When I was considering getting a divorce, I had an endless list of arguments against this decision. I was in a new country, and it was terrifying to be alone in a very strange new reality. Financially, it would be ruinous. I had grown up in a relationship with this guy (I was 16 when we met) and I had no identity outside of our relationship. I’d learned to think of myself in terms of “we” and the idea of becoming simply an “I” was terrifying. I felt ashamed of becoming a divorcee at the age of 22. Emotionally, I knew that it would be devastating.

There was, however, one very strong argument in favor of getting divorced. Every person deserves to be in a relationship where they feel joyously, ecstatically, overpoweringly happy, I thought. You never know whether you will find that relationship after you get divorced, of course. But at the very least, we all deserve the right, the chance and the freedom to look for it.

Life without love or the possibility of looking for love is a sad life, indeed.

So I got divorced and it was even more painful, ruinous, traumatic and devastating than I’d thought. If you haven’t been through a divorce, then you are not likely to understand how difficult it is. Even if the relationship was completely dead, even if you couldn’t wait to be out of it, even if it was 100% your choice to get divorced, even if there are no children involved, a divorce is always tragic.

I never regretted it, however. Even at the lowest points when it seemed that I was scarred for life and would never get over it, I felt extremely grateful to myself for having found the strength and the courage to leave. As painful as a divorce is, it is always better than the realization that you are doomed to spend the rest of your life – your one and only life! – in a relationship that brings you no joy.

Welcome to Illinois Where Women Are Livestock

And here I’ve been kidding myself that I live in a civilized state. Stupid, stupid Clarissa. Mississippi, South Dakota and our friends from across the river have nothing on us in terms of barbarity. Yippee. (Emphasis in the article is mine).

An Illinois House committee that normally deals with farm and wildlife issues passed two controversial anti-abortion measures this afternoon, before a packed room that included opponents wearing t-shirts that stated: “Women are NOT livestock” . . .

The House Agriculture & Conservation Committee overwhelmingly passed both bills, after emotional testimony from both sides.

That particular committee often gets assigned legislation dealing not just with hog farms and irrigation issues, but also gun-owner rights, abortion restrictions and other hot-button conservative causes that have nothing to do with the stated purpose of the committee. Sponsors of those bills often request that committee because it’s made up primarily of lawmakers from rural agricultural regions of the state, which also tend to be among the more socially conservative members of the Legislature.

I think that the message “You, women, are all just brainless cows who are good only for breeding” could not have been delivered any clearer.

Read more:

A Funny Teaching Story

I know you like them. 🙂

We are practicing irregular verbs in the Preterite (those who have taken Spanish know what a pain in the behind those verbs are) when a student suddenly explodes.

Student: I don’t understand how everybody else is just guessing these conjugations!

Clarissa: They aren’t guessing, Andrew. They are consulting pages 267-8.

Student: Pages 267-8 where?

Clarissa: In the textbook.

Student: How did everybody just know that they had to look at pages 267-8?

Clarissa: It was our homework for today.

Student: Our homework? Where do I find the homework? Do you post it online somewhere?

Clarissa: It’s in the syllabus.

Student: Oh, the syllabus. . . I had no idea I was supposed to keep it. Do you have an extra copy?

Why Do They Just Give Up?

There is a new and disturbing trend that I’m seeing among students. They sometimes give up before even trying. I didn’t see anything like this before but in the last couple of years this started to happen.

Last semester, for example, my most brilliant student – really, an extremely bright guy who obviously enjoyed the course and was very much into learning – didn’t hand in one of the essays.

“Where is your essay?” I asked.

“Nah, I decided to sit this one out,” he said.

I thought that he might have been busy or overwhelmed with other assignments, so I suggested he take more time. Then, I suggested he come to my office and we work on the essay together. Then, I told him he could have until the end of the semester to do it. (I’m always very accommodating this way.) But he refused even to try. This was not a doctoral dissertation, people. It was a 2 page essay analyzing a text we read and discussed in class.

All the student had to say, though, was, “I don’t think I will have much to say about the topic, so I’m just letting this one go.”

Or take yesterday, for example. We are preparing for the mini-quiz, and I handed out activities to help students prepare because, as I’d warned them, this will be a tough mini-quiz. One of the students looked at the exercise, pushed it away and just sat there.

“Why are you not doing the exercise?” I asked.

“It looks too hard,” the student said. “I’ll just wait for the answers.”

This is a language class, so knowing the answers that other people came up with is of zero help.

I’m extremely baffled by this phenomenon. You are sitting in class, anyways, so why not at least try to do the exercise? It surely is more fun than just sitting there, staring into space. How can anybody give up without even trying? And I know these students. There is absolutely nothing preventing them from doing the assignments quite well if they, at least, tried.

These are not rich kids. The absolute majority is paying for their own education, and life will not be easy for them after they graduate. So this tendency to not even try makes absolutely no sense.

Does anybody have an explanation? When this happens, I don’t even do anything because it is so strange to me that I have no idea how to address it. Maybe if I understood the reasons for this, I could find a way to deal with it.

Want to Self-Promote? Call Yourself a Feminist!

It is now so prestigious to call oneself a feminist that people do it simply to self-promote. Remember how all of those spurious feminists who supported Sarah Palin suddenly cropped up? And then there were those weird Ukrainian “feminists” who ran around naked because, according to them, feminism is all about women having the right to get their naked bodies ogled in public spaces.

Here you can see these idiots defiling which is probably the most important cathedral in all of Russia

Now, there is a group of stupid little fools in Russia who try to self-promote by claiming they are feminists:

Anti-government protests in Russia are taking many different forms, from mass rallies and marches to defiant street art and music.

Just recently, members of a feminist punk group were arrested in Moscow’s Red Square after they performed a song ridiculing Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The group, which calls itself Pussy Riot, says it’s planning more stunts before March’s presidential elections.

What this gushing article (and the gushing posts in my blogroll) forget to mention is that these “feminists” have defiled a church and insulted the feelings of believers by offering an unsolicited performance of a song whose lyrics are extremely offensive to religious people. I have many very serious issues with the Russian Orthodox Church (to put it very, very mildly) but defiling places that people consider to be holy is just not on. And it definitely has nothing to do with feminism.

The only good news is that money-hungry self-promoters see the feminist label as something that can bring them popularity. Only 15 years ago, producers of a certain TV channel in Russia wondered if the word “feminist” was decent enough to be pronounced on screen during prime time. And now people are using it to self-promote.