Decorative Flower
Her Realm, Personal website and blog of Cole
Oct 05

In Which Cole Writes about Minimum Wage, Fast Food and Military Benefits

Every time I see this ridiculous meme floating around on Facebook in the response that we might possibly consider raising the minimum to $15 per hour for fast food workers or, you know, anyone who works hard, I just seethe. Here is it in all its glory:

Okay, rant – For those fast food employees striking for $15 an hour, let’s do some math. At $15 an hour Johnny Fry-Boy would make $31,200 annually. An E1 in the military makes $18,378. An E5 with 8 years of service only makes $35,067 annually. Hmmmmmm….. So you’re telling me, Sally McBurgerflipper, that you deserve as much as those kids getting shot at, deploying for months in hostile environments, and putting their collective asses on the line every day protecting your unskilled butt!

I spent a few years as a military wife, and while the base pay might not compare at first glance with the annual salary that, but there are a lot of perks that are awarded to service members and, by extension, their families. Here’s just a short list of perks I experienced as a military wife. Military.com has a whole list of benefits, too.

military benefits

This list doesn’t included bonuses for signing up, hazard pay during deployments and tons of other perks that I personally didn’t experience or am not familiar with.

What does this mean? That the $18,000 per year made by an E3 in any branch of the military is basically for non-essentials. There will never be a case in which a military member/family living on base will be without a home or utilities. Every public building on base has a phone for public use, which means you may not even need your own phone!

The salary will certainly go to some bills, including a vehicle, gas and insurance (which service members will likely get a discount on as a thanks for service). You’ll pay out of pocket for clothing and household items, which you can purchase on base without sales tax, but this comes nowhere near $18,000 per year. You could send your child to private school, waste hundreds on video games – Gamestop should consider building stores directly outside base gates! – or always purchase a brand-new vehicle.

Am I saying that military members shouldn’t make more than someone who works at McDonalds? Not really. The problem with the type of thinking that has motivated this post is the idea that fast food workers shouldn’t make $15 an hour because that’s the type of pay someone who works harder earns. The “harder” job might be military or factory work or something such as being a doctor, which required years of expensive schooling. These things might all require more diligence or risk or education or experience. I’m not arguing that.

But if you’re only making $15 hourly at a risky or difficult job, you should also be paid more!

You are being fucked over just as much as the person flipping your burgers or delivering your pizzas. You are also suffering at the hands of a system that hasn’t ensured the minimum wage, and by extension, all other wages keep up with the cost of living. You’re just being fucked over a little less, which makes it manageable.

It might suddenly become more obvious if you’re making the same — or even less — as someone whom you deem has an easier job. But you should be fighting along with people who want to raise the minimum wage. It’s the right thing to do as a compassionate human being, and it will only help you in the long run, too.

There’s only one reason to oppose fair wages: because it hurts those who are wealthy and powerful. Those people are wealthy and powerful enough. Chances are, you’re not one of those people if you’re reading this. So stop acting like one of them. You have nothing in common. They will do nothing for you while continuing to take from you. You are better than that.


Sep 13

Blogging Comes with Hard Lessons

No, really. I’ve learned some awesome things about myself and my community and computers and the Internet and the world at large from being an active blogger. I’ve also learned some things that are frustrating, disheartening and just plain shocking. For example.

Pictofigo Frustration

This is pretty much me on a daily basis!

People Don’t Understand the Internet

Every week, I get at least one comment on Reviews by Cole from someone who thinks I am the company. Not just that I am somehow affiliated but that I can send them products or perform an exchange or send them a manual or what-have-you. Now, this just perplexes me. Chances are, they performed a search for a specific product and wound up on my site because the manufacturer doesn’t offer information about the specific product. I understand how people get to my site.

What I don’t understand is how they could possibly think that they are anywhere else than a product review blog where I talk about my personal experiences. My site looks like a blog. It reads like a blog. It quacks like a blog. It’s a blog, folks!

Language Is Important

I don’t just mean representing yourself in a professional way. I mean that almost any time I’ve worked with a company whose representative’s first language wasn’t English, it turned out terrible. My not-politically-correct opinion is that a lot of companies that cheaply manufacture items overseas view bloggers as a quick way to get some links with minimal cost on their end because they’re making crap.

It doesn’t matter if these are quality posts or long-term relationships. It sure as hell doesn’t matter if the product works or not. And sometimes I am not better than them. I don’t say “No” even when every sign indicates this is going to be painful from beginning to end or that it’s just not worth it.

Giveaways Are a Chance to Win

..and even if you’re the winner, you shouldn’t count your chickens before your eggs hatch. I recently posted on Facebook on how I had been contacted by a winner of my DX Mall giveaway. Sadly, this company fell into the last category. They’re a bottom-feeder type, and not only were my communications with them downright painful because of the language barrier, but it took them over a week to consider crediting my winner’s accounts. One winner went back and forth with them before weeks before she was finally told that the site shut down.

That’s all folks. I’m a middle man. There’s nothing I can do short of paying for those prizes out of my own pocket, which I just can’t do. I’ve been using a disclaimed about how I am not responsible for prize fulfillment for some time. Basically, this means I can send off your information to my contact and nag them a couple times, but you’re not actually the winner until the prize is in your hands.

It’s a Numbers Game

This might be the lesson that’s been the most difficult for me to come to terms with. While things like user engagement and comments mean a lot to me, it’s stuff like visits and Facebook “Likes” that turn the heads of PR folks and businesses who consider working with me. I know this isn’t always the case, but unless you don’t have the masses visiting your site, you’re likely going to miss out on opportunities that might otherwise be perfect for you.

Another thing is that someone who takes good (or sometimes numerous!) pictures will get more opportunities than I do because I tend to focus on text. I’ve literally left reviews not knowing what items were or how well they worked. I’ve seen bloggers highlighted on social media and forums because of their great photos that literally did nothing to convince me that the brand or product was worth thinking about twice.

I’ve seen this time and again, and it’s tempting to feel anger, but I know it’s not use it. I’ll keep building and getting better. I’ll be grateful for what I qualify for, and that’s included some awesome stuff. But I won’t be quiet when you write a terrible review because you’re hurting more than just yourself.

Also, when it comes to those giveaways? Another numbers game. Consider the amount of work you’re putting in and how much you really need or want that item because I can guarantee a lot of entrants are wasting their time and effort!

I sound more jaded than I feel on a daily basis in this post, but nothing everything about blogging is pretty.


Jun 18

Feminism Isn’t About Hating Men

And when people claim that, my knee jerk reaction is to say “Jesus Christ! How dense are you?”

But I don’t want to alienate people who mistakenly think that and want to understand why it’s not true.

Because  it’s not about hating anyone. It may be about hating the system, and perhaps some men who harass, demean, abuse or worse to women deserve loathing, but some people are simply problematic.

However, when it comes to the system, it’s pretty vile. And it’s about more than just an unequal pay scale. It’s about a society that is so entrenched in patriarchy that

  • women are harassed
  • men rape women
  • men abuse woman
  • women compare themselves to others
  • women still make less money for the same work in some fields
  • women are expected to do 100% of the housekeeping and child rearing even when they work outside the home
  • women are made fun of for being or dressing like a prude
  • women are chastised for “Dressing” like a slut
  • women learn to judge themselves and other women on appearance alone
  • women and men fail to see the value of an intelligent, opinionated woman
  • harassment in the street and workplace is accepted
  • wedding/marriage is viewed as the pinnacle of a woman’s life
  • society looks down on women without children (and couples)
  • the worst insult a man could receive is that he is woman-like
  • women are afraid to say “No”
  • the only thing that can stop a come on in many situations is saying “I have a boyfriend”

And the list goes on and on and on and on. For every overt act of sexism — no, hatred against women — there are a million more subtle ways that women have learned to live with. And, yes, I hate it. I hate the way it makes us  feel about ourselves. I hate the way we view other women as competition. I hate that a woman cannot make a suggestion without men ignoring it outright. I hate that a woman’s “emotions” are a valid excuse to stop her from doing anyway.

I hate the system that breeds this, just like many people hate the system that keeps making the rich richer and the poor poorer. Many people hate that system — except for the people it benefits. They like the power, the money and the perks so they keep it going.

Except in terms of politics, the party lines aren’t drawn clearly based on whether or not you have a vagina; although, certain parties are definitely better for women than others. So why is it that people can be angry at the political system but they can’t be angry at the patriarchy?

Why can people not recognize or at least take time to consider that there is a system in place that benefits men. And when something benefits one group of people, it almost always puts down another group of people. In this case, it’s women who are getting the short end of the stick because we don’t have a stick.

And, yes, I hate that. But I don’t hate men. I personally love many men. I also want to live with and feel comfortable with men who I know and not have to worry about my safety with men who I don’t (strangers). I want to live and work with men as family members, teachers, coworkers. I do not want to hate them. But I also don’t want them to benefit unfairly while I struggle because I am a woman.

That’s not unreasonable hatred. That’s fairness. Equality. Logic.


May 26

#YesAllWomen Deserve Better Than #MisogynyCulture

I follow several feminist blogs, Tumblrs, authors and communities. It’s a topic that is near and dear to my heart even when something so horrible as a young man hunting down and murdering 6 people isn’t in the news because even when it’s pretty “good” to be a woman, it’s still pretty bad. The typically sudden but sometimes overt viewpoints, words and actions condoned by a society that hasn’t made nearly enough progress since the 1950s — I don’t care what you say — has led to the death of those 6 people. In addition, another young woman named Alyssa took her own life after harassment for being in a porn flick.

This past week has been littered with women dying because it is essentially a crime to be a woman and expect to be more than chattel. I don’t know how to express my frustration except that I know it shouldn’t be discussed and thought about only by people — mostly women — who already realized what a problem exists in this misogynistic world  and most certainly it shouldn’t be a topic only when the “really” terrible things happen. We should be talking about it every day to make this a better place not just for our children but for us right here and right now.

The longer we let this bullshit go on, the more women die. More men rape women because they don’t understand what rape is. More men continue to stalk. And more people, men and women alike, blame the victims for this as if they can control predatory and sexist behavior.

And the longer men continue to be miserable and angry because they don’t understand that their entire line of thinking — the worldview that they’ve been taught for their entire lives — is wrong. If you really care about men’s rights, then will recognize the only way to improve their lives is first by providing true equality and safety for women. There is no other answer.

And I am pissed as a feminist. How could I not be? But I am simply angry as a decent human being who would like people to stop dying because of hatred for women, because of a belief that women are not real people.

As much as I want to be angry at Elliot Rogder, I recognize that he didn’t deserve this, either. He didn’t deserve to die. He deserved a chance at a happy life and not through becoming rich or finally having sex. He deserved a world where he would be taught that he wouldn’t always get what he wanted and this didn’t have to mean unhappiness for him.  But the lesson that would have literally saved his life went with him to the grave.

Elliot was obviously looking for answers. I’d hazard a guess that many men are. Even some women. Unfortunately, the answers he found led to his death and that of six other people. Because those answers were wrong:

Because this is what the Men’s Rights Movement does: it spreads misogyny, it spreads violence, and most of all it spreads a sense of entitlement towards women’s bodies.

It’s easy to write this off as a one-time thing. Many people have. This terrible event has sparked discussions about mental health and gun rights. I am all for conversations about this when the time is right. Now is not that time. Because what Elliot did wasn’t a one-time thing of a “lunatic.” It was a symptom of something even greater.

You only have to look toward the next headline, the tragic suicide of Alyssa, to see this. While Elliot was angry at women who wouldn’t have sex with him, Alyssa was slut-shamed. Two sides of the same damning coin. She had sex on camera so she’s a slut even though a man wouldn’t receive the same treatment. It gets worse, though. She kills herself and the Internet is full of comments such as “You deserved to die but I watched and liked your video, anyway.” I can’t even comprehend how someone could think that this is okay. But it’s clear that if you’re a woman, you cannot win. Or even live.

I don’t know how we can live in a society where people are allowed or even influenced to think in ways that promotes this behavior. The harassment. The rape. The assault. The stalking. The entitlement to a woman’s body. The murder. But here we are in that society. And I think I will not rest until it is no longer that society.

If you’d like to be supportive or to understand how damaging rape culture and msyogny are to women, you only have to look at the hashtag #YesAllWomen on Twitter. Or Facebook. Or Tumblr. Just beware that you’re going to see ignorant and hate-fueled arguments in returns because “OMG what about men’s rights?!” and “She had it coming.”

 


May 17

I’m judging you

  • If I go to your house and there’s no soap in the bathroom. Or if there’s soap but no hand towel. Do you not wash your hands? Gross!
  • If you don’t wash your hands when cooking for other people. I don’t need to eat your food, thanks.
  • If you’re a shitty tipper. Seriously? We’re not neanderthals.
  • If you drop food and pick it up and eat it. From the ground.
  • If you share food with your animals. I am a crazy cat lady, but this is seriously weird.
  • If you doubt that dinosaurs actually walked the Earth. They did, okay?
  • If you come over to spend time with me but spend the entire time on your phone.
  • If you refuse to have fun because you’ve convinced yourself you won’t.
  • If you say you’re not into drama but every damned thing you do creates it.

 

Maybe this makes me a judgmental person, but I feel like most of these things make me a clean and hygienic human being. And there’s a basic foundation that I need to even feel somewhat human so I just don’t understand when other people can bypass all these things and not.

I’m not going to leave the house without being clean and dressed. I can’t even spend a day without taking a shower. Now, it won’t kill me, and I certainly adjust my way of thinking when I am in another person’s home, but these things still cross my mind.

The thing is.. I won’t tell you that I they cross my mind. I won’t say a thing to embarrass you because that’s rude. But I will wonder, and you may see evidence of this cross my face for just an instant because I have nothing close to a poker face.

But, hey, maybe you’re happier than I am anyway.