Author Archives: Amber LaShea Geislinger

The Daughter-in-Law Effect

What is it?  It’s a term, a syndrome, I coined based on my past experiences with society, men, woman, and marriage.  Both sexes suffer because of archaic views regarding women, which are perpetuated by women as well as men.  Examples are found within all nationalities.  The gross assumption that a woman is automatically the “bad” one, or women should be submissive, ubiquitously believed in much of the Eastern Hemisphere.  We read articles about women being beaten with a shoe by a mother-in-law under some patriarchal, backwater, trashy culture.  A man cuts off his wife’s fingers because she pursues a college education, or worse.

However, just because we live in the West does not mean undercurrents of this special kind of hatred toward women are not present.  And it is just as embraced by women as it is men.  The term “hen-pecking” order is a good descriptive way of painting a picture of family dynamics as well as societal ones.  We are raised in a society where daughter-in-laws are still treated as incubators.  From the expectation of the woman’s parents to pay for a wedding, to the kids getting his last name, the deck is stacked against a lady.  Women are a commodity, and this is reinforced by other women.

My close group of girl friends and I were the girls who attracted con artists, abusive spouses, creepy in-laws with a history of domestic violence, mother-in-laws so evilly passive-aggressive that they’re worthy of a part assigned to a fairy tale villain.  The good news:  we all survived.  Somehow we made it past the debt men accrued in our names, the physical violence, psychological threats, or the emotional abuse.  But it wasn’t some man-god in the sky, or new-agey “blame the victim” philosophy that saved us – it was ourselves.  Plus, having the support of really good women got us through some really dark days.

Yes, we lived through hell.  We were those proverbial good girls that ended up with shitty guys and even shittier in-laws who backed up their sons.  And this is the problem:  it is the parents who raise their sons to treat a lady as a meal-ticket, or as a doormat.  They encourage the terror that the wife lives in, constantly breaking her down.  If it’s not nasty statements about her weight, it’s invasion of her personal space and property.  If there are children, they threaten to take a woman’s kids.  That is the very pinnacle of evil.

The female in-laws, and female family “friends”, contribute just as much as any husband.  Sometimes they are far worse, initiating conflict and encouraging abuse.  The wife is made to be an incubator in the eyes of provincial peoples.  No woman or child should ever take the last name of a man and his family unless that man be a truly, truly good guy.  That means providing for his family, whether it’s fur-kids or human kids.  This great guy also has to be willing to defend his mate to anyone who would attack her, verbally or otherwise.  If a couple can take on the world by having each other’s back, then that’s one secret to over-coming all the silly drama that jealous friends, siblings, etc. attempt to bring into your life.

We see this translate from the very interpersonal level to a societal one from tabloid headlines to local groups, such as churches and friends.  The woman is expected to become an extension of the man, despite her age or level of education.  It may not be overtly stated, but that mentality is very much with us.  I have heard all types of stories from my girlfriends who have so much in common with me.  From noses breaking, to mother-in-laws insisting on staring at someone’s va-jay-jay as she gives birth, The Daughter-in-Law Effect is a societal sickness.  We begin to stop it by insisting that women stop making war on other women.

Once you’re divorced, you’re suddenly damaged goods in the eyes of everyone.  It doesn’t matter what the story is, what he did to your cat, your face, or your credit – the family of your next suitor will treat you as damage goods.  They’ll even make up bullshit about you.  Tell a lie long enough and it becomes the truth.  Everything you ever post online, or display of love toward your beau, is up to be misread and even demonized.  And there’s no appropriate way to fight back.  You’ll always be the “crazy one” because you’re damaged, or too quiet.  Maybe you have a funny laugh?  Maybe you’re too attractive or not attractive enough?  It’s always something.  If you do confront situations straight-forward, you’re a bitch, a cunt.  If you play your cards close and do the passive-aggressive game, you’re the manipulative bitch.  Never mind that you never started any of it.  Just being in love is your crime.

My ex-in-laws were frauds, seriously and literally in the business world sense as well.  I married someone nine years older.  He’d been divorced too.  I was pursuing graduate school, recovering from horrible job and life experiences.  They thought I’d be malleable simply because I’m the quiet type.  I’d marry their son and they’d convince me that having a retarded baby from their retarded gene pool was my life purpose.  Wrong.  Didn’t happen.  When these freak-shows met me, they knew my grad school plans.  Yet, the whore sister-in-law demanded to know, “When did you decide to go to grad school?”  They never heard anything I ever said simply because they never even saw me as a person.  My ex was a lazy piece of poop, unfaithful, and into conspiracy theories.  It doesn’t matter how long of a relationship you have before you marry the man, bad men don’t show their true colors until they have you trapped.

Everyone asks me how you “break a cycle”.  But for me and my friends, it’s not as if we were in a cycle.  Every guy we dated seemed like a completely different individual.  They all had different hobbies, socio-economic levels, cultural backgrounds, etc.  The problem is that we are female, and these assholes just do not like women.  Whatever their reasons, they are misogynists.  They each had their excuses:  bad mother, religion, family history, etc.  Maybe they are angry, latent homosexuals?  Until good men and good women hold scumbags accountable, they will continue to seek out victims.  Users always look for givers.

* A note on Feminism:   Personally, I call myself a feminist.  But I don’t know if I’m a feminist according to the current definition that extreme feminists/post-feminists pimp out.  Don’t ask me to fight your wars or do push-ups.  Feminism didn’t start off to make woman as equally worthless as men.  In fact, why does anyone have to be worthless?  Feminism was about the right to vote, equal access to education, personal autonomy over our bodies.  It wasn’t about actually becoming a man.  Equal doesn’t mean we’re biologically the same.   Feminism should be this basic:  Do you believe both girls and boys should receive equal access to education?  If “yes” is your answer, you’re a feminist.

Cats and Dream-walking

My cat Gabriel sits in my lap as I type on my pink laptop, a laptop that’s lasted since 2007.  Forget your poisonous Apples, Sony is an awesome brand.   My laptop also serves as Gabriel’s personal TV for her Nova bear shows and Youtube videos of foxes.   Computers are not the only bonding time for Gabbie and me. Gabriel is a very special cat – she’s a dream-walker.

The mythology of dream walking says it’s more than just astral travelling – dream walking is the ability to walk into the dreams of others.  A dream-walker can also walk between the worlds, sometimes developing a very adept dream compass.  The dream-walker is more than just lucid; she’s interacting with other beings, other people.  Conventional online wisdom states that a Dream-walker is an incorporeal being that can walk into the dreams of others, often citing such an entity a “demon”.  (I’m not into demonizing these days.  I don’t even demonize “demons”.)  Some sources will say that it’s just not night dreams, but day dreams.

In Cherokee folklore, the notion of dream-walking is prevalent.  Many cultures consider dreams to be more than merely night-brain babbling.  From Gaul to ancient Mesopotamia, dreams can be insight into one’s personal psyche as well as messages from other worlds.  If you listen to your dreams, you may find premonitions, inspirations and wisdom.  One interesting character that shows up in Abrahamic religions as well as Neopaganism:  Gabriel.  Whether male, female, or androgynous, Gabe is known as the dream angel.

My dreams have inspired many aspects of my life.  I dreamed about my husband before I met him.  Many of my fairy tales are my dreams.  But one of the most unusual abilities is the knack for dreaming of my cats before they come to me.  A month before I found Morgana’s litter on the side of a road, I dreamt of a fluffy tortoiseshell cat, black and orange.  Why was I dreaming of this certain cat?  Was it the feral cat I’d seen on my uncle’s farm?  Or a cat I’d briefly fostered?  Nope.  Weeks later, I found Morgan and her litter.  Morgan, insistent on riding all the way home on my shoulders, was destined to be my cat.  I weaned all five kittens, placing three in good homes.  Morgan and Luna Belle stayed with me.

Gabriel’s been a spit-fire from day one.  The dream I had of Gabbie was so persistent and specific that I actually contacted a local cat rescue group.  My dream cat was medium length in fur, black with a chocolate under coat, and eyes so orange they could be brown.  The natural length and shape of the coat was more like a fox than a cat.  Also, it was a male cat.  In my dream, the black cat sat on my chest peering intently into my face.  It was so real that I awoke looking for my black cat.  A week later I received a call from the rescue group. They had three, five day-old kittens in need of a surrogate mother.  With kittens so young, you have to keep them wrapped up in a warm bed.  You even have to burp them.  I took the three black kittens.  And one was Gabe.  Gabriel was a male for the first month of her life.  Each time we took her to the vet, they rechecked.  Then, somewhere after the first month, Gabe turned into a female.  Her name suits her.  Her other two sisters, Fatimah and Hypatia, stayed with us.  I’m the only mother they have known.  One morning I awoke with Gabbie’s little, black-tufted fur face in my mine.  Her eyes were so orange they looked brown…just as my dream foretold.

If I hadn’t of listened to my dreams, my life may have turned out differently.  If I were without my husband or cats, my life certainly would be very, very sad.  I don’t listen to the advice, recycled regrets or sanctimonious opinions of others.  I listen to my dreams.  And my dreams have saved my life.

Emotional Terrorism

What is emotional terrorism?  Simply put, it is a term I coined to define passive-aggressive actions and behavior that attempt to destroy all aspects of the victim’s life and well-being.  Emotional terrorism can be preempted by one individual; however, it will usually grow to encompass a group or groupthink.  The mental distress, physical ailments resulting from distress, and tangible effects of such psychological and physical distresses are manifestations of emotional terrorism.  Examples of such tangible evidence resulting from emotional terrorism:  doctor bills; loss of income, friends/support group, professional growth/job; defamation of character in familial, personal and professional circles; physical signs of stress (aging, sickness, etc.); psychological issues (PTSD, eating disorders, agoraphobia, paranoia, insomnia, etc.); fatal illness and suicide.

Emotional terrorism is effective, systematic and long-term psychological bullying.  It is manipulation at the grand end of the scale, where the manipulation is condoned by the certain cult, group or society of the victim.  The manipulation of emotional terrorism is ubiquitous.  The targeted individual of emotional terrorism may be of any age, class, sex, gender, creed and/or culture.  There is not a one-size fits all description of a victim of emotional terrorism, just as there is not a one-size fits all prescription for the problem.  The solution that works for one targeted victim may not work for another.  Individuality and personality play a role in solving the ordeals of emotional terrorism, as does the nature of the harassing person or group of people sanctioning the emotional terrorism.

The so-called “psychic vampire” definition has been used to describe emotional vampirism in more than one sense.  One definition is of a supernatural, intangible nature.  This definition of psychic vampirism is not the issue this essay addresses.  The emotional vampirism – the unwanted attaching of the predator to the prey – can be a poetic way of describing emotional terrorism.  This does not validate or invalidate a preternatural or numinous angle that may or may not exist.  Regardless of how you identify psychic vampires, these people are mentally disturbed, and they are energized by the chaos they create.  The victim does not ask or invite the unwanted, negative attention in the case of emotional terrorism.  In fact, the victim tends to be an accomplished and capable person within his/her social and professional networks.  Potential victims, be their “vampire” an emotional terrorist or a maladjusted creep, have only committed the misstep of trust, friendship and charity.  Obviously, the victims of emotional terrorism are not masochistic in any form.  Victims do not seek out the emotional anguish and repercussions – mental or otherwise – of such systemic and often public bullying that is emotional terrorism.

Emotional terrorism also differs from the new-age “psychic vampire” in the issue of extrovert verses introvert.  Psychic vampirism doesn’t have to be hokey, supernatural, unseen actions.  Psychological vampirism is as simple as an extroverted personality draining an introvert, much like a leech drains blood, as it is simply a parasitic relationship.  Therefore, it is integral to the health of the introvert that he/she examines interpersonal relationships with extroverts.  It is true that introverts make easier targets for the terrorists and vampires alike, but extroverts are targeted as well.  Extroverts are affected keenly in group settings because they are group people – they crave social interaction.  Whereas, introverts do not crave mass attention and interaction; the very security of their quietude makes them susceptible to the terrorist as well as the vampire.  Introverts, in their contemplative aloofness, haven’t the social press of an extrovert.  This makes introverts much easier to slander with invented stories.  It is unfortunate, yet true – if you are not around to tell your story, someone else will do it for you.

Tactics vary in combating emotional terrorism.  Keeping it legal and official is preferable, as it is in the best interest of the victim.  Staying on the correct side of legal authorities has the advantage of enabling victims to be blameless in the eyes of the law.  Unfortunately, many instances of straight-forward self-defense, such as honest, verbal retort, can be manipulated into making the victim appear to be the aggressor by the terrorizing agent.  Public confrontations and condemnations of emotional terrorizing may seem at first the best path, and in some instances may be the best answer.  However, the bully is often adept at the art of public manipulation, such as feigning innocence in the grandiose manner of crocodile tears and other sanctimonious displays.  If the bully has the complete acquiescence and approval of a group, especially a group with societal resources such as a church or a political group, a public proclamation or confrontation will achieve absolutely nothing.  The ubiquitous, pathological lies regarding the victim have entered the consciousness of the group.  Thus, the adage:  “Tell a lie long enough and it becomes the truth.”

Securing tangible evidence can be difficult due to the passive-aggressive nature of emotional terrorism.  The evidence is often intangible:   implied in the tone of the bully’s voice; proverbially read between the lines of letters; found in the stares of the victim’s associates; discovered lurking within the slander of the terrorizing clique/group; etc.  Often all the above will manifest in the form of something material, such as loss of a job.  For victims with dependents, the emotional terrorism moves from indirectly to directly targeting those dependents (pets/fur-kids, spouse, children, property, aging parents).

This essay is a definition and description of emotional terrorism as an experience suffered by individuals from various circumstances.  But what do you call the emotional terrorist?  What could function as an appropriate and established term?  My husband, being a physicist of German descent, brought this perfect devil of a word to my attention:  schadenfreude.  The person reveling in schadenfreude delights in another’s misfortune, deriving joy from suffering.  They, your emotional terrorist(s), may not even be motivated by jealousy, greed or power…and that’s the scariest thing:  Their motivation is the sadistic mental high they derive from the chaos, despair and destruction they rain on your life.

We carry the torch for feral cats!

I composed a letter to two media sources correcting the blatantly erroneous and shameful misinformation published regarding feral and outdoor cats.  Of course, we keep our feline children strictly indoors, but I will not stand to see any cats defamed.  Here’s an abstract of my letters:

My husband is a physicist; I’m an author and collegiate English instructor.  We have been involved with animal rescue for the past few years.  As a scientist, it really irritates my husband when he sees bad statistics misquoted and embellished by the media at large.  One horrible lie that’s resulted in the demonization of feral cats is the infamous 450,000 number of kittens from one cat in seven years.  This bit of bad gossip toward kitties has been quoted by other well-intentioned groups, such as Animal Planet and PETA.

We, of course, believe that all pet parents should spay and neuter!  We even have house-bunnies and they are all spayed too.  However, pet parents should spay and neuter for the health of their furry kids, not because of some erroneous statistics that demonize and blame cats instead of pet owners.  The ubiquitous lie has been used to scare people into spaying and neutering, used to excuse eradication of feral cat colonies and to promote out-right cruelty to cats. Cats who are fixed live longer, healthier and happy lives, especially females!  The quality of life for that little bundle of fur should be the primary reason to spay/neuter.

As Alley Cat Allies state on their site, “…for more than 10,000 years, cats have lived outdoor lives, sharing the environment with birds and wildlife.”  Luckily, we have products and medical technology where we can keep our beloved fur-kids inside where they are safe from the attacks of humans.  Alley Cat Allies is simply pointing out that cats have been here for a long time.  Humans did not create a brand new species 60 years ago – we are not gods.  However, anyone looking at this oft quoted statistic should be able to realize one thing – if one cat really produced 450,000 in 7 years, after 10,000 years we would – quite literally – be “swimming” in cats.

The best, hard science source I can pass on to you is this:  JAVMA, Vol 225, No. 9, November 1, 2004.  I keep this at the top of my Twitter page so anyone can reference it.  There’s nothing like the solid facts and math to debunk gross misinformation.  The exaggerated number of 400,000 something is an urban legend and completely baseless.  This is further debunked by several professors of the University of Washington’s Math Department.  In looking at the population study in the above article, the consensus was that a more reasonable number would be somewhere between 100 to 400 cats by the end of 7 years.  Furthermore, it is very important to remember than even 100 to 400 means that every female cat must be healthy, produce all healthy kittens and live at least 7 years outdoors.  We all know that this simply doesn’t happen.  All species have natural predators, health issues and mankind to deal with.

Also, the correct and true facts debunk the gross and often purposefully slanderous numbers floating around regarding cats and bird populations.  Popular blog, Vox Felina, addresses and corrects lies regarding cats, which are unfortunately promoted by ignorant environmentalists looking for a scape-goat.  Blog author and Arizona State University professor, Peter Wolf, states:  “They claim cats are responsible for killing 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds in the U.S. annually.  That represents an astonishing 28.5 to 75.5 percent of the estimated 4.7 billion birds in the entirety of North America.  Were these figures even remotely accurate, there wouldn’t be any more birds in the whole continent.  What they’re claiming simply isn’t true.  I’m calling attention to it because this kind of paper can cause deep trouble for outdoor cats – people are using it as a lever to justify killing community cats.  It’s not right.”

Please feel free to pass this information around!  Too many people willingly believe any and everything they hear or read without doing their own research.  No one sees my beloved cats because they are strictly indoors, which I believe to the appropriate place for fur-kids.  However, outdoor cats need to be protected from the cruelty and scapegoating of humans.

– Amber L. Geislinger