A Feminist Take On Teen Mothers–From A Former Teen Mother

I’m a feminist. I was also a teen mom. I have read slightly anti-teen mom things recently from the left. I wanted to address those things.

I’m not going to tell you how I was mature for my age, which I was. Instead, I’m going to make a pragmatic case that, so long as teen moms exist–which they do and will continue to until we have better local things to do than have sex, have proper sex education and teenage girls and boys have better access to birth control—that we should evaluate our society and make it so teen moms can thrive.

Having been a teen mom, I know the unique challenges. Child birth and raising children is difficult in “ideal” circumstances let alone when one still needs to finish high school, get a job and a driver’s license and hopefully go on to college.

Fortunately, when I was six months pregnant, I moved to Florida, a state in which a school for teen parents is required in every county. There, my teachers were my role models. They fought to provide us with a quality education, including parenting, nutrition and health classes for both us and our babies.

I have heard leftists say that they themselves had sex as a teen and that they think their teen having sex if fine so long as it’s safe. These are reasonable positions. However, as soon as a girl gets pregnant and keeps the baby, there’s worries about the “morality” of this. On the other hand, if the young lady has an abortion, it’s all swept under the rug.

The worry should be that it is now increasingly more difficult for this young lady to achieve things in life, to succeed, to gain an education. And that decreases the likelihood of the baby’s achievement. When I was a teenager, the statistic was that only 3% of teen mothers graduate high school. And, of those, only 1% went on to college. I had to make up my mind to fight and struggle to be that small percentage of young women with children going on to college.

We need to be more accepting of teen moms instead of scolding them, judging them and making life even more difficult for them. There’s a fear that catering to the needs of teen mothers will only encourage more teens to have babies. That wouldn’t be so if we also have the things in place I mentioned above, such as proper sex education. We cater to the needs of so many kinds of people already—not to make things less of a meritocracy but to even the playing field. Why not cater to the needs of teen moms?

You Might As Well Live

In 1926, Dorothy Parker wrote her famous poem “Resume.”

Razors pain you;

Rivers are damp;

Acids stain you;

And drugs cause cramp.

Guns aren’t lawful;

Nooses give;

Gas smells awful;

You might as well live.

I’ve just started reading the book Cyberspies. How are these two things related? It’s simple.

Just today, someone said that, with all the talk of cyberspies, espionage and hacking, it’s hard to want to, for example, have a Facebook account. You’re damned if you do.

How, they asked, can we keep in contact with people, if we can’t trust things like email or Facebook? You’re damned if you don’t.

The problem, I suggested, is not new.

The book Cyberspies begins with some of the first instances of spying and espionage, starting with intercepting plain, old-fashioned mail. Surely, people have dealt with these issues before.

While it’s good to be wary of the unknown “Friend Request” and to keep your account private, that, as we now know, is not a sure-fire way to keep your privacy.

Today, I was thinking about these issues when I saw a worm on the concrete porch. The worm seemed to be heading to certain death as it wriggled to nowhere, sure to dry up by morning. I began to walk over to save its life. But before I could do that, a tree frog hopped over and ate it!

It’s experiences like these—the small ones; the ones that don’t seem important—that you, Russia, Facebook or TSA would not know about unless I decided to tell you. There’s aspects, then, of our privacy we can keep. These may be tiny, seemingly insignificant things that happen in the dark on your front porch. But they are private things nonetheless.

After the worm and frog incident, I sat down to write.

You might as well live your life, I thought. You should certainly be aware of privacy risks, but don’t let it ruin your life. Don’t get overly paranoid about it. You should totally raise your voice so that your privacy is kept, but know that people have been dealing with these issues, mostly during times of war, for centuries. So, to quote Dorothy Parker, “You might as well live.”

An Oddball History Of Myself

In the world of universities, there’s scholars, administrators, students, administrative assistants. And then there’s me. I’m an oddball.

I always have been a little different, tying my shoes the opposite way—from top to bottom instead of bottom to top—when I was a kid and setting a brief trend.

When I graduated high school, I knew I wanted to go to college. I applied first to a community college to test the waters. Then, I applied to the highest-ranking university I could commute to: Stetson University.

I started out as an English major at community college. Perhaps I should have stuck with that. However, as these things go, I switched my major to Psychology and then, after transferring to Stetson, added Philosophy as a major.

I have always had very broad interests. A jack-of-all-trades and master of none. When my first Philosophy professor told the class that there was nothing beyond philosophy and that philosophy deals with everything, I was sold.

But philosophy is hard. Quickly, I bought myself a philosophy encyclopedia and dictionary in order to grasp this whole new language I was trying to pick up and master. I tried like everything to make A’s. And mostly, I did.

I graduated from Stetson in 2004 with BA’s in Philosophy and Psychology. I took a year off to study. I wanted to go to graduate school and thought I should spend a year beefing up my skills in Philosophy.

I applied to the University of North Florida. I was accepted. Then, I emailed to Department Chair asking how to apply for the Teaching Assistant position. He said, “Consider yourself as having applied.”

I got the Teaching Assistantship. I had a lot of anxiety and I would be speaking in front of students earning their BA’s. I decided I would overcome these fears and be the best teacher I could be. These days, I am fairly comfortable talking to groups—a skill that very few people seem at ease with.

I had decided, too, that I would try my very best to make all A’s in my graduate work. This would be tough, I knew. I would attempt to do my reading, turn in my work early, and solicit feedback from my professors so I could make the grade.

All the while, I was hammering myself in the head with logic. I became an informal logic machine. I could assess arguments, identify fallacies and see objections.

Being an informal logic machine is not my natural state. It’s not a healthy state for me. When I had my first psychotic break, it was because I could see so many different arguments and objections as I was writing my MA thesis that I became paralyzed. I simply broke.

That was on top of the personal obligations I had, which made my situation worse.

It was a perfect psycho-social storm that made me break from reality.

I hoovered around academia for several years, thinking I would make my way back in. At this point in time, it seems that will never be the case. I have had to take time to heal, adjust and align myself with new goals.

The oddball in the university—the one who broke from reality during her years in graduate school—has now blossomed into a writer of sorts. I do writing exercises every day. This is one. In my writing, I’ve come to understand other people and myself more fully.

My life—the one I’d pick for me—is currently a life living in a RV at a campsite, doing creative remote work for a living. That’s as sure of myself as I have been for a while—perhaps ever.

John Nash said that living with schizophrenia is a matter of living a quiet life. I think he was right. I may have had more grandiose visions for myself in the past. I may have even managed to do some remarkable things. But, at the end of the day, I just want a quite life. A humble life. And that is what I’m currently aiming for.

Does Donald Trump Sleep? And Other Questions Of Self-Care.

Tonight, I took a moment to reflect on something a republican said to me: “I’m not a whiny fucking liberal.”

I like generating theories–even if they aren’t correct. At least  I can say I tried to understand.

My assumption here is that the media this person consumes tells him that liberals are whiny. And that there may be differences between the explicitly-stated liberal and conservative view of humanity.

Conservatives, I take it, seem to assume that we can pull ourselves up by our very own bootstraps; that we have no mental, emotional or physical limitations. This is what their comments often suggest.

Liberals, I suggest, take the opposite to be true.

I would try to explain these things to the person who insinuated that liberals are whiny, but this particular person isn’t prone to have productive conversations.

Donald Trump seems like a grouchy, old man to me. However, he does in fact have limits and he knows it. For example, he goes golfing very regularly. This is, I suppose, to let off steam and to refresh and rejuvenate. This is basic self care. Yes, Donald Trump engages in self care.

But, at a more basic, human level, we can ask if Donald Trump eats, sleeps and shits. (We know he has sex!)

All of these things suggest the limitations of humans. We have physical, emotional and mental limitations and needs. Donald Trump, if he is to stay anywhere near sane (which is doubted by some, but I think he’s somewhat sane), needs to attend to these basic needs.

This is the liberal point of view. And it seems true as evidenced in Trump’s behaviors. When liberals “whine,” we are often suggesting that we–and you–are human and have needs that have to be met in order to stay physically and mentally healthy.

Yes, Donald Trump sleeps. Meditate on that. And remind yourself that you also sleep next time you think someone is “whiny.”


There’s Jokes And Then There’s Theories

For the past few days, I’ve been mulling over the theory posited that Trump is in love with Putin. This morning, I had a conversation with a brilliant family member about these things. My family member and I disagree on some things, I think.

There’s political jokes and satire aimed at people within a group–say, the leftists. I think these things can fortify a base and keep morale up. Some of these jokes/images are of Putin and Trump kissing and so forth. As useful as some of those things are in keeping up morale and generating a laugh, that’s not what I’m after.

Instead, I’m after a plausible theory as to why the president treads so closely to treason.

Initially, I thought that Putin had something on Trump–something damaging, which lead to Trump’s submission to Putin. But that doesn’t seem to explain Trump’s behavior–including his public fawning over Putin and, then, his backtracking. These behaviors point to a man who has a kind of commitment to Putin, but who is later advised by the GOP that he needs to back off a bit. In short, it’s the actions of a man in love who is told by potential “friends” that the person they love is treacherous. But Trump loves, anyway.

Political comics may indeed help us understand Trump. They may–perhaps, must–say something true that leads to a laugh. And they distill these things into an bite-sized image. But I’m not looking for a laugh. I’m looking to understand the man that, for all intents and purposes, leads our country.

I may be grossly wrong. But at least I’m trying to understand.

Trump: The Masochistic Figurehead

Yesterday, I read an interesting article over at Foreign Policy. The article posits that Trump is in love with a father-figure: Vladmir Putin. I encourage you to check out the article. It makes a good case.

Putin is known for his harsh brutality. Anyone who’d love him the way Trump appears to is, probably, a masochist. This love explains a lot of things about Trump’s behavior.

While Trump gesticulates more and more toward treasonous activity, the broader GOP has been doing the dirty work, including drafting policy for him and developing a budget proposal.

It’s my assertion that Trump is, indeed, a masochist in love with Putin. Who can say anything about this type of love? While he plays S&M on a global scale with Putin, the GOP is trying to unravel everything that does, in fact, make America great, such as Social Security and the EPA.

I think the GOP decided a while back that they would let Trump “play” at being president. They try to keep him in line, making sure he doesn’t veer too much toward being a traitor.

In the end, Trump is just a figurehead at this point, whose own party is playing him, while he tries to get his rocks off with brutal dictators.

My only hope is that Trump, whose savvy-ness I doubt, has created some limits with Putin and has developed a safe word. Because Putin is the real deal. He will not stop brutality on his own. I doubt, however, that any such contracts, even verbal, have taken place.

Trump is Putin’s Bitch.

Announcing: Hire A Philosopher

If you know me–I mean, really know me–you’ll know there’s nothing more I like to do than philosophy. Thus, I’m in the process of creating a brand new business. It’s a philosophy research and consulting firm.

You can check it out by looking at our new website.

You can learn more about me and my passions at the interview Helen De Cruz did with me here.

You Can’t Touch Girls, But You Can Rough Up On Guys

Today, I was at lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. I happened to overhear a young fellow across the way talking about the state of things today. In short, he said if you are a guy, you aren’t allowed to touch girls, but you can sure as heck rough up on a guy.

For real????

I mean, it’s true, you cannot even touch a girl without her permission. That’s basically the law. Otherwise it could be considered assault, which is a crime. This is true, however, whether you are male, female or something else.

However, the same is true of guys: You aren’t allowed to even touch them.

The culture of toxic masculinity says that guys can touch whoever they want–and even beat up on other guys. And that’s just a same.

Well, I’m sticking up for everyone: If you haven’t asked and gotten permission, don’t touch people. More to the point, don’t rough them up–whether you and they are male or not.

How Stoicism Can Help Your Business

I recieved a comment from someone about having an Ethics Officer at your company. The person said, “Great idea. Like count to ten before screaming at people?”

It’s sad to say, but there are indeed some bosses who need advice on this. For them, I recommend looking into the ancient philosophy of Stoicism.

Contrary to how we typically use the word ‘stoic’ in modern America, the ancient Greek Stoic wasn’t like Spock. Yet, there is a sense in which emotions can be a hindrance to the Stoic. This is especially true of of the emotion anger.

Anger is detrimental not only to those around you, but to you yourself. If you are a boss screaming at employees, you have a disturbed soul or psyche (in the ancient Greek use of the term). You cannot be at peace with anger in yourself.

The goal of the Stoic is to become like a Sage, who is the ultimately free person; who, indeed, nothing can disturb.

Unfortunately, anger is on the rise in our country. Some people have more problems with it than others. But learning from the ancient Stoics can help us here–and help your business.

Does It Make Sense To Talk About The Character Of A Company?

There’s a theory that corporations are–or, are like–people.

Set aside whether you agree with this position. I want to assume for a moment it’s true. If it is true, does it make sense to talk about the character of a corporation?

I don’t presume to know everything about business. Yet, I know for sure that it’s complex enough to think that if corporations are people, they have the same theoretical and empirical problems individual humans do when it comes to character. For example, take a look at the evidence for situationism.   

Situationism, generally, the idea that individuals are shaped more by their environment rather than something called character, presents a challenge for virtue ethics, one of the major ethical theories.

If situationism is true for the individual, I presume it is probably also true for the corporation. So, does it make sense to think of corporations as having a character? Many corporations try to make it seem as if they have a clearly defined character by consistently branding themselves. Yet, whether they actually have a character and whether this character matches the brand is something altogether different.

It remains to be seen whether corporations have a character. If they do, and if virtue ethics is correct, it may be possible to have more or less virtuous corporations.

Implicit Bias Training Is About Ethics

I’ve written about how organizations need Chief Ethics Officers. And they do. 

Recently, Starbucks came under fire when an incident occurred with Black customers who had the police called on them for simply being there. Starbucks responded to this incident by closing for a day for implicit bias training.

Whether implicit bias training works is yet to be seen. However, the point is the company responded–and it did so from an ethical standpoint. 

No one has yet outlawed implicit bias. You are completely allowed, under law, to be as biased as you want. That’s likely the way it should be. So this is not a matter of compliance. It’s not a matter for, specifically, a JD. It’s a matter of ethics. It’s a matter for philosophers.

This case is but one of many cases across to world which demonstrates the need for ethics in our public life. Ethics can, we hope, contrary to research by Eric Schwitzgebel, make us better people. It can make us act better. It can reduce bias in our own thinking and in the thinking of our customers.

So, next time someone asks you whether we need ethics in our public life, our policy-making and our organizations, you can confidently say, “Yes! Absolutely.”