What happened at the W-20 summit ?

W-20 summit 2Earlier today, the W-20 Women’s summit kicked off in Berlin with a panel- discussion titled „Inspiring women: Scaling Up Women’s Entrepreneurship”. There were some interesting names on the panel, our Dutch queen Maxima among others. I was looking forward to hearing what she had to say and how she stood her ground beside iconic powerhouses such as Angela Merkel and Christine Lagarde.

Sadly, media has reported on only one thing: Ivanka Trump. The one person I couldn’t care less about. She was apparently booed and hissed at by the audience when she tried to convince them her pops was a promoter of women’s rights. I can’t even roll my eyes hard enough.

Why was she even there?

W-20 summit

All though I am quite certain the other members of the panel must have spoken as well and that what they had to say must’ve been pretty empowering or at least relevant, I can’t tell you for sure. All I know is that Maxima was the first speaker and that she described herself as a “feminist”, what in her vision meant “wanting equal rights” as well as freedom of choice. This drew applause from the audience, with Merkel saying, “Then I am one.”

Well shucks girls, I sure wish it wouldn’t be necessary to start the discussion at such a basic level but more so, I wish media had chosen more interesting snippets to quote…

I’m hoping the discussion will be online in full at some point so I can give it a go myself and see if I can collect some more interesting quotes.

Dutch women marching towards election day

Last week was international women’s day. Next week is election day in the Netherlands. Today was the Women’s March in our capital, Amsterdam, as well as in other cities like Nijmegen and Groningen.

17098417_10155133806593928_5432149404312354881_n
I vote: against hate, for diversity, against racism, for equality

I went to the event in Amsterdam, all though I must admit I just barely made it, and was only half out of couch-potato-mode when I caught the train. The two friends I had planned to go with had already cancelled… Periods… go figure…

All though I could dedicate an entire blog purely on the irony of that fact alone, I’ll try to focus on today’s event and how it made me feel.

Let me start off by explaining that I don’t particularly like Amsterdam.

It’s pretty and all, in a big-spender bombastic kind of way. It’s our country’s main tourist attraction for good reason but it lost its spirit in the process. It’s a well known phenomenon, I suppose. The ugly side of tourism: downgrading unique characteristics into bite-size stereotypes, chasing prices of everything up to ridiculous Disneyland levels without improving on the quality of anything…

Damrak.jpgBut I was heading to Amsterdam anyhow. The Women’s March was planned to start off on the Dam square, which is near to Amsterdam Central Station, connected by one straight street called the Damrak. And trust me when I tell you; this is the most awful little strip of the city (maybe even the entire country), where everything I dislike about Amsterdam is crammed together in such high levels, that I prefer to avoid it when at all possible.

What I decided to do, was head to another train station and join the march on the final stretch, right before its final round up point: Museumplein, or Museum Square. This is a big green lawn with the impressive Rijksmuseum building on one end and our fancy shmancy concert hall on the other.

17212193_1826231944286446_3491047008598282718_o.jpgBecause I was skipping out on about 90% of the actual march, I decided to dedicate my thoughts and the choice of my music to relevant issues. I focussed on inequality of women in particular but also in the broader spectrum of human rights in general.

And without having planned it this way, my own personal march towards museumplein led me through a street where women in very intimate apparel “showed off their goods” to bald headed white men casually walking by. Of course I know that Amsterdam has a reputation for its stance towards prostitution, but I know it to be as something typical of “de Wallen” which is an area quite close to that same Damrak area I spoke of earlier. Finding it where I did was something I had not anticipated but it did kind of fit…

I wondered if it would be offensive or encouraging to these women to know where I was headed to… I wondered if the actual women’s march had considered leading their protest rally through the red light district. I wondered if I should look at them and smile or look the other way, to give them some abstract sense of privacy… Complicated thoughts, I can tell you!!

Anyhow… As I approached the museumplein area, I could hear chants in the distance and saw police officers on bikes and horses patrolling the area. What did they think of all of this? Who would they be voting for next week? Where were all the female cops?

When I saw the crowd I must admit I got goosebumps all over my body and even got choked up a bit. So many had shown up! Fifteen to twenty thousand, as it turned out later. I walked the last stretch with the group and found a nice spot on the museumplein lawn to listen to the speeches that were planned for that afternoon.

When the first speaker grabbed the microphone I was kind of surprised by the tameness of the crowd in general… There was some applause, some cheering but… but…. I didn’t really feel the conviction behind it… I missed some sense of… something. Anger? Passion? I wondered why nobody else seemed to have trouble holding back their tears. And I wasn’t even on my period!

I have been at rallies before and I realized what was different now… This crowd consisted mostly of women… But then I thought of the youtube video of the incredibly moving “I can’t keep quiet”-song at the Women’s march in Washington DC and realized it wasn’t just the fact that it was a female crowd that made the vibe so mellow… It was the fact that they were DUTCH women.

We have grown so complacent here. Lacking nothing. Wanting nothing. Needing nothing. Not really. We may feel we NEED something from time to time but this usually comes up when a new iphone is revealed or something of the sorts.

Yes, I think I was disappointed. I was disappointed by the fact that I feel more passion and willingness to fight for a cause when I go to a soccer match than when women’s rights are at stake. I am sad that the wonderful ladies that showed up on stage spoke true words but didn’t manage to fan those flames. I wished they had gone to see a soccer match first!! Or at least watched a Beyonce concert (btw, did you guys see her at the Grammys? OMG, right?).

So… we will be voting in four days…

What I need is the BFG to cook up some life changing dreams for my fellow countrymen and -women and motivate them all to; a) show up , b) vote with their hearts open. Oh, how I fear what’s in my compatriots’ minds…

Doubters alert

The Daily Post suggested an interesting topic to write about last week, titled: “Doubters Alert.”

It took me a couple of days, but I have decided to turn it into a list (again).

All though the items are numbered, the order is actually completely arbitrary. The numbering only helped me keep track of how far along I was and I guess I just like how it makes it look more listy. So, I hereby present you with my top ten denials of common accepted truths.

1. Men and women are equal
They’re not. Do I believe men and women should be given equal chances? Hell yes! I also agree that this isn’t always the case and I’m sure there are women with big ambitions who are held back because of their gender. The fact that more women choose a career as nurses and more men become firefighters however, is not because the opposite sex is being discriminated against. These career choices make biological sense. Don’t make me explain, I know you get it.

2. Disciplining your child is wrong
You’re right, I don’t have kids of my own but I don’t think it makes me any less credible. Even more, my observations are less likely to be tainted by emotions, instinctual protection hormones and unconditional love. I actually see that your kid is sneaky and that you are being played like a fool. I also see that not all kids are like that and that your parenting is to blame.
Loving your child and setting boundaries are not contradictory actions. I believe kids need to be shown right from wrong. I also believe they can cope with hard truths of life at quite an early age and that consequences of bad behavior must be in place. These consequences need to be clear, fair and unnegotiable. They also need to be unpleasant in order to be taken serious by the grown-up-in-training.

3. Praying helps
prayer-purposeI do not believe in prayer, unless it’s just to meditate and self reflect. If there is such a thing as a god I can’t imagine he (let’s just refer to this god-figure as a he from here on , for practicality, but you can read it as she if you prefer) needs people telling him how almighty he is. I also simply can not accept the idea that he would be such a fool that he would grant some ass wipe who prays daily access to his super cool heaven club and deny it to someone who is clearly an awesome person, but doesn’t mumble some words several times a day.

4. Self prescribed diets
I believe in moderation. Too much of anything can become a bad thing and it may differ from person what “too much” is. I’m going to sound like an old sock now, but in this day and age I think a lot of people are blaming nutrition for physical complaints that are actually caused by stress. I believe some types of foods are easier to digest than others but I don’t believe this means we are not supposed to eat the stuff that makes our intestines work hard. I believe it keeps them vital and yes, this means that sometimes you will fart more and the color and smell of your poo may vary.

If you’re on a diet on doctor’s orders: different story all together, obviously…

5. Giving money to the homeless is a bad idea
homeless handThere are many reasons why a person could end up living on the streets, all though mental illness and drug dependency will often play a roll. I know there is a big chance the money I put in the hand of that smelly figure in rags will go into sustaining a drug habit. Call me an enabler. I don’t believe that denying that person the couple of coins I have in my pocket will encourage them to get clean. You have to be truly desperate to walk over to a complete stranger and ask them for money, knowing what they must think of you.

My policy is as follows:

  • Never ignore someone who asks you something in the streets. Even if my answer is no, they deserve to be acknowledged at the least. This also applies to people trying to sell you something.
  • Be genuine in your response. I once said I didn’t have change on me, even though I did, and I felt crappy straight away. There is nothing wrong with saying: “Sorry, not today” or “I’m tight for cash myself at the moment”, rather than lying about it.
  • If I have an unopened bottle of soda or water on me, I will give them this rather than money.
  • If I have some spare change on me I hand it to them
  • In a rare case I could walk over to a nearby shop and buy them something.
  • When I do grocery shopping I sometimes buy something extra like a sandwich or a bottle of juice, with the homeless person I just saw in the back of my mind.
  • Wish them good luck.
  • Don’t let others change my mind about this.

6. Taking selfies is normal and OK

Again, old sock talking here, but this self absorbed modern day habit is so incredibly stupid, I don’t even know where to start. The eternal posing, the duckface, the angelic girlie look, the nonchalant glance out of the window, the looking up into the camera so they can look down into your cleavage, the confused frown, pointing at food, pointing at a friend, posing with a celebrity in the background trying to mind his own business, sticking out tongue, the peace sign… It all just makes me want to roll my eyes.

7. Plastic surgery is a healthy way to deal with low self esteem (and then lying about it)
My nose is crooked and relatively large, I have the typically protruding chin that runs through my family and have been mocked for my pointy knees. Sure, I have my insecurities. The fact that we can fix some (all?) of these features is admirable. I’m sure there are situations in which a visit to a plastic surgeon can be a great idea and improve lives in a major way. I also understand the growing old isn’t fun. I do. I don’t blame you for trying to fight it, but what’s up with all the denial?? And why take it to such an extreme that you stop looking like a human being all together ?

8. “The one”
love isForget the Matrix, there is no such thing as the One. The idea of there being one single person on the planet that matches with you for the full 100% is bull crap. First of all, everybody has their flaws and  in every relationship there are bound to be struggles. Besides charming your prince in shining armor will also have some ugly traits, as do you. This doesn’t mean you’re not good for each other. And if your individual traits clash more often than anticipated, there’s nothing wrong with calling it quits. Don’t worry, it’s not a sin or whatever you want to call it. There are billions of us on the planet. There are people in all shapes and sizes. There are bound to be several that fit your mold and chances are the person you end up loving the most, ticks none of the boxes you once fantasized your soulmate would have.

BTW, Tim Minchin wrote quite a cute song about this.

9. It is normal for love to fade
Despite the fact that I do not believe in “the one”, I do believe in true love. That this true love can be felt for different people throughout your life is beside the point here. What I want to debunk is the idea that it is OK to settle for a mediocre relationship and justify this to yourself by saying that every relationship loses its spark after a while. I disagree! Love changes, I’ll give you that. The passion might not be there with the same physical intensity it started out with, but it must still be in there somewhere. Staying with someone out of habit or pity or fear of change is a waste of your time. If you are not happy with the relationship you’re in, time to get up and leave!

no mediocre love 2

10. If you don’t have anything nice to say, better to say nothing at all.
Speaking your mind is never a bad idea!

Men are funnier than women

Isn’t that just a wonderful thing to say? I have no idea who William James was, or if he had a last name at all, but I like him already… I totally agree! Or not, because I must admit sometimes I lean abit towards the bizar with my sense of humor; the hysterically absurd if you will. Some might prefer to call it retarded or obscene. I don’t care, as long as it makes me chuckle.

Earlier this month I read a blog that touched the subject of humor, something I find extremely important. Being a woman however, I do know that I can’t get away with everything in this respect. This specific blog even went so far as to say that being funny might influence my chance of reproducing (long story short and very much simplified, for the full story do check out the original blog on Evolutionist X)

I must confess I don’t particularly like watching female comedians myself. I’m sure the ladies on stage are extremely funny to be around and great company on a night out, but as comedians they always seem to either try too hard or completely miss the mark. Or both.

Many comedians thrive on jokes at their own expense. So Eddy Murphy and Chris Rock make jokes about black people, Jerry Seinfeld and Jon Stewart make jokes about jews, Tim Minchin and Conan O’Brien make jokes about gingers. They touch taboos, say things we may have thought at some point but didn’t dare say because of its political incorrectness.

So yes, female comedians make jokes about women but for some reason, I just don’t find that amusing for very long. Why not? Is it because all taboos surrounding women have already been busted open? Does nothing women do or say shock us anymore? Are pussy jokes getting old, stale and unoriginal? Or is it because I find many jokeworthy traits women have extremely annoying in real life? I can’t put my finger on it!

SO, are men indeed funnier than woman? Hell no! They just don’t do well on stage, for some reason (all though they are getting better lately). The best jokes are the spontaneous, quick and clever ones in my opinion anyway, so to hell with stand up comedy. Humor is the biggest turn on in the world and I don’t buy for a second that men don’t find that attractive in women.

Sure, I know funny women (especially the sarcastic ones) may be considered “a bit much” by some. I also happen to know some men absolutely hate being verbally outgunned  (which makes it that much more amusing to do, if the right crowd is there to witness it) and some prefer the doe-eyed giggly kind of girl. That’s totally fine, to each their own.

Keep it real!

It seems I am going to be complaing about “inspirational” quotes again… The proper response to this might be to delete my FB account, but I just can’t help myself. Annoyance is good fuel for writing as well so it’s not all bad…

The category I am going to hate on today are the quotes that attempt to be empowering and do this by questioning the “realness” of other men and women. Some examples:

real girlsIt might just be the fact that English isn’t my mother tongue, cause I don’t know what half of this stuff even means!  The adjective “real” in this context can mean anything varying from “brave” to “honest” and from “sophisticated” to “independent”. And what’s more, it feels like it’s not even really meant as a declaration of “realness” as much as it is a diss to someone they consider to be the opposite of real… which is what…. a man? not human (zombie?)? an un-woman… really no clue…


…and one last thing, somewhat unrelated: WHY is it so hard to remember that womAn is the singular form?! Nobody talks about “a men” but when it comes to the female version it gets confusing for some reason….. Maybe because we often travel in packs and are not seen as individuals until later on in life? 

Anyhow…. back to the real topic of today… because there is also a category about “real” men (yes, this is the plural form), that needs to be addressed. These quotes are actually usually quite boring, imo, as they are mostly just a creative attempt by some women to vent about their exes or just another way of dealing with being turned down, because you see, he just wasn’t “real” enough to deal with her… You ready for this?

COME ON, ladies…… This just makes me feel ashamed of my gender…. Give the guys a break already… How can the dudes ever live up to this shit? If the guys you are dating keep turning out to be shitty specimens, maybe there’s something you are doing that is making them behave this way!

And I haven’t even discussed the “what-he-says-and-means-vs-what-she-says-and-means”-quotes that go around……… You know the ones…… Man, they annoy the heck out of me…

man vs woman says 2  man vs woman says 1

This last category might need a whole blog of its own, to be honest. And I must confess I’m actually a lousy woman in this discussion because I totally agree with a lot of the complaints guys have about us, as far as our indirect communication goes, our weird expectations and fickleness. I am totally that way sometimes (but I do apologize later (sometimes))!

How DO we coexist? I guess it’s all about finding the balance, right?

man woman yin yang

Anti-evolutionary procreation

The subject I am going to discuss today is quite a delicate one and I don’t think I will be able to really say what I want to say without offending people, so I think I will just be straight and blunt about it and not even try to be subtle…

What happened is that I read this article in Dutch newspaper the Volkskrant, written by a guy called Anton de Wit, about single women who wish to have a child via IVF. The article I read was a reaction to an opinion piece that came out in a feminist magazine called Opzij. The writers of this piece in Opzij were upset about the fact that half of all hospitals in the Netherlands refused women for IVF who were not in a steady relationship.

Some of these hospitals decline requests from single women on the basis that they do not have a sperm bank on site and not merely because the wannabe mother does not have a partner. According to some feminist groups these rules are preposterous and discriminatory. A woman is made for motherhood and anyone who stands in the way of this wish is a bully.

mother simple linesAs Anton de Wit sarcastically sums up: “Why shouldn’t [a single woman] be allowed to be artificially inseminated? What if she can’t wait for Mr Right any longer or keeps on hooking up with douchebags that aren’t man enough to take on the responsible task of being father? Isn’t procreation a human right (…)?” and then adds: “Reproduction has, in the biological essence, always been a thing between two people, a man and a woman. Sure, thanks to scientific progress and shifting social conventions we have been able to reduce the first to merely a sperm donor.”

It’s a pity, in my opinion, that the feminist point of view was defended by a (single?) woman and the article in the Volkskrant was written by a man, which turned it into a “man vs women” thing for people looking for an easy point to score. You could easily turn it into a “Oh, that’s just typical; a man trying to take away a woman’s rights to be independent”-thing, all though that’s not the point at all. Because, as Anton very sharply adds:

“But when the conception has succeeded another individual appears with its very own rights, that we can not push aside so lightly – namely the child. (…) Does a grown up’s wish to have a child have more ground than a child’s wish to have parents?”

I, as a woman, must say I totally agree with Anton here. And even more so, it stirs up the devil’s advocate in me that wants to say:

If you can’t find a partner that wants a child with you, you weren’t meant to procreate! It’s anti-evolutionary. You are messing with the universe’s (or Darwin or God or whatever) plan…..

And to those whose feelings I just hurt: I’m sorry. I don’t enjoy seeing you sad, but it is truly what I believe…