Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Archive for the day “May 31, 2011”

What Does It Mean to Be a Good Romantic Partner / Spouse?

I want to preface this post by reiterating that this is a personal opinion blog and everything I write is just my own personal opinion. I’m in no way trying to suggest that my model will make everybody happy. I’m just sharing what works for me.

I believe that rule #1 of a perfect romantic partnership is not to expect more (or less) than what you are willing to offer. So the things I list here are what I both offer and demand in my personal life. After my failed first marriage, I spent a very long time looking for a partner who would suit me perfectly and would have happily remained single had I not found a person whose understanding of a perfect relationship matched mine.

1. Support. I have had an experience of being in a relationship with somebody who competed with me and tried to sabotage me because they saw my achievements as a threat to their self-esteem. So I can tell you from a painful personal experience: such relationships are a major waste of time. A person I’m with needs to be 100% supportive of my professional and intellectual goals, celebrate my successes and offer genuine support when I fail.

2. Respect. I demand complete respect no matter what the situation is. I will never tolerate my partner using any tone of voice other than the most gentle and loving one with me. If you are tired, depressed, upset, busy, you don’t bark, “I’m busy / tired / depressed!” at me. You say, “My love, I have a lot to do / feel sad, etc. right now. I need to be alone for 2 hours / 2 days / a week, etc., after which I will be fine, and we will talk, OK?” (I did mention that I offer the same in return, right?) I hope I don’t need to explain that I would not accept anybody raising their voice to me in any circumstances.

3. Loyalty. I need to know that my partner is always on my side in every situation. There are people who think it’s acceptable to vent their grievances with their partner in public. This makes everybody around feel extremely uncomfortable and humiliates the partner. I believe that any problems you might have with a person need to be addressed in private. Also, if a discussion is taking place, you need to be on your partner’s side, even if you disagree with them. Long-time readers of my blog might have noticed that I’m kind of opinionated. One of the things I appreciate the most about my relationship is the passionate arguments we have about politics, literature, economy, and pretty much any other topic under the sun. However, if one of us gets into an argument with somebody else, it’s the other one’s duty to support their partner.

4. Preference. I don’t see the point of being with anybody who is not absolutely convinced that I’m the most beautiful and desirable woman in the universe. There are people who put up with comments like “Oh, look at this total babe!”, “Wow, this guy is so cute!” and “Catherine Zeta Jones is super sexy!” In my opinion, the only goal of such statements is to manipulate the other person by lowering their self-esteem. If I’m not the most sexually attractive person in the world, you need to be with somebody who is. Catherine Zeta Jones doesn’t want you? Well, that is hardly my problem. I have no interest in being anybody’s second or fiftieth choice. (If anybody is itching to regale me with statements of the “You cannot preserve an exclusive sexual attraction to one person for a long time” variety, I kindly ask them to keep this popular wisdom to themselves. First of all, I have factual knowledge that this is not true. And second, I never said my goal was to preserve anything for a long time. My goal is to be happy, which, for me, is only possible within a relationship of complete and all-abiding sexual loyalty.)

5. Feminism. Men sometimes see the woman in their life as a free maid. In terms of housework, I am willing to do exactly 50% of what needs to be done. When we first got together, N. almost destroyed any chance at a relationship between us by mentioning (as he now insists, in jest) that he had some shirts that needed ironing. I immediately communicated to him that I’d sooner make him eat the shirts than iron them, after which we never had a similar discussion again. If somebody is too busy to do their share, they can hire a person to do it instead of them or do whatever it is they would have done to resolve the issue if they were single.

6. Privacy. Being together doesn’t mean that each partner isn’t entitled to their own personal space that is inviolable and sacrosanct. We have lived together in very tiny apartments which, nevertheless, did not prevent us from respecting each other’s privacy. I would not remain for 2 minutes with a person capable of going through my pockets, drawers, cell phone, notebooks, handbags, or computer. I look at people who routinely engage in policing their partners as creatures from a different planet who completely lack self-respect.

7. Psychological self-sufficiency. I am not anybody’s shrink. It is every adult’s duty to learn psychological hygiene measures that will work for them. Trying to saddle your romantic partner with your psychological issues is exploitative and wrong. Of course, if my partner develops a depression or an addiction, I will not leave him. I will expect, however, that he work to resolve his issues on his own while I continue to offer the necessary support. Playing doctor with depressed people or addicts is a really bad idea. Trying to be somebody’s savior is nothing but an exercise in manipulation. As for daily frustrations and disappointments we all experience, I expect my partner to discover his own ways of compensating for them and learning to handle them. A relationship that is all about servicing one person’s needs (whatever those needs might be and as urgent and major as they might seem) is extremely unhealthy.

8. Happiness. The only goal of a romantic partnership is, in my opinion, to be happy. Making my partner happy is one of my central priorities in life. Of course, I expect the same from him, which means that nothing that makes me unhappy will ever constitute his happiness.

9. Terminology. My appearance, weight, intellect and taste in clothes only get discussed in admiring, superlative terms. The outside world can be quite unwelcoming, which is why, inside my own house, I expect to find an oasis of perfect acceptance and adoration. Once again, if somebody does not believe I’m perfect in every way, they should not waste their life on being with me. In return, I offer the same, completely sincere attitude.

And apart from these few tiny little things, I neither require nor expect anything else from my partner.


Random Observation of the Day

I just realized that since I handed in my final grades three weeks ago, I haven’t turned on the television once. If I never had to grade papers and homework, I could disconnect the television altogether.

Update on Graduation Gift

So do you remember how I asked for advice on which gift to give to a recent high school graduate? I ended up giving her a gift card for iTunes and another gift card for Sephora. Today, her mother told me she was ecstatic about the cards and liked them even more than money gifts. I’m glad I didn’t lose my touch with the world of teenagers completely.

Thank you, everybody, for offering advice!

Theology As a Field of Study

Here is an excerpt from a brilliant post on whether theology is a legitimate academic field:

The second bullshit field I’d like to examine is theology, a field whose main aim is to define the object of its study and sometimes even to prove its very existence. The fact that a whole branch of theology deals with the question of whether God actually exists should give you pause. Theology as a field of study is sheer confirmation bias, inventing its object of study according to an agenda. Of course you can read and explicate texts of other theologians without necessarily making it all up, but any attempt to be an actual theologian is absurd. The object of study is one about which there is no actual knowledge, so it is a little like doing literary criticism without a text, as I’ve argued before, or judging a figure-skating contest in which there are no actual skaters.

This is the kind of writing style that I strive to develop for myself.

How Not to Run Out of Money During Retirement

Look at this super helpful ad I just found on how not to run out of money during retirement. I totally need to show it to my retirement-age colleagues who were recently told that the State of Illinois has been ravaging our state pension fund (to which they’d been making contributions for decades) and has no way of honoring its obligations to its public-sector employees. There is this colleague I have who has just been told that she will not be able to retire until the age of 72. I wonder why she is so upset about it when she can simply take her $500,000 portfolio and consult a Forbes columnist.

Rape and Immigration in Norway

It was late last night when I posted the video stating that most rapes in Norway are being perpetrated by Muslim immigrants (let’s just admit that this is what hiding behind all the verbiage about “people with non-Western appearance”) and I didn’t accompany the video with a comment. So I’ll do it now.

We have no way of knowing who perpetrated those rapes. I feel extremely uncomfortable passing any judgment on the victims’ perceptions. Victim identifications of the perpetrators of a crime is notoriously unreliable and can be influenced by a variety of issues. Please take not that I’m not doubting that the crimes have, indeed, taken place. I’m just suggesting that, sometimes, victims are so traumatized that their identifications are not very reliable. In this sense, the statistics that are being discussed might be quite faulty. Also, (and maybe this is due to the translation, I don’t know) the report sounds kind of vague and keeps saying different things.

However, the point isn’t whether the report is factually correct and what percentage of “people with non-Western” appearance committed the rapes in question. We cannot know that, and, consequently, it makes little sense to discuss it.

The reason why I posted the video is that its very existence betrays a very deep-seated cultural and ethnic conflict that right now is brewing in most Western European countries. One thing that is obvious from the video is that “ethnic Norwegians” are extremely uncomfortable with the growing presence of Muslim immigrants in their midst. As an immigrant, I can tell you that immigration is always a very complex and traumatic process. Cultural differences exist and are often extremely profound. Recognizing that and learning to deal with them is difficult even for those who speak the language of their new country perfectly and spent decades studying its culture, history, political system and customs. For people who don’t have these educational and linguistic tools at their disposal, adapting to cultural differences is extremely difficult. In the case we are discussing, it is obvious that both many immigrants and many of the “ethnic Norwegians” have no idea how to adapt to each other.

Governments of Western European countries have displayed an attitude towards immigration that is criminal in its stupidity. They seem to believe that people are objects who can be used any way one wants with no consequence. Bringing immigrants into a country and expecting them magically to adapt and integrate is ridiculously unintelligent. I have lived for 5 years in the heavily Muslim area of Montreal. The experience is not an easy one for a feminist. There is staring and ogling of the kind that makes you feel dirty and humiliated. There is unwelcome touching, unpleasant sounds and degrading comments. At the same time, there are crowds of Muslim men who are so polite, kind and respectful that “men of Western appearance” should take lessons from them. Unfortunately, they get noticed a lot less because – owing to their very politeness – they inhabit public spaces a lot less flamboyantly.

The only solution to the problem is to create long-term programs aimed at helping immigrants adapt. I, for one, would have benefited greatly from some sort of education on what it means to live in Canada. I figured it out eventually but I know many people in my own community who still haven’t and are as bewildered as ever years after emigrating. The first step, as usual, would be to recognize that the problem exists. All of this quasi-PC verbiage about “non-Western appearances” should be abandoned as soon as possible. You cannot resolve an issue that you are terrified even to name.

Many Western European countries are experiencing a rise of fascism. I attribute that exclusively to the irresponsible immigration policies and a misguided belief that multi-culturalism and diversity are gods on whose altar common sense needs to be sacrificed on a regular basis.

More on Blogger vs WordPress

What WordPress does a lot worse than Blogger is letting you insert photos and videos. Nothing works on the first try, everything comes out in a weird size, and it keeps trying to create a gallery and insert all pictures in one weird, inconvenient bunch.

On Blogger, however, none of these problems ever existed.

I am really not looking forward to posting my next recipe or restaurant review.

Multicultiralism or Stupidity?

Warning!!! Very triggering for victims of sexual assault.


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