Monday, June 16, 2014

Beware of the Facebook Trap

By Sarah Halbur
Guest Contributor

I rarely scroll through my news feed on Facebook. But tonight, as I opened the social media hotspot, an interesting article caught my eye. I stopped to read it, and then I kept scrolling to look for more interesting articles. Several nuggets of wisdom popped onto my screen, but mixed in between were posts more akin to nuggets of time killing. As I scrolled, and the time slipped by, I realized what a time killer Facebook could become for me if I made a frequent habit of scrolling.

I'm not trying to say that Facebook is evil. In fact, if used well, it can be quite good - a means to reconnect with faraway friends and family, a useful networking tool. But it can also be a trap - a temptation to live more in the virtual social world rather than to be fully present with the people around you, a tendency to post useless things and spend hours gaping at others' useless things instead of using those hours to be purposeful, to serve, to make a difference in someone's life.

I'm not yet married or a mother, but I recently heard a young mother wisely warn against the Facebook trap. It dawned on me that I could see how easy it might be for young mothers, especially when exhausted, to sit at home and browse Facebook too often...instead of going outside and playing with her children, or reading stories, or even going out and spending real time with other young moms.

As women, we have a beautiful natural gift of connecting with other people, of nurturing others. One of the valuable articles I did read recently on Facebook was the 2014 commencement address given by a navy seal admiral. In it, the admiral noted that if each of the 8,000 students in the graduating at University of Texas changed the lives of just 10 people in their lifetime, and each of those people in turn changed the lives of 10 others, then in just one generation the whole class will have impacted the lives of 800 million people. That is powerful!

Think of how much good we could do if we were to positively impact one person each day, even by something as simple as a smile, or a helping hand, or cooking a homemade meal for our family or another family in need.

Here's some food for thought: The next time you go on Facebook, ask yourself if you are there to positively impact yourself and others, or if you're only going to kill time. If it's the latter, consider closing the news feed and opening your door instead to find the person just waiting for you to share your gifts with them.

Sarah Halbur is a communications director for Thomas More Society, a national pro-life law firm based in Chicago. She enjoys star-gazing, making music with loved ones, and creatively evangelizing, especially to children.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Miss Nevada and Self-Defense

by Julie Baldwin and Katie Robison
The Corner with a View
Laughter is Love

Trigger warning: rape discussion

Miss Nevada, Nia Sanchez, is the the new Miss USA. Sanchez made headlines when she advocated women learning self-defense as a way to defend one's self against sexual attack. Miss Nevada is a fourth degree black belt in taekwondo, and her response is being construed as "victim blaming". Let's discuss why this is not a "win" for rape culture, but a practical measure for all women.

The Washington Post reported,
Miss Nevada, the ultimate winner, was asked about the epidemic of sexual assault on campuses. Rumer Willis inquired why colleges have “swept it under the rug.” 
This is actually a serious question. 
“I believe that some colleges may potentially be afraid of having a bad reputation and that would be a reason it could be swept under the rug, because they don’t want that to come out into the public,” Nia  Sanchez said. “But I think more awareness is very important so women can learn how to protect themselves. Myself, as a fourth-degree black belt, I learned from a young age that you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself. And I think that’s something that we should start to really implement for a lot of women.”
The comment the writer of the aforementioned article followed up by saying,
This is not a bad answer, although the problem of prevention isn’t a simple question of confident women learning self-defense techniques against Stranger Danger (Sanchez’s professed specialty). For one, it usually isn’t a stranger. For another, the onus shouldn’t have to be on women to become self-defense experts. It’s on everyone to establish a baseline of consent.
But the general backlash is clear: Sanchez is victim blaming.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Work for family-minded women

By Mary C. Tillotson

Image by Plaid for Women
A few years ago, a nearly-finished homeschool mom (her youngest was in high school) ran across this article, The Bride who was Groomed for a Career, and it sparked a conversation among her nearly-finished homeschooling friends. They had all given their daughters a solid education and grounding in faith and morals, but had they taught them the skills they’d need to be wives and mothers?

At the time, I didn’t know that mom (or my opinion) well enough to say anything much, but it’s been on my mind for a while. When I was in college, I hardly felt like I had any direction, career or otherwise – college was just what you did after high school.

I turned this question over at length with my women friends in college. One friend was thinking about law school, but didn’t see the purpose in getting a law degree if she was just going to get married, get pregnant, quit being a lawyer, and homeschool her kids. She’s been out of college for a few years now and has a great career in a different field, but (as far as I know) no marriage prospects. She seems happy. Other women set out to find and follow their career passion, knowing that if they got married and had kids, they’d give it all up, but at least for now they might as well pursue their passions. Other women studied in the classic liberal-arts way, majoring in some higher-things-oriented field without thinking about careers. Of those, the ones who aren’t moms are teachers. Other women didn’t finish college because they got married and pregnant before graduation.

I graduated, worked as a small-town reporter for a year, got married, spent the next year doing odd jobs to make ends meet, and now I’m back in journalism, and I’m not (at the moment) raising kids. I think I’m finally starting to find answers.

My advice to family-minded female college students?

Be aware that there are plenty of unknowns. You might dream of being a homeschool mom of many but never find a man you want to marry; you might dream of an awesome political career but unexpectedly meet the man you really want to raise kids with. You might marry and realize you and your husband aren’t able to conceive children, temporarily or permanently.

I have anecdotal evidence from talking to my friends and statistical evidence from seeing polls: a majority of mothers want to work part-time in some professional field. A few want to work full-time and a few don’t want to work professionally at all, but most want to keep being professional while reserving most of the day for their kids.

When you’re in college, I think it makes sense to do what you love and pursue a career in that field. Keep in mind the usual factors like how much the field pays, whether jobs are available in that field, whether you’ll have to go to grad school (and if it’s worth the time/money), etc., but also consider how flexible that field can be. If you’re a journalist or writer, it’s very easy to do that full-time or part-time. Teaching can go part time pretty easily too. Other fields don’t flex into part-time near as easily. I don’t mean you should avoid them; I do mean you should think about that.

Do you have the skills it takes to raise kids and keep house? I don’t think this should be a big concern. A mom of six with two in diapers told me no matter how prepared you are for motherhood, you make 90 percent of it up on the spot. I suppose it might help to have enough exposure to kids that you aren’t afraid of them, but from everything I’ve seen, taking care of babies is hard work but not complicated. As they get older you get wiser and read more books and talk to more people about it; I don’t see how a lot of pre-marriage preparation would be helpful. The rest of keeping house is mostly cooking, cleaning, and paying bills – none of that is hard to learn, and anyway I think men and women ought to have these basic skills before college.

I know a lot of you readers have different experiences than I have. Some of you are moms, some of you are single, some of you are in college, some have careers and some don’t. What do you think about all this?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Film Review: Mostly Martha - A Feast of Love

By Emina Melonic
IlluminationThe Magic Lantern

Displaying MostlyMartha Poster.jpgMartha Klein is a chef.  Not just any kind of chef.  Cooking is an art form – it involves precision, perfection, beauty, and naturally, exquisite taste.  She is a chef at an upscale restaurant and she lives in an absolute certainty of what a meal should look and taste like, down to the degrees and minutes it takes to make foie gras, for instance.  Martha is in control and lives in a world whose center is a seamlessly presentable and delicately tasty plate of food.  But, this control vanishes in an instant when her sister is killed in an automobile accident.  Martha’s niece, an 8-year-old girl Lina, miraculously survives and for the time being, begins to live with Martha.  The chef begins to lose any sense of reality and the world she has created.
Mostly Martha (2001, German title Bella Martha) is a film directed by Sandra Nettelbeck, and the role of Martha is played Martina Gedeck.  Among other things, Gedeck is known for her intense role in The Lives of Others (2006) and she brings same intensity to the role of Martha – a combination of both stoicism and vulnerability.  Maxime Foerste brings a feeling of a suddenly motherless child into the foreground as both she and Martha are trying to make sense of the absurd situation.