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Posts Tagged ‘Feminism’

Growing up, I was always told it’s unbecoming “for a girl” to show anger. In fact, one of my earliest memories was getting angry at my foster parents for one thing or another, running into my bedroom, slamming the door and turning the crucifix around on the wall above my bed. After all, I didn’t want Jesus to see me like that!

But later, as a young feminist, I learned to appreciate and harness my anger. Why should I have to come home earlier than my brothers? Facing any injustice, I would tap into that feeling, because I knew that it was like the wind before a storm. And after a storm, the air would be pure and clean.

Well I hate to admit it, but I’m getting angry again, just like everybody else who’s been paying attention. And it’s not only at cable news and social media or our Liar-in-Chief. This past week Bob and I attended 2 “holiday” ie Christmas parties… and  our local Planned Parenthood Center has stopped providing abortions:

In a statement, Aimee Lewis, the Vice President of External Affairs and Chief Development Officer for Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi said: “We are 100% committed to meeting our patients’ family planning needs in Nashville, including abortion services. We believe that the ability to control fertility is fundamental to human health and well-being. We believe that your body is your own, and when it isn’t, you can’t be free, and you won’t be equal.”

They believe that statement, and I believe it to my core, except the clinic’s reasoning has been obscure – they are no longer accepting appointments for abortions since they are doing some quality control “…and will return with those services soon.”

Meanwhile the lovely state of TN has a 48 hour waiting period requiring 2 trips to a clinic. This is a costly and overtly Republican ploy to shame and humiliate women seeking such services. Nashville women will have to travel to Memphis or Knoxville twice.

And last night driving home from the Grands, I heard an ad on the radio about a convenient website for men seeking Erectile Dysfunction drugs – they could avoid the embarrassment of talking to a doctor by simply clicking on this wonderful website!!! A whole month of little blue pills will be delivered discreetly in the mail! How wonderful for men. I was almost surprised it wasn’t an App already.

So I say to myself, yes there will be more women in Congress next month. Michelle Obama wrote a wonderful book. The Love Bug told me she’s glad she’s a girl cause she won’t have to shave her face! Every night I list all the things I’m grateful for because I know that anger can consume you if you’re not careful.

The Atlantic published a compelling essay on the universal rage we Americans have been feeling for far too long. If the holidays seem a little too jovial about now, this might be required reading, “The Real Roots of American Rage” by Charles Duhigg:

Cable news, Twitter, politicians who now do more campaigning than governing—their every incentive is to keep us angry. But we own some of the guilt, too.

I’m not proud to admit that I know what it feels like to relish seeing an opponent get his comeuppance. I profess to hate what cable news is doing to the national conversation, but I still tune in. I decry the nasty discourse on Twitter, then check back the next hour to refresh my outrage. I deplore the nation’s rank partisanship, but I rarely split my ballot.

My anger has become a burden. Perhaps yours has too. And yet we can’t turn away. The anger impulse is too deeply encoded, the thrill too genuine. So where do we go from here? https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/01/charles-duhigg-american-anger/576424/

When they go low, you’ve got to fight as if your life depends on it. There is a storm brewing – suppressing our fundamental rights to vote, to govern our own bodies, to not get gunned down in a school or a mall. Are you angry enough yet?

This was a Victorian Christmas with our neighbors. I thought my 80s yellow leather jacket was a propos?!

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Do you miss Chip and Joanna Gaines on HGTV? All the silo-loving, shiplap-using, funny marriage-banter of their show “Fixer Upper?” Not me; I see their “Magnolia” housewares in my local Target, and I follow her on Twitter.

Last night was “movie night” in their farmhouse. All five kids (including the newborn) were piled up in their meticulous Master Bedroom bed, with a fire going in the fireplace and a Christmas tree in the corner. It almost looked too good to be true.

There is an undercurrent of unrest in Waco, TX. Housing prices have skyrocketed and tourists have been flooding into town to catch a glimpse of the happy Gaines’. Rumor has it, the Evangelical couple belong to a church that shuns LGBTQ people. And all those beautifully rehabbed homes, many have been spotted on AirBnB.

Now Waco is in the news for all the wrong reasons.

“Jacob Walter Anderson, 24, faced charges of sexual assault after allegedly attacking the woman at a fraternity party two years ago.

But after agreeing to a plea deal on a lesser charge, the former Baylor University student was given three years’ deferred probation.

The woman said she was “devastated”.

“He stole my body, virginity and power over my body and you let him keep it all for eternity,” the woman told Judge Ralph Strother in a Waco courtroom after he agreed the deal, NBC News reported.”  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46519600

This is the THIRD time this judge has approved a plea deal for probation after a rape in the past two years, all Baylor University students. Anderson drugged and raped a young woman repeatedly and left her outside to die. But we wouldn’t want to “ruin” this white boy’s reputation, after all he is a former fraternity president and may one day want to serve on the Supreme Court.

He will not have to register as a sex offender, and his charge was knocked down to “unlawful restraint.” In Texas, if you’re white and wealthy, you are obviously above the law. At first Anderson was facing 20 years for rape, now two years later, his lawyers are celebrating; “No Jail Time” screams the headlines!

Great Grandpa Hudson graduated from Baylor a long time ago. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t a frat boy since he had served in the Navy during WWII first, and later became a missionary to Ghana. Bob recently accompanied him in an ambulance to the Bride’s ER. It seems he fell and conked his head, which immediately gets you all the bells and whistles, even though he never lost consciousness and all his tests were fine. Hudson is one indestructible old sailor!

As for Baylor Alum Chip and Joanna, I’m pretty sure their white-washed, religious life will have its share of ups and downs, like any marriage. But unlike most, they are still in the spotlight. At least her bedroom Christmas tree wasn’t blood red, like a certain immigrant from Slovenia!

Here is the girl who recently lost her first tooth and her Great Grandma the marriage counselor. That’s a Mona Lisa smile if I ever saw one!

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We picked up the L’il Pumpkin at school mid-morning. It was going to be a fun day, going to the Children’s Theatre to see The Little Mermaid, then lunch and on to Hannukah. But we had a long holding session in the lobby before the play with a few other schools, so I headed over to the large center table covered with paper, crayons and writing prompts.

“Ariel and her father the King are having trouble understanding each other. What do you wish adults could understand better about children?”

“What do you think,” I asked my little grandson.

“Listening,” he said without missing a beat.

And a light went off; I thought about the term “active listening,” like some ancient artifact that had washed ashore in my brain, back before parenthood. While studying child psychology, I knew even before reading a text that some people are checked out when it comes to their kids, and some are just naturally checked IN.

This was long before we had tiny smart phones to ding and buzz our attention away from our children. Just as we need context to read and comprehend, we need to hear between the lines in order to communicate well with little people. Sure meltdowns can happen, but if we are paying attention, we can usually avoid them.

I was recently involved in a conversation with one of Great Grandma Ada’s friends. He had been a professor at Vanderbilt in his youth, now well into his 90s he liked to paint beautiful, vivid landscapes. I was aware of how effortlessly we spoke, and it’s hard to remember what exactly we spoke about, but it started with Brexit. The rare thing of beauty was that here was a man who was listening – he wasn’t turning his head away, or nodding, or looking at his watch. He was engaging, and our words flew elegantly back and forth.

You don’t have to be a Disney princess to get into hot water with your parents. The L’il Pumpkin told me he was glad Ariel smashed the magic shell containing her voice, thereby breaking the sea witch Ursula’s spell. I thought about the many voiceless women, throughout his/herstory, who were destined to live a constrained life; tied up in apron strings, never learning to drive a car (like Nelly, my foster mother), living in a “Doll’s House” like Nora herself, or Shakespeare’s Rosalind before her.

I hope our grandson grows up to be a good listener, to be a mensch. Watching him skip back to our car, holding Bob’s hand in the parking lot, my heart melted a little.

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Since the weather has decided to oblige, Bob and I thought a Fall outing would be just the ticket for the Great Grands. First we drove to Cheekwood, a gorgeous botanical garden, but they were closed due to a private event. So we hemmed and hawed because anything worth doing would have to supply wheelchairs, and guess what? The Nashville Zoo has not only wheelchairs available, but electric scooters!

We only lost Great Grandpa Hudson once, near the flamboyance of flamingoes. But the normally elusive animals were putting on quite a show – gibbons flew through the air, baby meerkats frolicked next to our feet, and the Andean bears had decided it was time for a swim. Great Grandma Ada thought we should cap off our adventure with a visit to a food truck, and luckily for us Google came to the rescue.

Unfortunately, the Grilled Cheeserie truck was also at a private event, but we found the Cousins lobster roll truck in mere minutes!

It was a perfect outing. Needing a break from the non-stop coverage of Kavanaugh’s “righteous” anger, we also  needed to separate from social media maladies like supposed evangelical “Christians” becoming indignant about smearing a “good” man’s name. After all, patriarchy runs deep, it’s biblical. Remember Mary Magdalene?

“In one age after another her image was reinvented, from prostitute to sibyl to mystic to celibate nun to passive helpmate to feminist icon to the matriarch of divinity’s secret dynasty. How the past is remembered, how sexual desire is domesticated, how men and women negotiate their separate impulses; how power inevitably seeks sanctification, how tradition becomes authoritative, how revolutions are co-opted; how fallibility is reckoned with, and how sweet devotion can be made to serve violent domination—all these cultural questions helped shape the story of the woman who befriended Jesus of Nazareth.”
Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/who-was-mary-magdalene-119565482/#A1kBRpgIwYOqJUGc.99

In looking back, it turns out that this Jewish woman was NOT in fact a repentant prostitute, which was what I’d been told back in Sacred Heart School. In fact, there were many Marys alive during the time of Jesus. But Mary Magdalene was there at the crucifixion, and she was there at the apparent resurrection from the tomb. She was in fact an important disciple, someone who was loved and respected by all accounts. What would Jesus do today with Dr Christine Blasey Ford?

Jumping around in time like a WOMAN Time Lord in a souped-up TARDIS is taking the balcony view. You take a deep breath and look out over the crowded multitudes, summing up the past and trying to predict the future. Misogyny has had its place in history, and I believe we are about to rewrite the next chapter from a human point of view. Great Grandma Ada has always talked about her mother being alive when we mere humans first took flight on a North Carolina beach, and also seeing our first small steps on the Moon!

On the ride home last night, Ada mentioned friends of a friend who both had PhDs and quit their jobs to open an Egyptian food truck! I was trying to figure out how Egyptian food differs from Jewish food (pretty much not at all) while listening to the astonishment in Ada’s voice; like we women won the vote and Title IV and the ability to play Dr Who and now we want to cook…in a truck?

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You’d be hard pressed to find me talking tariffs, but here goes…

What I know about Economy 101 is simply the guns vs butter parable – a country who spends more on guns, spends less on feeding its people. I get that, the more we spend on prisons, the less we spend on schools. But today, tariffs are going to start again for Iran according to the Twitter fingers of Mr T, and maybe I should be worried but I’m kind of stuck on an overdrive of worry.

Why are those cave boys from Thailand becoming monks?

Why is Norway separating children from their parents?

What exactly won’t I be buying from Tehran?

And just when my feminist heart was melting because Saudi Arabia finally “allowed” its women to drive cars, I just read that Canada has decided to sanction Saudi Arabia on Human Rights violations.

Saudi authorities in 2018 continued to arbitrarily arrest, try, and convict peaceful dissidents. Dozens of human rights defenders and activists are serving long prison sentences for criticizing authorities or advocating political and rights reforms. Authorities systematically discriminate against women and religious minorities. In 2017, Saudi Arabia carried out 146 executions, 59 for non-violent drug crimes. A Saudi-led coalition continued an airstrike campaign against Houthi forces in Yemen that included the use of banned cluster munitions and apparently unlawful strikes that killed civilians.  https://www.hrw.org/middle-east/n-africa/saudi-arabia

CANADA mind you! Not us, no we just love strong rulers.

Remember how much Ivanka and her dad fawned over that new young Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman? The one who held up his relatives and 200 of the richest Saudis in an airport until they paid their taxes to the crown. Well, not to be outdone, the Prince has retaliated by: evicting the Canadian ambassador; stopped all commercial airline flights to Canada; ordered 16,000 Saudi students to come home; AND placed an immediate freeze on all investments and bilateral trade agreements between Saudi Arabia and Canada!

I guess Riyadh will have to buy maple syrup from Vermont?

This has me wondering if sanctions and tariffs actually work? Or are they just symbolic slaps on the wrist of an increasingly entitled corporate global structure that can shift easily between ruling oligarchs and demagogues, and princes. According to The Washington Post, some goods and services are better than others to sanction. Usually there’s a point at which the demand for something goes up, the price will come down, except for iPhones. But consider Veblen goods, they perform in a contradictory way like diamonds – the more demand we have the higher the price.

“Veblen goods are positional goods, in which demand increases along with price because the good is seen as a display of prestige. Veblen goods can explain why some countries choose to invest in aircraft carriers or space programs when they should be allocating scarce resources elsewhere.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2018/08/07/why-in-the-world-is-saudi-arabia-sanctioning-canada/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.26a5b146bfb2

Since most countries don’t have the resources to even impose sanctions on one another, the author posits that Prince bin Salman is showing the West his peacock plumage. He is arresting women activists while also letting them drive cars, so they know who is in charge. And he can throw out the Canadian Ambassador because he CAN, ratcheting up his prestige on the world stage…making tariffs and sanctions into a kind of Veblen good. Criticize Saudi Arabia at your peril!

Thorstein Veblen was an economist who coined the term “conspicuous consumption” in 1899. I wonder if he ever thought a Narcissistic real estate con-man who lived in a gilded tower in Manhattan could ever become President of these United States.

Patriotism, Veblen once said, was the only obstacle to peace among nations. Let that sink in.

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Ann Patchett was sitting right in front of me last night at Parnassus Bookstore. We were listening to Meg Wolitzer read from her new book, “The Female Persuasion,” when Ann (I hope I can call her Ann since I see her so much around town) asked if the sum of a writer’s work isn’t simply an aria – one voice:

“aria, an elaborate accompanied song for solo voice from a cantata, opera, or oratorio.”

In other words, every book you write is saying something about you, about what’s really important to you. Your subjects may change, your place in time or your landscape may change, but your unique Voice, your Point of View comes through consistently, almost unwillingly.

And Wolitzer has written plenty of books, in fact this is her tenth novel. She notes that she actually started writing “The Female Persuasion” a few years before the #MeToo movement, but she has always been interested in female friendships, and the power dynamics in relationships. This book pivots around a college campus where a young female student, Greer with a streak of “electric blue hair,” is mentored by an older feminist writer, Faith Frank.

The audience last night was a mix of ages, young feminists with severely short hair, mixed in with my aging variety and a few men. One shop dog named Bear strolled around the room, while the smaller variety, Mary Todd Lincoln was cradled in a baby wrap on a bookseller’s hip. Wolitzer read from her opening chapter, where Greer is groped by an entitled frat boy at a party her freshman year. I wondered how many of us could relate to that!

I thought about a friend’s son, a quiet innocent boy, who went off to college only to be expelled after an episode with a girlfriend he dared to break up with – he was an unsuspecting sheep while she turned into a wolf. I thought about the UVA Lacrosse player who was killed in her dorm room by her off/and/on boyfriend. And that girl who was raped and left outside a garbage can at Stanford.

“Novels can be a snapshot of a moment in time, or several moments in time, and as a reader that’s what I really like, and as a writer, it’s what I’m drawn to also. It can’t be a polemic. I’m always saying, What is it like? That’s one of the mantras of writing novels for me. And then, in the game of musical chairs, the book is coming out now.”  

http://www.vulture.com/2018/04/meg-wolitzer-doesnt-want-to-be-tied-to-a-moment.html

Wolitzer would call her publisher and ask her assistant first, a millennial, “Before you put me through, tell me, what was it like being a feminist at your college?” 

And that was my question. At my Boston college in 1966 we didn’t have the word “feminism” yet. We couldn’t wear pants outside our dorm, we had to wear a dress or a skirt once we left the brownstone. We didn’t have birth control pills or roofies or mind-altering drugs, yet. There was obviously no social media, if a girl dropped out, you assumed she got pregnant. We didn’t wear bobby socks, we wore knee socks. We had no recourse, no defense; we huddled together and traded tricks sneaking into the Beacon Street residence after curfew.

We had a phone booth in the downstairs lobby!

Strangely enough, Wolitzer hits her mark writing about today’s college culture, about those times in our lives when we meet someone who will change our trajectory. Her generation is just behind mine, a decade younger – the second (or is it third) wave of feminism. And she mentioned that another Nashvillian, Nicole Kidman, has optioned the rights to play her character Faith in the movie.

My first thought was, so Kidman is playing a mid-60 year old woman? And I immediately slapped that thought away as too judgmental, the opposite of feminist, after all maybe Helen Mirren is unavailable!

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Someday I’ll stand up in a not so smoky bar and sing torch songs. I’ve always loved the idea; an older, down on her luck crooner in a long gown with an amber-filled glass on the piano, singing her alto soul out. Under the spotlight, her grey hair like a halo. It’s the Blues for everywoman. Anything Ella or Billie is everything!

Stormy Weather (Keeps Rainin’ All The Time)

Don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky
Stormy weather
Since my man and I ain’t together
Keeps rainin’ all the time

Life is bare, gloom and mis’ry everywhere
Stormy weather
Just can’t get my poor self together
I’m weary all the time, the time
So weary all the time

Last night Great Grandma Ada was expecting over a foot of snow, and we told her it’s just cold here in Nashville. Cold and sunny, but robins are hopping all over the city. I swear I hear more birds around this townhouse than I ever heard on our mountain, except for those jack-hammering woodpeckers. So I was surprised when I opened the door this morning to take Ms Bean out, we actually had a dusting of snow! I had to squint in the dawn light, was it just a frost, are my eyes deceiving me?

This past year has left us all pretty much teetering on the edge of delusion and despair. We never know what Tweet will manage to screw up the economy or create new enemies in the world. Let’s raise tariffs on the EU, so TN whiskey will cost more to export. But wait, maybe we’ll exclude some countries from a tariff on metals? Foreign policy has been reduced to a frat-boy play/as/you/go/poker/game, let the chips fall. It’s no wonder we’re weary.

When along comes a porn star to brighten things up, Stormy Daniels, aka Stephanie Clifford, saves the day! Granted she had agreed not to talk after receiving $130,000 but she now says Mr President never signed the contract. So she’s free as a bird to tell us what kind of sex Mr T was into right after his son was born – missionary mostly – and that he wanted to see her again, and again.

It’s rather amusing that the GOP is more concerned with Mr T’s tariff musings than his adulterous affair with a porn star. We must work hard amid this storm to suspend our disbelief. After all, Nashville’s Mayor was caught in an affair of the heart, and five weeks later she resigned. One wonders where Mr T found that money to pay off Stormy, and other women, and just how indebted is he to Russia?

Happy International Women’s Day everyone! Thundersnow has hit the East Coast and the president and the porn star threaten to capture our news cycle for the time being; no talk about guns, or tariffs today thank you. If you’re feeling like you “…can’t go on,” the BBC has compiled 100 stories of women you’ve probably never heard of, and I think it’s worth a listen. http://www.bbc.com/news/topics/c779dqxlxv2t/100-women

Before that old rockin’ chair gets y’all.    IMG_2340

 

 

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