Day 23: Stone Cold Crazy

Authors Note:  This is the 23rd and final entry in a 23 part series – my reactions to each item on the post 23 Things Every Woman Should Stop Doing.  Please join the conversation.

I think that most of you who know me even a little bit could have called that this would be the one I addressed last in the series.  Here’s the entry:

14. Fearing the label “crazy.” There is no easier way to discredit a woman’s opinion or feelings than to accuse her of being overly emotional. “I don’t think this idea that women are ‘crazy,’ is based in some sort of massive conspiracy,” wrote author Yashar Ali in a blog for The Huffington Post in 2011. “Rather, I believe it’s connected to the slow and steady drumbeat of women being undermined and dismissed, on a daily basis.” Being scared of the label only encourages women to silence themselves. Plus, everyone has a little bit of crazy inside of them — regardless of gender.

You know we’ve all faced that moment.  You are passionate about a subject.  In fact, it’s one that you truly champion and feel is part of your value system.  And then, you’re in a debate where you have to defend your opinion about the subject.  You become either direct or animated in your respond, and then – you hear this:

“Geez.  Calm down.  You don’t have to freak out about it.  You know I’m just teasing you.  No need to get crazy.”

In that one moment – you have been devalued, belittled and dismissed.  I don’t care what that person says – they are shutting you down.  You’ve been labeled as crazy.

No matter how you slice it, the term “crazy” is never used in a positive light.  Even if you’re talking about someone who is the life of the party and you say, “Wow, that Sarah, she’s just crazy!”, you’re still expressing concern or confusion about Sarah’s antics and/or behavior.  Take this into the professional realm, and when others in a meeting or on a project team call your ideas “crazy”, they’re labeling you as well.

“Crazy” means your ideas don’t matter.  “Crazy” means you are “less than” others in the group.  “Crazy” means you are too emotional, too irrational, or that someone simply doesn’t like your ideas, so you are dismissed.  “Crazy” means you are not normal.

Take this entry from Harris O’Malley’s blog entitled “On Labeling Women ‘Crazy’“:

“Crazy” Women

The association between women’s behavior and being labeled “crazy” has a long and infamous history in Western culture. The word “hysteria” — defined as “behavior exhibiting excessive or uncontrollable emotion, such as fear or panic” — is derived from the ancient Greek word “hystera,” meaning uterus. Until the early 20th century, female hysteria was the official medical diagnosis for a truly massive array of symptoms in women including but not limited to: loss of appetite, nervousness, irritability, fluid retention, emotional excitability, outbursts of negativity, excessive sexual desire and “a tendency to cause trouble.”

(Worth noting: much of the blame for “female hysteria” was placed on “wandering uterus syndrome” or other sexual “dysfunctions.” While this did eventually lead to the invention of the vibrator, one of the common cures was a clitorectomy.)

While some of the symptoms of “female hysteria” could be signs of legitimate (if misdiagnosed) mental health issues, most of it described male (as the medical field was a men-only profession up until the mid-19th century) discomfort with women’s behavior and sexuality. Calling it a medical issue meant that men didn’t have to respond to behavior that challenged male sensibilities or belief structures. Instead, labeling women as “hysterical” made it much easier to diminish women’s concerns and issues without having to pause to consider them as possibly being valid.

At it’s core, this term – “crazy” – is used to put women in our historic place – as hysterical, irrational “things” that are beneath the majority.  Men often throw this word around, as O’Malley states, without thinking about the consequences.  And women who have been socialized to internalize this type of “opinion shaming”, all too frequently dismiss the label as “no big deal”.

Well – it is a big deal.  How many of us would want our daughters/sisters/mothers/aunts/nieces/friends labeled as “crazy” simply for stating their opinions or expressing their ideas?  I know I wouldn’t, and I certainly don’t appreciate being dismissed in the fashion I describe above.  The sad thing is, that it continues to happen to this day – and it’s not simply other men that are brandishing the label.  Rather, other WOMEN are using this to describe their colleagues – largely out of insecurity and/or fear.

Stop it.

The next time you are tempted to call another woman crazy – stop.  It’s damaging, and it’s no less hurtful than calling her stupid, unworthy, or ignorant.  We cannot allow ourselves to damage each other in this way.  Men – call us out when we do it – but hold yourselves accountable, too.  If you are tempted to call a woman crazy – consider the why behind it.  Try and think of another – more accurate way – to describe the statement and/or idea.  Perhaps, “I’m not comfortable with your idea there.  Can you explain it a bit more?” is a better approach than simply saying, “You’re crazy.  You have no idea what you are talking about.”  The first approach is more inquisitive and invites debate.  The second shuts the person down, and labels them as stupid.

In the end – it’s no contest.  Kill the crazy label – end of discussion.  Use your words – but use the right ones.

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Day 13: Let it Be

Authors Note:  This is the 13th entry in a 23 part series – my reactions to each item on the post 23 Things Every Woman Should Stop Doing.  Please join the conversation.

Here’s today’s post for our conversation:

9. Holding on to regrets and guilt. “I’m pretty anti-regret,” Lena Dunham said at the 2012 New Yorker Festival. Guilt and regret are two emotions that usually serve to torture the person feeling them. Acknowledge your regrets and guilts, and then move on to the best of your ability.

Friends, I agree with this entry in principle.  Regret and guilt will eat you alive, and serve no purpose other than to (as the post says) make the person feeling them absolutely miserable.  Continuing to wrestle with feelings of regret is simply an act of futility; wrestling with feelings of guilt is either self-imposed torture or it’s a signal that you need to heal a relationship – either with yourself or with someone else.  And unfortunately, women tend to hold on to feelings of regret and guilt far more frequently – and with more intensity – than men.

I struggle with it – especially when it comes  to the many times I’ve hurt myself.  I have said some of the most awful things to myself – sometimes out loud, and sometimes in my own head. I’ve held grudges against people because I simply couldn’t see past my own anger and hurt to try and find a solution or a resolution – even if my role in the situation was minimal.  I’ve beat myself up for not stepping forward and trying something I wanted to do.  In short – I’ve dwelled in long periods of regret and guilt.  Face it – we all have.

However, I fundamentally disagree with the post that simply acknowledging regrets and guilt will allow you to move on.  Seriously – come on.  I can name a few things I’m not quite proud of, and perhaps some things that I still carry around feelings of guilt and/or regret about.  I’ve acknowledged them – but that’s not all I need to do.  I believe there are three additional steps you need to take in order to really leave any regret and guilt behind.

  1. After naming/acknowledging the feeling – you have to figure out your part in it.  Did you intentionally wrong someone?  Did you hurt someone’s feelings?  Are you fighting back feelings of complete insecurity and feeling guilty over some of your own behaviors?  You have to figure out what you did – if anything – before you can move forward.  This can be hard – especially when the person you’ve hurt is yourself.
  2. Try and right any wrong you may have done.  You’ve heard the saying that it’s never too late for a thank you note?  I believe it’s never too late for a genuine apology.  However, the longer you go without apologizing, the harder it can be for the other person (or even yourself if the person you hurt is actually you) to hear the apology and accept it.  Don’t forget – other people are dealing with their own stuff, too.  So pull up your big girl pants, and go apologize.  Even if it turns out badly, you at least gave it a try and can move forward to the next thing.
  3. You have to forgive yourself and let it go.  Now that you’ve figured out your role in the situation, and have made your attempt to resolve the situation, you have to let it go.  Forgiveness is truly the only way.  If someone apologizes to you – forgiving them is really the only way to let go of any hurt they’ve caused you.  Likewise, forgiving YOURSELF for any hurt you’ve caused yourself will be absolutely critical for moving on.

That last thing – forgiving yourself – is So. Freaking. HARD!   But without forgiveness, you will never be able to release the hurt and anger, and you will never be able to heal.  You will carry around the baggage of hatred, fear, and frustration until you are  crushed under the weight of its negativity.  Give forgiveness a try.  You may not get it right the first time – it can take practice – but persistence is key and you’ll eventually be able to put that baggage down for a while; maybe even permanently.

Trust me – your life’s journey will feel so much lighter when you do.

(and as a bonus – when you do – or even if you’re still trying to make it to this point – take a listen to Pharrell Williams “Happy”.  I dare you not to dance!)

It’s Your Turn

Aside

So maybe I’m a day behind, but in reading the other posts as part of this initiative – I’m putting my hat in the ring and participating in #ReverbBroads11, a month of blog prompts promised to be silly and reflective. Today’s (okay, yesterday’s) prompt is: If the you of today could go back in time and give advice to any of the previous yous, which age would you visit and what would you tell them? So here goes:

Dear 30-year old Julie,

You’ve had a hell of a year there, sister. You know it – and I know it even more completely. The issues you’ve faced have been incredibly difficult. Know that by simply living through it – you’ve become stronger, more confident, and more of who you really are – even when you fall into a heap sobbing on the kitchen floor (and yes, this did confuse the hell out of the cat).

Divorce sucks – plain and simple. It’s hard, it’s painful, and it’s a consistent reminder – at least in your mind at age 30 – that you failed in some way. I’m telling you not to look at it like that. Consider it differently – what decisions did you make that GOT you to this point? When I (your 40-year old self) look at it – this is what I see:

1. You tried to fulfill an image of the woman you THOUGHT you were supposed to be. Your ex-husband is a good man – but he expected this facade of a woman that he married to continue forward – one that said she wanted children, one that tried to be the good hostess, etc.; you know deep down that you were not being true to what you wanted and who you were when you entered into this marriage. You need to own this, and move beyond it. Who you are is VITAL, is PHENOMENAL, and you matter. Take that to the bank and cash it.

2. You never stood up for yourself. Trust me – that’s hard for me to even phathom anymore given how much we’ve grown since then. You went days, weeks, months and even years not speaking up for yourself, expressing what it is that you needed. That’s never okay – because every time you silence yourself – you devalue your needs and your voice. Stop it.

3. You thought that if you didn’t get married, other people would be upset and disappointed in you. Face it, lady, you cannot live your life based on other people’s perceptions about you. At the end of the day – you have to live with you, not with your stepsisters, not with your friends, not with his friends. You make your choices and you learn from them. Trying to live up to other people’s expectations will only cause you more pain – and you will always fall short. Live up to yours.

4. You let others opinions influence your decision. You’ve made a lot of decisions with that perspective in mind. But when you really think about it – the best decisions you’ve made up to this point are the ones YOU wanted to make. You decided to follow your passion of going into Student Affairs instead of following a career in genetics – because it made you happy. You joined a sorority that you loved instead of one that was huge and popular on campus – because it was what you wanted to do. Look at the amazing outcomes that happen when you follow your own voice. Listen to it more, and know that it won’t lead you astray.

I know right now all you can see is the pain and the hurt, and all you seem to be able to do is blame yourself. But please trust me, this will pass. Over the next 10 years, you will experience such amazing things – and your experiences during this time will help shape the woman you will become. I’m damn proud to be her – and I thank you for using this time to reflect, change, grow and shine.

And oh yes, your soul mate is out there – and he’s amazing. He’ll say hello here in about 3 years. Wait for him – he’s totally worth it.

Love,

Dr. JPK

39 years, 364 days….

Today is my last day to be 39 years old.  Tomorrow I will be 40 (or 30-10 as some young children like to say).

Many people don’t make it to 40.  Hundreds of thousands of people in my 40 years have died either due to starvation, genocide, abuse, neglect, violence, disease or catastrophe.  Others may make it to 40, but are damaged beyond repair – physically, emotionally or psychologically because of atrocities that one cannot bear to mention, let alone think about.  And still others are alive by the biological definition of the word – but they aren’t living.  They are simply existing, going through the motions of their lives and never truly connecting or giving of themselves.

And then there are those who truly LIVE.  You’ve seen them – people who embrace life with an unbridled passion and gusto that appears to be unquenched.  Some of these folks are outwardly exuberant, while others exhibit a quiet yet relentless curiosity that cannot be satisfied no matter how many books they read, how many people they meet or how many countries to which they travel. 

I’m not sure where I fall.  I am confident that some would categorize me as exuberant – but merely having energy doesn’t mean that I am truly living.  Nor does it mean that I’m not.  What I do know is that I’ve learned a lot in my first 40 years of life – and that both my good and bad experiences have forged me into the woman I am today. 

  • My challenges coming from a divorced home helped develop my independence, as well as a fundamental mistrust of relationships resulting in a lot of pain.  But these experiences also helped me figure out my own issues (along with the help of a fine counselor or two), and eventually recognize a true partner when our paths finally crossed.
  • My foray into all sorts of different activities (pageants, basketball, debutante, clarinet, musical theater, dance, singing (including Opera), science, running, mathematics, writing and advocacy) helped satisfy my curious nature, but it also reinforced a certain level of impatience I have when I don’t master something quickly. 
  • My determination and assertiveness have allowed me to advocate for those not as fortunate as myself, but I’ve also been selfish in that I’ve been looking more inward than out – something that I need to put back into balance to fully develop a giving spirit. 
  • I recognize the need for self-care, but I have significant challenges practicing it. 
  • My exposure to religion at a young age helped me garner an appreciation of spirituality – but it wasn’t until very recently that I realized it wasn’t an external spiritual construct I needed; rather, it was one from within. 

All of these situations, interactions and lessons have helped me become me.  Would I like to turn back time and be 25 again?  No way.  I remember what I was like at 25 – confused, weak, scared and not knowing a thing about what I truly wanted.  I am no longer that woman – but she will forever be a part of me.  Her lesson to me is one of true triumph over fear and doubt.  It was through both the harsh and subtle lessons learned in my 20s and early 30s that I finally found my path.

 As such, I’ll take the hurt mixed with laughter, the pain sprinkled with silliness and the thousands of miles I have traveled thus far on my own developmental journey.  I will wear each wrinkle I have earned with pride. I know I can do more.  I am convinced I can do better.  But my life lessons over the past 39 years and 364 days have reinforced that I will never stop growing, learning, trying, reaching and achieving all that I possibly can – for these are the lessons I will carry from my first 40 years into the next era of my life.

Now pass me a cupcake – it’s time to celebrate!

I Want What I Want…(wait, is that okay?)

(Cross posted to “SA Women Lead” – sawomenlead.com )

Time to chalk up another win for Twitter.

Not just for being a great social networking platform (for me, that’s a given).  The win comes from Twitter’s ability – yet again – to make me think about something I would not normally consider.  This time – it caused me to consider my own comfort level with the concept of ambition.

Recently, a quote was tweeted by Bobbie Denise Cole, a fantastic young professional in residence life, that talked about ambition.  Here’s the tweet:

Bobbie Denise Cole @BDeniseCole Bobbie Denise Cole

“A defiant charge to women to ‘reclaim ambition as a virtue.’ -Debra Condren #wihsng #wlsalt

13 Feb via Twitter for BlackBerry®  

This call, from researcher, author and executive coach Debra Condren, is something difficult I believe for women to do.  Ambition in and of itself is not a dirty word. However, ambition in women has long been perceived by women and men alike as a negative combination.  Generally socialized to be conciliatory and peace-makers, women are not “supposed” to be ambitious; rather, we are expected to “play nice”, “let others win” and be “happy with what we have”.  This relational straight-jacket has long relegated women to play second fiddle to men in a variety of venues, most notably the workplace.  In stark contrast, ambition in men is considered to be something to admire.  Questions like, “What are your ambitions?” are correlated with positive perceptions for men, whereas the same questions are viewed negatively for women, unless the “ambitions” expressed by women are acceptable female goals (i.e. “My ambition is to have a family”).  Research about this information is available in both Dr. Condren’s book, Ambition is Not a Dirty Word, and Sara Laschever and Linda Babcock’s book, Women Don’t Ask).

Something about all of these perceptions, expectations and assumptions really leaves me cold.  And quite frankly – it’s a load of crap.

Why is it that it’s NOT okay for me to state publicly what I want out of life?  Why is it, simply because of my gender, I am not allowed to openly discuss what my long-term goals are.  And, if I am viewed as assertively pursuing those goals, why I am viewed quite negatively because of it? 

I realize that many people reading this entry right now would immediately say, “We would never view a woman in aggressive pursuit of her goals in a negative way.”  To you, I offer this challenge.  Really think about the last time you interacted with a woman who was openly and articulately clear about her goals, and was working very hard to achieve them.  Perhaps she was volunteering to take on projects and tasks.  Perhaps she was openly expressing her concern about an issue facing the team at work or at an organizational meeting.  Maybe she was offering up specific and definitive solutions to some problem facing your organization.  Or perhaps, after an issue was brought up and others in the room negated her perspective, she kept bringing it up in an attempt to convince the group the direction was the right one to pursue?

What were your thoughts about her then?

Reflect on that for a moment.  If you’re like me – that type of reflection is like a bucket of ice water being dumped on my head. I have found myself, thankfully in my own mind and not through external means, saying things like, “Who does she think she is?” and “Can’t she just stop – she’s really coming on way too strong.”  Well – too strong for who?  For me?  Or for the society that continues to categorize women as passive, compliant and peace-making members of our society? Or maybe for both?

My challenge for anyone wishing to take it is simple.  The next time a woman speaks up or stands up for herself – celebrate and support her willingness to do so.  If a woman undermines herself as they discuss their dreams or goals – encourage them to stop belittling their own abilities and to start championing their skills and contributions.  Sponsor, don’t just mentor a woman, and talk about them to other people as vehemently and in similar terms as you would a male colleague.  For women – own who you are and where you want to go, and don’t apologize for doing so.  It’s your life – make it count and do so on your own terms.

The truth is, women’s voices are important, but so is their right and ability to own, voice and aggresively pursue their dreams.  We all need to embrace and support this idea if things are to truly change not only for women, but also for men – so let’s start now.

HELP! I need somebody….

(cross posted to http://sawomenlead.wordpress.com)

Asking for help has never been my strong suit.  EVER. In fact, I have a history of doing everything in my power to avoid it.  I will haul my own luggage through an airport and through a hotel lobby even when help is offered.  I will balance multiple shoulder bags and boxes down a flight of stairs even when a colleague (who is carrying nothing) volunteers to take something out of my hands.  I will multitask on projects to the point of exhaustion, even when others are there to take some of the load.  I take on far more responsibility than any sane person should ever consider doing – both at work, at home and in other arenas.

Women in general have a horrible habit of not asking for what we need.  There are reems of research on this phenomenon – in sociology, career advancement literature, negotiation literature, family/work life balance issues, promotion and tenure practices – the list goes on and on and on.  We are conditioned at a young age to not speak up for ourselves and to “make peace”; which often means putting other’s needs ahead of our own.  We stop self-advocating.  We stop even being able to identify our own needs.  The result is that we continue to take on more at work in exchange for more stress instead of more salary or time off.  We continue to do the lions share of domestic chores in the household, even when we’re working one or two jobs at a time.  We continue to be the primary caregivers to our children or aging parents, even when we are completely exhausted and we have a partner who could help.  We continue to carry the load alone, and we rarely ask for help.

This past week, after several more rounds of “No, I’ve got this” or “I can do that – no problem!”, I finally took a moment to think about this habit.  I asked myself, “Why do I do this?  Why do I feel the need to carry all of this weight on my shoulders, all the time?”  I didn’t immediately come to an answer, but I knew it couldn’t continue.  My health, my sanity and my well-being were at stake.

I was forced upon reflection to come to two conclusions.  I don’t ask for help because I am afraid – afraid of many things.  First, I’m afraid of appearing weak – as if I cannot do something and, therefore, would be perceived as “less than” in some ways.  My inner feminist doesn’t do well with this. I am woman, dammit, hear me roar AND watch me carry all this crap around ALL THE TIME.  Now that I type this out – it doesn’t seem so fierce.

Second, I’m afraid of letting people in.  I have built this amazingly strong wall around me – to protect no doubt the fear, anxiety and doubt I have in my own abilities – and I do not want to have any cracks in that wall.  If I let someone else see all of this “stuff” – I lose.  If I let someone in – ostensibly to help – I can get hurt – and I lose.  It’s happened before, so why should I let it happen again?  If I ask for help – I will ultimately lose.  Now that I type this out – it seems pretty ridiculous.

So I took a chance.  Last week, I sent an email to a core group of women that I trust. I told them all about the rapid changes and additional stressors that were happening on my campus – but this time, I didn’t try to push it off as ‘I can handle this!” or “Really, it’s no big deal”.  Rather my approach was along the lines of, “This is happening to me, right now, and it’s hard.  It’s really hard, and I need support.”  I will admit, I was scared.  I was worried that these women would, somewhere in the recesses of their minds, think of me as less than, as weak, as not a real woman in some way. 

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The support came flying at me in all directions – DMs on twitter, public tweets about offering up support and positive energy, phone calls, emails – you name it, it came.  I even got a card in the mail this week (thanks, Laurie!)  Not one time did someone say that I was being weak.  Never did anyone push back and offer to solve my issues.  Not once did someone say “How dare you dump all your stuff on me!”  No – the gift I received from my personal moment of bravery was 100% genuine support, empathy, caring and affirmation from so many people. I was not only surprised, I was humbled.

The truth is – asking for help is not weak – it’s courageous.  We’ve seen some of the stories from other women recently about their triumphs over fear, weakness, uncertainty and doubt by simply reaching out to others.  Asking for help is one of the bravest things anyone can do, and it connects you to others in a tangible, supportive and amazing way.  The result is – you become stronger when you ask for help.  Your network is so much stronger than your individual resolve. 

When is the last time you asked for help?

This Girl Likes Boys Who Like Boys…but doesn’t like the TV show

Editors Note:  This is the seventh in a series of guest blog posts about the experiences of women in a variety of settings.  Ann Marie Klotz, a professional in housing and residence life, shares her perspective on a new reality show and it’s portrayal of women in this entry.

This Girl Likes Boys Who Like Boys…But Doesn’t Like the TV Show

by Ann Marie Klotz

I have been in love six times in my life and three of those men turned out to be gay…and they remain some of my very best friends to this day.  Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I enthusiastically anticipated the new show “Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys” on the Sundance channel.

On their website the show is described as: “A groundbreaking series that explores a special kind of relationship: a woman and her gay best friend. A bond that goes deeper than friendship, it’s a fresh perspective on love, companionship, and the meaning of “happily ever after.” (http://www.sundancechannel.com/girls-who-like-boys-who-like-boys/)

This show follows four diverse pairs of friends in New York City—mostly in their 30’s and 40’s—who have been close friends for decades.  Each pair features a straight, unmarried woman and her gay best friend.   There’s business partners Crystal and Nathan; native New Yorkers Elisa and David; newly “out” Sahil and his BFF Rosebud; and Sarah and Joel who are at opposite points in their lives, as Sarah fears she will be a “spinster forever” and Joel just declared his love for his partner at a commitment ceremony.   

Being a woman in her 30’s with a healthy group of gay male friends I thought this show would reflect some of my own personal experiences and demonstrate the reason why straight women love their gay “besties.” For me, my relationships with gay men have always been about having a vested interest in each others’ lives, having a caring and communicative friend, having friends in my lives who are always “down for anything” whether it’s dancing, museums, traveling, etc. 

How straight women/gay men friendships differ from those with other women or men is more difficult to explain.  As I chat with other women who have close gay male friends the common themes that emerge are a sense of connection, empathy and understanding.  Perhaps it is because they share some elements of disenfranchisement with society—in 2011 women are still paid less than man for equal work and gay men are not allowed to legally marry their partners in most parts of the country.  There is a shared sense of injustice without the complication of competition or sexual tension.  

With very high expectations, I finally got the chance to view the first three episodes and I was very surprised to see the messages that this show continuously reinforced.  What I thought would be an honest look at the bonds of friendship is basically 30 minute episode dedicated to making women look selfish, lonely, mean and pathetic.    

Let’s start with Crystal and Nathan.  Both hail from the Mid-West (Detroit and Chicago, respectively) and seem to have a shared appreciation for family.  Crystal is a single mother and ex-wife to an NBA player.  Nathan has declared that he wants to have a child within the year—something that Crystal seems hell-bent on trying to deter him from doing.  She ridicules him and makes him cry at his birthday dinner by insinuating that he has no business contemplating fatherhood because she believes he is not strong enough to handle the demands of raising a child alone—yet she is a single mother.  Is this what friendship looks like?  Crystal is portrayed as mean, vindictive and uncaring for her supposed best friend.  Their friendship feels foreign to me because belittling her gay best friend and making him feel bad about himself isn’t exactly the cornerstone of a solid relationship. 

Perhaps the most stunning example of portraying women in a negative light is in the relationship between Sarah and Joel.  When Joel excitedly announces that he is engaged to his long-time partner, Sarah looks at him with tears in her eyes and wails “But it should be me!”    Ugh, seriously?  Real friendship rejoices in the joyous milestones of each others’ lives.  Her selfishness and jealousy during what should have been a moment of happiness makes her look pathetic, uncaring and ugly.  More dangerously, she is reinforcing hetero-normative ideals because she is basically saying that it should be her who is getting engaged because she deserves it more–and inherently because perhaps she believes straight marriage is more important?

Being friends with gay men (for me) is about having politically aware, socially conscious, hilarious and caring folks in my life.  These are people who want to make my life better and vice versa.  The show portrays women as angry at life, overly protective of their gay friends yet do not offer them the same amount of support that these men give them.

If there is a season 2 of this show I suggest that they feature a new set of friends in a different city.  Being gay in NYC is very different than Fargo, ND or Little Rock, AR .  Also, none of the four straight women are married.  Two are divorced and two are never married.  As a married women, my relationship with gay men is very complimentary to my relationship with my husband.  I would love to see one example of happily married straight women who have a gay best friend.  Perhaps my strongest recommendation is to find examples of healthy relationships where the friends celebrate each other instead of compete against and belittle each other. 

Until then, this show will be more like “Mean Girls Who Sort Of Like Boys Who Like Boys.”