On-line Dating (Part 1)

As I began online dating a few years ago, I quickly realized I was going to have some trouble here in Northern California finding a match.  I am one of the few females in this neck of the woods who doesn’t: hike, bike, sail, climb, ski, snowboard, ride, surf, do yoga, drink wine, travel or lastly, attend Burning Man.  “Well, what DO you do?” I would often be asked.  Let’s see, I work. Take care of my kids.  Read.  Shop? Uh oh.

The difficult question for me to answer was, “What are you looking for?” which is the kindred Sister question of, “What do you actually have time for?”.  I struck out at these inquiries for quite awhile too.  I am in a very small minority within the category of Single Mothers in that I have my kids 100% of the time and I am also the 100% breadwinner for my offspring.  I have no free weekends, free nights, weeks off-you get the point.  So what was I looking for?  That took awhile to figure out but what I found in the process is that there are 8 types of men in online dating here in the beautiful Bay Area:

1. Helmet Guy

This is the most abundant type of man you will meet here in Northern California.  He loves to run, cycle (mountain or road although you learn there is a BIG difference in gear alone), ski, snowboard (but not both probably because he specializes), race, surf, kite board, wake board and whatever other sport they will invent next.  This guy is almost always looking for an “activity partner” to be sporty with.  Men like doing things with their dates so this is not an unnatural request.  I get it.  But, unfortunately my main source of exercise these days is drying my clients hair so this was not a match.

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2. Torso Guy

This guy just shows his upper body to give you a taste of his physique.  As you can see, it isn’t always amazing but hey-at least you know what he’s got.  He is only showing his torso because he just wants sex or wants to remain anonymous because maybe he is in a relationship?  Not sure.

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(Note-the above correspondence was his actual message to me.  Hot, right?)

3. Sailboat Guy

He drinks wine, wears his sweater around his neck, might even belong to a Country Club.  “Tennis anyone?” He is usually pictured on his boat at the helm.  He is looking for a “lady” to go to Napa on weekends with.  There is also a more rugged version of the Sailboat Guy which could be it’s own subcategory and that would be The Fisherman.  He is always shown holding a big fish, presumably that he caught.

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4. Tech Guy

Very, very common especially in SF is the guy who moved here to work in tech.  It’s the new Gold Rush and these guys are here to “explore all SF has to offer”.  Make no mistake, this is not to be confused by the “Work Hard Play Harder” guy who somewhat crosses all categories.  (That’s the most common descriptor men use for themselves.)  Tech guy works hard indeed but in his free time is into finding cool restaurants, live music and has only heard of Marin (where I live).  Tech guy is probably my most favorite type because he likes to text a lot, he’s well read and curious but he has two major drawbacks.  He has ROOMMATES and NO CAR.

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5. Berkeley Guy

This is my least compatible type.  He does yoga, rides his bike only because you shouldn’t have a car. Doesn’t want to date out of his zip code because it’s bad for the carbon footprint. He is often almost as smug as Seminar Guy (another sub category that crosses genres) who is a capital-A Asshole but goes to workshops at Esalen once a year so feels alright about it all.  He accepts himself. Berkeley Guy likes me (hippie name, minimal make-up) until he finds out I work with chemicals and alter women’s appearances for a living.

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6. Harley Guy

He’s a modern Cowboy really, with all his motorcycles instead of horses.  He’s almost always featured riding one proudly.  He is a throwback to a Bay Area before all the tech money came.  He often has a mustache.

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(Note-one site I was on for a long time does not use your real name and it was always fun to see what name was chosen for oneself.  Hotwhiz69…wonder what that meant?)

7.  Burning Man Guy

This can be a sneaky one to discern because in a lot of pictures, he looks like a regular guy but wait for it.  Keep looking at his pictures because there is always that one that gives him away.  The picture where he is in front of the Temple at “La Playa”.  He has a distinct sparkle in his eye.  He’s definitely looking for a kindred, adventurous spirit.  I even met one who called himself a “Bliss Pimp”.  I have a lot of brilliant and amazing friends who attend Burning Man and I am happy it is there for them.  It’s just not for me at this time so I am not the girl for this guy.

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8.  Last but not least, Giants Guy

He is always at a game.  It can be the 49ers or the Raiders or the Giants or the A’s or the Warriors.  He is in pictures with his buddies, holding a beer or a kid.  He is a fan.  Fun for him revolves around sports.  We have amazing teams here so he is always busy!

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Ladies, it’s not a lost cause.  There will be that guy who defies categorization or maybe crosses categories and isn’t as easily summed up as I have made it seem here.  Men have horrible things to say about us too.  It’s now common practice to heckle women for their come-hither cleavage pics, duckface selfies, yoga poses on a mountain and relaxed pictures with our cats.

As the late, great Mike Mitchell once said, “There is an ass for every seat.”  He was a Race Car Driver and a Plumber.

On Purpose

It’s my birthday Tuesday and I will be 44.    I always take some time to self-reflect this time of year.  Ask myself the hard questions like, how am I doing?  Am I where I want to be?  Am I who I want to be? How has this year been?  What do I need to work on?

Nothing in my life has worked out as planned except maybe graduating college and getting pregnant.  I meant to be an Actress, I meant to be a Rockstar, I meant to be rich and famous.  None of that has happened.  A spiritual teaching I learned many years ago is that my mind’s eye is limited.  Therefore, it MAY BE that whatever is in store for me could end up being quite different than what I wanted or dreamed and that it was going to be OK.  Perfectly imperfect.

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I planned to have natural childbirth, no drugs.  After 18 hours of labor, that didn’t happen.  I planned to give birth, start working out again, go back  to my job and band and keep it rolling.  Get a record deal, carry the baby in the guitar case.  Instead, I gave birth and my heart cracked open and I changed completely and unexpectedly.  I held my son and thought, I don’t care about anything but this.  Since this big change was not in my plans, I was so disappointed in myself.  I had no Plan B.  I ditched the band, quit the job, moved cross country to be closer to my family, got pregnant again, got divorced, changed careers.  All the while staying true to my instincts and learning to listen.

In those years of intense change, I learned not to be so pig-headed.  I learned to listen to people when they shared their experiences and cautioned me against certain decisions.  I used to assume that when people gave me advice, they were projecting.  That they didn’t know me.  That I knew better.  I never had a Plan B because to create one would have meant allowing the possibility of failure.

I was humbled out of that mindset when I became a Mother.  I became one with humanity in a whole new way and I no longer felt like an alien. I am a Mother, one of millions just trying to raise good humans.

That’s how I found my purpose.

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For these years, with children under my roof, I am clear on what I am doing.  It isn’t what I thought it would be like and I love it.  I don’t know what my purpose will become once they are on their own and no longer need the same guidance, financial support and care.  I am confident I will have a new purpose and I will be happy with a new direction.  These years are precious though.  They matter a whole lot.

I used to wonder how people who had all the money in the world could be so unhappy.  Who am I kidding?  I still do.  Maybe some struggle for self-reliance and forced resourcefulness really does build character.  I say, if you don’t know what your purpose is figure it out!  Keep looking until you find it.  Even the search for your purpose is a worthwhile quest.  I can honestly say I am grateful things didn’t work out like I planned.  It’s all perfect.  Perfectly imperfect.

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On Halloween

I have always had the special gift of being overly confident.  I believe it is this special gift that led me to many years of delusional Halloween costumes.  I would leave the house in a simple prairie dress as “Rapunzel” only to go home soon after asking my Mom to make me a name tag so people would stop asking me what I was.  I was Rapunzel!  Couldn’t you tell from my not very long, stringy regular hair?

I may never know if my delusional Halloween costumes were endorsed by the adults around me because:

a) They were so stoned they thought it was funny.

b) I was such a convincing Salesperson that they believed me?

Take for example, the picture below.

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What was I, you might ask?  I was a Weightlifter.  Obviously.  Not sure if what gives it away is the abalone star pin, fake pearl choker or makeup under the eyes?  My  two friends with “normal” parents who went to school as clowns probably gave me the idea to try that out.  So, the next year I attempted a clown costume but again I am not sure who decided that it was legitimate???

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Pretty much nothing really says “Clown” about this except the white face paint.

70s kids had to make their own costumes.  We didn’t have Toys R Us to go to and select a plastic mask and plastic accessories from.  There was no Power Ranger or Cinderella kit so we were forced to be creative.  Determined not to have my own kids suffer, I let them buy pre-made costumes.  This is my kids in store bought but recognizable costumes.

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This gift of delusional self-confidence led to a lifetime of Halloween disappointments (not to mention, relationship failures and also big career successes).  Even in college, I was still imagining myself as something unrecognizable.

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Here (on the left) I thought I was a dead wringer for Olivia Newton John in Grease but no, not one person guessed it.

And then, I had a turning point.  A life changing moment that helped shape the next decade and perhaps more.  I went as “It’s Pat” from Saturday Night Live.

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Not only did I dress up as “It’s Pat” but I made my best friend dress up as Pat’s partner Chris and we showed up to wait tables in costume at our very sexy restaurant job.  Our very sexy restaurant job was the kind of place that hired for looks, not necessarily talent.  We all wore the tiniest of skirts and tops and made great money.  The typical Halloween costume was something sexy.  Sexy Nurse, Sexy Kitten, Sexy Construction Worker.

Two things happened for me in being highly recognizable and highly androgynous.  One was, I felt completely liberated from femininity in a way I never had and never have since.  The other was that I caught a glimpse of what it is to be famous.  Everywhere we went that night, people shouted at us.  “Pat, Pat!!!” They would yell questions at us.  “Pat, what bathroom are you going to use?” trying to get us to reveal if we were male or female.  I shouted back, “I don’t have to go to the bathroom!” and we’d keep running.  It was bizarre and thrilling and helped cement my decision to choose my next step in life which was to pursue my dream of Acting.

That was also delusional but I believe you need to be a little crazy and a lot confident to move to NYC with a suitcase, no friends, no money and no connections.  So I did.

 

 

 

On Discipline (Not the Parenting Kind)

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Last week I decided I didn’t have to do this blog anymore.  I decided, who cares (really) and why am I doing this?  I reminded myself that the goal I set of writing every week for one year was just MY goal and no one will be too bothered or disappointed if I stop now.  (Except maybe me.)

Then I had a failure at work and I decided I should write about it. One last hurrah.  Maybe just this last post to make it #20 so the number is even?  Maybe a final post about a subject so near and dear to my heart, I could end here?  Ironically, it’s the virtue Discipline I’d like to end with.

My failure at work was losing a new client after giving it my all.  I had one attempt at what she wanted and a second try to get it more to what she wanted (called in the salon business a “re-do”meaning the client does not pay).  Because I am a professional and always want to learn from my mistakes, I won’t go into details about what happened (she said/I said).  The bottom line is, I didn’t nail it.  I hate nothing more than losing clients so I reached out to my FB community for moral support.  I hardly ever complain or cry for help there so when I do, people seem to respond.  Lovingly, cheeringly and always on my side.  Which is it’s own strange form of love but when I’m down, I’ll take it.

I wrestled for a good 24 hours with this demon and at this point, I am chalking it up to needing a few reminder lessons including to “under-promise and over-deliver”, don’t overestimate my ability and the big one, don’t take things personally.  The last one is the hardest and one of the greatest teachings ever from The Four Agreements  which if you haven’t read yet, you must!

I am highly self-critical.  Which makes me excel at what I do because I will push myself harder than most. This has some bad consequences like not being content and the flip side of that coin, not even trying if I don’t think I can be stellar.  With my work I am neurotic, perfectionistic and a die-hard people-pleaser.  I am part Artist, part Scientist, part Therapist.  I am a Business Woman and a Mother and my work ethic is such that no matter what, I keep going.  And that is what this blog is about.

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A few weeks ago my Son got cut from the soccer team.  And then he got asked back on.  And in his first few games, he played maybe 1-2 minutes, sometimes 4.  By game 5 he started to play 20 and now almost half.  I asked him what was happening and he told me the Coach said he was rewarding players who MADE THE MOST EFFORT with playing time.

It isn’t easy getting ahead.  I have done my damndest at a few things I never made much progress at.  I didn’t “make it” as a Singer or an Actress and I tried hard.  I am competitive, I want to win.  I am  tenacious.  So failing eats at me.  Losing one client is torture.  And everyone can say, “It’s not you” or “You can’t please them all” or any other comforting words of wisdom but I still take it hard.  One massive teaching I have gained from watching my son compete in athletics is the lesson of loss and failure.  I love that he has already developed a thick skin for loss and an attitude that if you do your best, that’s all that matters.

In the end, did I try my hardest?  I have lost clients over the years and will certainly continue to do so for various reasons.  It’s the nature of what we do.  But can I live with myself when these things happen?  Do I know that I tried my best?  When my pride is bruised and I feel crappy do I keep going?  When I wanted to quit this blog, I didn’t.

Not yet.

On Why She Stays

I am grateful to see that in the wake of the NFL player, Ray Rice’s abuse of his wife Janay Palmer, domestic violence is being discussed openly and heatedly.  On Twitter, women have begun a movement to share their stories on all social media fronts called “#whyistayed” and reportedly, the calls to domestic violence hotlines have doubled and in some areas even tripled. I won’t begin to touch the implications of steroids, sports, NFL politics (really ALL major league sports) and why this incident was not  handled properly from the beginning.  That has been done very well already.  At best, this incident will incite real change and all sports will take this example and handle it before they are made an example of.

What I want to discuss, because I haven’t seen it done much, is the cycle of abuse.  Because it is a cycle 100% of the time.  From the outside, it’s really tough to understand why a woman stays in an abusive relationship.  But the truth is, the physical abuse is the tip of the iceberg and only one part of what’s really happening.

I learned about the battering cycle many years ago and I still feel that this diagram by Lenore Walker is an excellent starting point.

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The diagram outlines 4 phases.  First, there is tension.  Regular life stuff usually.  Then, the incident.  Often unprovoked, an inappropriate reaction to something mundane.  This can be verbal abuse or physical abuse.  And then what happens?  You want to really know why she stays?  Because after things go badly, it’s usually great again.  This is called “Reconciliation” and in other literature it is coined “The Honeymoon Phase”.  This is the good stuff and we remember why we love him.  And we want to hold on to that part.  We want to stay here.  We want to believe that people change, that he didn’t mean it.  That it won’t happen again.  We are optimistic.  In the calm phase after the Honeymoon Phase we might forget all about it.  And deep down, we are ashamed.  Because then it happens again.

Sometimes we stop telling everyone in our lives about the bad stuff.  We don’t want to hear what they have to say . We don’t want to hear from our close friends and family that this isn’t the first time. We don’t want to remember that.  We focus on the good and the kids and moving forward.  We are strong.

Just yesterday, a friend called me in distress.  She and her guy had had another fight.  She was in the incident phase.  Her situation isn’t physical, it’s verbal. They argue and he says mean and hateful things to her.  Then they make up.  Then it’s fine for awhile.  Then it happens again.  Her self-esteem is low.  Maybe it was before this relationship, I don’t know.  I do know that it takes a hell of a lot of strength to break out of this cycle.  How do you find that strength when you have been broken?

Some women say that it’s almost easier when there is physical violence against them because everyone can say that’s wrong.  We can all agree, it isn’t OK for a man to hit a woman.  You would think that was a no-brainer but check this out:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “More than one-third of women in the United States (35.6 percent, or approximately 42.4 million) have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime,” and nearly one in three women have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner. To put some of this in percentage terms, 30.3 percent of women in the United States have been “slapped, pushed, or shoved by an intimate partner” in their lifetime.”

Now, let’s bring it to a global level. ” As the United Nations makes clear, “Violence against women is a universal phenomenon.”According to the U.N., “Up to seven in 10 women around the world experience physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime,” and “603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not yet considered a crime.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/15/opinion/charles-blow-ray-rice-and-his-rage.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3As

Did you get that?  It’s not even considered a crime world wide to abuse a woman.  My blog “On Beyonce’s Feminism”  began to address this issue of the necessity of ongoing dialogue on the status of women worldwide.  There are economic and religious reasons why women stay (and that seems to be more what people are focused on) but I still believe that it boils down to the same deeper psychological phenomenon and breaking that, truly, is the starting point.

For many years, my Mom was the Director for La Casa De Las Madres which is an agency in San Francisco for domestic violence.  They house and help women trying to get away in an anonymous place, a safe house.  They take in the women and their children and they help them start a new life.  They give food, clothing, shelter, career coaching.  It’s an incredible agency and she still works there in a different capacity now.  Looking back, I remember how hard that work was for her.  How heartbreaking the stories were but especially heartbreaking was every time a woman went back.

How do help each other?  How do we build self-esteem?  How do we assure our Sisters, our Mothers, our Daughters and our friends that they deserve better?  How can we help them when they don’t believe it?

On Boyhood

When my kids were itty bitty, (Daughter, 5 months and Son, age 2) I made a career change, went to Cosmetology school followed by a 3-year Apprenticeship to become a Color Specialist.  In my years of training, I made minimum wage and was a Single Mother with full-custody.  I worked extremely hard as I was setting myself up for the career I have now.

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In those years, as well as the years after on the road as a Corporate Trainer, I missed a lot.  I never had the option of being a Stay-at-Home Mom and, as I saw it, could not allow myself to feel guilt about any of it.  I had no choice but to push through and provide.  I was fortunate to have a few women who gave me really good advice that at the time I didn’t totally understand but now I do. They said to me that when kids are little, anyone (not literally but someone wonderful other than you) can care for them.  When kids are little, you know when they are hungry, they tell you when they stub their toe.  My daughter, to this day, tells me she is going to the bathroom.  What these women told me is that as kids get older, they need you more.  As your kid gets into Junior High and older, sometimes they don’t say much about their day for a few hours, if at all.  You need to be around and then, when you least expect it, they just start talking.

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This week, a friend of my Daughter’s committed suicide.  She was 11.  This was a new friend of hers so not a family I knew and I have no details on the girl’s life or her family.  It still rocked our world.  Her older Sister is in school with my Son at the high school he just finished his 3rd week of.  A lot of changes going on for him as well.

This week, neither kid has stopped talking for a second.  It reminds me of when they were babies and there was a cacophony of sound.  A constant stream of chatter and someone always saying “Mom!”.  I am so grateful to be closer to home and here for them.  I am so grateful that we have a house of communication. Even with all our arguing and (occasional) door-slamming, we have love and direct talks about our feelings.

I can’t imagine what that family is going through.  It is the worst thing ever.  This isn’t even a teen suicide.  Pre-teen.  What the hell?

I saw the film Boyhood a few weeks ago with my own kids and we all loved it.  What I loved most about it was the reminder that time is precious.  I loved the quote I heard recently by Gretchen Rubin, “The days are long but the years are short.” and watching the children in the film’s faces age, I held my breath for what is in store for me.  My window in getting to raise my own kids is getting smaller and smaller.  What my kids loved about Boyhood was it made their life seem normal.  Single Mom, Brother and Sister, Mom working hard to provide with an occasional difficult choice in partnership. Well-meaning but not totally together Father figure.  Their life.

I am not religious but I do pray.  I pray for the family who lost their Daughter.  I pray for the girl who must have suffered in ways we will never understand.  I pray for my own kids, family and community and give gratitude for our blessings. I pray that I always remember to count my blessings.

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On Beyonce’s Feminism

Last night at the VMA’s (Video Music Awards hosted by MTV), Beyonce did this.

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Many people had mixed feelings about this coming from Bey.  They argued that Beyonce couldn’t be a Feminist because of her marriage to Jay-Z.  (Jay-Z often raps lyrics that are pretty misogynistic, but that’s another blog all together.  “It’s complicated.”).  Whether you agree or disagree in Beyonce’s version of Feminism, I was happy to see her bring the F-word back into a mainstream dialogue.   Thank you Bey, for sexing it up.

Many young women in the US today take for granted the privileges and rights they have.  Many don’t even know they are privileges that were hard earned not that long ago.  I am 43 and my generation is arguably the first to get to “have it all”.  We are also the first to have the choice to “opt out” of working when we have had our kids.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/11/magazine/the-opt-out-revolution.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Many women aren’t fighting wanting to “have it all” because we gained access to all options from the women before us.  But many still are.  In a recent conversation with a man close to me, he asked me why we still have to be having this conversation.  My response was that it’s just the beginning.

And dare I say that the men we choose to be with in our journey are also conflicted?  What happens to men whose purpose shifts with the choices his partner makes or who is asked to be flexible and redefine who he is when the roles change?  What happens to the man who is asked to partner, change diapers, provide, be sensitive, be alpha but not too alpha….

It’s confusing.  Beyonce can be seen as “having it all”.  She can be seen as a role model for female power, sexuality, sensuality, creative control and being a working Mother.  I am thankful for that.  The debate roars on that she can’t be a Feminist because she is shaking her ass.  I disagree.

When I was 19 and a Teacher’s Aide for the most well known Feminist Professor in the United States, Bettina Aptheker, I stood in front of the class in a mini-dress, lipstick, cowboy boots and curled hair.  I did this on purpose.  I wanted young students to see that you could be a Feminist and look traditionally feminine.  In the late 80s, lipstick Feminism hadn’t happened yet.  It was shortly after that Naomi Wolf wrote “The Beauty Myth” which was a breakout book and school of thought for Feminism at the time.  Yes, beauty standards are a problem for women but ALSO, women can do what they want with how they look.  Arguably, this is why women now feel inclined to say that getting surgery or cosmetic alterations is “their choice” but let’s not digress.

Ass shaking aside, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  On a global scale, we are still facing massive inequality in most developing nations.  In China, it is highly dangerous to identify oneself as a Feminist.  To “lean in” simply isn’t an option.  My friend Erika Merrill traveled to Kenya this summer with the Daraja Academy which aims to provide funding for the education of girls.  Here are some facts about the global situation for the education females.

Out of the world’s 130 million out-of-school youth, 70% are girls.

Human Rights Watch, “Promises Broken: An Assessment of Children’s Rights on the 10th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” [December 1999]

Less than 2¢ of every development dollar goes to girls.
Nancy Gibbs, “To Fight Poverty, Invest in Girls,” Time Magazine [February 2011]
Women’s education was the single most important factor behind falling levels of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world according to a 30-year study.

The US Institute of Food and Nutrition

A girl who receives secondary and higher education beyond grade 7 has, on average, 2.2 fewer children.

United Nations Population Fund, State of World Population 1990

An extra year of primary schooling raises a woman’s eventual wages income by 10%. An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25%.

George Psacharopoulos and Harry Anthony Patrinos, “Returns to Investment in Education: A FurtherUpdate,” Policy Research Working Paper 2881[Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2002]

Every extra year of schooling reduces infant mortality by up to 10%.

T. Paul Schultz, “Health and Schooling Investments in Africa,” The Journal of Economic Perspectives 13, no. 3 [1999]

http://www.daraja-academy.org/why-girls/

If you or someone you love, thinks we no longer “need” Feminism I would like to provide the following photo from the “We Don’t Need Feminism” movement on Tumblr as a cautionary tale.

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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2704889/Have-completely-misunderstood-concept-Women-Against-Feminism-blog-sparks-fierce-backlash-statements-I-like-men-compliment-body.html

We still do.