Desert Flour

A 20-Something's Musings on Life, Love and Faith

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Holiday Pet Peeves

Nothing spreads Holiday cheer like singing loudly about sexual assault for all to hear.

It’s that time of year again. All across our town plastic luminarias are appearing along strip mall rooftops, sweaters with bells and glitter are gleefully pulled out of winter clothes boxes and joyful holiday music can be heard playing from cars, radios, laptops and cell phones.

At least most of it is joyful.

All year round I am a patient person – slow to anger and I try very hard to be understanding or be the first to give benefit over doubt. But there is one holiday “traditional” carol that I cannot stand. If everyone is allowed their short list of things that absolutely drive them crazy then here is possibly the number 1 item on my list:

Baby It’s Cold Outside

I just find it terribly distressing that such a nice vocal arrangement and catchy tune masks aggressive and intense language.  And I know I am not the first to point out that this song has grievous date-rape implications – but this song continues to make the holiday rounds, new artists are re-recording it each year and it seems like there isn’t enough dialogue about how inappropriate, and downright creepy this song is.

If you break down the lyrics and isolate them from their sing-song duet it helps to better demonstrate what I mean. Just taking a look at the masculine lyrics:

“Beautiful, what’s your hurry?
What’s the sense in hurting my pride?
Baby don’t hold out.
Man, your lips look so delicious.
Gosh your lips look delicious.
How can you do this thing to me?
Get over that hold out.”

This isn’t romantic. And the fact that it can be portrayed as such during our Holiday season speaks to the larger societal misconceptions of “healthy” relationships and the power balance in gender politics.

The first line “Beautiful what’s your hurry?” is the equivalent of those street catcallers yelling at female commuters. The real irony in this aggression is that it’s phrased as a “compliment.” Women know that if they passed someone on the street and they heard this question – both responding and ignoring it can lead to dangerous situations (either engaging further in unwanted advancements or encouraging greater verbal/physical aggression).

The remainder of the prose describes the male’s attempt to guilt the female into submission – “What’s the sense in hurting my pride? How can you do this thing to me?; evokes the sentiment he would like to devour his guest – “your lips look delicious”; And of course includes the epitome of blue-balled rage when a man is sexually frustrated with his partner – “don’t hold out.”

Looking at the feminine lyrics provides even greater support for some unwanted sexual advances:

“Really I’d better Scurry…
Say what’s in this drink?
I really can’t stay-
I simply must go-
The answer is no.
I’ve got to go home.”

The majority of the female lines in this song describe escapism behavior – “Really I’d better scurry” “I can’t stay” “I simply must go” “I’ve got to get home”– this language seems pretty straightforward as she is trying to leave this situation.

However others have said this is just flirtation! That kind of cat-and-mouse game where she’s saying she wants to leave, but doesn’t really mean it! Now I could take further issue with the implications of that kind of relationship dynamic – but I think some of the other lyrics in this song speak more strongly towards the aggressive undertones.

The chills you feel in response to the question “what’s in this drink?” is the same defense mechanism when you learned never to leave your drink unattended at a college party. Did he just spike it with extra alcohol or with something else?

And of course the most telling line in the entire song – “The answer is no.” It doesn’t really get any clearer than that, in a sexual flirtation situation, “no means no” is the trump card that says one member of this soiree is not interested and wants you to stop.

But the song doesn’t end there of course and the male advances continue. The predator feeling is even written into the lyrical interaction, as the male part constantly interrupts the female’s protestations. The male part seemingly ignores her lines and is incessantly persistent.  (“What’s in this drink? – No cabs to be had out there.”)

There are more lyrics to unpack in this song, but I feel this should give you at least marginal insight into why this song rubs me wrong.  I think it speaks to the larger societal injustice about rape culture and our victim blaming doctrine (cat-and-mouse games?)

This kind of hostile seduction offends me. I won’t stand it being a part of my holiday celebration.

Again, I am clearly not the only one who shares some distaste for this Holiday Anthem – and I particularly enjoy this remake put out on Youtube a few days ago.


Any final thoughts on your opinions of this song? Or some Holiday Pet Peeves you have?


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Thick Skin in the Professional World

There’s a reason phrases like – “Never let them see you cry” or “Emotions are for the weak” are consciously, or unconsciously, adopted by a significant portion of Corporate America. To be successful you need the winning combination of skills, determination, luck and emotional fortitude.

The ability to act rationally, without allowing your emotions to interfere with your work is a highly valued skill for many positions.

I wouldn’t say you need this same kind of extreme corporate behavior in the realm of psychology, but you do need to grow some thick skin – or you’ll fail.

That ability to take space away from your gut reaction to a situation can help you when working with patients or research participants.  If they reveal some harrowing experience of trauma or abuse – they don’t need your shock and horror, they need some more appropriate response to help them manage their own emotional turmoil. You have to be the one to gain some external perspective – and not be consumed by their subjective experience.

Similarly this kind of critical thinking applies to the world of psychology research.  When you receive negative feedback from your professional colleagues or government institutions on projects towards which you’ve devoted countless hours of passion and energy, you have to respond with humble grace and carry on a constructive dialogue.

Rationally I know this.

I know the motions you are supposed to go through and the words you should be saying when you receive harsh criticism – “I appreciate your thoughtful comments, these will help improve the ultimate quality of the piece….yadda yadda..”

But still.

This week I finally received feedback on my first manuscript I submitted as first author (meaning I created this article from the ground up: did the background literature review, collected all the participant data, analyzed the data for significant statistical findings, created the tables and figures, reported my conclusions, edited the article to match the journal’s stylistic specifications and submitted it 6 weeks ago feeling quite self-satisfied).

And then, I receive:

“The reviewer(s) had significant concerns about the manuscript but also judged that it has potential to be publishable.”

What did I see in this opening email line?

Significant concerns… Significant Concerns……SIGNIFICANT CONCERNS


Concerns?? And they’re significant??

(Oh and the other additional horror feeling coming from my realization that I submitted this same manuscript version to all of my graduate schools as my writing sample and now I know my peer reviewers have significant concerns with the article so did I also sabotage my applications into graduate programs because of this early bravado? Why would I have submitted that ahhh!)

I know now I definitely submitted this first article with the naïve pride of a young professional thinking everyone will love this work I did! I mean I got great grades on all of my school papers – why should this scientific community think any differently?

Womp. Womp.

Hello reality check.

I realize also, the editor was sending me a rejection with suggested major revisions – but that they were also still interested in the topic and invited me to resubmit it again for further review.

Still – I am obviously a work-in-progress when it comes to growing some of that professional thick skin. I was feeling pretty crushed the first two days after receiving the reviewer comments.  They didn’t feel the discussion was nuanced enough, they didn’t like my title, they were confused that I didn’t distinguish between participants and patients more distinctly.

I took two days and set it aside for a while. But then now as I am starting to work through some of the comments in more detail, I will still bristle at things I disagree with – using “written” vs “documented” – but overall the reviews are from insightful professionals that will help improve the quality of the manuscript.

I needed to give the manuscript some space when I first received their reviews – but I can now approach it with a mind towards making the necessary changes.

I am doing important work! And I will happily jump through your recommendation hoops to get it out there!

But more seriously – I learned some important self-humbling from this first review. I may approach my next submission with more caution. I know I’ll still be hopeful they’ll approve of my work, but, ideally, in the future I’ll also be a bit more prepared to handle some of the criticisms I will inevitably receive.