Friday, April 22, 2011

Dear NAW, I Want Her to Text Me First

Image Source

For the past three months, a particularly persistent reader has been emailing NAW every two weeks, with the same question. And while we don't usually provide a dating advice column, his persistence seems to merit an answer. Here's his question: 

Dear NAW,
I have been exhanging  phone and text messages the last couple of months with this  pretty  coworker  at the bank  i work at. I know for a fact she likes me. She is very pleasant to speak with at work and on the phone. For some reason, while she does answer all my phone calls and texts, she has never called me on a particular day first.  Is there any way  to entice her to call me first more often. I do see promise in this relationship.   I would really  appreciate your advice.  Thanks!


Dear Claude, 
You're asking the wrong question. You don't need to play games or manipulate her behavior, you just need to take the relationship to the next level. You want a relationship, you see promise in it, you know for a fact she likes you - so why are you only talking to her in person at work? Take a risk, and ask her to do something in person. Then go from there. There could be a million different reasons why she's not initiating text messages with you, so don't try to guess. Just ask her out if you want to get to know her better. If something else confuses you down the road, just ask her about it. 


Dear Hopelessly Waiting,
Stop being a coward and ask the poor lady out already!

M.C Elliot

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Politics of Hair

This woman has gorgeous hair. (Image source: Easy Hairstyles)

Yesterday I had the worst haircut of my life. The stylist tried to give me a fro (which I'd never requested - I had in fact asked her to cut each curl individually, not to trim my hair like a hedge), but instead I walked away looking like a street urchin, with uneven and random tufts of woolly hair. I'd show you a picture, but I didn't take one because I'm in the middle of packing and no longer have access to either my webcam or my camera. Just let me assure you it looked awful. But my bad haircut wasn't just a bad haircut. And while it was easily the worst haircut of my life, it certainly wasn't my first bad haircut. In fact, the best I ever hope for in a haircut these days is mediocre. Why? Because I have super curly hair, and I live in Utah, the land where women with the slightest wave to their hair think it's curly. And where the stylists reinforce this myth and cut hair like mine the way they would cut wavy hair.

My little sister and I are both curly girls who were plagued by frizzy hair growing up (and tormented for it at school in my case)

I'm not trying to knock Utah, mind you. I've lived here 7 years, and although I might occasionally complain that I'm only here because tuition is cheap and living expenses are low, there are many aspects of Utah I love. The hair stylists, however, are not one of them. In fact, in the seven years I've lived here, I've had bad haircut after bad haircut, only occasionally broken up by mediocre haircuts. I didn't realize how bad those haircuts were, mind you, till I went to a place called 5 degree in New Hampshire and had my hair cut by a curly hair specialist. That's right, she specializes in cutting curly hair and to the best of my knowledge cuts nothing else, just curly hair. And while the shape to my hair that she created is similar to the shapes stylists out here create, her technique made all the difference.

What makes this technique so different? Instead of cutting my hair while it's wet, and cutting it so the ends of each layer are all the same length, she cut my hair one lock at a time. Let me repeat that: One. Lock. At. A. Time. Why did she do that? Because if different hairs within the same lock are different lengths, you get frizz, not curls. It's simple. So simple that I've maintained that cut on my own for the past four months, just trimming individual locks as needed. But there's only so much you can do on your own hair  if you don't have a neck that rotates 360 degrees, so I eventually had to find a stylist in Utah to trim it back to that original length. I tried to explain this technique to the stylist, but I should have known better: it's tantamount to asking a violinist to give the harp a whirl. Both instruments have strings, but the techniques used to play them are radically different.

Lorraine Massey, author of Curly Girl, shows us what healthy curly hair looks like. (Image source:

Desperate to fix my hair, I searched for a Utah salon on, and the website directed me to Shep Studio, just a mile from my home here in Provo. The reviews raved about Shep and another stylist named Patrick, and most of the reviews came from other women in Utah who had fled to Shep after experiencing the worst haircuts of their life. I wanted an appointment, and I wanted it fast, so I took an appointment for 9am the next morning, with a stylist who goes by Twix. Thankfully, Twix had a much better idea of how to shape curly hair, and I left with a haircut I would have once been thrilled by. But he still didn't have the curly hair expertise I found in New Hampshire, so I walked away with frizzier hair than I had before yesterday's disastrous cut.

The problem is, hardly any stylists are trained on how to properly cut curly hair. This is a problem all over the US, and it only gets worse in a place like Utah, where the general cultural vibe is that straight hair is better. (With the potential exception of hair that is first straightened and then looped into gigantic curls - but only on the bottom few inches of the hair). As Twix explained when he was fixing my hair this morning, most of his curly-haired clients come in wanting him to straighten their hair when he's finished cutting it, and some of them damage their hair by straightening it every day. And interracially adopted children get the brunt of this blond and straight culture. The lady who butchered my hair yesterday told me she used to work at an ethnic salon here in Utah, and most of her clients were black children with white adoptive parents. What did she do with the kids' hair? Usually she straightened it. Not just occasionally, but most of the time, because that's what their parents wanted. Sometimes she even added blond highlights.

Now, I realize the kids may have wanted straight hair too, but is it because they each and everyone preferred straight hair as an individual? Or is it because many of them had absorbed a dominant culture that told them they wouldn't look attractive till they conformed to (blond, straight-haired) white culture? I know that I'm prejudiced as a curly girl, but I suspect the latter is more at play, when it comes to black children adopted by white parents. If you think I'm making a big deal out of nothing where interracially adopted kids and their hair are concerned, consider the hair discussions at Womanist Musings. Renee argues that black women on Oprah were invited to treat their hair like a confessional, and that Zahara Jolie-Pitt's hair carries social ramifications because "nappy hair" is associated with a negative stereotype of black Americans and African Americans. In fact, Zahara Jolie-Pitt's hair is so controversial that an earlier Womanist Musings post (maybe written by Renee or maybe written by another contributer), critiques negative responses to Zahara's "nappy" hair and suggests that anyone who has a problem with Zahara's hair doesn't respect black women's hair in general.

The funny thing is, while I know I still have a better bet of finding a decent stylist in Utah than most black women do, I find myself relating to everything Renee and her contributors say about hair. I too grew up thinking of my hair as a problem to be managed rather than celebrating it. I usually went to school with frizzy, damaged hair, because well-intentioned parents brushed it, and I paid a total of 70 dollars across the last two days for two stylists to break every cardinal rule about cutting curly hair, from cutting it wet to using a comb on it. And everywhere I go, women with the slightest wave to their hair think it's curly. And while you may think it's a very small matter if a woman with wavy hair calls it curly, consider the false dichotomy of a world where hair is either straight or curly. Consider all the variations of curly hair, variations that are often indicative of ethnic minorities, that are all swept under the "curly" umbrella. Consider how treating the predominant white hair type as normal and generalizing all other hair types as curly dismisses other cultures.

My curly sisters and brothers out there, let's all unite and celebrate our hair. And for our straight-haired brothers and sisters, consider this: we curly-haired folk, curly-haired in all varieties, know a lot about straight hair. So please return the favor and learn a little about us.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

LGBT and LDS: a Guest Post on Sexuality

This is a guest post by David, who submitted it originally for February, during which month our theme was sexuality. However, grad school, careers, and delayed furniture arrivals are making us at NAW a little batty. So here is a delayed post.

President Uchtdorf's CES Fireside entitled "The Reflection in the Water" focused on how we often feel that we don't fit in. And that "too many go about their lives thinking they are of little worth when, in reality, they are elegant and eternal creatures of infinite value with potential beyond imagination." He used the story of the Ugly Duckling to express that "There will always be voices telling you that you are foolish to believe that you are swans, insisting you are but ugly ducklings and that you can’t expect to become anything else. But you know better. ... You are glorious and eternal. ... It is my prayer and blessing that when you look at your reflection, you will be able to see beyond imperfections and self-doubts and recognize who you truly are: glorious sons and daughters of the Almighty God. 

I draw strength from this talk because as an active, temple recommend holding member who is unashamedly and openly gay I all too often look around at church feel very much unlike the swans around me. like the ugly duckling, I don't fit, but unlike the story of the ugly duckling I am given a chance of acceptance if I make severe changes to who I am. The current advice of the Brethren is for LGBT members to be celibate. (see "God Loveth His Children"). Please take a moment to suspend your current views on homosexuality and ask yourself, doesn't this seem counter to everything we were taught growing up?

First off, this life is preparatory for the next, it is here that we learn the basics of relationships, of being parents, of raising a family, etc. David O. McKay famously stated that "No other success can compensate for failure in the home" so what earthly successes can compensate for the failure of even having a home? How is remaining celibate a success at all when, by nature it is destroying any earthly possibility for having a home? Second, how many times have the words of Lincoln been repeated in our youth? "Whatever you are, be a good one." Or the story of the ugly duckling telling us to realize our full potential and then reach for it? In my family it was Emerson's "Hitch your wagon to the stars" that provided the inspiration to reach beyond our mortal potential.

If God made me gay who am I to change his design? If he doesn't desire me to be gay then He will, in his infinite atonement change me to be straight per his original design. Are we not instructed to look at our weaknesses, humble ourselves and let God turn them into strengths? Asking LGBT members to change themselves is just as ridiculous as asking the deaf to spend time trying again and again to hear. Like the deaf who find ways to live brilliant non-hearing lives, shouldn't we encourage LGBT members to do the same?

There are LGBT members of the Church who are border-line suicidal because each week, each day, each hour, they hear that they are an abomination either from others or they repeat the words inside their heads. I know I once tried to take my own life. As such I have seen how staggering the death-toll is, but even for those who survive, our actions are leaving these LGBT members handicapped just as if they were left-handed and we forced them to write only with their right-hand. To put this into sharper relief, Da Vinci was left-handed. Imagine how much we would have lost if he had been forced to go against his natural tendency to use his left hand. Would we have the art and science that fueled the renaissance? Without the renaissance we would likely be 200 years behind in the pursuit of religious freedom and the fulness of the gospel would most likely still be withheld.

Do we doubt God's power to perform miracles? Is our faith insufficient that we feel the need to do it all ourselves? I would hope not, and yet we persist in trying to force a singular view of sexuality onto all people when, if it be God's will He will change it. In the meantime wouldn't my life be a waste to wander in the cold alone like the Ugly Duckling barely surviving instead? Should I not embrace my sexuality as a healthy part of who I am looking at myself and acting well my part?

Chauvinists in Feminist Clothing

Image borrowed from Moons Stars and Paper
Okay, so I'm normally not one for excluding people from the feminist movement, but lately facebook has been advertising some website called "The Bido," which claims it'll answer the question "Feminism. What next?" As a curious feminist, I decided to click.

Well, (they're really not worthy of links, but you're welcome to copy and paste the url if you so desire) informed me of some really surprising things! First of all, apparently feminism has already run its course, and women are now free from masculine bondage. However, according to someone who goes by "her" (gag me with a spoon - is it part of femininity that we don't get to be individuals?) women missed an important opportunity by not embracing their freedom and becoming the perfect feminine counterpart to masculinity. Instead they continued to act like men (presumptuous of them, I know!) by competing in the work place and daring to act like individuals. Shameful, shameful, shameful.

Anyway, now we can reclaim the procreative force of "bido" and save the world from the silly little men who just can't stop killing and stealing on their own. We're not supposed to "berate" men, we're supposed to "liberate" humanity. (Li-berate; li-bido. How clever!)

Now, I realize that right now some of our male readership may be thinking this website doesn't sound all that bad, since they don't want to be berated for things they're probably not even doing. But consider this - when you tell a group of people that they're not allowed to criticize a group of people whom they perceive as still having power over them (and those are the women that this movement is targeting), you are essentially silencing that group. You're trying to take their voice from them, even if you don't intend to take it by force. Maybe a better way for me to say this is to say that this group is trying to persuade women to give up their personal voices and become a homogenous gentle, no-complainy "feminine" voice (whatever the heck that means).

But of course the biggest problem with this group is that it's stereotyping women and denying the variation we find all over the place among women. Women vary from one country to the next, one religion, state, continent, race, economic class, social class, education bracket, political allegiance to the next. Not to mention that we're just plain different from each other by virtue of being people.

Now, I'm all for bringing back respect to all those personality traits that have been devalued by virtue of seeming "feminine." But I don't pretend for an instant that all women do or should possess all those traits, just as I don't pretend that all men do or should possess all the traits that seem "masculine."

So please, please, please, please


don't buy into any of these "women need to start acting like women" movements. Anyone who denies individuality is just lying.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Man seeks down to earth hotty to worship him and fulfill his every sexual fantasy (including 3-somes with her cute friends)

I originally saw this reposted personal ad as a link on feministe, but it was just too good not to share. And while I would like to think of some clever remark about how this man is so clearly not the catch he so clearly thinks he is - well, it speaks for itself. No snarky remark required.