My debut on Huffington Post’s TED Weekends

I’ve been an avid reader of Huffington Post for years now. Last week I was emailed by an editor asking me to write for their TED Weekends. The topic was cults and they were featuring Diane Benscoter’s TED talk from 2009 about visual memetics and how cults rewire the brain. It was fascinating and of course I was honored. I said yes.

Fast forward to yesterday. The article was posted and it even appeared on HuffPo’s front page.

That's me, on the front page of Huffington Post!
That’s me, on the front page of Huffington Post!
(On the middle left where it says “TED Weekends”.)

 

It was quite a surreal moment. I was at work and I kept telling my favorite people at work, “It’s on the front page! OMG! Next to the President!”

I worked hard on the article, reading, researching and rewriting. My faithful friends did a lot of reading and rereading and editing over the entire week. I can’t thank them enough.

The beauty of all of this is I’ve also received my own HuffPo blog. This means a lot to me because I work with so many survivors (not to mention I write often about women’s issues and other topics) and I’ve been working hard to build my platform so I could help them tell their stories. It’s a great opportunity.

ted weekends post

 

The entire article can be read here. Please comment and share it with your friends! It would mean so much to me to get the word out about Master’s Commission and the dangers of Christian youth programs. The article will remain up until this Friday when a new TED Weekends subject is posted. (The article will remain on the site, just not on the front page, so it’s crucial to share it this week.)

Protecting Women’s Rights in a Religious “Right” World

Threats to women’s reproductive rights have been making headlines for the past few years but women received a small victory yesterday when the Obama administration announced that most employers will have to provide contraceptives at no cost to their employees.


Threats to women’s reproductive rights have been making headlines for the past few years but women received a small victory yesterday when the Obama administration announced that most employers will have to provide contraceptives at no cost to their employees.

While this is a victory to women’s reproductive rights, there are still a few things women’s rights activists need to consider. First, there is still a loophole for religious nonprofits. According to ThinkProgress.org, “Only houses of worship and other religious nonprofits that primarily employ and serve people of the same faith will be exempt.” For women like me, who used to work for a religious nonprofit, this may not be terrible news since abstinence-only and purity teachings are widespread. However, married women who may not want to have children immediately, or at all, may still have trouble accessing contraceptives due to the financial cost. And due to the fact that many religious nonprofits and houses of worship still hold the belief that women are to be mothers first, and human beings second.

Second, and perhaps most importantly, are the Roman Catholic bishops who are behind the lobbying that’s threatening women’s access to abortions and contraceptives. These men are simply not going away, nor will they stop lobbying just because they were defeated by the Obama Administration on this small matter. Laura Bassett writes in The Huffington Post

But the erosion of women’s rights didn’t begin with the GOP takeover. President Barack Obama’s health care reform law contained some of the most restrictive abortion language seen in decades.

Lift the curtain, and behind the assault was the conference of bishops.

“It is a very effective lobby, unfortunately, and now they have an ally in the Republican majority because both groups find this a means by which to fight women’s health issues in general,” said Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.), a member of the House Pro-Choice Caucus. “The bishops carry a lot of clout.”

“We consider the two biggest opponents on the other side the Catholic bishops and National Right to Life,” said Donna Crane, policy director of NARAL Pro-Choice America. “They are extremely heavy-handed on this issue.”

And what do the Bishops have to say on the matter?

“By refusing to broaden the exemption, “in effect the president is saying that we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,” complained Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops”

Sister Jane Marie Klein, chairwoman of the board of Franciscan Alliance Inc., a system of 13 Catholic hospitals, said, “This is nothing less than a direct attack on religion and 1st Amendment rights.”

When are my rights as  a women more important than the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops? When religious leaders begin to flaunt money, power, and the threats of “a direct attack on religion and 1st Amendment rights” it seems that we may have a problem on our hands. I have news for the Catholic Bishops and those who choose not to dignify women’s minds, bodies and souls: your religious “rights” end when my reproductive rights are threatened.  Read the rest of the article here…

Find more articles I’ve written here: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/user/mycultlife

Why Single Women Should Break “The Rules” From Dating Experts

Recently a friend of mine and I started talking about her feelings for her best friend. She likes him, but she feels incredibly shy telling him how she feels. She feels like he should be the one to pursue her and ask her out.

Yet, he doesn’t know that she has feelings for him.

She’s afraid of rejection, and understandably so. Any time you put yourself out there, you risk rejection. What women don’t always understand is that some men fear rejection too.

I’ve encouraged her to ask him out, or at least tell him how she feels. I believe women should pursue what they want and if what they want is a relationship or sex with someone, they should break “the rules” and go after it.You’ll never know until you try.

SEXIST DATING ADVICE

Telling a woman to go after a man is contrary to what most dating “experts” and relationship coaches say. A few years ago, I read the book He’s Just Not that Into You. It’s incredibly sexist and not very helpful. It’s also very condescending to women. [Although it may be a  helpful read to the women out there who always end up in toxic and abusive relationships, or to the women who “date” married men for decades hoping he’ll leave his wife.]

The sexist message of women should just sit back and let a guy do all the pursuing is everywhere though, including on Huffington Post’s site. Dating and Relationship coach Jag Carrao says women make five mistakes in dating and the first one is this:

Dating Mistake #1:  Approaching Him First.  Among all the invaluable lessons in The Rules, authors Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider emphasize this point as the most important. It may go against conventional dating advice, which encourages women to flirt and even strike up a conversation.  While there are always exceptions, the women I coach who are struggling with boyfriends who won’t commit or husbands who ignore them almost invariably made the first contact.  A man may date and even marry a woman who approached him first, but there will likely be consequences later on…when he approaches the girl he really wants.  This goes for online dating as well.

So if I understand Jag clearly, she thinks if a woman approaches a man first, there will be consequences later including her husband may leave her?! This is incredibly stupid advice and although I haven’t read The Rules, I now have a bone to pick with their authors. Telling women not to pursue men, not to flirt, or approach him first is childish.

I think most relationship and dating advice is incredibly old fashioned and archaic. It assumes men and women are tightly bound to traditional gender roles and we’re simply not.

I’m not a relationship coach, but I do think I’m better suited to give you advice than Jag Carrao. In fact, I think anyone is better suited to give you dating advice. She says in her article:

If you talked him first or even asked him out, you can try to restore some of the feminine mystique and you forfeited as the initiator by being a bit more elusive – a little less available, a little more mysterious.

What the…?! You can try to restore some of the feminine mystique you forfeited?

I’m sorry, but approaching a man first doesn’t mean you forfeit anything, ladies.

Encouraging women to hold back from talking to men encourages women to stick to a traditional gender role–to be docile and let things happen to her. It also encourages women to play games. In turn, men either think women are crazy and/or play games back.

Here are my Five Dating Rules Women Should Follow [And Feel Free to Break]:

  1. Relationships should be built on honesty, not games. If you have to play a game to get him or her, you may have to play games to keep him or her on a string. If you’re honest and up front with who you are and what you want, you’re more likely to get what you want out of the relationship.
  2. You should be yourself in a relationship, not what someone says you should be. If you’re the “needy/clingy” girl, you’re often criticized for being overly romantic. You’re faulted for being who you are and you’re told by dating “experts” that you’ll never get what you want unless you change. This is horse sh*t. There are men who are romantic and who like spending quality time with a girl. Perhaps there is a limited dating pool of men who like this, but statistics say you’ll meet that guy. You should be yourself and be comfortable with being yourself. You’ll be more satisfied with your relationship if you’re allowed to be who you are and you’re accepted for it. [This isn’t to say that if you have serious co-dependency issues you shouldn’t work on those. We can all use a little self-growth.]
  3. It’s okay for women to break the rules. Men like women who have confidence and these days some men like to be pursued. It shows confidence for a woman to go out of her way to talk to a man and honestly, it helps dudes out. Some men get rejected often and after awhile some shy guys give up on going out of their way to talk to women. Which  leads me to my next point:
  4. Shy guys are “keepers”. Forget the “bad boys” and the “assholes”. The keepers are the shy guys, the smart guys, the nerdy guys. These are the guys who are grateful for women who go out of their way to talk to them and ask them out. They’re respectful, interested in equality and like you for who you are.
  5. Break all the other rules. Those sexist messages that say you shouldn’t talk to a man, shouldn’t seek out a guy, shouldn’t ask a man out? Break them all. You’ll be happier for it in the long run and you’ll likely land a man who’s really into you for who you are–inside and out.