The Creepening – A Tipping Point

My first memory of thinking for myself politically and socially was the Anita Hill, I want to say “trial,” because that what it looked like to me. Really it was an inquiry into the history of Supreme Court nominee and later (like in the next day or two) justice, Clarence Thomas. My grandfather, in a few ways a “deplorable,” had choice things to say about Anita Hill’s credibility, gender, and race. Some of the rare epithets he used were epic and never repeatable. But I couldn’t help but find her very cool and credible under questioning of that nature. Also very smart and patient with a cadre of old white sexist pigs. We used to call them chauvinists.

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Not at all an intimidating setup. 

Although her testimony was considered a “watershed moment” by Time magazine and others, the discussion seemed to stall out and then we were on to the whole witch-burning that was the Monica Lewinsky mess. In fact the 90s and early 00s was the age of “I’m not a feminist, but . . .” statements. Among the few girlfriends I had the party line was “While acceptable to acknowledge that things are difficult for us as women, don’t get all political about it.” In other words, lean on your sisters for support, but don’t join forces and try to change things in an activist manner.

It’s truly remarkable that it’s taken this long for us to circle back around to the pervasive problem of how men treat women and how the powerful exploit anyone they can. An awesome history prof in college announced to us one day that the Internet would change the world in ways couldn’t predict.

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Not with all the monkeys and typewriters in the world. 

A positive consequence is the way in which all people can have access to one another and we now truly have a public forum to tell our similar and awful stories. As amazing Aspie Malcolm Gladwell writes in The Tipping Point:

“If you want to bring a fundamental change in people’s belief and behavior…you need to create a community around them, where those new beliefs can be practiced and expressed and nurtured.”

This particular tipping point is about behavior, obviously. The belief being nurtured at the moment is “Women are credible and this shit happens all the time.” We are expressing our outrage at the sexually exploitative culture that has been protected and ignored. What need to practice is communication and empathy. We need to shuffle off the silence. Due diligence is very important, but numbers don’t lie even if you think women do.

I have this gut feeling that the Cosby exposure was a precursor to the Weinstein thing.  Recent documentaries like The Hunting Ground (campus assault), The Invisible War (assault in the military), Audrie & Daisy (assault in high school) have shined a bright and honest light on the pervasiveness of what has been going on this whole fucking time. And they’re available on Netflix so they’ve reached a wide audience. Enough exposés in print media have covered sexual harassment and assault in various milieus like national parks, the cannabis industry, state legislatures, and media outlets too numerous to link. Yeah, bitches can be crazy but that dysfunction you are seeing is the consequence of a good percentage of the population quietly dealing with trauma and deep disrespect on a daily basis. It wears you down and makes you mistrustful. So does the gas-lighting.

Well-publicized trials of rapists have also flooded the news in the past couple of years. Rapists who don’t get much of a comeuppance. Brock Turner, the (white) Vanderbilt gang rapists, Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton – there’s a long list of people who have yet to face the music for their actions and the subsequent cover up of those actions.

And now there’s a simmering resentment even among women who have been apolitical. The Creepening will become the Reckoning.

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Pictured: ain’t havin’ it anymore

These last few months have been harrowing even if you’ve never personally experienced any kind of harassment or discrimination. How many men I admire will break my heart? Which means it’s been rough for nearly every woman on the planet because it’s a rare women who doesn’t have a few stories. I talk to women who claim they’ve never had anything bad happen to them, but then they’ll tell me about “this one time” when a situation got really weird and it messed them up for a while or they lost an opportunity.

The Women’s March marked the official start of a new wave of feminism. One that, hopefully, will change some policies and attitudes for the better. One that addresses the intersectional difficulties of the multiply oppressed. I’m no idealist who thinks that perfect equity (different from equality) is achievable. Human beings are also naked sex monkeys who are hardwired to assert dominance over one another and establish hierarchies. I don’t see that changing any time soon; in fact, it will be our downfall and the reason we will never populate the stars. ( . . . find new life and new civilizations.)

This time is important, but I can’t help wondering if it will peter out with only minor changes. Here’s hoping it doesn’t.

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“Rough Riding” and the Death of Freddie Gray

“Rough rides” are commonplace. It happened to me. More than once.

A man walks past a mural of Freddie Gray in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of Baltimore

So it appears that the Department of Justice is not going to file charges against the six officers involved in the death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray. I’ve been looking back on the details of this case today and it still makes me angry. Yet no one else familiar with American policing tactics is surprised by this.

The moment I first heard this story break I was 100% certain what had happened. I still am. Because it happens all the time and it happened to me more than once.

To refresh your memory:

Two police officers on bikes began to pursue a young black man in a poor neighborhood when they “made eye contact with him” and the man promptly fled on foot. From personal experience, police officers are very serious about making eye contact with random people and immediately responding to any “furtive movements or body language.” I can personally attest to a glance that ended in my being arrested.

He was apprehended, recorded being placed into the wagon, and at some point in his transport he sustained a neck injury that led to his death several days later.

Why Freddie Gray ran upon seeing the cops is a bit of a mystery. He had a knife on his belt, but the last time I checked that wasn’t a crime, even in a bad neighborhood. Although the police report says it was an illegal “switchblade,” it turned out to be a “spring assisted” blade which is perfectly legal there according to the Baltimore City DA. I’m going to speculate that Mr. Gray had a history of being stopped and frisked or just plain hassled by cops in his area. He grew up dreading them. I’m willing to put money on it that he wasn’t entirely sure if his blade was legal or not. Even if he did know it was legal, he understood that if the cops noticed it, legality wouldn’t matter for him.

Ironically, he might have been afraid of being shot and killed. So Freddie freaked out and took off, and the consequences were all out of proportion anyway.

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(Wikipedia)

Above is a map of all the confirmed stops the police van made before he was taken to the station. Notice they took the time to do some errands and made a lot of sharp turns along the way.

Freddie was somehow injured and/or just too upset by being chased down by cops that he couldn’t get up into the van without assistance. In that video I see a terrified young man, hurting and having an emotional meltdown. I also see inconvenienced cops. Some officers assume that any difficulty you might have following their orders is intentional so as to make their night worse. Every “perp” is a diabolical liar who acts pitiful to manipulate the circumstances. I’m not saying this is never true, but it’s far less common than is generally assumed by police and corrections officers.

The van pulled over in order to shackle him because Gray had become “irate” in the back of the vehicle. So he was either having a physical/emotional crisis or giving the cops lip. There was no way he could hurt them in that position though. After that, they picked up another arrestee and went to the grocery store for some reason.

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We may never know why.

Likely in that long, strange trip, the cops took the turns not-so-gentle and did so in a frustrated frame of mind. Freddie Gray had the same kind of neck injury that occurs if you dive headfirst into a dry pool. The amount of force necessary to do that degree of damage suggests that the police were intentionally trying to knock him around. Only six days earlier the BPD had issued new rules about safely securing prisoners in transport. It is more dangerous for them to lean in and secure an upset arrestee, and better solutions need to be explored, but they don’t have to drive like maniacs.

I am no stranger to being unable to keep your feet under you while being transported in shackles. I’m not sure exactly how Freddie was bound, but the backs of those vans are slippery steel boxes with a narrow shelf bolted to the inside as the only “seat.” In order to prevent getting slammed around, one has to “surf” the curves and turns they make. This means you have to be able to place your feet wide apart and grab onto the walls with your hands. This is impossible with hands and feet bound close together.

Several times riding in the back of the “train” as we call it in my town, the level of safety has devolved into a dark cavalcade of slapstick comedy. Everybody has to physically brace themselves by grabbing onto other inmates who may or may not go down with you anyway. Sometimes one person will have to yank someone by the back of their shirt or pants to keep them from smacking their heads on the wall or floor – or ceiling. Keep in mind that frequently the prisoners are ill, injured, or disabled in some way, in addition to being bound hand and foot.

Other times, instead of not enough passengers, they cram way too many of us in those things. The last ride I took, we were packed in so tight, hip to hip, that each woman in turn had to lean way forward or way back because our arms and elbows were too wide to fit. I was leaning forward as I recall, and there’s a particular sudden swell in the freeway on the way to court from the jail. The van accelerated and bumped up on one side which cracked the back of my head against the inside wall so hard I was nauseated and the other women cried out in angry alarm.

Hey! You throwin’ us around back here!” yelled the goddess-sized black lady who’s side I was stuffed into. We all saw the two COs up there look at one another and burst into laughter. Then they just turned up the radio and chatted in a self-satisfied manner while a few of the girls quietly cursed and asked me if I was OK.

Blessedly, I was OK, but Freddie Gray had no one and nothing to brace himself against the casual cruelty tolerated by American policing and corrections.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Start Talking About the REAL Reasons Americans Abuse Opiates

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Although there have been many valid explanations for why we have an opiate epidemic on our Drug-Warring hands, I have not yet heard anyone mention what the primary reason actually is, so I’ll tell you what it is:

It’s Pain.

And I’m not talking just about the physical kind – I’m talking about the mental and financial and social kinds of pain which are more devastating than physical pain. The vast increase in prescribing opiates is certainly a big driver of the crisis, but many people take opiates for the duration of an illness or injury and then stop taking them. They don’t become addicts; but a lot of other people can’t get off them ever again.

I had the dubious benefit of “attending” court-ordered drug treatment (in my case it was for alcohol) in my Southern state. I took careful notice of the people I met and spoke with in both jail and treatment, and I was shocked to hear the stories they told about their lives. Absolutely every woman was a survivor of some kind of repeated sexual assault, sexual abuse (by a family member, caretaker, or significant other), violent trauma, total estrangement, or sexual exploitation. Most were mentally ill. All were very poor and underserved if not completely unserved, because of the many institutional system failures in America.

Most people got locked up on paraphernalia charges, theft under $500, probation violation, and/or insolvency.  The people in treatment with me (some of whom I also met in jail) were suffering from some of the worst life experiences and situations I’ve ever heard of. Even though some people exaggerate for sympathy, if you have to drag someone’s tale out of them after laying groundwork over weeks in stir or intensive group therapy, they are not making that shit up.

In jail, I slowly got to know another woman there who finally told me she was a “trick baby” and didn’t even know what ethnicity she was. (Asian? Native American? Kinda like the rock.) She was also epileptic, mostly deaf, an addict, and a member of the hidden homeless. These are the “precariously housed” meaning, at least for her, that she had to submit to sex to crash on various guys’ couches. She complained in her innocent way that what she hated most was always having guys “bothering” her when she just needs a place to sleep other than her car.

Every human has a breaking point when they will seek out ANY relief from unbearable pain, and everybody has a finite amount of resources to battle it.

Speaking of the deaf and/or developmentally disabled, I met a surprising number of people with these problems, and all of them had resorted to substance abuse to numb the pain of deep isolation, the resulting poverty, and repeated victimization.  The issues of substance abuse and police brutality are very real for the disabled and largely ignored as well. Almost half of all people killed by police are disabled and usually not in an immediately  visible way.

 

 

Baby steps, I guess.

Notice that being disabled or known to be mentally ill overrides white privilege. The most punishable offense to many cops is lack of a prompt response, difficulty following or understanding orders, and perceived disrespect. Lots of cops are delicate, but thuggish, flowers who require deference and unquestioning obsequiousness at all times.

But back to our national love of getting high.

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I figured out that substance abuse is directly related to the degree of isolation and trauma a person has experienced, and the more you have suffered the less able you are to summon the considerable internal and external resources that are absolutely needed to heal from the severe issues at its root. Addiction is a symptom of other serious conditions. If you put a someone in rehab or jail but don’t address the financial, familial, mental, social, housing, employment, and physical problems they have, you are setting that person up for relapse or death. 

Here’s a helpful TED Talk about why people (and other animals) develop maladaptive coping mechanisms when they suffer isolation and pain which reflects current evidence-based research. Our “moral” and “disease” models of addiction have at the very least been harmfully inaccurate.

By far, the worst thing about my entire odyssey was the degree of toxic shaming we were subjected to. Initially trying a drug is your fault because you chose to “make a bad decision” and break the law. You’ve sinned. Relapse is really, really your fault because you are supposed to know how to resist temptation with the (largely useless) advice they gave you about “avoiding triggers.” The 12 Steps used in most American treatment programs is outdated, ineffective, poorly studied, and loaded with negative, shaming attitudes and more bad advice. The addict is always solely to blame rather than the life conditions and intractable illnesses they deal with.

Here’s the bottom line: 

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Source here

Fifty percent of Americans in 2017 are struggling to pay for housing and having enough to pay for food and sundries.  A health care or car emergency can utterly wipe them out. These are people who take out loans for college and well into adulthood the jobs they studied for have simply not materialized. Their debt exceeds their assets. These are also people for whom the dismantling of the mental health system by Regan has left them without a place to get help and has simultaneously criminalized the sick, the poor, and the different.

I could go on.  Things have been getting worse for average Americans so gradually that we didn’t realize we were being cooked alive and quietly robbed of more and more of our rights and political agency. The labor unions were broken, the push for women’s rights stalled, and anyone requiring social entitlements was demonized. What we DON’T need is more tough love, shame, religious censure, and socially conservative policies.

What we DO need is:

  • MAT (medically assisted treatment)
  • nonjudgmental, sympathetic counseling that addresses the specific reasons women and all other predominantly non-violent offenders (men, the disabled, LBGTQs, POC) end up in the system
  • comprehensive mental and physical healthcare (good luck on that one, I guess)
  • the 12 Steps replaced with a recovery philosophy that uses evidence-based methods rather than faith-based ones
  • safe rental housing we can afford
  • better jobs that pay enough to live on
  • an end to the Drug War and the decriminalization, Portugal-style, of personal substance possession and use
  • forgiveness of past non-violent drug-related offenses or at least removal from background checks so to prevent the stigma that leads to un- and under-employment (and relapse)
  • prompt, free legal help that doesn’t suck or favor domestic abusers
  • childcare and community supports
  • better treatments for chronic pain

Tall order, am I right? This is true:

Every human has a breaking point when they will seek out ANY relief from unbearable pain, and everybody has a finite amount of resources to battle it. Even the people who are “living the right way.” Thanks for being honest, Mo!

 

Speaking Ill of the Dead

Chris Cornell sexed up my teens and Roger Ailes killed my grandfather.

Yesterday we lost two famous dudes, Chris “Spoonman” Cornell and Roger “Kiss Me or I’ll Ruin You” Ailes. Two more different folks I cannot imagine. One committed suicide, but if you are familiar with his music, it’s under the category of Tragic But Not Shocking – like Hunter S. Thompson or Michael Jackson. The other is soon to be bunkies in Hell with Bill Cosby and Fred Phelps.  I hope.

I am so sorry that yet another person of worth felt the almighty tug of the abyss and got sucked in. It seems like the good ones torture themselves to death too soon and the shitty ones keel over after a long and enriched existence. I was in high school in the early 90s, so Cornell’s constipated, but sexy, voice serenaded my own self-flagellating teen years. He embodied the angsty music of the grunge era and always got confused with Alice in Chains.

I now wonder why the music of the 90s was so angsty. Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against the Machine, NIN, Radiohead et al. are far more appropriate for the 21st century. Hell, Ok Computer and Kid A are the perfect accompaniment for most of last year and the current, uh, situation. I knew they sounded ahead of their time. But things back then were comparatively sane.

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But still ridiculous.

A big contributor to the fix we find ourselves in was the other guy. A right-wing Hut. Along with a rogues gallery of psychopaths like Roger Stone, Rupert Murdoch, and Bill “Phone Spanker” O’Reilly.

I have a special place in my gall bladder for Fox News. I was forced to watch Crossfire with my grandpa when I was a kid. He tried to raise me up angry Republican, but it didn’t take. His attitude towards the Anita Hill testimony was enough to convince me I didn’t want to be like him. Also I listened to Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage.

I learned in church that Christians who “get it” are identified by their love. And that wasn’t the tone or philosophy that came across on Fox. They had a real Scroogian contempt for the poor and seemed to have it in for women and minorities. It’s an ugly way to think and live.

In fact, Fox News was a major contributor to my grandfather’s death. He got increasingly sucked into watching Fox all the time. Their format did exactly as it intended and a documentary called The Brainwashing of My Dad explains it better than I can. Towards the very end of his life he was doing strange things like taking actual “screen shots,” with a film camera, of Fox News crawls on the TV. We found them after he passed.

He became irritable and argumentative and fearful and depressed. The attitudes on Fox stoked his already racist outlook. I mean, the guy was a blue collar WWII vet born in the rural South in 1923. There were going to be certain biases.

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Exhibit A

Such was his fear of a black planet that he refused life-saving medical help when he saw that Obama would likely win the 2008 election.

One of the last things he said on his deathbed was, “I guess we have new president.” All my grandmother could do was nod. He died a few days after the election.

Thanks, Obama.

There is this cultural rule that I’ve never understood whereby it’s considered bad taste to badmouth people who are dead. Someone on TV made an ugly comment about Ailes and my mother gasped a bit and said, “That’s a low blow to Ailes.” That’s right, she defended the honor of the man who brainwashed her dad and made his last years anxious and angry.

From a logical standpoint, the very best time to talk shit about someone is when it can’t possibly get back to them or hurt their feelings. And why does keeling over in his mansion at age 77 magically transform a terrible man into a holy relic?

It’s just nonsense. (Even though I kind of did that in a post about Nancy Reagan.)

So fair thee well Chris Cornell, you are probably crooning on a cloud with Prince. R.I.P.

Roger, even though you are only the second worst person with your name, suck it.

Why did white women vote for Trump?

Women are still encouraged to oppress themselves.

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This is what self-oppression looks like.

Since the Election of Doom prominent liberals have expressed shock and dismay at the 53% of white women who voted for Trump. Tina Fey sort of joked, “A lot of this election was turned by white, college-educated women who now would like to forget about this election and go back to watching HGTV.” Samantha Bee told white women they “have a lot of karma to work off.” And Lena Dunham lib-splained on The View that white women are “not only voting against the interests of their sisters, of women who may not look like them, who they may not understand, but whose rights are just as important,” but also “voting against their own best interest.”

And they’re totally right, even about HGTV.  The nesting instinct is strong in them.

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When some of the ladies pushed back at Lena’s scolding she, to her credit, said:

“So many women aren’t raised with the rhetoric of self-empowerment. The messages they’re hearing from Donald Trump may be similar to the messages they’ve heard from their fathers, their brothers, their husbands. They haven’t been given the message that they do matter.”

Absolutely. Lena can be a bit artless, but her aim is true.

I live in the Deep Dirty South. Southeast Tennessee, an hour and 45 minutes drive north of Atlanta. One of my friends lives next door to snake handlers and it only takes 50 minutes to drive to my house in the burbs. Suburbs that are getting increasingly poorer and filled with people who are overworked, bullied and getting an average of $9 or $10 an hour.

There are no services here. No affordable daycare, no good mental health services or treatment centers for drug abuse, which is rife. There’s not an abortion provider within a 200 mile radius of where I live and schools still teach the oppressive lessons of abstinence-only education. Churches are everywhere, but not very accepting of people’s differences and struggles at all. Medicaid wasn’t expanded here and I fall in the gap since I have decided not to have children. Only mothers get help- and not much of it. The courts fight hard to not give people any type of disability or financial support when they need it. It’s an $8/hour town and everyone serves the tourists and gentrifiers. A trace of weed will put you in one of the worst private jails in the country.

 

This is why it’s so interesting for me to watch the rest of the country collectively plotz over losing rights I’ve never known! It’s all academic to me. Planned Parenthood might get defunded? I’ve never even seen one! Free women’s health services are scarce and/or underground here. All the “clinics” are propaganda studios set up to look like helpful people. They aren’t. We have a lot of Catholic-run hospitals too.

Lots of pundits immediately took a strongly worded stance against the working-class poor who supposedly ushered him into office. No one was surprised to see certain types of men in certain states vote for a human molotov cocktail, but coastal feminists seemed deeply shocked that educated (and not particularly poor) white women sold themselves out so enthusiastically.

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I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise.

I remained extremely, delusionally hopeful that Hillary, as much as I dreaded HER=>, was in the lead. I even felt a strangely nice, proud, floaty feeling for about five hours and went to see my mom and tell her I just voted for the first woman president – in America, that is. I felt the relief that many of us did after we cast our fateful votes in November.

BUT . . .

I was born and raised in the South and, as Dave Chappelle says, “I know the whites!” For instance:

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At least they give each other orgasms down here.

I don’t actually know if Mount Pleasant is in the South, but that pretty much sums up the attitude people take towards those who, “don’t live their lives the right way.” I live next door to two old farts who are “one issue voters,” namely, the abortion issue. They also hate gays with a fiery vehemence that can quickly sour the meals my family occasionally invites them to. These are people who strictly limit the amount of time their grandchildren can visit – to almost never. It’s great fun.

And they sure as hell ain’t poor. But I have a feeling that these radical views are mostly the wife’s thing. Projected shame is still a sport for many bitter women.

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This woman would get more votes.

In a nutshell, women down in America’s steamy under-carriage haven’t been woke yet, and are still unable to see the conventions that bind them. It’s no guarantee that every woman who even goes to college will “encounter” the right reading material or social awareness groups.

More insidiously, there persists a culture of religious sexual shaming coupled with highly sexualized media. Women are still under-represented in positions of power and are socialized to compete with perceived scarce resources among themselves. Gender expectations remain very binary in red states. Only two years ago I still thought of myself as only competent enough to do secretary-like work.

When oppressed women (who don’t know they’re oppressed) see a woman like Hillary Clinton who “thinks she’s all that” while genuinely being a deeply flawed candidate “get above herself” they will balk and gladly vote for a buffoon who only reflects the same sexist attitudes the men they love possess. Add in all the years of Fox News explaining how Hillary is the worst human female to ever stride about in public discourse, and you’ve got a bunch of women who are going to vote along with their husbands for Trump despite any “locker room talk.”

The more misinformed you are, the more likely you are to be unable to see the various types of discrimination that affect you personally.

While I have not been able to find any  numbers on the percentage of single (or divorced, widowed, or gay) women who voted for Trump over Hillary, most post-election articles site these stats:

 

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The differences in education are important and clear, but what they indicate under the surface, where most female oppression takes place, is that education is important for women to have so they can “have their consciousnesses raised” as our Boomer feminist forebears would say. A lack of education in a woman’s life leads to increased financial dependence on traditional gender roles. In other words, the less educated you are, the more likely you are to be unable to see the various types of discrimination that affect you personally. (It’s interesting to note that more non-educated black women voted for Clinton than educated black women.)

Rather than blaming less educated, older, and married women for putting Trump in office, we need to publicly acknowledge that women are intimately oppressed in America to a degree that drastically affects our elections as well as other American institutions.

The Other Shoe Just Dropped

The 21st century just got realer.

I minored in history while at college in the late 90s/early 00s. I had an amazing American history professor who brought it alive with passion and sarcasm. He made us read Horatio Alger and Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock. It was a pre-Bush, pre-9/11 different time when music was angsty, but life was not (in hindsight). But I remember something he said then that I balked at initially – he made a point of telling us that the Internet would change the world in ways we couldn’t possibly imagine happening.

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Not with all the monkeys and typewriters in the universe.

This was not long after the time AOL took off and everyone had to wait for hours to dial-up their connection. I couldn’t imagine how something that putted along at that bandwidth could cause the kinds of changes – and realizations about ourselves – that he warned us about.

I thought he was being an old ninny, but I was a real asshole then.

The world didn’t end at the millennium and the computers didn’t take over or die. Then when I was in grad school 9/11 happened. An understandable sense of doom and newfound vulnerability swept over people old enough to grow up afraid of nuclear winters. Then unending wars, Hurricane Katrina, economic collapse, and totally stagnant wages. Me and the local wags who sit outside coffee shops thought every new catastrophe was “the other shoe dropping” after the towers came down.

We were wrong every time. The real other shoe just dropped and it has steel toes and swastikas.

The extremeness of 9/11 should’ve tipped us off that the 21st century is a whole other bowl of nuts. My favorite period in history is the 20th century. You’ve got to admit as wild as all of history is, the 20th century was super awful and super exciting. Two major reasons – technology and genocide. The entire paradigm of our scientific view shifted and we started waging massive wars against civilian populations. We created more moonscapes than we explored.

As for the 21st century, such as it now is, I don’t know what the hell the major themes will be but I suspect we are genuinely in a pickle here. Looking out my window right now the street is hazed with choking smoke from the forest fires raging near my home in Tennessee. The Tennessee Valley hasn’t had a drop of rain in months and fires lit shortly after Halloween are making the air barely breathable.

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And everyone around me voted for a tangerine primal scream. 

 

 

 

She Coulda Been My Sister: The Mental Gymnastics of Male Sympathy

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Aside from the sheer creepiness of every other detail of the Trump Tapes story, I noticed something about the reactions from many Republican politicians – they collectively imagined that the women being spoken about were related to them and thus discovered a conduit to finding within themselves sympathy for women in general.

À lá “A Time to Kill” only with sexism instead of racism.

All those clips of them explaining that they’re appalled that Trump would speak so nastily about women; because they have daughters and wives and sisters and they thought of someone saying gross things about the women they love. But I’ve never had to do a complicated jig in my head to feel sympathy for a man I was not related to. I’ve never had to think of a man or boy who has been wronged as my literal brother to understand that he is fundamentally just like me. I’ve never had to de-sexualize a man to know what comments might infringe on his dignity.

That men do this is mind-bending to me. And that’s essentially what they are having to do. Divorce attraction from womanhood and think of non-sexual (except in the case of wives who have actually become mothers) examples from their personal experience. The problem is that many men (#NotAllMen) have a general relationship to everyone and everything female that seems skewed, and deeply insulting, when it peeps out of the shadows (outside your window while you’re changing.) It’s difficult for me to understand as a woman and difficult to spot, because it’s so normal. At least in the 60s you knew where you stood!

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I worked in a pool hall kitchen where all my redneck male bosses couldn’t figure out how to communicate with me because I wasn’t either their mother or a whore (which is how they classified the waitresses). I baffled them completely. They stopped talking to me altogether and left me garbled notes on a whiteboard. I think the sexism we teach to boys cripples their ability to extend sympathy to women in a way most women can’t possibly understand.

It’s glimpses like this that remind me that the focus is mostly on how white men can’t possibly understand what it feels like to be degraded as a woman or other minority. Or combination of minorities.

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Shine on Diane & Melissa.

But maybe there are differences between me and a man that I can’t possibly understand through empathy or mental gymnastics. Cultural things. Hormonal things.

I always assume every man I meet is a complicated individual with different ideas and interests and temperaments. Different levels of potential and a singular point of view. Each one a hairy snowflake.

It explodes my brain to try imagining what a man like Trump or Billy Bush or Billy Cosby or Billy Clinton really thinks when he sees a woman. To look at a person and see less than a person there that you are also compelled to violate is something I can get on my high horse about. I will be the first to throw a stone (figuratively) at men who assert power in this way. Literally, they need to be to do at least as much jail time as I have for drunk driving.

They never will.