Archive for the ‘Soapbox’ Category

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Soapbox 13: My Experience As A Female Gamer

October 27, 2015

I have heard of many people who decry the unfairness of being a female in gaming. They say that as soon as someone knows you are a female in a game, they will discriminate against you. I wanted to see if this was my own experience.

I have played many games, including but not limited to, League of Legends, Puzzle Pirates, Legend of Zelda series, the Halo series, Bastion, XCom: Enemy Unknown etc. You may have noticed that I have played some Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) games. These are the games that get the most grief. Because Puzzle Pirates is more focused on female gamers and cooperation, I am going to focus on League of Legends instead for the purpose of this article.

League of Legends is what is known as a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA). Other games like this include Smite, Heroes of the Storm (HotS) and Defense of the Ancients (DotA).1 ­When I started playing, I played with my husband and his friends only. They were really nice and did not mind when I completely messed up. Usually, their skill could compensate for my newness and I was able to get better quickly by following their advice and their lead. From here, I was able to play with my husband as a duo2 on a five player team. They treated me with respect and the skill that I showed while also expressing their jealousy that their own spouses/girlfriends did not accept their gaming habits, let alone play with them.

From the beginning, I did not choose my name based on my gender, so no ‘Puffy Princess’, or ‘Pink Pixie’ screen names for me. Even with this, I did not hide my gender either. Many times when getting the option to choose my character (known as a champion) I would say honestly that I wanted to play next to my husband and label him as such. I never once got any negative feedback about this. Not once. Nada. Never. I did have people who would swear in chat, would rage3 in chat and be generally uncooperative, but it was always a result of the game itself, not because I was a girl.

With all of my experiences, I do not claim that women are never demeaned simply because of their gender. It does happen far more often with male-centric games like Call of Duty, but we need to look at what they are doing to the men in those games, too. When the men playing those games get angry with each other, they type nasty things at each other that I refuse to repeat here. When they get angry at a girl, they do the exact same thing, but spin it to reflect the gender they perceive the player is. Regardless of which gender you are, nasty, hateful, spiteful things are said to all people in those games. I believe that we need to differentiate these occurrences to see how prevalent the problem truly is.

All in all, I believe that the thought that video games are for boys is a dying point of view among all gamers, providing a far more welcoming atmosphere for everyone to share the joy of gaming together. I hope that this trend can keep going and that we stop saying that girls do not belong in gaming.

 

References:

  1. League of Legends and Defense of the Ancients have long been argued as the best MOBA among gamers. Here is a video that goes over the two and lets the audience choose their own favorite.
  2. A duo is when two players together are matched with the rest of their team.
  3. Raging: When a player gets extremely angry to the point of clouded judgment. Usually symptoms of this is infighting among a team, leaving the game in the middle of play, feeding the enemy team, refusing to cooperate with anyone else, blaming others for their own losses.
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Soapbox 12: What Every Woman Should Know Before Taking Hormonal Birth Control

October 13, 2015

Hormonal birth control. It is this magical pill that stops heavy periods and extreme mood swings, but at the same time, prevents pregnancy. What could be better?

This is the convincing logic that is used to push young women who plan to become sexually active into using hormonal birth control rather than contraceptives that do not trick and change the body. I myself was convinced that this was the way I should go when I got married, so without hesitation, I jumped on ‘the pill’ bandwagon.

For the first year, I was severely depressed and I thought it was caused by other things in my life. I was lucky and switched birth control after the year and discovered that with the lower dose of drugs, I could be generally happy again. This is one of the first things that my doctor neglected to warn me about. Taking the birth control can cause depression. If you are on the pill and find yourself unhappy, ask your doctor about changing your medication.

For the second and third years, I enjoyed the benefits of the pill. I had barely any bleeding, I did not have to worry about having a baby and I did not really have mood swings. At the end of the third year, something terrible happened. Regulation forced the company making my birth control into releasing the formula, allowing generics to be made, but instead of making the drug up to the point when the generics would be released, they cut off supply 3 months early, so they would not have any drugs left over and lose money. Because of this, I was up a creek without a paddle.

Rather than going to my doctor, I decided that it might be a good time to get off hormonal birth control. I went off of it cold turkey. This was a terrible decision. My body had been used to drugs regulating it for so long, it had basically forgotten that it could make the chemicals I needed for itself. I fell into a severe depression where I did not want to do anything for days. Simple tasks that normally were no big deal were overwhelming. My world felt like it was crumbling and I could do nothing about it.

My periods came back, but they are not as regular as they were before and my mood swings are far worse than they were before. It took me a full year to get back to where my body created enough correct hormones that I do not go on a long rollercoaster of depression before every period and I could feel normal again.

This is what they don’t tell you. When you get off the pill, be prepared for withdrawl. Your body is changed because it no longer creates the hormones your body needs to self-regulate. I can’t even imagine what type of hormonal rollercoaster I would have been on had my body gotten pregnant in that time.

The bottom line is that we need to be told ALL of the risks of birth control when starting out, not just the good ones. Everyone talks about the risk of stroke, but no one talks about the risk for depression or getting your body back to normal after deciding to go off the drug. Hormonal birth control is not a symptom free cure all. I do believe that the hormonal therapy this causes your body to go through is a huge blessing and even necessary for some, but it is not right for everyone. If you have any history of depression in your family, I highly recommend not taking this drug because coming off of it will make your depression worse.

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Soapbox 11: The False Illusion of Childhood Prevents People From Growing Up

September 29, 2015

I hear the phrase “let kids be kids,” but what they never say is when kids grow up. Today, we have 30-year-olds who refuse to have responsibility and leech off of their parents. There has to be a balance between never growing up and having a child grow up too soon.

I would venture to say that childhood is a construction of our culture rather than a solid period in a person’s life.

One huge problem we have are helicopter parents who hover, never allowing their child to make mistakes or reap the consequences of their actions. This causes many problems.

  1. Because a child never fails, they don’t know how to deal with failure. Rather than seeing failure as a natural part of the exploration process, they see failure as the end of trying or even as a negative thing.
  1. Because a child never gets a negative consequence for their actions, they don’t feel responsible for their own actions. They never have negative consequences, so why should they care? Instead of learning that they should do or not do things, they learn that they will be protected from consequences, so they can do anything they want.
  1. Because they don’t have consequences, they can feel entitled to things they do not earn. I have seen many examples of this. My fourth grade teacher had an ice cream party at the end of the school year. Each of the children had equal opportunity to earn different parts of the ice cream by learning their math facts. At the end of the year, some kids earned no ice cream because of the choices they made. Instead of it being a fun learning experience, many parents came in to complain about how unfair it was that ice cream was eaten in front of their kid. They felt like their kid was entitled to the treat, even though they didn’t earn it. In turn, their kids felt the same way.
  1. Because they do not have the opportunity to do things on their own, they don’t have pride in their own work. They don’t have to work hard to get what mom and dad will give to them anyway, so why should they work hard? If they did not work hard, why should they care about their work or have pride in it? One of the best ways a child can learn confidence and pride in themselves it to allow them to work through something by themselves and come out on the other end successful. This could be art, a puzzle, a craft, or anything at all. The look of joy on a kid’s face when they do something without an adult for the first time is priceless.

I believe that as a child’s capability goes up, so should their responsibility. Here are just a few of the ways that giving responsibility helps a child.

  1. Money

Once a child can count money, they should be in charge of buying their own snacks. This gives your child a sense of the value of money. Rather than mom and dad being a vending machine, they can have a set amount of money to buy their snacks. They first learn to count the money, then learn that if they buy what is on sale, they can get more, and to save up for the more expensive items, delaying gratification now for gratification later. When they are older, they can get a budget for more expensive things, such as clothing or games. I fully plan on making my kids buy their own game systems by earning money around the house. This way, they will be more likely to take care of the item because they will have to replace it if it breaks.

  1. Chores

As soon as your child can pick up toys and put them away (around 1.5 -2 yrs old) they should have chores. It starts with picking up their own toys and as they grow older, simple things are added, such as sweeping, wiping down a table or stirring food. By giving children chore responsibilities, they will learn essential skills that will help them when they move out and are on their own. These skills include: sewing, cooking, cleaning, mending, laundering clothing and getting out stains. You would be surprised how many people I met at college barely knew how to boil water and couldn’t sew two pieces of fabric together. I have done super basic mending jobs for many people who thanked me sincerely, even though it was really simple and easy.

  1. Budgeting

Many people live outside of their means and spend more than they earn. This causes problems and chains people down to debt. Because of this, I plan on teaching my children how to budget and save money. There are many different techniques and many of them are just as good, even if they have different ways of going about it. I recommend teaching your kids the way that you do it. Because I coupon, I plan on supplementing budgeting with couponing and letting kids make a family mean for a set amount of money (teaching them how to stretch the dollar).  By teaching kids to live within their means, they won’t be chained down by debt and they often learn to be happy with the things they have or know how to pinch pennies enough to purchase the things they want.

In summary, I firmly believe that giving kids responsibility enhances their life and does not prevent them from having a fun childhood. If anything, it enhances it and as a side effect, we get kids who are responsible and resilient.

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Soapbox 10: Why Being Called Domestic Rubs Me the Wrong Way

September 15, 2015

Domestic. A Google search defines the adjective use of the word as follows:

Adjective:

  1. of or relating to the running of a home or to family relations
  2. existing or occurring inside a particular country; not foreign or international.

When someone calls a woman domestic, they mean the first definition of the word, not the second.

The urban dictionary defines domestic being used as an adjective as follows: A woman worthy of keeping in your house. A traditional type of woman; not an independent type of woman. A woman who could potentially be girlfriend or wifey material. Possibly a mistress.

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There have been many times in my life when someone starts to get to know me and then calls me ‘domestic’. This has always rubbed me the wrong way because my first thought when someone says domestic is the old fashioned, smiling housewife who has a dinner made from scratch ready for her husband and is stuck washing laundry and dishes all day. This is not me. My husband doesn’t lord over me or rule me. We rule our house together, hand in hand. He does some things, I do others.

If you mean that I can run my home, then yes, I am domestic. My husband honors my opinion as if it was made of gold. He knows I think things through before I come to a strong opinion, so if I warn him or make a strong suggestion, I am correct.

If you mean that I CAN cook and clean and mend clothing, yes, I can because I am self sufficient. Do I do these things alone? No, I don’t.

When you go to call someone domestic, think about what you are saying. Many people won’t take it as a complement. If you mean that they put effort into something, say that. If you mean it is beautiful, say that. Even saying something like, “You are so good with your hands,” “I couldn’t possibly…. Knit… crochet… fix a fence…mend… paint… etc,” would be better.You will come off as more clear and your message will be clear as well.

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Soapbox 9: When a Tightwad Will Fork Over Good Money

September 1, 2015

I consider myself a bit of a tightwad. I live life according to the idea of “buy it new, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

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Ways I save money:  (Skip to the other dashed line if you want to skip this part.)

  • Clothes: I will wear my jeans until they fall off of me because my size doesn’t change and I buy jeans that are neither trendy nor out of style. I like a more classic look that is more timeless than ‘in’. I also wear my shirts until they stop fitting properly, get holes or stains that cannot be removed (I am no stain wizard).
  • Shoes/Jackets/Purses: I buy black shoes, jackets and purses so they match with everything, making choosing shoes for the morning super simple.
  • Car Filters: I will also never pay someone to change the filters in my car because it is super easy to do it myself if I just buy the filters.
  • Gloves/Scarves: I won’t pay for gloves or scarves because I can make them myself and customize them to my heart’s content.
  • Ice Cream: I would rather pay for a gallon of ice cream at the store than go to Cold Stone or another creamery. I get more ice cream for less money.
  • Meals: I make a large meal at the beginning of the week and take left overs to work instead of eating out.
  • Couponing: I coupon when I can. (Thanks grocerysmarts.com, Hip2Save, Living Rich With Coupons and Fabulessly Frugal for making couponing a breeze.)
  • Hair Cuts: I don’t get my hair cut. My husband is vain and doesn’t like the job I do with our clippers, so he gets his hair cut at a salon for about $10. To offset this, I get mine cut every few years. Because of this, I can also donate my hair or keep it in case my mother or I need a wig later in life. With my family history, this is a high probability.
  • Gardening: Gardens can easily pay for themselves, especially on years when produce prices go up because of a crop failure. Setup is the most expensive part, but even a small garden can save you a lot of money. My favorite crops are squashes, tomatoes and melons.

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Now that my thifty nature has been established, I will admit that I do spend money on things.  Here are the main reasons:

  1. Some things are more expensive to make at home. Clothes, for example, are far more expensive because of the current technology, let alone the time it takes to make them. This includes sewing shirts or even knitting socks.
  2. Sometimes it is impractical to make everything at home, even if it is cheaper. I do not make my own pasta or bread each week because of this. Working a full time makes time a very precious resource
  3. Can I say enough about quality? I hate when I buy something, just to have it break and have me have to get something new. I buy metal nail files, specific brands of ice cream, certain pasta sauces, and Oreos. Some things just aren’t the same if they are not name brand because the quality is superb when you buy name brand items.

Items I buy because of quality. Here are some of the things that I buy for quality, not for price:

Cameras:

Recently, I have purchased a very expensive camera. I had been buying ~300 cameras, but every 2-ish years, some little piece of the camera would break and I’d have to invest in a new one. That means that by 10 years, I’d’ve spent $1500 on crappy cameras! To avoid this, I researched and looked into a high quality camera that I could take care of and that would last. Eventually, it will pay itself off with the savings from not having to buy another junker.

Dishwashers:

I have had my fair share of junker dishwashers in my house that leave deposits of soap and silt on the dishes. Why did I waste my soap, hot water and electricity on something that doesn’t even clean my dishes? At that point, I may as well have done them by hand.

Can Rotating Shelves:

If you have the room, this one can also pay for itself over time. Instead of having to clean out your pantries and finding can after can of items to throw away, you can get a can rotating shelf that keeps your cans organized and easily accessible. Less food waste and less time spent organizing. Enough said.

Soaps/Shampoos/Laundry Detergent:

I have seborrheic dermatitis (dry, oily skin that gets inflamed and itchy). If I use things that are scented or have harsh chemicals in them, I have a good chance that my skin will be irritated and then I will be itching all night long, cutting into my sleep and all day long, embarrassing me at work. I even got my husband some Old Spice body wash that he liked and then I found out that he’d been putting his luffa above mine after his showers and that was why my skin was becoming inflamed. I will spend extra money to make sure that my dry skin is taken care of and that I am not suffering because of something so simple. This same concept applies to laundry detergent.

Computers:

A good, new desktop computer will last you years and years, while a poor one will have you cursing at its loading speeds and shaking your fist when you try to stream movies. Newer desktops are also very easy to upgrade when something fails or when you need a better system.

Cars:

Getting a good car is worth the money. Any money you save by buying a junker is outweighed by the money you will spend keeping it running.

DDR pads:

Most DDR pads are flimsy and break within the first few uses, making the games unplayable at worst and difficult at best. Getting some good quality dance pads is the only way to go.

Phones:

When I upgraded to a smart phone, I decided not to get the top of the line in order to save a little money. The phone I opted for had great ratings, but almost immediately I found that I was running out of what little RAM the phone had just by running a few apps concurrently. (Greenify app, thanks for making my phone usable.) When I upgrade this next time, I will get the best phone that still fits in my pocket, not the next best thing.

Knives:

Using a dull knife to cut through something is like pulling teeth. It sucks. When I was married, my husband and I invested in a good knife block that has lasted us for many years. Yes, we need to sharpen them occasionally, but the quality of the knives makes cooking less of a chore. If you’ve never used a high quality knife before, go get yourself one. Find a Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon and invest. You’ll never turn back.

Bed:

Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your body. If you skimp here, prepare for years of unrest as your sleep is less deep and less restful. Do yourself a favor, get a good matress. (Also, get a good frame that supports your boxspring or mattress because elsewise, the boxspring can break. We had that happen twice before replacing our supporting frame.)

Summary:

In summary, I like my items to be quality over quantity. If you can convince me that your item will save me money over time or will work in a more efficient manner that saves me time/money/effort, I will probably buy your product. If your product is low quality, meant to break after a few years or is a pain to use, I will pass your product over.

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Soapbox 8: Feminine Does Not Mean Girly

August 18, 2015

For a long time, I have thought that I was a tomboy because I did not fit the classic girly mold. I despise pink (I love other colors, like teal or forest green). I don’t wear makeup (except for special occasions). I hate wearing dresses (but I have a lovely pair of black slacks to go with my fancy shirts). I don’t follow fashion (timeless pieces are more my style). I don’t get my nails manicured (I clean too often to keep them nice). I don’t enjoy shopping for clothing (I am one size too small for most women’s sections and teen’s fashions are bleh). I don’t like frufru things as they make me feel like I am 6 years old. All of these things I do not like are very traditionally girly.

One day, I told my husband that I am not feminine and he laughed in my face. While I felt hurt at the outburst, he explained that just because I did not fit the mold of things girls should like, doesn’t make me any less feminine.  It made me reflect. Perhaps he had a point.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that he was right. I still have a very distinct feminine shape to my body. I care about what I wear, even if it isn’t super fashionable. I knit and crochet. I bake and cook. I love kids. I love to serve others. I have a big heart, often sacrificing what I want for the good of others. I am comfortable with my body. I love being a woman. I am feminine.

I also love getting my hands dirty in the garden, playing DDR, reading comics, webcomics and books, eating, and fixing things around the house. Just because you don’t fit all the norms or are not feeling feminine all the time doesn’t mean you are disqualified from being feminine. We women are all unique and we each have our own ways of showing off our femininity, even if we are a bit unconventional.

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Soapbox 7: How Humanity is Still Working the Fields

August 4, 2015

We may no longer be working the land, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t chained to our work just as strongly as ever.

All around me, I see people who can’t stop working. They work at least 40 hour weeks at a day job and then come home just to worry about how to put food on the table and clothes on their back. What does this say about us? I can’t personally speak for anyone, but America, this does not say good things about us.

  1. Rat Race

Sometimes the money isn’t enough not because we don’t have enough, but because we as a people spend outside of our means. Excessive loans and credit card bills are the norm, plunging some into a lifetime of paying back money they never had. We need to be more content with what we already have and save up for the things we want and need.

  1. Under Employment/ Not Enough Jobs

The White House can say all they want about how many jobs were created, but just look around. It is an employer’s market where they really can get an over qualified, young individual to work harder and longer than the older, experienced or new in the same field. Most employers only care about the bottom line and don’t invest in their employees. Lucky are the few that find jobs that utilize them fully and pay them what they are worth.

  1. Waste

When an item no longer fits you or is no longer useful to you, what do you do with it? I would gamble that most of you would say, “Throw it out.” Our ancestors would cry if they could see how much we waste and throw into landfills things that are perfectly usable still. We need to donate to the Good Will, Deseret Industries and other thrift stores or even give the items to our neighbors in need or give away on Craig’s List. There was a day that the sentiment in America was buy it new, wear it out, make it do, or do without. Because we live in relative comfort, waste comes easy.

  1. Quality

The quality of items does not seem to matter to manufacturers. They have their items set to fail after a certain amount of time. This only makes it more expensive to be a consumer when you have to replace the item over and over again. There used to be a time when you would hand down certain appliances to your children and now there is almost nothing that would even last that long. This is terrible for our wallets and terrible for our planet. We just dump the items in the trash and start over again. I wish we could have quality back.

I wish that we could solve these problems easily, but each generation seems to struggle with the same or similar issues. We may not literally work the fields, but we are still chained to our jobs just as much as ever. It seems that no matter what, humanity will struggle with this in one form or another until we either destroy ourselves or create our own utopia.