as well as children, and his films and television series contained elements that the entire family could enjoy.

On the next few pages we’re going to look at the value of family in some of the classics in the Disney canon. The studio released four of these films during Walt’s lifetime, and one came out four decades after his death. Enjoy!

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Take a Whine Appreciation Class

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg
Sound familiar?

Sound familiar?

Submit your questions about friendship, relationships, careers, family, or life decisions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice, PJ Lifestyle’s new advice column every Wednesday!

Dear Bad Advice,

My friend is absolutely driving me up the wall! She complains about everything. I know not a lot of things are going great for her in her life right now, but I wish she had a better attitude. If I tell her to have a better attitude when she’s complaining about things, she gets mad and storms off. How do I handle her? She’s fun and a great friend most of the time, but her complaining is getting on my last nerve.

- Not a whine appreciator

This is going to sound like bad advice, but quit complaining about your complaining friend.

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