Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It Costs More To Be A Woman

In response to the article: Why It Costs More To Be A Woman (click on the title to jump to the article.) I have written the following:

I have been lamenting lately the same thing, not an angry lament, more of a weary, this-is-how-the-world-is lament. I know these things are true and I don't like it, but what are you doing to do about it?

I rarely succumb to the temptation to purchase razors made "for women", as the cost per each is egregious. I find the cost of antiperspirants in general to be outrageous, but the smell of stale sweat coming from my armpits is not desirable, so I cough it up, though I have done trial and error until I only buy what works for me.

I have cut men and women's hair. The time factor is negligible. A man may be a little less fussy about the cut, though many men today are more fussy than ever, but there is the neck shaving and sometimes a facial shave as well. The justification is bogus. The services that take time are actually included in the price whether they are used or not. I mean I often shampoo my own hair because I sometimes have allergic reactions to shampoos. If it is a nice day out, the hairdresser may not fully style my hair, though that is included in the price at most places. Some, the ones that do ala carte services, are also the ones that seem to charge virtually the same whether you are male or female. In these places, I've had good and bad haircuts. The lady cutting my hair at Great Clips in Colorado Springs gave me about the best haircuts of my life. My most recent on at Great Clips in MD? The reviews aren't so good.

Many things are ridiculously expensive for women. I will happily use men's antiperspirant as long as it doesn't SMELL like a man. I can't wear their shirts without major tailoring and it is impossible to wear their jeans. My husband can get his jeans at Sam's Club for $13. The cut is standard and the denim is heavy. These jeans are a far better bargain than what is currently sold in any local store in the woman's department. Without my consent or approval, someone made the decision to eliminate heavyweight denim jeans with sturdy construction, in favor of "stretch denim", which is far less practical, lasts about a third as long, and costs the same as the old jeans I prefer. Where may I go to purchase the jeans I loved? I may have them custom made, or buy them through a catalog, now at least 2-3 times the cost of the jeans I bought a few years back. But my husband can buy his for $13.

Don't get me started on decent dressy work trousers. Again, try to find any made of a high quality sturdy material with a nice hand at ANY price made for a woman. But my husband can walk into any Ross or Marshalls and find a nice trouser for under $20 near any day of the week.

Can someone explain why I have to pay over $30 for a decent bra? Is making a bra some feat of engineering with construction so ingenious as to make it a difficult proposition? No. I used to work in a lingerie factory, and while I was never privy to the price points and manufacturing costs, I can assure you that they are in no way an expensive garment to manufacture.

At $30+ each, I must spend a minimum of $210 simply to have enough for a week. And are these garments long-lasting? According to the fitter in the lingerie department, none of these garments are designed to last more than 6 months. Nor can they hold up under normal laundry conditions. No, they must be hand-laundered and hung to dry, else they face an early extinction. If I want pretty or lacy or the latest sexy style, they are even more flimsily constructed and cost even more. Hooray.

There are some justifications for some of these price differences. A woman's tailoring is often a bit more detailed, a couple of darts or seams that a man's equivalent will not have, but otherwise, two identical items should have reasonably identical prices, right? What is the cost to put in a dart and a fitted seam? It doesn't take substantially longer, and should not justify the price difference.

When I was younger, I lived in a small town and it had a store with clothing for young men and a rack of clothing I can only call rodeo queen attire. I purchased men's jeans to fit my hips and took in 6 inches off the waist. I am no longer comfortable doing those kinds of alterations, as I am much more conscious of the quality of tailoring than I was in those days, and my own tailoring does not meet my standards.

Don't even get me started on hose.

I guess my point is that it costs to be a woman. Some men seem to think that women are frivolous or poor negotiators and pat themselves on the back for it, but what do you do when your dry cleaner charges an extra dollar each to dry clean your shirts? They all do it, and complaining hasn't yet gotten them to drop their prices. They very snottily talk about how difficult they are to press. Oh really? Seems like the equipment isn't made properly then. I dislike ironing, but find it no more difficult or time-consuming to iron my shirts than it does to iron my husband's.

It isn't the cut, because I can bring in a boxy women's blazer and get charged more for it than a man's Italian cut blazer, which surely is more difficult to handle than mine.

Oh, I'm not going to win any debate here, nor am I stating any new thing. But it isn't because women are poor negotiators. It is because certain things are expected of us that are NOT expected of a man. In one job it was not-so-subtly suggested that I should wear makeup for a professional appearance. At the time I was not having skin problems, and was always neatly and professionally attired and well-groomed. I did not then, nor do I now see the point of covering my skin with a load of expensive makeup that clogs my pores and causes me to break out, nor did I see the point of spending $50 a month on my nails as the other women in the office did.

If it is okay for John Doe to come in with a fresh-scrubbed face, neatly combed hair and a nice suit on, then that should work for me as well. I'm not manly, nor am I trying to make some feminist point, but I do sometimes resent that while I make far less than a man, my life costs more. Not because I am frivolous, but because the simple things in life are, for women, more expensive.

If I were to tell my husband he was required to spend $210 every six months on underwear, he would flip out. Why do these manufacturers and retailers DARE to charge this for me? So, what really am I to do about these things? Nothing I can do really, except make the wisest and most frugal decisions possible, and occasionally rant about the cost of being a woman.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

And there were no needy persons among them...

I have been vocal lately about how inadequate the church seems to be in meeting the needs of those in our midst. I was distraught and angry when I heard about a woman whose life has fallen apart when her husband suffered a massive stroke after he was laid off and without health insurance. She is underemployed, has young children, is visiting her husband each day in the nursing home where he requires round the clock care and is totally incapacitated. She is losing her home, the utilities are on final notice and her health is in jeopardy due to the stress of it all.

I asked you and I asked me, where is the church in this? It seems to me that we should be gathering together and saying what do we do about _______? We should be opening our pockets, someone should be stepping up to help her find the assistance she needs, or opening their home to her and to her children, bringing them meals, serving them in any way we can.

As I sat pondering and upset with how the church is not doing it's job, it occurred to me that I AM the church. It is MY job. And I realized that I needed to take 1/2 of the money I have been saving toward a new camera and give it to this woman. Do not praise me. It was not easy. There is a part of me that says that maybe I should have given all of it. I don't know. But I do know that what I gave I was SUPPOSED to give.

And now I am asking you, dear readers, to consider how we might, as the church, reach out to this woman. I am asking you to pass along this post and let people know that they may contact me if they wish to give to help this woman as she tries to survive until the various charities that she is applying for help with decide if they are going to help her. I have been openly critical of the church, but I know that the people of the church love God and love others. Sometimes we are blind and selfish and need someone to just point out the hurting among us.

The need is real, and the need is urgent. This woman needs to know the love of Christ in a tangible way. Let's not tell her be warmed and filled.

I am selling prints of the photos I am showing here to raise money to help. At least half of all funds (after printing expenses) are going to help this woman. Make no mistake, there is no tax write-off. NONE. But I'm asking people to step up and help.

5x7 prints $15/ea
8x10 prints $22/ea
Matting and framing available. Contact me for pricing.

If you are interested, please comment below, or if you have my personal email or phone number, you may check in that way, but please mention ACTS 4 PHOTOS in your comment or email subject line. Thank you.

Back to forgiveness

Sometimes the people I most need to forgive are the last one's I WANT to forgive. They are the least deserving. They don't acknowledge their wrongdoing; they don't ask for forgiveness. As we all are supposed to know, these are the very people we need to forgive. Jesus died for us while we were still in our sins. He came to earth for people who had no idea they were doing something wrong, and for those who knew and did it anyway. He forgave me when I did not ask, he paid the price when I willfully sinned. His actions, his forgiveness is not based on my feeling badly enough, or understanding the depths of my own depravity, or even acknowledging the level of pain I brought upon him. I am incapable of grasping the weight of sins I caused him to bear. But he forgave, and so must I.

I must use him as my example, to forgive what has been done to me, for the sake of the love he has shown me. And when I cannot forgive, I simply need ask him to help me, to show me, to teach me to forgive. I ask him to show me my tormentor through his eyes, and I see them through the lens of love and compassion that I may not have on my own.

I am humbled and repentant when I see the one I will not forgive through HIS eyes. When the Spirit reveals to me the hardness in my own heart, my heart begins to melt and I weep.

I long for the day when forgiveness pours out of me. I long for the day when I diminish and Christ increases to the point where his reaction is mine. Where his heart rules my heart. When mercy is my first thought. When pity moves me and when I cannot hate my fellow man.

Oh how I wish I were there. But God isn't finished with me...He will continue the work he has begun.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rotten little playground bastard.

I despise fibromyalgia. This morning I woke up because of pain so severe that in my dreams I couldn't move one leg. When I woke it took me quite some time to convince myself that despite the pain I could move anyway. FM is a freakin' bastard. It's that kid on the playground that lays in wait for you to get involved in something then jumps out and hits your legs out from under you with a bat. You try to forget, but he never leaves, never really goes away.


I received an email today from the salesperson who sold me my 97 Yukon. "It's been a year!" it trumpeted, and went on to ask for my future and referral business. I wrote the following reply:

It HAS been a year. We no longer have the Yukon as the mechanical needs were so extensive I'm writing it off as lesson learned. Only buy a vehicle that a trusted mechanic has looked at. Do NOT allow your better judgment to be shushed because someone tells you that the reason for the low, low price is to get people through the door to look at other vehicles. No, the reason for the low, low price is that there are major flaws with the vehicle. Not that I'm blaming anyone but myself. I should have listened to that voice in my head. That being said, I really loved the vehicle and even drove it cross-country, which was likely fool-hardy in it's condition. Would I ever buy another vehicle from Liberty? Probably not, but only because I'd be 1) too embarrassed by my own stupidity, 2) wondering if I would be foolish enough to listen to another sales pitch, and 3) on edge, wondering if the next vehicle I was looking at contained some horrible flaw which would come back to bite me in no time at all. I'm very unpleasant when I'm on edge and wouldn't want to put you (or me) through that.

Thankfully, I will likely never have to decide whether to purchase another vehicle from your dealership as I have moved to Maryland and now get to test the veracity and honor of a host of other dealerships. But I think for now, I will simply focus on finding a good and trustworthy mechanic to thoroughly inspect any used vehicle I would purchase, so that I don't simply take a dealer's word for the condition of the car, particularly if they are selling it "AS IS".

I nearly hit send, but even though what I wrote is true, it isn't the whole truth. We DID after all get in an accident. The accident made the mechanical problems even worse. We would have had to replace the vehicle without the accident, but leaving out the accident is, well, less than truthful. And the entire note was less than kind.

I'm hugely embarrassed by my part in the whole thing. I'm 45 years old. I know better. I did something foolish, like foregoing a $60 mechanics fee when buying a vehicle. Penny-side, pounds foolish.