What do vegetarians, vegans, non-meat eaters and/or plant-based eaters do on Thanksgiving?
( Other than, of course, RUIN IT FOR EVERYONE ELSE. )
The above question is an existential dilemma worthy of Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, who wrote eloquent discourses on the subjective and objective truths one must juggle when choosing between a cinnamon roll and an apple turnover. 
* * *
Department Of I’ll Take Those Segues Where I Can Find Them
‘Tis the day after feasting, for many of us. It sometimes seems as though just when you’re recovering from your last leftover turkey sandwich/quiche/casserole/enchilada-induced salmonella crisis and really need to get outside for some fresh air, here comes the Yule season. You dare not even venture to the mall, lest your eardrums be assaulted from all sides by Have a Holly Jolly Christmas,Feliz Navidad, ad nauseum.
This observation provides a convenient segue to my annual, forthright, sincere, family-friendly,
…that the Reverend Increase Mather of Boston observed in 1687 that, “the early Christians who first observed the Nativity on December 25 did not do so thinking that Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens’ Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidays metamorphosed into Christian ones.”  Because of its known pagan origin, Christmas was banned by the Puritans, and its observance was illegal in Massachusetts until 1681. 
“Do you celebrate Christmas?”
We Heretics/apostates non-Christians Happy Heathens often hear this question at this time of year. The inquiry is sometimes presented in ways that imply our celebration (or even acknowledgement) of Christmas is hypocritical. This implication is the epitome of cheek, when you consider the fact that it is the early Christians who stole a festival from our humanist (pagan) forebears, and not the other way around.
Who doesn’t like a party, for any reason? And really, we who are religion-free don’t mind sharing seasonal celebrations with religious folk– sans the superstition and government/church mumbo-jumbo — as long as they accept the fact that the ways we all celebrate this “festive season” predate Christianity by hundreds of years.
Early Catholic missionaries tried to convert northern Europeans to the RC brand of Christianity, and part of the conversion process was to alter existing religious festivals. The indigenous folk, whom the RC church labeled “barbarians,” quickly discovered that when it came to dealing with missionaries, resistance is futile. The pagans intuitively grasped the concept of natural selection and converted to Christianity to avoid the price (persecution, torture, execution) of staying true to their original beliefs. But they refused to totally relinquish their old celebrations, and so the church, eventually and quite effectively, simply renamed most of them. 
Pagan practices were given a Christian meaning to wipe out “heathen” revelry. This was made official church policy in 601 A.D., when Pope Gregory the First issued the now infamous edict to his missionaries regarding the traditions of the peoples they wanted to convert. Rather than try to banish native customs and beliefs, missionaries were directed to assimilate them. You find a group of people decorating and/or worshipping a tree? Don’t chop it down or burn it; rather, bless it in the name of the Church. Allow its continued worship, only tell the people that, instead of celebrating the return of the sun-god in the spring, they are now worshipping the rising from the dead of the Son of God.
( Easter is the one/odd exception – the pagan celebration was adapted by Christians without a name chance. Easter is a word found nowhere in the Bible. It comes from the many variants (Eostra, Ester, Eastra, Eastur….) of a Roman deity, goddess of the dawn “Eos” or “Easter,” whose festival was in the Spring.)
The fir boughs and wreaths, the Yule log, plum pudding, gift exchanges, the feasting, the holly and the ivy and the evergreen tree….It is hard to think of a “Christmas” tradition that does not originate from Teutonic (German),Viking, Celtic and Druid paganism.  A celebration in the depths of winter – at the time when, to those living in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun appears to stop its southerly descent before gradually ascending north – is a natural instinct. For thousands of years our Northern Hemisphere ancestors greeted the “reason for the season” – the winter solstice – with festivals of light and gift exchanges and parties. The Winter Solstice was noted and celebrated long before the Roman Jesus groupies pinched the party.
But, isn’t “Jesus is the reason for the season?
The reason for the season? Cool story, bro. Since you asked; actually, axial tilt is the reason for the season. For all seasons.
And Woden is the reason the middle of the week is named Wednesday.  My calling Wednesday “Wednesday” doesn’t mean I celebrate, worship or “believe in” Woden. I don’t insist on renaming either Christmas, or Wednesday.
“Go find the sheisskopf who took the Woden out of Woden’s Day!”
The Winter Solstice is the day with the shortest amount of sunlight, and the longest night. In the northern hemisphere it falls on what we now mark as December 21 or 22. However, it took place on December 25th at the time when the Julian calendar was used.  The early Romans celebrated the Saturnalia on the Solstice, holding days of feasting and gift exchanges in honor of their god Saturn. (Other major deities whose birthdays were celebrated on or about the week of December 25  included Horis, Huitzilopochtli, Isis, Mithras, Marduk, Osiris, Serapis and Sol.) The Celebration of the Saturnalia was too popular with the Roman pagans for the new Christian church to outlaw it, so the new church renamed the day and reassigned meanings to the traditions. 
In other words, why are some folk concerned with keeping “the Christ in Christmas”  when we should be keeping the Saturn in Saturnalia?
* * *
Whatever your favorite seasonal celebrations may be, I wish you all the best.
May you have the occasion to (with good humor) ruin it for everyone else; May you find it within yourself to ignore the Black Friday mindset; May you remember to keep the Saturn in Saturnalia; …and may the fruitcake-free hijinks ensue.
And, of course, no holiday season preview would be complete without The Dropkick Murphys to get us all in the spirit:
 Increase Mather, A Testimony against Several Prophane and Superstitious Customs, Now Practiced by Some in New England (London, 1687). See also Stephen Nissenbaum, The Battle for Christmas: A Cultural History of America’s Most Cherished Holiday, New York: Vintage Books, 1997.
 Stephen Nissenbaum, The Battle for Christmas: A Cultural History of America’s Most Cherished Holiday.
 The Julian calendar, adopted by Julius Caesar ~ 46 B.C.E., was off by 11 min/year, and when the Gregorian calendar was established by Pope – wait for it – Gregory, the solstice was established on 12/22.
 “Learn not the way of the heathen…their customs are vain, for one cuts a tree out of the forest…they deck it with silver and gold…” Jeremiah 10:2-5
 Wednesday comes from the Old English Wōdnesdæg, the day of the Germanic god Wodan (aka Odin, highest god in Norse mythology and a big cheese god of the Anglo-Saxons until the seventh century.
 The Julian calendar, adopted by Julius Caesar ~ 46 B.C.E., was off by 11 min/year, and when the Gregorian calendar was established by Pope – wait for it – Gregory, the solstice was established on 12/22.
 In 601 A.D., Pope Gregory I issued a now famous edict to his missionaries regarding wooing potential converts: don’t banish peoples’ customs, incorporate them. If the locals venerate a tree, don’t cut it down; rather, consecrate the tree to JC and allow its continued worship.
 And nothing in the various conflicting biblical references to the birth of JC has the nativity occurring in wintertime.
The news of Louis C. K.’s sexual misconduct has shaken my confidence in humankind in a particular way that will take time to process. I was among his longtime fans who enjoyed even his most controversial material, because he so brilliantly cultivated a persona that encouraged us to trust that behind the jokes was a man of true compassion. His message seemed to be, “I have sexually inappropriate thoughts, but I deeply respect women and am one of the good guys.”
Ms. Kilmartin states: “It has made me examine my own life, 30 years of swimming under, over and around sharks. What could I have accomplished if I’d been able to put that energy elsewhere?”
This magnificent question haunts those who have been subject to sexual misconduct. Often, we suffer silently for years. Imagine the benefits to our society when women are free of the self-doubt and shame that accompany sexual abuse, when we can leave the confines of our inner turmoil and bring productive energy to the world.
DEBBY BIERSCHWALE, NARBERTH, PA.
The writer is a clinical psychologist.
* * *
Department Of My Me Too
This magnificent question, indeed. I was floored by that simple phrase.
Remember that wise and compassionate letter from the male engineering student (which I wrote about in my 11/3 post ), who wrote about his realization that the playing field for his female peers in STEM is far from equal, and because of sexism and societal expectations, women have so much more to deal with than just the study and work itself?
I doubt that most men, even The Good Guys ® with their best intentions (e.g. that wonderful engineering student), can truly understand the ramifications of what the afore-quoted psychologist calls This magnificent question. Hell, for that matter, nor can most women. Even women who do not have the horrific experiences of severe harassment and/or abuse have devoted and wasted so much time in just taking the extra steps we must take – steps so common we taken them for granted – in navigating both the personal and professional worlds, which continue to operate under the shadow of patriarchal and hierarchical expectations.
From issues seemingly mundane (advisors to the female senatorial candidate reminding her to smile so she won’t seem threatening but not smile too much or she won’t be taken seriously) to acute (the astronomer attending a Big Ideas in Dwarf Planet Research conference which ends at night must consider where she will park her car in the conference site lot to give herself the safest, most well-lit route route…and she will remind herself to check the back seat before she gets in)…
Scratch that first adjective; none of it is mundane. All of it is acute, in that it is critical to understanding the time-sucking, energy-draining b.s. that women in all fields, from the sciences to the arts to the Walmart cashiers, must deal with.
And the answers to the magnificent question are almost unimaginable – so much so that I’d like, truly and sincerely, to ask and challenge my male allies (and I think most men are, or want to be, allies to women). Menfolk, try to picture what your life would have been like, or how it might change right now, if you had to waste. The. Equivalent. Amount. Of. Time. And. Energy. And Resources. that women have had to…
Let me put it this way, by adapting the letter writer’s phrasing:
Examine your own life, and think if you had spent 30 or however many years of swimming under, over and around sharks. What might you not have accomplished if you’d had to divert your energy thusly? Imagine the loss to our society if men had to enter the confines of such inner turmoil and divert their productive energy…
* * *
As reference/promised/threatened in last week’s post, moiself is going to share a workplace Me Too  story. Clarification: there will be “a” story as opposed to “my” story – the latter implying that I’ve only one such story.
In a just world, even one story of sexual harassment and discrimination would be too much. But then, welcome to this planet.
I am not going to share the story about working for a media hardware/proprietary software company in the mid-1980’s – I’ll call it Radiorama. Nope, this is not the story about when Radiorama’s president/co-founder – I’ll call him “Seamus”  – had to explain to his confused and angry female Service Department Installers why, when it came time to choose a new Service Department Manager, he promoted a man who was somewhat experienced enough to do the job, even though there were at least three to four highly qualified women in the department with more experience and installations under their respective lady belts.
His justification? Radiorama’s Service department had an approximate 2/1 female to male employee ratio. It would be better for Radiorama’s clients, Seamus declared, to know that even if they mostly have to deal with women during installations of the company’s product and after-installation service, not to worry – there’s a man in charge.
Nor will I share another story about the same company (story #2 cast light upon the first story), wherein a group of newby Service Department Installers were discussing the predominance of men in Radiorama’s upper echelons, as well as the almost total lack of any employees who were not of European-American background. “Tom” was one of the newbys, and he also happened to be the gay lover of “Rock,” Radiorama’s co-founder and vice president. Tom shared some pillow talk he’d had with Rock: Rock had told Tom that, on more than one occasion, Seamus had declared, sans irony,  that he (Seamus) “…hated blacks, detested fags, and only tolerated women.”
Nor will I share the story from my stint working at The Hungry Bear Restaurant, one of the many food venues at an amusement park which goes by the tagline, TheCrappiestHappiest Place on Earth ®. Not gonna write about the scenario, which unfolded over several days, wherein I witnessed a Foods Supervisor repeatedly badger one of my Very Attractive Blonde Co-Workers. ®  Foods Supe reduced VABCW to tears, and also made not-so-veiled threats about VABCW’s employment status, when VABCW politely but firmly and repeatedly turned down his offers to promote her from THBR  to waiting tables at the park’s exclusive, members-only lounge, Club 33. At Club 33, Foods Supe told VABCW, she would be able to dress “more attractively”(read: provocatively) and interact with the club’s “wealthy, influential, male clientele.”
What I really need here is an image of a slimy, horny Mickey Mouse – I swear, that’s what that Supervisor looked like – but the park’s legal staff tend to be sensitive about their mascot, so this will have to do.
The story I’m going to tell took place some 30 years ago, when I worked in the Publications Department for a professional membership society (think something along the lines of, The California Trial Lawyers Society). The Society published several different periodicals, including monthly newsletters for each of the Society’s regional chapters, and a quarterly glossy magazine whose circulation included all individual Society members (plus member corporations and other related/interested companies).
The Publishing Department consisted of six employees: The self-described  Gang of Four shared a large, open cubicle-type office, and did the actual work of putting out the newsletters and magazines. The Gang of Four were the Editor, the Assistant Editor, the Art Director, and the Classified Advertising Editor – aka moiself. The remaining two employees were the Director of Publishing (DOP) and his secretary.
The DOP’s secretary was a bubbly, childfree-yet-maternal woman of whom I was quite fond, despite what seemed to be her taking on a personal calling to get me to wear makeup.  That quest gave her something to do other than cover for her boss when some Society higher-up was looking for him (the DOP would disappear for hours at a time, on an almost daily basis, which was fine with the us in the Gang of Four). 
The DOP was a tall, oily-man, who sported what we’d now call a porno moustache (do not do an internet images search for that term – trust me).  The DOP had always given me the creeps when he was around, which fortunately wasn’t often. His private office was a hallway and a half away from our group office… for the life of me, I can’t remember what he actually did as department director, save for approving certain articles and banner advertising, and having his name listed first on the magazine’s masthead.
One afternoon, a couple of weeks before the magazine’s upcoming issue deadline, the art director and the other two editors went down to the Society’s basement to discuss a magazine shipping detail with the mailroom manager. I was alone in our office, seated at my desk, typing up copy for one of the regional newsletter’s classified ads section. Believe it or not, I was engrossed in my work. How engaging can a classified ad be, you ask? It was a particular ad’s particular phrasing which both fascinated and annoyed me. How was I going to make sense of what the ad buyer had written (and paid for)? I remember thinking, Was there no essay portion of his professional exam? How did this guy get any kind of certification,with such evidently poor written communication skills? Nevertheless, he’d purchased ad space and I had to make sense of it…
The DOP entered the office. He circumnavigated the room and took up a position standing directly behind me. I was vaguely aware of his presence; he was just…standing there, behind me. Why hadn’t he said anything? I kept working, and soon felt the touch of his massive, hairy-knuckled hand on my right shoulder.
I ignored his (creepy/totally inappropriate and unwanted) touch and kept typing away. He removed his hand, then placed it again on my shoulder. I twitched my shoulder, as if trying to dislodge a pesky mosquito; he removed his hand. A second or three later, he placed both of his hands on my shoulders (still, all that time, saying nothing). I ripped the copy I was working on from the typewriter, pushed my chair back from my desk (almost running over his toes), stood up and marched fifteen feet away, to the Editor‘s desk. I dropped the ad copy on her desk, turned on my heel, flashed (what I would now call) a WTF !?!?! glower at the DOP….
At that very moment the Editor, Assistant Editor and Art Director returned to our office, chattering away re some inane (in their opinion) complaint the mail dude had about the size of the upcoming issue. The DOP said something to the Editor about confirming our department’s late afternoon meeting the next day, then beat a hasty retreat to his own office, having never said a single word to me.
The next afternoon, ten or so minutes into the afore-mentioned meeting, in the midst of discussing an in-house photo shoot idea the art director had proposed, the DOP announced he’d decided that the magazine’s masthead would no longer include the name of the Classified Advertising Editor.
The Gang of Four were all caught off guard by the seeming non sequitur-ness of the DOP’s announcement (which reminded me of when members of Congress try to sneak abortion restrictions language into a bill on kumquat subsidies or whatever).
The thoughts racing through my mind needed attention – I was trying not to go into rage hyperventilation mode, and so after beginning to protest, I quickly shut up  and let my colleagues provide the opposition:
What could be the reason for removing the C.A. editor’s name, which had always been listed on the magazine? Classified ads were a major source of revenue for the magazine (and the only source for the monthly bulletins), and thus the editor of such was an important cog in the department’s wheel…and it hardly qualified as a cost cutting measure to remove two lines of print….
The other editors and art director argued my case in vain. I can’t remember exactly how the DOP justified his decision – he said some horseshit about streamlining, and that as Director of Publishing, it was his decision that the magazine should go for a “mean and lean” look, and that was that. He deftly changed the subject by criticizing the Editor’s choice of a lead-off article, which effectively diverted everyone else’s attention.
Streamlining; mean and lean, my ass. I was being punished. I couldn’t prove it, I never told the other editors what had happened, but I knew what was going on. Disappearing my credit was the only way the DOP could think of that wouldn’t draw too much attention (my work and attendance record was impeccable; he couldn’t fire or demote me). That masthead credit was the most prestigious – and practically only – evidence I could use for future, hard copy references, as the other publications I worked on listed only single editor attribution.
* * *
I haven’t told this story to many people. I remember telling it, years ago, in a mixed-gender group of acquaintances, when the subject of workplace harassment came up. One of the guys in the group asked me what I’d been wearing, and what I looked like, on the day of the the incident.
Seriously, y’all wondering what was SHE wearing?
What was moiself wearing? FFS, what was he wearing? A neon sign on his necktie which flashed LECHEROUS BULLYING PATRONIZING WANKHEAD would’ve been helpful.
Back then, I excused the naiveté of the schlub who asked that question by thinking that he, too, was yet another victim of times – after all, it was over 30 years ago. And yet, from what I’ve been reading, little has changed. Women still feel compelled to do what I’m about to do: describe what I was wearing at the time of the incident. Most likely, it was what I wore at least twice a week at that time: my “uniform,” so to speak, of either gray slacks or Levi’s jeans and a high neck, long-sleeved Cub Scout shirt I’d found at a thrift shop (the C.A. editor position didn’t pay well; I had zero contact with the public, so I got away with very casual attire).  As for what I “looked like,” well, I was a women in my early 20s. I was 30+ years younger than I am now but I still looked like…like a 30 years younger version of moiself . I was no sea donkey, nor was I an alluring starlet either (and, much to the consternation of the DOP’s secretary, I was, of course, not wearing any makeup).
And of course to the nth, it didn’t/shouldn’t have mattered, then or now, what I was wearing, or how comely or homely my boss found my features. Whether I looked like a budget-conscious thrift shop fashion reject, or a vamping, slut-walking siren, or anything in between – that had nothing to do with it.
* * *
Department Of Things Have To Change
This subject; the fact that it is still an issue:
* * *
May you never be a shark someone else has to swim with; May you get mean and lean with anyone who would streamline you out of credit; May you find a way to use slang like sea donkey in everyday conversation; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
Me Too, also referred to as #MeToo (except by me, who doesn’t do Twitter and loathes the whole “hast tag” devolution of the pound symbol as a social media theme signifier), is being used by people as a way to share their own experiences with sexual assault or sexual harassment, in part to “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
 Which will alert readers that subsequent names which are first introduced in quotation marks are pseudonyms – dang, y’all catch on quickly!
 Seamus considered Rock to be one of his “best friends.” Rock did not hide the fact that he was gay. Seamus had worked with Rock for years, including starting Radiorama; thus, in Seamus’s convoluted “logic,” since he (Seamus) he liked and respected Rock and also detested “fags,” this meant that Rock couldn’t possibly, really, be gay.
 Most of whom were, like moiself, between the ages of 18 – early twenties, working to earn money for college.
 which was, in essence, one of the park’s fast food venues, although They called it a restaurant.
 I sent her over the moon the day I let her do me up with her eye shadow and mascara: “Oh, look how it makes your big beautiful brown eyes JUST POP!” she exclaimed. I swear she wanted to adopt me on the spot.
 A couple of years after I left the Society I was visiting the woman who’d been The Editor while I was there, and she filled me in on the Society gossip. The Society’s management finally wised up to the DOP’s absences, and fired his truant ass.
 Well, it was the 1980s…but on him it looked extra creepy.
 Those who know me are thinking, whaddya mean, she shut up?
 Oh, I loved that shirt. It went with everything (or nothing, depending on your POV.)
Dateline: Monday mid-morning, shopping at a local thrift store. After ringing up the items (the total comes to all of four dollars), the store’s clerk glances tentatively at moiself.
Clerk: “Do you…qualify…for any of our discounts?” Moiself: “Uh, I don’t know what any of your discounts would be.” Clerk (even more hesitantly, and without making eye contact): “Discounts…do you get discounts…anywhere else?” Moiself: “Anywhere else?” Clerk: “Because…it varies….”
Suddenly, I realize what she’s asking.
Moiself: “You mean, do I get a senior discount anywhere?” Clerk (nodding sheepishly): “Uh huh.” Moiself (attempting my best, As-a-matter-of-fact-I-do-not-qualify-for-senior-discounts-but-thanks-the-fuck-a-lot-for-asking smile): “Not yet.”
I leave the store thinking, I know I’m didn’t sleep well last night, but these are not the under eye bags of someone who qualifies for a senior discount and geez, lady, you’re at least 15 years older than me and do you really think I look like…
And then my irkiness  morphed into amusement. I walked to my car, smiling to myself as I considered both my petty reaction and recalled a story my FIL  told me, over twenty years ago – about his reaction the first time someone offered him a senior discount. He said he was taken aback when a movie clerk assumed he qualified and gave him the senior discount, a discount which, as per that particular theatre’s guidelines, my FIL did qualify for (but his wife, my MIL, did not, as she was five years younger than my FIL). He then, like moiself now, was subsequently bemused by his own reaction, and pondered why it bothered him. After all, as a good business man, and “If someone is going to offer me a discount, for any reason, I’m going to take it…”
Was it that simple, he wondered? Was he was reluctant to admit that he had joined the ranks of “that demographic?”
Not my monkeys, not my circus, not my senior discount.
* * *
Department Of I May Get Into Trouble For This, But…
A Modest Proposal
When I am working out in my bedroom to an exercise DVD  and the program ends, my little old TV reverts to television mode. That is, it tunes in to whatever broadcast channel was last watched. This quaint feature has given me the opportunity to see snippets of shows I’d otherwise never/rarely choose to watch. My viewing of these shows has been sporadic, but tantalizing enough to cause me to tune in, occasionally, to test a theory about a “pattern” I’ve noticed. This pattern involves talk shows hosted by a panel of women,  shows which are seemingly targeted at or presume a predominantly female audience:
There is a spot on the panel reserved for, and which must be occupied by, the Sassy, Black, Come-To-Jesus-Woman ® .
The SBCTJW, who is usually/currently unmarried, manages (inexplicably, to moiself) to placate conservatives by preaching about Jayyyysus every chance she gets, even as she also frequently comments about her very active sex life. Her applications of Iron Age philosophy (read: Christian scriptures) to contemporary political and social issues of the day always seem to be welcomed, or at least tolerated, by her fellow/sister hosts. And therein lies the problem.
Any crazy-ass or just plain non sequitur comment SBCTJW makes, when cosseted within the preamble, As y’all know, I’m a woman of faith,is neither questioned nor refuted by the other hosts. The panel will openly argue about politics and current events and the implications of celebrity gossip  – they frequently and freely disagree about those issues, but when SBCTJW spews nonsense (read: quotes her bible), it’s all somber and respectful, “Mmm-hmms.”
I call foul, as well as bullshit. It frosts my butt to see that drivel go out unchallenged, and “respectful silence” (read: non-refutation) implies acquiescence.
Yeah, it’s daytime commercial TV – I realize that there are limiting audience and sponsor considerations. Still, this is 2017. Is there a producer out there, somewhere, with the cojones to reserve a spot on the panel for the Sassy Black (or Brown or Pink or Tan or….) Articulate Atheist?
I also realize there is a subject here within a subject (one deserving of far more consideration than moiself can and will handle in this venue): the presumption of religiosity for and among African-Americans is such that African-American atheists, often referred to as a minority within a minority , face additional prejudice both within and outside of their “community” when they are upfront/open about their views. And, frankly, what freethinkers of quality – of any ethnicities or cultures – have the time (or interest) to put up with the constraints that come with such a forum as a daytime TV talk show?
(“We’ll be right back to continue our discussion on the latest recording of a police shooting an unarmed teenager, followed by guest Gwyneth Paltrow demonstrating her crystal energy bladder sling. But first, this word from Coxphase Pharmecuticals about gynecomastia…” )
* * *
Department Of Me, Too…But Me Later
If you haven’t heard about the Me, Too movement,  stop reading right now and go commit an act of humanist reparation.
Moiself, too intends to share my stories, or at least one of them, even as I hold reservations about doing so.  I understand why others whose experiences have been So. Much. Worse. might – despite their fervent hope for the cessation of this dishearteningly widespread sexist abuse and their realization that the cockroaches only scatter when you turn on the light – have no wish to go public, due to the terrible memories and feeling which might be triggered.
Hey Roy, why do they always drag me into this?
So. Maybe…next week.
* * *
May you never be challenged by a Footnote Insurrection Licentiousness;
May you be brave enough to listen to, sans the urge to give advice or commentary, the me too stories of others; May you claim the discounts for which you qualify;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Yes, irkiness is a word…at least here. You know exactly what it means in this context.
FIL as in Father-in-law, the acronym not to be confused with Famously Indulgent Libertarian, Faintly Illuminated Licorice; Frumpy Inebriated Lutheran; Five Ill-tempered Leopards….
 Or FIL as in Frequently Inky Legumes; Freshly Iced Lemonade; First Imitative Liberace – yo, FIL! Stop that, RIGHT NOW. Your footnote relevance has passed.
 A term in use by social activists for some time which has recently (in the wake of the Hollywood and other sexual assault scandals…please don’t make me type the name Harvey Weinsten) been revitalized by celebrities and others, to encourage women to share their own experiences with sexual harassment and misogyny in the workplace and in other realms both public and private.
 Or as in Festive Imperial Linguini; Feisty Italian Lesbians; Frothy indigent lepers – I MEAN IT, GO AWAY. WHO’S IN CHARGE HERE, ANYWAY?!?!?
Department Of Yet Another Reason To Read The Obituaries…
“Before I turn 67–next March–I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me.” (Jane Juska, from her personals ad in the New York Times Review of Books, which led to her writing her memoir)
Reading obituaries is something I don’t (usually) do. Yesterday, however, I was grateful for whatever reason caused me to glance at the NY Times obituaries, wherein I encountered what I am nominating for Best Last Line Ever.
The obituary was for Jane Juska, a retired schoolteacher who found literary fame late(r) in life, re her book, A Round-Heeled Woman: My Late Life Adventures in Sex and Romance. The memoir chronicles what happened when Juska decided to reinvent herself in her late sixties and seek sexual pleasure, after realizing she was a self-described “cliché” (long divorced after a loveless marriage; a history of sexual abuse; weight and drug problems; all-encompassing single motherhood….).
Save for the deceased’s literary notoriety, the obit was nothing out of the ordinary, and ended with the customary list of survivors (“…in addition to her son, she is survived by two granddaughters…”). And then, the pièce de résistance:
Her son said in an interview that he had never read A Round-Heeled Woman.
“I tell people,” he said, “ ‘If your mother wrote it, I’d probably read it.’ “
When you take on a group or person who has money and power they aren’t just going to roll over. They will fight back. Sometimes viciously. They will use multiple intimidation tactics, including hiring lawyers to make subtle and not so subtle threats to control the narrative. They will use carrots and sticks to achieve their goals. The sticks scare the crap out of most regular people….. Hiring lawyers and PR fixers to intimidate people is the method used by the rich and powerful. Harassers who don’t have money use other methods to intimidate before and after the fact. It is helpful to be prepared for these actions. (From Why Didn’t I Read About This Before? How Sexual Harassers Quash Stories 10-26-17, Spocko’s Brain blog )
If you are interested in what I call Cognitive Behavior Therapy In The Form Of Rational Activism ® – i.e., not just identifying and ranting about what’s wrong, but researching how things work and applying effective solutions – then Spocko’s Brain is your man. 
Read Spocko’s blog. Please. It is written by a man  who cares enough to look at the hard facts, including sharing his own experiences and stories in being aNice Guy On The Right Side Who Still Needs To Learn How To Understand That It’s All Of Us, Not Just Them, as per his coda to this particular blog post:
Men don’t want to be lumped in with harassers. Some might start bringing up false accusation stories or stories of female harassers they hear. They will say, “Not all men!” “Sometimes women lie! It’s true! Look at this data!” They will want to be heard. How do you respond? Let me mansplain my response. One time, decades ago, I found one mistake a female co-worker had made while keying in 10’s of thousands of numbers. I was excited to find it and point it out because I had been the source of multiple mistakes. When I brought the printout up to her she acknowledged the error and said, “My one to your one hundred, Spocko. My one to your one hundred.” She acknowledged the fact, pointed out the ratio and reminded me again who was the main source of the problem. Me. I was the one who needed to do better, not her.
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Department Of It’s All Related, Y’All
A study published in the Harvard Business Review (The 5 Biases Pushing Women Out of STEM, March 24, 2015) indicates that “bias, not pipeline issues  or personal choices, pushes women out of science.” The article highlights the sexism that exists in STEM fields, including what the authors called the Prove It Again Pattern: female scientists surveyed reported having to prove themselves over and over again, with “their successes discounted and their expertise questioned.”
The Hollywood political/workplace sexual assault and harassment scandals brings this predicament to mind: There are other ways of being assaulted, other than the “obvious.”
That statement is in no way intended to mitigate the brutality and malice of physical violence, harassment and intimidation. Rather, I’d like for us all, moiself included, to keep in mind that the subtle assaults upon girls’ and women’s intellects and expectations are more pervasive, and arguably more insidious.
You may remember/have read or heard about a letter, written two years ago, by a young man who both noticed and “got it.” Jared Mauldin, an engineering student at Eastern Washington University, observed that men and women in STEM classes were definitely not “equal.” He wrote a letter to EWU’s student newspaper, addressed to “the women in my engineering classes,” which could have been the beginning of a bitter, sexist troll’s rant, but instead turned out to be a gracious and superbly perceptive dose of reality, from an ally to – well, not to overstate it, but to all humanity, men and women equally, IMHO.
To the women in my engineering classes: While it is my intention in every other interaction I share with you to treat you as my peer, let me deviate from that to say that you and I are in fact unequal. Sure, we are in the same school program, and you are quite possibly getting the same GPA as I, but does that make us equal? I did not, for example, grow up in a world that discouraged me from focusing on hard science. Nor did I live in a society that told me not to get dirty, or said I was bossy for exhibiting leadership skills. In grade school I never had to fear being rejected by my peers because of my interests. I was not bombarded by images and slogans telling me that my true worth was in how I look, and that I should abstain from certain activities because I might be thought too masculine. I was not overlooked by teachers who assumed that the reason I did not understand a tough math or science concept was, after all, because of my gender. I have had no difficulty whatsoever with a boys club mentality, and I will not face added scrutiny or remarks of my being the “diversity hire.” When I experience success the assumption of others will be that I earned it. So, you and I cannot be equal. You have already conquered far more to be in this field than I will ever face. Sincerely, Jared Mauldin Senior in Mechanical Engineering The Easterner, Letters to the Editor, 10-5-15)
Besides being a student himself, Mauldin taught STEM classes to grade school and junior high age students, and noticed the obstacles female students encountered in such classes. Even so, he was surprised by all the attention he received for writing the letter. In an interview with The Huffington Post(“Male Engineering Student Pens Letter Explaining Female Classmates Why Aren’t Equals,”), Maudlin noted, “Nothing I said was new, it has all been said a thousand times before. The difference is that I am a man. Maybe by standing up and breaking the silence from the male side, I can help some more men begin to see the issues, and begin to listen to the women who have been speaking about this all along.”
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Blog Department Of Yet Another Reason I’m Glad I’m Not Hard Of Hearing
Dateline: Monday afternoon. I overheard the following bit of dialogue, while I was exiting through the door of a building as a man and a woman were entering the same building. Man to woman:
“…It was enough to make me wonder why he had to pee again.”
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May you appreciate/be the kind of man who stands up and breaks the silence; May you have the fortune to hear/see that which makes you wonder why anyone had to pee again; May your mother never write a book that you would refuse to read; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 No, I wasn’t the first one to write that, either. But, sometimes, it feels like I could have been….
Active, reliable, sarcastic, affectionate, bipedal, cynical optimist, writer, freethinker, parent, spouse and friend, I am generous with my handy supply of ADA-approved spearmint gum and sometimes refrain from humming in public.