Home

The Optimism I’m Not Sharing

Comments Off on The Optimism I’m Not Sharing

Department Of Things That Make Me Feel Like A Curmudgeon
Aka, A Pessimist Reads  “The Optimists”

A special edition of Time magazine (The Optimists, January 15) features a guest editor for the first time in the magazine’s 94-year-old history: Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder, bagajajillionaire and global philanthropist. Gates has picked a slew of fellow guest editors and writers, running the gamut from scientists to celebrities, to curate “data and insights from leaders in many fields to show the upside of what’s ahead.”

Although I was initially attracted to picture of the grinning Ethiopian five-year-old boy on the cover as a symbol of optimism, I cringed to read the picture’s caption: Why The World Should Celebrate Mohamad Nasir’s Fifth Birthday.

 

 

#5

 

 

 

Yeah, happy birthday kid. And I’m sorry about your name.

The article featuring the boy (and six other Ethiopian children) is used as a focal point for the other issue’s articles; i.e., hope for the future vis-à-vis the fact that, “Thirty years ago, 1 in 5 children in Ethiopia didn’t live to their fifth birthdays.”

IMHO, whatever optimism I may hold for the future is tempered by the fact that in 2018 people continue to name their children after their religious leaders/idols/prophets.

And I have to wonder, given that more Ethiopian children are now growing into adulthood, what will that mean for a country whose birthrate is so high?  Unless you have cultural and infrastructural changes which allow for and encourage family planning, you are increasing the base rate for multiplication of even more poor people competing for even more finite resources. Ethiopia’s birthrate has been gradually declining, but it is still in the top 20 of the world. Its fellow countries on that sad list are almost all African, and are all – surprise! – also on the list of the world’s most impoverished countries.

It seems every third article in The Optimists deals, either directly or obliquely, with the global status of women, and how, “…there is nowhere on earth where women have the same opportunity as men.  Nowhere.”  Any (non-religiously proselytizing) global aid worker will tell you that education and empowerment of girls and women is the key to lifting people out of poverty, and that as birth rates decline, the health of and educational opportunities for women and girls increase. 

Here’s something else many global aid workers will tell you, if they think it is safe to do so: “Culture” (read: religion) is the biggest obstacle to empowering and educating girls and women, especially and including the idea – heretical to all religions, up until relatively recently – that females have the right to be educated about, and be in control of, their own bodies and fertility.

The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of woman’s emancipation.
(Elizabeth Cady Stanton)

 

Augustinejpg

 

 

 

*     [For women] the very consciousness of their own nature
must evoke feelings of shame.
(Saint Clement of Alexandria, Christian theologian, ca.150-215, Pedagogues II, 33, 2)

*  Woman is a temple built over a sewer.
(Tertullian, “the father of Latin Christianity” (c160-225)

*   No gown worse becomes a woman than the desire to be wise.
(Martin Luther, Protestant Reformer, 1483-1546)

   *   The root of masculine is stronger, and of feminine weaker.
The sun is a governing planet to certain planets, while the moon borrows her light from the sun, and is less or weaker.
(Joseph Smith, founder of the LDS movement)

(For more fun quotes which, after reading them, will make you want to douse your eyeballs in isopropyl, see 20 Vile Quotes Against Women By [Christian] Religious Leaders From St. Augustine to Pat Robertson, Alternet    [1])

 

“Naturally there will be fundamentalists in any religion, who insist on literal interpretations of outdated dogma. But the problem is not just with fundamentalism, but with Islam itself, says author and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In her book, The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation for Women and Islam, she pinpoints three reasons why the Muslim world lags behind the West and, increasingly, Asia. First, “Islam is strongly dominated by a sexual morality derived from tribal Arab values dating from the time the Prophet received his instructions from Allah, a culture in which women were the property of their fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, or guardians…..The essence of a woman is reduced to her hymen. Her veil functions as a constant reminder to the outside world of this stifling morality that makes Muslim men the owners of women and obliges them to prevent their mothers, sisters, aunts, sisters-in-law, cousins, nieces, and wives from having sexual contact….”
(Big Think, Does Islam really Subjugate Women)

“A woman’s heaven is beneath her husband’s feet.”
(Traditional Islamic saying)
“Women are like cows, horses, and camels, for all are ridden.”
Tafsir al-Qurtubi, Quaranic commentary).(Citations from the Council of Ex-Muslims online forum, topic: I left Islam because I am a woman)

 

 

 

 

no comment

 

 

 

I take good news wherever/whenever I can, but I’m too much of a realist to think The Optimists is brimming with good news.  I find little optimism in a “fact” which touts that more people are surviving in countries which have high adherence to fundamentalist religions. All these people, “surviving” (and then reproducing) for what – to be potential foot soldiers for the next our-gods-told-us-to-grab-your-land-and oppress your people war?   [2]

 

 

 

witches

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

*   *   *

Department of Existential Crisis

Moiself went through a bit of one after seeing the movie “I, Tonya” , which I highly recommend (the movie – not the existential crisis). Leaving the theatre with friend and fellow cinema buff CC, I started flashing back to my extended family’s distressing history, some details of which are long known to me and my siblings, some only suspected and recently confirmed.

I’ve written previously if very briefly about the life of poverty and deprivation my father’s family endured before, during and after The Great Depression. There were other aspects of his family life (child neglect and abuse; undiagnosed/misdiagnosed/mistreated adult mental illness and illiteracy) that go beyond – read: are not excused by – economic circumstances.

The movie brought the issue to a forefront for me, as yet again I wondered (this time, aloud to CC) about the formula no behavioral and developmental scientists have yet figured out: how is it that some people are able to escape a “white trash” [3]  background, while so many others stay and repeat (and then pass on) the dysfunctional behavior and thinking?

 

 

itonya

 One bad choice after another: chain-smoking asthmatic Tonya Harding
(here depicted in the movie, I Tonya, by actor Margot Robbie).  

 

 

 

 

How fortunate was my immediate family, the one my father created with my mother, that my father was able to get away?!  Given what he, or any child in such circumstances, was surrounded by – when that is all you have and all you see and you are told by those who may (or may not) love you but who certainly have control over you that this is your life – how was he even able to imagine a different future for himself?  How did he recognize that he wanted to do so – that, as he once phrased it to me, he knew he needed to get out?  It blows my mind  [4]  when I think about how he was able to marry and raise a family, be a loving and kind husband and father (despite the abominable example his own father provided in those roles), and keep his wife and children “safe” from (and mostly oblivious to) the deprivations and degradations of his own upbringing.

It is a complicated equation – the factors leading to paths a child may eventually choose, coming from an environment over which a child has no choice.  As to how this relates to the events depicted in the movie, Tonya Harding certainly made some dubious choices, to put it mildly.  I am no Harding apologist – I believe she was much more complicit, in the figure skating scandal and in her pubic skirmishes in the years that followed, than she admits to.  And yet it seemed obvious to me, even before the attack on Kerrigan, that Oregon’s “most infamous Olympian” had the deck stacked against her from the start.

Harding hadn’t the right “look” or background for her sport, which preferred its female participants to be ethereal and elegant, not athletic and assertive, and her outsider status and appearance seemed to matter more than her athletic talent and achievements.  She wanted to rise above her background, but (likely due to that very background) lacked the self-awareness and other emotional and cognitive skills to do so.  And those who were in position to judge her, literally as per her skating and figuratively as per her public persona, made it clear that she didn’t belong and would never be good enough.

Now then. Extended psychoanalysis and existential crisis aside, I, Tonya is a highly entertaining, well-written and acted movie.  I give it two thumbs up…and yeah, so both of the thumbs are mine….

 

two thumbs

*   *   *

Department Of Because It Was Tuesday Movie Night,  [5] That’s Why

Why not go all out in making a fun dinner (especially since being inspired by daughter Belle, who made gnocchi on Monday and sent me photos)? Le menu:

☼  potato gnocchi with garlicky tomato sauce
☼  
red wine vinegar roasted beets
☼  roast Delicata squash
☼  Arugula and baby romaine salad with dried cranberries, lemon-soaked red onion, toasted walnuts, red d’anjou pear, and Dijon vinaigrette
☼  2013 Pomum Red Wine

 

 

 

gdinner

*   *   *

 

 

 

 

May you have optimism for the future despite the present;
May your past not determine your future;
May you go all out for a Tuesday night dinner;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Or just read the holy books of the three major monotheistic faiths.

[2] And it’s not even our god vs your god. Historically and currently, those who believe in the same deity maim, torture and murder one another over the details while their deity stands by and…what, watches the show?  (e.g. The Christian’s Inquisition’s  – drawing and quartering of infidels who do not confess to the “one true faith;  Blessed be the prophet Mohammed – yes, my brother,  we’re both Muslims, but I am the correct Sunni and you are the heretic  Shia so I’ll have to smite you,  maybe after we both persecute the Sufis….”)

[3] Yes, I realize it is a pejorative to some. But it’s my heritage’s N-word, which I claim for a variety of personal and political reasons.

[4] My affinity for 1960s imagery betrays me with that phrase, but, yeah.

[5] This week, it was The Post.  Go see that one, as well.

The N-Joke I’m Not Telling

2 Comments

 

 

Department Of We’d All Understand If They Banned Lutefisk Immigration

“Between 1825 and 1925, over 850,000 Norwegians entered the United States. In those hundred years, around one-third of Norway’s population crossed the Atlantic.
Other than Ireland no other European country lost a larger proportion of its population to out-migration.”

(from “Why bestemor never taught you Norwegian– Norwegian immigrants to the US had it easier than many from other countries, but still faced xenophobic pressure—and legislation—that forced assimilation,” The Norwegian American, January 12, 2018)

It was interesting for moiself to come across that quote this week. The majority of my ancestors were from Ireland and Norway – does this mean I’m the product of double native-population-reducing out-migration?

Anyone of Norse ancestry might enjoy reading the entire article. It contains snippets of history/facts I’ve run across before, from various sources, but, like a bucket of pickled herring, it’s nice to have a lot of it corralled in one source.  [1]

 

 

irishnorse

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Elephant (Still) In The Room

Disclaimer: That Was Not A Thinly (ha ha) Disguised Oprah Weight Joke

 

The Secret is not only drivel—it’s pernicious drivel. The obvious question that arises from its claim that it’s easy to get what you want, is: Why (then) do so many people get what they don’t want?  As (The Secret’s author) writes, “Imperfect thoughts are the cause of all humanity’s ills, including disease, poverty, and unhappiness.” Yes, according to The Secret, people don’t just randomly end up being massacred, for example. They are in the wrong place because of their own lousy thinking. Cancer patients have long been victims of this school of belief. But The Secret takes it to a new and more repulsive level with its advice not just to blame people for their illness, but to shun them, lest you start being infected by their bummer thoughts, too.
(from “I’ve Got The Secret: What happened when I followed the best-selling book’s advice for two months,” Emily Yoffe, slate.com 5-7-2007)

 

Bear with me – the above excerpt will be relevant in a paragraph or two.

 

 

iknowwhatyoumwan

 

 

Seeing as how the average American’s attention span in minutes is inversely proportional to their waist size in inches, perhaps the Oprah For President meme is already a thing of the past. In case it isn’t….

Indeed, Oprah Winfrey’s sermon speech at the Golden Gloves Awards was stirring. Add that to her list of multi-faceted-if-eponym-centric  [2]   professional accomplishments, and I can understand the desire many people have re a draft-Oprah for president movement. Certainly, the wish for someone at the nation’s helm who is articulate and compassionate is a sincere one, and since the bar has been set so low…if one reality TV star masquerading as a successful businessperson can “win” [3] the Presidency, why not another TV star who actually is a successful businessperson?

 

 

confusedspock

Your point, although problematic, is a logical one.

 

 

But.  There is a really big but here.  [4]

On the one hand, Ms. Winfrey has built quite the media empire. She is obviously and exceptionally experienced and talented in the fields of media/broadcasting, TV and movie producing (and acting), and is known for her philanthropy. She has the proven ability to inspire and motivate her audience, and her rags-to-riches, self-made success story is appealing across a wide political and cultural spectrum. From what I know of how she runs her “empire,” should she ascend to a position of politician power I think it likely she would surround herself with a good advisers in the various fields over which she had jurisdiction, and actually and actively seek their input.

On the other hand…you have different fingers.

 

 

siriusly

 

 

Sorry.  [5]

On the other hand, Oprah’s other fingers have a long history of supporting, or at least giving voice to (and thus, in many minds, credence) what can only be called dangerous batshit crazy bullshit generously be called, junk science.  I am far from the only person who is concerned about this tendency of hers.

During her 25-year reign as host of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah repeatedly showed a weakness for crackpots and quack medical theories. One could even argue that she’s one of the most powerful enablers of cranks on the planet.
(“Oprah’s long history with junk science –
She may be the most powerful crank enabler on the planet.” Vox 1/9/2018)

From The Secret and its odious – and deadly –   “law of Attraction” horseshit, to huckster “medical” “experts” (we have Oprah to thank for doctors Oz’s and Phil’s media careers,) to anti-vaccine mouth foamers  to carnival trickster/faith healers (remember the forceps-up-your-nose-cancer-cure faith healer, “John of God,” ? ).

So you’ll excuse me if I don’t jump on the Oprah Winfrey bandwagon for 2020. Even if there wasn’t all that credulity towards New Age bullshit like The Secret, I’d still say that replacing one celebrity with no government experience with another celebrity with no administrative experience is not the way to get out of the era of Trump. (The same goes for you, too, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson!) That Oprah is not a hateful person compared to Donald Trump is not enough, particularly given that she’s almost as bad on science and critical thinking as he is.
(from the science-promoting,  pseudoscience/misinformation/conspiracy theory-exposing blog, Respectful Insolence, 1-9-2018)

 

believe

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Other N Word

There is an N-word I can use, because I’m one of them. How delighted I am to be able to tell the rare, Norwegian-Irish joke.

A Norwegian and an Irishman apply for the same job at a firm in Dublin. Both the Irishman and the Norwegian do so well in the interview the boss can’t decide who to hire, so he sets up a small aptitude test. Both men score the same: 19/20 correct. After some consideration the boss calls the Irishman into his office and says, “I’m sorry, although you both scored the same on the test, we’ve decided to hire the Norwegian.”

“Surely, me being Irish would mean you would give the job to me instead of a foreigner!” The Irishman rants on and on about looking after the locals etc.

“It’s like this,” the boss replies. “We didn’t make the decision based on how many answers you got right…’

The Irishman, still angry, interrupts the boss. “But we both got only one wrong answer.”

“It’s not how many wrong answers you got,” the boss calmly continues, “It’s the particular answers you both gave to question #7.  The Norwegian wrote, ‘I don’t know’ as his answer. Your answer was, ‘Neither do I.'”

*   *   *

Of course, the ultimate Norwegian joke is that they are not Swedish.

 

 

swedishdeathjpg

*   *   *

 

 

May you always be mindful of the other hand;
May you be judicious in your own use of your own N-word and N-jokes;
May we all dare hope for a non-celebrity 2020 Presidential candidate;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] So you know whom to blame.

[2] It’s so bizarre, how everything in her world has to have her name: The Oprah show; O magazine (with her O-ness pictured on every cover; OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network)….

[3] Except that, he didn’t actually win…only the shameful relic from our past, the embarrassing, slave-state appeasing Electoral College constitutional provision, allowed the Cheetos Hitler to assume #45-ness.

[4] Not another veiled Oprah weight joke here, and shame of you for even thinking that.

[5] No, I’m not.

The Elbow I’m Not Ignoring

Comments Off on The Elbow I’m Not Ignoring

Department Of It’s About Fucking Time  [1]

“…the #MeToo movement represented the ‘fastest-moving social change we’ve seen in decades, and it began with individual acts of courage by women and some men too.’ ”
(Time Magazine’s Editor-in Chief Edward Felsenthal, from in the NY Times article,
” ‘The Silence Breakers’ Named Time’s Person of the Year for 2017″)

 

 

Time person

 

 

 

About That Red-Circled Elbow

Along with the prominent women in the MeToo movement featured on the Time magazine cover, there is a woman whose face is obscured – as in, off camera. Only her right arm is visible. This a hospital worker Time magazine reporters spoke with, a woman “from the middle of the country, who doesn’t feel that she can come forward without threatening her livelihood,” Editor Felsenthal said. The image is intended to symbolize women and men who have yet to come forward, or who wish to speak out but fear repercussions.

In an interview, Time National Correspondent Charlotte Alter said the inclusion of the elbow (only) image was deliberate:

“…a huge part of this story we’re trying to tell here is that as much as the stigma around this has been removed this year because of the ‘Me Too’ movement, it’s still really difficult for a lot of people to come forward.”

*   *   *

Department Of Yet Another Blast From The Past

AKA, An Incident I Haven’t Thought About In A Long Time

 

Specifically, Crazy Bicycle-Riding Man ® .

Dateline: one afternoon, a long time ago in a galaxy at a university far, far away ( UC Davis. )  I was on campus; my first morning class had let out and I had three or so hours before my next class’s midterm exam. Instead of returning to my (off-campus) apartment for lunch I decided to splurge  [2] and get a sandwich from the campus Coffee House and do my last minute studying the the exam on the campus Quad.  ‘Twas a glorious spring day; I could have easily spent several hours happily parked by a mini grove of fir trees on the acres of green grass, along with other students studying, eating, napping, or tossing a Frisbee back and forth…

 

 

UCDQuad

 

 

…but after about 45 minutes I had to move as I just couldn’t take it any more.

What had begun as a curiosity – what I thought at first was perhaps a stunt or prank – morphed from snarky entertainment into torture by seemingly infinite repetition.

A young man with curly, shoulder-length brown hair was riding a balloon-tire beach bicycle back and forth across the quad length, from north to south and then east to west, all the while singing the Gordon Lightfoot song, If You Could Read My Mind.  He didn’t sing the entire song,  only a portion of it:  [3]

I never knew I feel this way
And I’ve got to say that I just don’t get it
I don’t know where we went wrong
But the feeling’s gone and I just can’t get it back

That’s it. Thirty-six words, which he kept repeating singing.  Over and over.  And over.

It was… fascinating, at first. But ultimately tedious.  After about fifteen minutes, Crazy Bicycle-Riding Man’s path took him within a few feet of me and I caught a glimpse of his glassy blue eyes and realized, He is going to keep doing this until he either passes out or someone makes him stop. I felt a brief twinge of sorrow for the guy’s obvious…disturbance. But whether or not the man’s break from reality was drug-induced or the result of a mental health crisis, I (like the other students I saw leaving the Quad in droves) was young and impatient, and my sympathy eventually dissolved into annoyance. I lasted another half hour before I gave up and took my books to the library to finish studying.

After all these years, I remember what Crazy Bicycle Riding Man was singing but haven’t a clue as to how I did on the midterm for which I was studying.  Which is perhaps the healthiest way to pass through this world, n’est ce pas[4]

 

 

 

bicyclejpg

This is what the bike looked like. Unfortunately, this is not what Crazy Bicycle Riding Man ® looked like.

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of In The Running For My Favorite Headline Of The Year:  [5]

Acting Studios Are Struggling. Does It Matter?
( NY Times, 12-1-17)

 

 

 

question

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of There Should Be Some Kind Of Holiday Thing Here

xmas partyjpg

 

 

 

I don’t know about y’all, but moiself is having a hard time getting excited – or even interested – in the holidays this year.  If a Crazy Bicycle-Riding Santa ® would make an appearance, that might do it for me. I may just have to settle for the Speedo Santa Run.

 

 

naked santa run

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you be a Silence Breaker, or an ally to one;
May you enjoy the sporadic Blast From Your Past ® memory;
May you summon a modicum of excitement about any holidays you celebrate;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1]  Time as in time…not as in Time Magazine…. There should be some kind of really bad pun apology here.

[2] Working at the school library to put myself through school, any non-home procured food – even a simple sandwich – was (or felt like) a splurge.

[3]  The chorus? Verse? Bridge? Root canal? Help me out, musically literate people.

[4] Not to show off in front of Gallic illiterates, but n’est ce pas? is French for, “The birdhouse smells like stinky feet, does it not?”

[5] Other than the one about Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.

The Lefse I’m Not Rolling

Comments Off on The Lefse I’m Not Rolling

For almost three decades many years, on the second Wednesday in December, I have hosted a Ladies Lefse Party  [1], as mentioned here and here and here and….  And yes, the soiree was Ladyfolk only, much to the chagrin of the Many Fine Gentlemen I Know Who Also Like To Make Lefse. ®  [2]   

 

 

lefseladies

“This is how we roll, homie.”

Norwegian Americans – does this culture know from fun, or what?  [3]

 

There was no Ladies Lefse Party last year – not in my house, that is (Ægir only knows what sordid celebrations were held in the nether neighborhoods of Minnesota  [4]).  I had the privilege of recognizing I needed to take (and being able to do so) a control-alt-delete sabbatical (as written about here ) which I did…or tried to do…in early-mid December.

December 2016 turned out to be quite the month for tempests, both meteorological and personal.  Winter storm Caly brought snow/ice/freezing rain to regions of NW Oregon which rarely get such extreme weather and thus aren’t equipped to adequately deal with it (read: power outages, road closures, accidents, flight cancellations….).  I returned early from my sabbatical to work around the weather re scheduling travel to attend the memorial service for a beloved friend/ mentor/former employer…just as my mother’s health precipitously deteriorated.  Coordinating with my other siblings’ visits to our mother’s home (Santa Ana, CA) I booked another flight: for the day after Christmas. 

I found out early Christmas morning, minutes before K arrived to open stockings and presents with MH and Belle and I, that my mother had died late the previous evening (my mother’s live-in caretaker wanted to spare us the sad news on Christmas Eve.).

 

 

xmasjpg

 

 

 

A few months ago, looking ahead to the holiday season, I was anticipating the lefse party.  Now I ‘m thinking, give it one more year It’s good to take a break from the usual routines every now and then – even from those which bring you great joy – if only because doing so makes you more appreciative when you resume them. This is what I tell myself. However, all I know right now is this: it makes me feel sad to realize that I will not be able to call my mother after the party. No matter how foggy and/or fearful her brain could be in the last years of her life, she always perked up when I told her about the lefse parties. She was able to follow the narrative and share stories and recollections of her own. I think – I hope – the distance of another year will enable the fond memories to mute the bouts of heartache.   

 

*   *   *

Department Of There’s Nothing Like Dissing White Trash  [5]
To Segue From A Poignant Topic

 

Dateline: Wednesday morning, out walking at 7 am. Heading for a neighborhood park, I pass the house that always has at least three or four muscle cars parked in the driveway and/or on the lawn.  I arrive just as one of the cars is being warmed up by its driver, who revs the engine, over and over (the resulting cacophony is surely appreciated by the neighbors).  Plumes of gray-white smoke chortle, pop and chug from the car’s custom, over-sized tailpipe, and I think, So, when the driver’s a flaming asshole he makes sure his car has one, too?

The unmuffled engine farts increases as the driver backs down the driveway and shifts into first gear. I am tempted to chase after the car and tap on the window with my walking pole. In my brief but oh-so satisfying fantasy, the driver stops the car,  rolls down the window, and I inform him, with a look of grave concern on my face, “Excuse me, sir, but there is obviously something really wrong with your dick car.”

 

 

 

 

sorry

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Can’t Make Up This Shit
Installment 346.5

 

 “There are two sides to this coin. We have to own up to the fact that women, since time immemorial, have gone out of their way to make themselves attractive. And unfortunately it has backfired on us — and this is where we are today….. We must sometimes take blame, women. I really do think that. Although it’s awful to say we can’t make ourselves look as attractive as possible without being knocked down and raped.”
(Angela Lansbury says women must ‘sometimes take blame’ for sexual harassment,
CNN, 11-28-17)

 

Oh, ick.

Or, to play on the title of Lansbury’s most famous acting gig, Horseshit, She Said.

When I first saw Lansbury’s name trending in social media, moiself thought that yet another formerly bright star was going to be featured in the upcoming Emmy, Tony and Academy Awards roll call of the dead.  Turns out…not. Unless those shows also decide to run a tribute for the brain-dead.

 

 

grannyshock

Oh, that’s just mean.

 

 

 

Actually, I’m going easy here.

Ever have that reaction where you cringe in embarrassment for someone else, when you read about what that Someone Else has said or done?  Please, Angela darling, a follow-up: the world eagerly awaits your opinion as to how sexual assault victims, from three year old girls to 94 year old retired nuns in nursing homes, can own up to “the fact” that their efforts to “make themselves attractive” backfired.

Angela Lansbury, the (formerly?) beloved stage, film and television (Murder, She Wrote) actor, is 92. She’ll be given – rightly, perhaps – a certain amount of slack for the mind-jaw-bobbling-ignorance-revealing statements she made, in an interview with a British magazine, about the Hollywood sexual assault and harassment scandals. And I’m not going to read any of the excuses, because I can pretty much guess what they’ll sound like:

Oh this is so pathetic but remember, she’s 92; she’s from another era; she’s really old; she’s a prime example of just how entrenched misogyny and the patriarchy are; she’s in her 90s; she’s from a time where women had to look the other way and *not* rock the boat if they wanted to get ahead…and did I mention how old she is?

As to the shit I can’t make up: guess what Ms. Lansbury’s first film role was? It couldn’t be the one about a woman who is manipulated so persistently and successfully by a man she trusts that she begins to doubt what is all around her? Yep; it was Gaslight.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Even More Puerile Entertainment

During the last few weeks MH and I have been going to furniture stores, checking out their various counter stools/bar chair models. Last Sunday eve, as we wandered the aisles of Dania[6] I confessed to MH that when we are at such venues and are inevitably approached [7]  by a salesperson who asks, “May I be of assistance?” I’m having a hard time refraining from replying, “We’d like to see your stool samples.”

 

 

blondepw

That’s so im-ma-chur I could barf.

*   *   *

 

May your age never excuse your ignorance;
May the size of your car’s tailpipe reflect your acceptance of your attributes;
May your immature thoughts be the delight (or bane) of furniture salespeople;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Tortilla; chapatti; matzoh; lavash; injera…flatbreads are common throughout the world. Lefse, the Norwegian flatbread, is made from potatoes and flour.

[2] And who, like so many of the fine men I know, never organize their own such parties, but just complain about not being invited to the women’s gigs.

[3] Fortunately, the Irish half of me is dominant.

[4] Ægir  is the Norse god of partying.

[5]  I realize many people are offended by that label. However, analogous to African-Americans who use the N-word, I come from a long line of WT and thus feel entitled to apply the epithet judiciously.

[6] Where we purchased a Really Cool Lamp ® on sale…but nothing else.

[7] Why are there no more footnotes?

The Sharks I’m Not Swimming With

Comments Off on The Sharks I’m Not Swimming With

The following letter (my emphases) appeared under the title, Apologies, Fear and Silence, NY Times 11-15-17

To the Editor:
Re “Being a Female Comic in Louis C. K.’s World,”
by Laurie Kilmartin (Sunday Review, Nov. 12):

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   [1]  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.

 

 

angryplanet

 

 

 

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”  [2] – 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.

 

 

siriusly

 

 

 

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,  [3]  that he (Seamus) “…hated blacks, detested fags, and only tolerated women.”

 

 

 

 

supervisor

 

 

 

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, The  Crappiest Happiest 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. ®   [4]   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  [5]  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.”

 

 

 

rat

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  [6]  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. [7]  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).   [8]

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).  [9] 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.

 

 

REALLY

 

 

 

 

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  [10] 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.

 

 

LADY

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).   [11]  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.

 

 

amen]

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Things Have To Change

 

This subject; the fact that it is still an issue:

 

 

sotiredpng

 

 

 

Me, too.

 

 

*   *   *

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!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] 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.”

[2] Which will alert readers that subsequent names which are first introduced in quotation marks are pseudonyms – dang, y’all catch on quickly!

[3] 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.

[4] Most of whom were, like moiself, between the ages of 18 – early twenties, working to earn money for college.

[5] which was, in essence, one of the park’s fast food venues, although They called it a restaurant.

[6] If the self-describing it was moiself.

[7] 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.

[8] 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.

[9] Well, it was the 1980s…but on him it looked extra creepy.

[10] Those who know me are thinking, whaddya mean, she shut up?

[11] Oh, I loved that shirt. It went with everything (or nothing, depending on your POV.)

The Discount I’m Not Taking

1 Comment

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.

 

 

lightbulb

 

 

 

 

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  [1]  morphed into amusement.  I walked to my car, smiling to myself as I considered both  my petty reaction and recalled a story my FIL  [2] 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?”

 

 

 

 

angry clint

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  [3]  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, [4]  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 [5]  –  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 respectfully submit just a few nominees for consideration: Feminist/author Sikivu Hutchinson, Mandisa Thomas, president of Black Nonbelievers; journalist Jamila Bey, Debbie Goddard, Director of African Americans for Humanism; community organizer Diane Burkholder, political activist Jimmie Luthuli; Liz Ross (Black Skeptics Los Angeles & Coalition of Vegan Activists of Color); feminist writer/professor Roxanne Gay….

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…” )

 

 

 

 

black atheistjpg

*   *   *

Department Of Me, Too…But Me Later

 

If you haven’t heard about the Me, Too movement[6]   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.  [7]   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.

 

 

Trigger

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!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Yes, irkiness is a word…at least here. You know exactly what it means in this context.

[2] 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….

[3] Or FIL as in Frequently Inky Legumes; Freshly Iced Lemonade; First Imitative Liberace – yo, FIL! Stop that, RIGHT NOW. Your footnote relevance has passed.

[4] Such as The View and The Talk.

[5] Hey, you’ve come a long way, baby!

[6] 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.

[7] Or as in Festive Imperial Linguini; Feisty Italian Lesbians; Frothy indigent lepers – I MEAN IT, GO AWAY. WHO’S IN CHARGE HERE, ANYWAY?!?!?

The Stories I’m Not Cribbing

Comments Off on The Stories I’m Not Cribbing

 

I am not cribbing; I am making links and attributions. The Happy Feet Dance ® reasons cited in last week’s blog  have left me with little time for originality this week.  (Ah, white people problems.)

Just sayin.’   [1]

 

*    *    *

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.

 

 

 

 

 

andtheawardjpg

 

 

 

 

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.’

 

*   *   *

Department Of More Than Just Pissing In The Wind  [2]

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.  [3]

 

 

 

 

 

Spocko’s October 26 post was in part instigated by Clients Turn on ‘Champion for Women’ Lisa Bloom After Her Scorched Earth Crusade for Harvey Weinstein, — an article which, Spocko wrote, makes him “ill.” Nevertheless, he suggests reading it “…because it explains other reasons we didn’t hear many of these harassment stories.”

Read Spocko’s blog. Please. It is written by a man [4] who cares enough to look at the hard facts, including sharing his own experiences and stories in being a Nice 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.

 

 

 

whatamans

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

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  [5] 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.” 

 

*    *    *

different

 

 

 

 

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.”

 

beanhuh

*   *   *

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!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] No, I wasn’t the first one to write that, either. But, sometimes, it feels like I could have been….

[2] I hope y’all appreciated the segue.

[3] Or rather, your blog.

[4] Who has been so successful in, for example, getting advertisers to pull spots from radio talk show hosts spouting violent rhetoric that he must remain anonymous, as per threats he receives.

[5] i.e., the theory/myth that women choose to forgo careers in STEM to attain better work-family balance.

Older Entries