Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mean Girls Grow Up

Teri at has opened a discussion about female relational aggression and I love it!  It's so great to hear the ideas and good thoughts about resolving one of the toughest issues in our culture! 

Pam at over50feeling40 also invited discussions on her blog today.  And Sally at is gathering a collection of resources for our daughters and granddaughters about positive body images which leads into the painful memories of women who were bullied. 

This is a topic which is so close to my heart.  I worked within a fantastic pilot program that was being developed across the nation to find ways that actually worked with real girls in combatting the bullying behavior.   The program was dissolved at its point of peak harvest.  It was devastating to watch as it disappeared in a corporate merger process.

My personal passion for anti-bullying developed after suffering through several years of workplace bullying.  Let's face it.  Mean girls grow up.  Those awful behaviors on the playground only get more devious and deadly as they practice their skills over the years.  And the leadership of the company never sees it.  hmmm......just like the teacher never sees it.  People who are good at hurting this way don't get caught.  Most corporations with this problem have at least one serial bully in the top leadership.  A serial bully cannot go more than 6 or 8 weeks without having a target.  One target leaves in a fit of tears and the next victim is chosen to fill the slot. 

Being an annonymous commenter on a blog also fits nicely in this category. 

I could go on for days.  But I would like to share a few points that seem to get lost in the discussion of our girls (and grown up girls) and their mean behaviors:

1.  Youth culture has changed DRASTICALLY in the past decade.  We continue to build programs and teach youth as if they were born twenty or more years ago.  It's not working!

2.  With children, the bully on the morning bus becomes the witness to bullying activity at morning recess and then becomes the target at lunch.  Very rarely is there one bully, one target.  Children switch roles throughout the day.  They only practice the behavior after they have experienced it themselves.

3.  An adult in the group (of children or youth) is (many? at least measureably some) times using bullying behavior themselves.  Once the young people see the behavior is being practiced and is tolerated, it escalates in that particular environment.   This is also true later in workplace culture.  If leadership practices and tolerates it, it will prevade the culture.  Think about the last job you left - did you leave because of the work?  or because of the culture?

4.  Focusing on changing the bully or the target (victim) rarely works.  As in item 1 above, we as adults would reason that you would take action against the bully or take action to protect the target in order to change the circumstance.  Neither has been proven to work.  The witnesses (anyone who was there when the event happened) are part of the event.  They are the only ones with the power to make change.  We would be so much better off as a culture if we focused on training them to take appropriate and immediate action each time they witnessed an event.  Sadly, we don't.

5.  Targets must clearly be seen as that - just targets.  They have little to nothing to do with why they were chosen.  Think of a group of kids with bb guns in the backyard.  They look for a target - anything will do.  Whatever pops up in front of them that is within the range that they think they can hit .....this is their target.

6.  Female relational aggression is the name given to the special ways females have developed to hurt each other.  Although physical violence among females is on the rise, most of the time they use much more devious and long-lasting ways to hurt each other.  This anecdotal story might help you remember how it starts.  Toddler children begin by hugging and loving on each other.  They then move to a phase where they will hit, bite and kick each other.  As they mature, the boys generally develop large muscle coordination and strength earliest.  Girls begin to lose in the hitting, biting and kicking episodes.  But, they rule the world of language earlier (in general).  So in order to hold their own, they begin to sharpen their language skills to hurt others. 

Thanks to Teri, Pam and Sally for keeping the conversation going!  The top expert in the field, I believe is Alison Hill at Critical Issues 4 Girls

Another over-the-top fantastic woman in the field is Yvonne St.John-Dutra, founder of Challenge Day.   And the work that was funded through the Colorado Trust after Columbine is wonderful if you can get your hands on it.    Alison of would know the status of using the material if you happen to be working with a group of girls and need resources. 

Thank you for reading!  Thank you for standing up as witnesses to the online bullying that happens on our blogs!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Slippery Slope to Frumpiness - Fallacy #5 - Nothing Constricting

5) Nothing constricting for foundation wear: 

In the 1970's, knitwear was exploding onto the fashion scene.  I probably weighed 95 lbs throughout high school but my mom insisted I wear girdle type panties, body suits that snapped at the crotch and other monstrosities to make smooth lines under the knits.   I hated it!  They pulled and squished and,dog forbid - you had to pee!  I ditched them as soon as I left home after high school vowing to never wear that stuff again.   

Guess what?  Foundation wear has changed alot since 1970!  Its comfortable, pretty and feminine.  You no longer have to try and stick your head between your legs to snap it!  Who knew? 

Since I had been deliberately avoiding this stuff for thirty years, it's fitting that I ended up with several bags of foundation wear from a local auction.   My future daughter-in-law was interested in several bridal gowns at our regional bridal salon.  Unexpectedly, the State of Kansas moved in and closed the place for non-payment of taxes.  Everything in the store was auctioned.  The wedding gowns were being sold off in lots of six dresses (for about $100 total!). Between, her, her mom and myself we brought home sixteen dresses.  Another story.....

But, there were bags and bags of panties, bras and other foundation wear.  No one was bidding on this stuff and I just couldn't stand it.  I bought several bags to resell on ebay.

In the bags, I found many pieces I love to wear!  They are so smooth and comfortable.  They make a huge difference in how sweaters and knits look - especially since some parts of my body seem to be shifting as I get older.  Nothing snaps under the crotch anymore.  Nothing gives me a wedgy part-way through the day.  I don't have to pack myself into them like a stuffed sausage.  They are just like underwear or slips - only they have a job to do and they do it well!  WOW! 

I'd say if you hated the foundation wear of the past - you have a good reason to try foundation wear again today!  It's a totally different animal now.  Friendlier, domesticated, even cuddly.

Flint Hills Prairie Fires

I've been a a bit busy!  If you happen to be driving through the Flint Hills of Kansas this week - the last of the prairie fires are a breathtaking site!  Its almost like we try to burn our selves silly for a couple of weeks around here!

The Kansas Turnpike is an excellent vantage point, running from the Oklahoma border in the south (the main route from Oklahoma City to Wichita) to Kansas City in the northeast corner.  The best views are between Emporia and Wichita.

And even if you miss it by a week, you will get to enjoy the beauty of the grass renewing itself - it seems like overnight!  The black burnt prairie becomes a brilliant green for miles and miles with nothing to block your view except the distant horizons in all directions.  The transient cattle are arriving now from all over the country to spend their lazy summer getting fat on the native grass.

We burnt our little ten acre patch last week!  Finally, after years and years of neglect we were able to hire someone to bring in equipment that would take out the overgrowth of cedars.  My husband spent a week on the four-wheeler dragging their carcasses up into piles.  Then comes the waiting as Kansas winds will quickly take a prairie fire out of control.  Last week the perfect wind from the perfect direction arrived at a time when neighbors could come and help. 

The cedars make the giant, hot fire you see in the photos.  Otherwise the prairie grass burns slowly and calmly.  And it's a neighboring event as people help each other burn especially on a place as small as ours.  It's easier to burn the huge unbroken patches of undeveloped prairie than it is a little place like ours.  On the 160+ acre places there is little chance of accidently burning down the neighbor's house or barn.  That is one of the reasons the tallgrass prairie conservation groups are working so hard to keep this area from being split up by developments. 

Evidently it takes a certain number of men, four wheelers and pickup trucks to make it all work out.  Plus a cooler of beverages.....

This is the way it has been done for centuries - spreading fire with a rake.....

And the past few decades have added some new ways to get the job done.......

Either way seems to work as this photo shows a few minutes later.....

The bonus cute Wranglers with boots were my sideshow.  Luckily I'm married to this one.

The near-miss evaluation committee meeting

I am very happy!  They didn't burn down my house.  And I can see our ponds from my upstairs bedroom window again!

The native Americans who lived on these prairies were very uncomfortable with places where they couldn't see for miles and miles around them.  The Kaw who lived in my area refused to move into the stone houses provided by the government in the late 1860's and instead used them to corral their horses.  They preferred to live in their more open housing structures so they would be aware of their surroundings.  I find myself feeling the same way every time I visit a large city.  In New York, I really had to keep breathing and reassuring myself as we traveled the train into the underground at Grand Central Station and then spent time downtown at Times Square.  I had fun, but I couldn't SEE!   It was a weird feeling and I was glad to be back on the prairie. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Slippery Slope Fallacies - #4 - Whatever Bras

4)  Whatever bras.  My friend's mother passed away last year.  On her facebook status she wrote, "Burn your candles.  Wear your good clothes.  What are we saving them for?"  It's so true.  She had spent weeks going through her mother's stuff - stuff that her mother should have enjoyed during her lifetime when it was meaningful to her to collect it.  I am 52.  Am I saving my best fitting, prettiest bras for my childrens' inheritance?  hmmmm.......

Also, I learned from Brittany
about how uncomfortable your bra should be when you first put it on.  It means it fits!  It's doing some heavy lifting!  The important question is how does it feel to you several hours later?  The cheapy, too big, too sloppy bras show their true colors hours later (when you are out and about  - people are actually seeing you).  I searched through my drawer and separated my bras.  In the process I found many fantastic ones with even four hooks in the back (another good sign according to Brittany - this means they were designed for my body type).  I wrote about the experience here

I am now wearing my best bras everyday.  It feels great!  Next time I will write about a related topic....Fallacy #5 that I began to incorporate into my life years ago as a truth - Nothing Constricting!