Beware the Shrill Condemnation of the Holiday Police.

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It’s these cheery sentiments that I like to think about while hanging with family and friends.

Tis the holiday season all of a sudden. Seems to creep up on us around this same time every year, and with social media networks like Facebook, the holidays bring with them a lot of baggage that they didn’t always seem to have. As if they needed more of those.

Specifically, there seem to be more and more people who feel obligated to dictate what the rest of us should or shouldn’t think about them.

First on that list are the Facebook folks who spread around “clever” memes about Thanksgiving – generally taking a slam against white people being “illegal aliens” who took America from the Natives living here. There are variations on that theme, but that’s the basic model.

First of all, Thanksgiving seems to be celebrated by just about everyone in the U.S., it’s not some honky holiday where exclusively wealthy white people get together to congratulate themselves on past conquests from 200 plus years ago. A lot of people just use it as a reason to get together with family and friends, and maybe to pause and give thanks for the blessings in their lives. It’s also not a religious holiday for the most part, which makes it a nice secular way to enjoy the people we care about, and to eat like pigs without too much guilt. I guess I don’t get the desire some people feel to throw in a little angry jab at a basic holiday that has evolved to mean “eating with family and friends” for most of us.

It rubs me the wrong way, reminding me of the folks who feel it’s necessary to dictate what Christmas is all about.

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Because Christmas will cease to be if everyone doesn’t worship Jesus. And maybe Santa…



So what IS Christmas all about anyway? Well, like many holidays, the way it’s celebrated has changed a lot over the years. Yes, if a person is a devout Christian, it’s the biggest religious holiday of the year for many of them. But it’s only been celebrated in the modern sense for a brief period of time, and was even suppressed by the church in the 1800s, because Christmas was celebrated in much the way Mardi Gras is today – with a lot of drunken street mobs and back alley buggery. Merry Christmas, y’all!

The modern American traditions are a mishmash of older ones borrowed from many cultures, and quite a few were essentially invented in the 20th century. My point is that Christmas is not exclusively a Christian religious holiday, nor is it the only religious tradition celebrated during the latter part of each year. This country has grown very diverse, as it was always intended to be, and Christmas as an exclusively religious Christian event is no longer the way things are. Heck, its roots are in pagan festivals, just as many Christian traditions are.

So when some creep with an agenda tells me to “Remember the reason for the season,” or tells me “Merry Christmas” like he’s looking for a fight, I want to tell him “My name is Chris, and I reject your religion. Hail Lucifer!”

But I (usually) don’t.

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is simple: trying to politicize the holidays is bullshit. Enjoying a holiday meal with loved ones at Thanksgiving doesn’t mean that a person is ignorant of this country’s horrible record in regards to its treatment of native Americans, or that they support that legacy.

And possessive Christians should also realize that not everyone who celebrates Christmas¬† believes the things they do, nor are us secular celebrants of the holiday trying to wage a ridiculous “War on Christmas.” The only thing that would completely destroy the religious celebration of Christmas is Christians deciding to give up the holiday. The rest of us can’t take that from them, nor are most of us trying to do so.

So people should lighten up. The Winter Solstice is coming, and this time of year is cold and dreary enough without bickering on social media about what various holidays should mean to the collective “us.”

Hail Satan!

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Crazy Cat Ladys – Our Tendency to Punish Women Who Break From Societal Expectations

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Over 40, female, no kids or a man? If you have more than two of these, welcome to societal judgment ville.

Women get called crazy a lot in our culture. You have the “crazy ex” and the “psycho girlfriend,” sometimes shortened to “psycho chick” because of a supposed long history of nightmarishly psychotic dating behavior, and then you have the “crazy cat lady” designation, which seems to be reserved for a slightly different category of “crazy” woman.

But let’s examine that tendency to call females “crazy” first. Yes, there are lots of women out there who suffer from various mental or personality disorders, and they can often act erratically. Dating anyone who suffers from real mental problems can be incredibly difficult, and only a handful of people are probably up to the task.

And there are also women (although men are just as guilty of all of these behaviors) who have anger problems, or are extremely jealous or controlling. The types of people who instantly think of vengeance when they perceive they’ve been slighted. I can’t make any excuses for those people. Anyone whose just wired to be selfish and mean is going to have to work through their problems or face a life of diminishing returns. But in most cases, they’re probably not actually suffering from mental illnesses. If they are suffering from a mental condition, it may be the real reason they seem to be set off so easily.

It’s a difficult thing to say with certainty that a woman is “crazy,” and the real reason people do that is because it’s a way to marginalize that female, and to call into question all of her actions. It’s a strategy employed by people who will benefit from either silencing her, or by devaluing her opinion to the point that no one will take her seriously. Nine times out of ten, it’s not a valid warning that a female is actually suffering from a mental disorder, but a way of turning others against her because she has made a person’s life difficult in some way.

Then there’s the “Crazy Cat Lady”, a uniquely female designation, and a disparaging one, despite the fact that there are probably as many male animal hoarders as female. And yes, there are people who suffer from mental conditions that drive them to collect animals the same way someone else might accumulate aluminum cans. It’s usually a psychological disease, unless they’re some sort of twisted pet breeder who is just abusing animals through neglect.

But why is there a disparaging stereotype regarding “crazy cat ladies” and not men?

I think it’s a form of sexism for sure, but also a form of scapegoating and marginalization that goes back hundreds of years, maybe since the beginning of human society. People who, for whatever reason, don’t conform to society’s normal rules have always had a difficult time of things. As a male who doesn’t like sports, I get viewed with suspicion by many people. For what? Not enjoying watching ball games played by adults. Snoresville.

We’re all expected to grow up, and to walk a straight path, avoiding things that might cause disruptions in the status quo. Listen to boring music, stay in school, get a job, get married, have some kids, eventually die. Anyone who steps out of that expected course too much is looked at as potentially dangerous and irresponsible, despite some weird societal double standard that places rock stars and other “rebels” on a pedestal.

But as hard as it is being a weird guy who doesn’t always play by the rules or meet other people’s expectations, it’s got to be doubly hard for women.

A few hundred years ago, a woman who acted unconventionally might be accused of witchcraft. Maybe she just didn’t want to get married, and chose to live away from others, maybe she suffered from some minor form of antisocial disorder, or maybe she just hated Pilgrims. Who can blame her? But not all that long ago, being a female outsider was a good way to end up hanging from a tree.

Not to be dramatic, but I think we’re still devaluing and marginalizing women who step out of line, or who are “difficult” or antisocial today. They aren’t usually murdered by suspicious and superstitious neighbors anymore, but instead ostracized and ridiculed.

What’s a crazy cat lady anyway?

It seems to me that we lob that unflattering moniker at almost any woman beyond the age of 35 or so who doesn’t have or want kids, and who doesn’t have a man in her life for whatever reason. The joke is that the cats are just waiting for her 40th birthday before they’ll invade the house in droves. Har De Har Har.

But I know just as many males who are in the same boat. Middle aged, no mate, no kids, and a few pet cats that they care for. But you rarely if ever hear about “Crazy Cat Men.” No, it’s a way of poking mean spirited fun at women who haven’t conformed to society’s expectations of them.

We (and by “we” I mean other men and women, it’s not just guys who do this) treat women like they’re crazy when they’re young as a way to control them and to devalue them as people, and then when they hit a certain age, we’re just as happy to marginalize them as crazy ladies who have a bunch of cats because men won’t have them.

It’s fucking bleak and not right.

And on another note, there are plenty of single men and women who have a lot of pets because they work with animal rescue groups, and because they care about the welfare of animals. That doesn’t mean that they’re “crazy” or should be treated like mentally deficient outcasts.

I’m a very introverted person most of the time. Shy even. I have five dogs, should I be cast out of society because of those things, or because I’m “weird”?

Why should women be treated worse? It doesn’t make sense and it’s not fair.