el's rabbit trails, family life, Homemaking stuff, just for fun, wife stuff

Friday Frivolities 13: Random moments from the sahm scene.

File this one under “things that made me go hmmm”.

The last ironer in America?

Last week the kids and I were running late getting to “school” so I picked out a no-iron skirt, tank top, and fitted cardigan. Specifically because I didn’t have time to iron. Every where I turned, someone would compliment me, “You look pretty today.” I suspect it’s because the skirt was red. Kinda hard not to notice.

As a few of us were in the kitchen getting coffee (the school building is so quite cold), a few more mothers complimented me, so I said, “And I just grabbed the first thing I could find that I didn’t need to iron.” From there we were off to the races:

“You iron? I can’t remember the last time I ironed!” “I didn’t know anyone ironed anymore!” Several other women shared with me their tips for doing laundry in a way that keeps them from ever having to iron.

Thing is, I iron almost every day, because my husband’s shirts need to look more professional than they can from dryer heat. But my girls all iron their colthes every day -or every other day- also. It left me wondering: “Are we the last ironers in America?” Please, say it ain’t so.

Even with 4 “chefs” in the house, I still cook.

At church one night this week (it was a night the ministry we volunteer in meets to do our work), a woman asked me a question: “I heard your girls can cook. Since they are still at home, that means you hardly ever have to cook, right?’

“Well”, I told her, “not exactly. I actually still cook quite a bit. I get a couple of nights a week off, but I still cook 4-5 days a week. My husband will eat their cooking (he even likes it most of the time), but he prefers mine, and he doesn’t think it’s a good idea for me to get out of practice.”

She actually concurred with that line of thought, unlike many other women would. But then, she was older. Which brings me to my last unimportant but tangentially related point.

Culinary discretion

Yesterday morning when SAM was leaving for work, he opened his bag, tossed a container with a piece of cake in it on the counter and said to me:

“Toss that out, will you? I keep telling them I don’t eat just anybody’s cooking and they still insist on bringing stuff in for me to taste. I didn’t have time to go through the spiel yesterday, so I just took the cake from her. I guess they figure if they keep trying, I’ll eventually eat something.”

My husband is pickier than most about his food, but he’s not the only person I’ve encountered who is wary of taking food from just anybody. I know a woman who decided from a person’s cleanliness habits at work that she would likely never eat anything she brings in.

I’m wondering what others’ thoughts are on that.

Have a great weekend.

 

 

 

 

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cultural absurdity, el's rabbit trails, wife stuff

Abuse?

I’ma keep this one short and sweet as this blog is quickly morphing into a “Hmmm. Isn’t that interesting?” type of deal. That may be for the best.

I got this tidbit from Dr. Helen in my feed and once again wondered if I am living in a paralel universe:

We’ve all read the articles and blog posts about how to stop yelling at the kids. But for me, my shouting was aimed in a different direction — at my husband.

So I decided to see if applying the same rules about not yelling at my hubby would yield the same benefits as it does with kids.

I started out thinking I’d simply “not yell anymore.” I managed it for a few days, but as all my projects and hobbies tend to go, it wasn’t long until I slid back into old habits.

You can read the entire referenced article here, but I was dumbfounded.

I cannot imagine yelling at my husband, and not just because it’s wrong even though I’d like to think I’ve grown enough to start from there. But I am, to be honest, a little unnerved and…dare I say it? Afraid of it. There. I said it.

This, even though I know he’d rather die than harm me, and he’s not going to start yelling back at me either. What I will experience, to quote something a friend wrote once, is being:

IMMEDIATELY and unpleasantly corrected. So … ahem. Not really an issue. Never has been.

To many people today, this means I am abused; because I tremble slightly at the thought of yelling at a grown man as if he were a little boy. And even though I can’t imagine feeling more loved and cherished in any other circumstance or with any other person.

 

 

 

Beauty, el's rabbit trails, just for fun

Friday Frivolities 10: Fashion Stuff

I’m fairly certain that fashion -in the traditional sense- isn’t really frivolous. It has always been that how we present ourselves to others sends a message, else Paul wouldn’t have bothered to address women directly about the way we present ourselves to the world. Additionally, we all understand intuitively the power of dressing for the job we want, the respect we want, the mate we want, etc.

In the grand scheme of  things however, and given the bleak state of the world and culture we live in, fashion conversation may seem frivolous. That is, until we stop to consider that life goes on and we still have to go out into the world and do the day to day things we need to in order to meet the needs of our families. My man has strong opinions about m appearance as well. To that end then, a frivolous fashion post!

~Our kids started school* this week. It isn’t school in the traditional sense, since we are still at home, homeschooling three full days a week, but it was certainly  new experience for them. One of the novelties was having to abide by a fairly strict dress code, one which I am certain I’d have trouble filling for them if they were at school five days a week. It is a good thing, however, when I contrast it to the lax standards we’ve expereinced in other supplental homeschool settings. It is as follows:

  • Shoulders covered, no tank tops. or sundresses without cardigans.
  • No shorts for anyone middle school and up and for elementary school students, they must be at least knee length.
  • All dresses and skirts must cover the knees when seated
  • No cleavage visible when females bend over
  • All boys shorts must have collars
  • Jeans -if worn at all-must be neat, with no frays or rips, and worn with a belt.
  • Parents are subject to the same dress code as students when on campus.

Our 9-year-old, being elementary aged, has more freedom than the 11-year-old, who complained at first. When you spend most of your time in a relaxed, casual home atrmosphere, your definiton of comfortable clothes is the standard fare (particularly in Florida): Shorts, tank tops, jeans, t-shirts, sandals. They enjoy the educational experience so much however,  that they are less bothered about having to get dressed on a day besides Sunday.

~Hearth shared a really great article with me about fashion color choices for women of darker hues. It’s no secret that black/brown women have a lot more leeway with regard to the colors we look good in, but it doesn’t mean that we look good in every color and a few tweaks here and can make a big difference.

I was fairly unfamiliar with the idea of deeper value and contrast, so I learn a lot about fashion and color from my interactions with Hearth. Have I ever mentioned here that she has written a book on the subject of women’s fashion and how to do it right? Well, she has, and you can find access to it here on the review I wrote for it when she published last year.

~One of my fashion challenges is variety. Generally, I wear almost any color that strikes my fancy, but when I know I look good in a particular color, I can overwork that color in my wardrobe. A couple of years ago, it was deep orange. I still wear that on occasion, but more recently, I’ve heavily leaned on navy blues.

*With this dress, which one of our daughters gave me as a gift from Unique Vintage, I added red accents (shoes as well as the cami) to cover the base of the very low neckline.My makeup looks like it’s melting because it was nearly 100 degrees that day, two weeks ago. It’s just one in a long line of pieces purchased in various shades of navy blue. It doesn’t hurt that my husband really likes me in the color as well, but I need to mix it up. My wardrobe is starting to bore me.

~Lastly, I stumbled on a product that has caused me -yet again- to change my favorite hair product line. Given that this especially marketed to those of us with thick, curly hair, it’s not for everybody. It’s relatively expensive also, but I have a permission, a directive even, to spend a few extra bucks if needed to look good. I also like their mimosa hair honey hair for the scent as much as the shine effect.

*There will no doubt be plenty of classical education and literature comentary at The Reading Room. I am learning as much as our kids, and loving every word of it!

.

 

black in a multi-culti world, cultural absurdity, el's rabbit trails, family life

Friday Frivolities 9

Random points, in no particular order, on the fly:

Consumer PSA: After spending a small fortune -two short years ago!- on what we thought was a very nice stainles steel refrigerator from the company which declares that life is good, the thing started warming a week ago. A technician came out, and declared that we have to wait another week for the part because “life is good’s” refrigerator compressors are going out in kitchens all over town. Apparently, it’s a thing. How, I ask, did we miss this, given our propensity to do research before we buy? It occurs to me that we’ve bought two in 15 years whereas both my husband and I spent two decades in our parents’ house and never saw either of our dads have to buy a new fridge.

The cognitive dissonance of feminism: Thinking about the Google guy and the fallout from his so-called manifesto. I am still occasionally struck by how stupid feminism is. That it is inherently misogynistic. Rather than accepting women’s differences from men as just that, and worth celebrating, they themselves view femininity as weakness. They then project their own neuroticism and insecurity with their femininity onto those who dare say out loud that women are indeed different from men. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad, and wasn’t ruining countless numbers of lives and psyches.

Post commencement thoughts: We graduated our twins from college recently. I know there are readers who have all kinds of *issues* with that, but whatever. I trust my man’s judgment implicitly on this one. More than that, I agree. I was taking some mental notes at both commencement exercises.

At the first ceremony there were roughly 1200 graduates. Around 40 of the roughly 170 black graduates were black men (yes, I was counting). I’m fairly certain at least three of those were gay.

At the second commencement there were roughly 1500 graduates. I wasn’t quite as attentive to the numbers, but I would estimate nearly 250 black graduates, with approximately 100 black men and that was because the second group of colleges were heavy with areas of study that more male oriented fiels of study. They also handed out roughly 30 doctorates in computer science and engineering. With the exception of two candidates, EVERY announced candidate was of Asian or Middle Eastern descent. Make of that what you will…

We’ll start our new school year on Monday:  I think we’re all ready for it. The kids are very excited about their new classes in te Classical program we enrolled them in. Depite the sticker shock, it doesn’t really equate to less work for me. Just more help, and it’s help I’m glad to get. This despite the fact that I have to get ready to read -along with our 11-yer-old- a lot of book not previously in my reading queue. Among them (not an exhaustive list):

  • Captains Courageous, which she has already been assigned to begin reading before classes start next week.
  • The Samurai’s Tale
  • The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom
  • The Three Musketeers

Pretty sure there are very few middle schoolers (whether privately or public schooled) being challenged to read great literature. Like I said, we’re excited. There are lots of fun, challenging, and enriching things on tap for the school year. Now, to get us out of this summer fluidity and restore some structure…

Have any of you started your new school years yet? I suspect the northerners who read here can’t even begin to imagine school starting weeks before Labor Day.

Have a good weekend!

 

 

 

cultural absurdity, el's rabbit trails, Humility is important, real living in a virtual world

In defense of echo chambers.

Got your attention, huh?

This really isn’t a defense of echo chambers. Perhaps it is, but not the way echo chambers are commonly referenced. After only a week of serious winnowing, I almost immediately recognized a more consistent and prolonged state of peace in my mind and heart.

This is off the cuff, and I’m not going to spend time editing it, so bear with me and use your stellar intellects to fill the things that should go without saying. I know that’s sometimes hard in 2017 America, but just try. Really hard.

It is commonly accepted as a virtue in American life to be willing to have our assumptions challenged and hear other points of view. To the extent that we are willing to do that, no matter how destructive the form in which these challenge and viewpoints are offered, we are considered “reasonable”, “tolerant”, and “open” to other points of view.

In general, I am a big fan of hearing other points of view. I think it’s good to evaluate ourselves, our actions, and our ways of thinking rather than assume that we’re all good all the time or that nothing about us needs to change. This morning, however, I had a light bulb moment and realized that it’s one thing to be open to examining other points of view. That is a good thing.

It’s an altogether different thing to engage in repeated dialogue with people who have starkly different points of view from you, who disdain your perspective and whose perspective you equally disrespect.

So for example, if I want to read a thoughtful critique of another sister’s view point on marriage and family order or birth control, it is best for me to do that with the intent to read it, walk away from it and examine it without engaging in a dialog with her about it. In other words, I can read Christian feminist Rachel Held Evans’ book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, consider her perspective (with which I still vehemently disagree even after reading the book) and walk away with my soul unscathed by a knock down drag out debate on some Internet forum.

Perhaps I am more cognizant as I am getting older. The husband said last night, “I still can’t believe we have three kids out of college. Where did the time go?” Things like that certainly give one pause about the importance of how she spends her time. I don’t even mind acknowledging that I am getting older because I have not -for the most part anyway- wasted my life.

It is simply healthier to have the lion’s share of our discussions on love, life, and even politics, with those who will encourage us in the values we truly believe are right. Echo chambers -particularly of the Christian variety- serve a distinct purpose.

If and when I engage in dialog with someone whom I disagree for any reason other than to truly understand or offer something to think about for the purpose of trying to help that person from a place of love rather than snobby, smug superiority, I am better off not bothering. To just keep my thoughts- and my fingers- to myself.

el's rabbit trails, healthy living, Humility is important, real living in a virtual world

Regroup. Refocus. Reset .

The past week was rough. There were challenges which shall go unnamed, and then I pulled a muscle in my lower back. Just. like. that. My summer of productivity and balance was thrown off track and replaced with stiffness, searing pain, and sitting. I’m much better now, and my man and the kids were amazing, but almost anything that required physical exertion or mental acuity was nigh impossible..

It is quite astonishing really, how easily I fall into the ease of unprofitable habits and routines when I don’t (or as was the case for me recently, simply can’t) keep up forward progress and focus on a plan.To say I let me down would be an understatement, but time to dust off the ol’ behind and get back to it.

I am looking forward to full throttle on Monday, and a return to what I’d started, which was embarking on shunning the negative and putting lots of energy into creative pursuits. In other words, getting back to what really matters and ignoring the things that don’t. The list of things that were sidelined last week included:

  • Sewing and home decorating
  • Party planning for a celebration at the end of this month
  • Gardening and yard work
  • Writing of the non-Internet variety
  • Lesson plan for at least the first half of the fall semester ( for homeschool and outside teaching obligation)
  • (Very slowly) crocheting a big blanket in time for fall
  • Doing some heavier reading and note taking for the aforementioned writing project

What did get done:

  •  A whole lot of mental clutter.
  • An overload of negative Internet news, chatter, and commentary.
  • Too much sugar and grains with four birthdays -each with cake- over 11 days
  • I did manage to make one of the cakes!
  • Cancelled workouts
  • Cancelled ministry obligations

Nature, it’s said, abhors a vacuum and in the absence of filling myself and my time with good things, the space was filled with useless things. Negative things that vex the soul. Not everything I read and heard was negative and/or useless but the scale was certainly tipped too far in the wrong direction. If I had been up and moving, I probably would not have even noticed most of the bad news I’d heard and was distracted by.

I was conversing with an acquaintance recently and she said, ” Makes me glad my give-a-damn broke…”

I had every reason to believe her. Based on the nature of the conversation we were having, all the evidence speaks to the fact that her “give-a-damn” is indeed, broken.

That has stuck with me for the past few days and I questioned whether mine is as broken as I sometimes tell myself. For the most part, I do pretty well with it, since I’ve had some good examples before me, my father and then my man, who lived their lives unapologetically, took their lumps, and made adjustments as needed without a lot of apparent internal angst.

Alas, I am not a man. I am a woman, and women tend towards caring what others are thinking. About us primarily, but also nearly everything else. The Internet exacerbates this tendency because let’s women love juicy tidbits, ego boosts, and gossip. Even the bits that begin with, “I’m just sharing this so you can pray…”

The best and only way to keep ourselves unspotted, unvexxed, and uninfected by the garbage is to not eat the bread of idleness. The lesson here for me, is that the next time I find myself too overwhelmed with pain or grief or challenges to focus my mind in a productive way, I’d be better off binge watching old episodes of Little House on the Prairie. And yes, I read my Bible and prayed for others. Just not 8-10 hours a day as a more spiritual woman may have done.

But I’m back. I actually got some painting done today. The summer of meeting goals and shattering expectations is back on, and after nearly 10 days of slacker-hood, I think it’s safe to say I’ll not pontificate as much. I will however be engaged in more serious reading and creative miscellany. 

Have y’all heard this song? I think many of you will really appreciate it. Listen. Yeah, it’s pop sounding but the lyrics are on point.

el's rabbit trails, just for fun, real living in a virtual world

Internal robo-responses

Respond-with-message-300x233

A running joke started here recently with regard to robo-messages. You know them, the instant message responses on your phone that you send when you can’t answer someone’s call at that moment:

  • Call you back in 15 minutes
  • Can’t talk, text me
  • What’s up?
  • Driving, call you right back
  • In meeting
  • Running late- be there soon
  • Sorry, I’m on a call right now
  • Send me an email

I have two personalized ones on my phone:

  • Homeschool in session, will call back at lunch.
  • In class- teaching

It just occurred to me that it is more distracting and requires more effort to push that message to someone while you’re driving than it would take to just answer the phone. That one is not a good idea. At all.

 

As is often the case when something hits the forefront of my thinking, the running joke has sparked a tip toe through the tulips of random thoughts. Specifically, the things that pop into my head when I get a call or a message from people in particular:

  • Oh, gosh. What’s wrong now?
  • She always makes me laugh
  • Hope my brother’s daily verse is a good one (as if there is a BAD Bible verse)
  • Please Lord, don’t let them have been in an accident
  • I do NOT feel like hearing about her drama of the week.
  • Whatever else this might be, it won’t be boring…
  • She always encourages me
  • Let me get prayed up before I call back.

In other words, I have a real problem with attaching assumptions to people and while I’m blessed that my internal robo message is as likely to be good or neutral as it is bad, I should work on jumping to conclusions.

There have been times when I was dead wrong.

Tell the truth. You have robo-thoughts/messages too. I know you do.

 

Beauty, el's rabbit trails, just for fun, wife stuff

Friday Frivolities 5: A hair raising edition

This is a hair raising edition because I’ve been thinking a lot about my hair this week. It’s not all I’ve been thinking about, of course, but it occupied more mental space than usual.

~It started last weekend when an older male relative asked my husband why- given his relative “youth”- he won’t dye his hair or beard. He has a fair amount of visible gray. He said no. The hair grows back too quickly, making it a frequent endeavor, and a waste of time. Most importantly, he’s fine with his gray hair.

The man countered that it just helps make a guy more attractive, no different from what a woman does when she wears a little blush to spruce up. My husband replied, “That is exactly my point. ” His pithy end of the dialog made me laugh but also made me think.

I’m thinking a bit about my own gray strands, which I usually color every 6-8 weeks for the express purpose of covering the gray strands peeking out in front. I’ve pondered it for a while now, even reviewing a book on the topic. Lately, I’ve been going longer between colorings because it does take time I need to spend on other things.

I almost never get around to coloring without going at least a couple of weeks with my visibly gray strands, which kinds of defeats the point of coloring in the first place, no? That’s an awkward angle, but the point is the gray hairs, not my big eyes. I couldn’t figure out how to do one and not the other without an even weirder picture.

Some days, I don’t mind them. It’s only a little, and only visible when I wear my hair pulled back, such as it is now. Other days it bothers me and it’s those days I find myself getting the color in. It’s funny the things we lament that previous generations of women never thought about. I just don’t want to find myself at 65 or 70 with a full head of black hair thinking I’m fooling anyone. 25 years seems like a long time from now but time passes quickly.

~This next bit is about growth of another sort: Veggies! I may not the worst gardener who ever planted a bed, but I am no doubt in the lower 50th percentile. Nevertheless, and with a lot of helpful tips and reminders from the man, I have been able to grow and harvest some good looking vegetables so far this summer. Here is yesterday’s take:

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Two eggplants, and three tomatoes. I didn’t have eggplant Parmesan on my menu for this week, but I may have to consider a menu change.

~My word for the summer is “productive”. As much as we’re told about wife and motherhood being hard jobs, for me the reality is that a plan and a some focus can do wonders.

**Caveat: I am NOT referring to mothers of babies and preschoolers here. My “baby” is 9.**

The challenge, or at least my challenge, has been to resist the temptation to coast, doing what I need to get by (“good enough is good enough”) without stretching myself in ways that will force me to grow.

With that as my focus, it’s been remarkable that I have done twice as much around the house and errands, taken naps and walks when I need them, did some things to stretch and challenge myself and still indulge in occasional 30-45 minute time “wasters” such as writing this post*. It’s been a good season.

~Lastly, I mentioned a while ago that I was reading up on how to start my own SCOBY to make kombucha at home. It turns out that this was not as easy as The Kitchn made it appear to be. The main problem was finding a pure, unflavored bottle of kombucha to use as a starter. I went to every natural food market I could think of in our area and not one had a kombucha that was unflavored.

Fortunately for me, I have the hookup with good friends who are into this kind of thing and one of them gave me a SCOBY, which has brewed enough kombucha to make another SCOBY. So I have the makings of a SCOBY hotel on my hands. Problem is, everyone in my house thinks it looks disgusting:

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The brew still tastes good, and it’s good for me, too.

Have a great weekend!

*I don’t really believe that writing this post was a waste of time.
cultural absurdity, el's rabbit trails, Uncategorized

Wonder Woman fails as an empowering feminist trope.

At least it does in my opinion.

We were a family of four for most of the weekend and our twins wanted to see the new Wonder Woman flick. I was curious about it more than anything, and Benevolent Dictator went along in the interest of togetherness. He was tired, needed a nap, and slept (literally) through half the film.  Of course he has been known to doze during films he attends solely because his girls desire his proximity. This is no way offends us.

But I digress.

One would assume, given the feminist hype and press surrounding this film, that it’s a patriarchy crushing, glass ceiling shattering romp to make the suffragettes turn to one another in their graves and fist bump. One would be wrong. If there was ever a film which exemplifies the idea of feminists grasping at straws for evidence of an empowered woman, this is it.

Oh yeah..spoiler alert.

Despite the reports of grown women crying with joy during Wonder Woman’s fight scenes, there really is nothing novel here. Wonder woman is hardly a new character after all, and there have been other movies with strong, kick butt, human women in the leading roles. Those films were mostly far fetched drivel which received less commerical hype, but at least they fulfill the empowered woman trope.

How does the stellar fighting ability of the female progeny of Hippolyta, Queen of the [mythical] Amazons and Zeus, King of the [mythical] Greek gods in any way translate into something an average girls can aspire to? A goddess is portrayed as powerful.  Perhaps I am missing something because I left the theater telling my husband, “I didn’t get it”.

Despite The Guardian’s going on about Wonder Woman’s questionable sexual orientation, the central theme of her awakening is the love story between her and Steve Trevor, played by Chris Pine. The only slight hint of anything resembling what this article implied was Diana Prince’s revelation that her sexual education (acquired through books on her island homeland) revealed that men while men are vital for procreation, they are not necessarily needed for pleasure. This is human sexuality 101, not female empowerment.

It makes you wonder, if this is what the film makers really wanted to convey, why Diana Prince and Steve Trevor spend a night together as a pivotal moment when their love is “sealed”, given that they were not married and procreation was not the intended aim. If she does not believe men are necessary for pleasure, and she does not want a child, what is the point of their union? It just smacked of more grasping at straws in an attempt to give professional SIW the nod they demand from Warner Brothers and DC Comics.

There are the obligatory scenes to reveal what ife was like for women in government and military settings at the dawn of the 20th century. Again, no new ground was tilled here, and it was nothing that you don’t see in any number of movies set in the early half of the 20th century.

The denoument, however, is where the feminist trope really breaks down. As Diana Prince/Wonder Woman comes to terms with the reality of human nature, she has a choice to make about who she wants to be in this complex human world. It isn’t her personal convictions or strength which drive her to make the right decision.

Rather, the audience gets to go back with her through memories of her moments with Steve, the wisdom he imparted to her, and the love he shared with her before heroically sacrificing himself to save the lives of thousands of people and instigate a moment so pivotal it turns the war toward it’s much needed end. In other words, it was the love a good (not to mention well above average) man which saves Diana from the despair that threatened to overtake her as she comes to terms with human corruption.

Like I said before, as celebratory feminist characters go, this one falls far short. They’d have done better to revamp Thelma and Louise with younger actresses.

Lest I am understood, and for those who don’t know, I have a healthy disdain for feminism and no desire to sit through a film which celebrates the notion of women empowered apart from men because girl power. As such, I was rather pleased that this movie is not at all what the left leaning press portrayed it to be.

The film itself was pretty well done. From an artistic standpoint, the visuals were nice and according to my comic book loving daughter, it stayed true to the original character. Gal Gadot is stunning, as any actress playing Wonder Woman would have to be.

The love scene between Diana Prince and Steve Trevor was reminiscent of the way it was done in eras of more propriety.  In other words, even though you know what happened, you weren’t subjected to the assault of having to watch it.

There is one scene where Chris Pine is 80% naked (not a sex scene, but still). Be warned if you’re tempted to take younger children because it’s a super hero film. DC Comics films are usually edgier than Marvel films anyway as a general rule.

If you’re looking for girl power you’ll find plenty of it, but it’s tempered. Diana Prince gushes over babies, relishes the taste of ice cream, and falls madly in love with a handsome hero. While she may not need him for physical protection,  Wonder Woman is not portrayed as a strong independent woman who don’t need no man.

I was reminded of fight scenes where one fighter taunts another with the question: “Is that all you’ve got?”