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Woodstock

Woodstock

It’s been a strange week. It was the 45th Anniversary of Woodstock. Three days of Peace and Music and Mud. So we get to reflect, what did it really mean? Bob was home for a long weekend, and we were able to attend a party thrown by our favorite neighbor/friend/alpaca farmers, DeeDee and Bill! Bob thought about his time on a psychedelic school bus while I sipped on a Madison County wine as the sun set and we met the vintner himself; DuCard Winery has won awards for its famous Viogner and its French winemaker, Julien. When I heard that they are planning a wine and chocolate pairing on Saturday, August 23rd, I was all in…https://www.ducardvineyards.com

But the highlight of the evening was meeting my friend’s daughter Brighid, and her son Djouby. Brighid is the brilliant and beautiful Founding Director of a non-profit arts organization in Chicago, “Erasing the Distance.” http://www.erasingthedistance.org Their mission is to use “…the power of performance to disarm stigma, spark dialogue, educate, and promote healing surrounding issues of mental health.” They create plays that confront say depression, for schools, churches, organizations and the general public thereby making mental health a subject to confront with compassion and understanding; they are seeking to bring this disease out of the shadows – shining a stage light on our common humanity.

Which leads me to the next question. If you are willing to grant that each family in this country has a limited amount of money they are willing to donate to a non-profit or a charity, what’s up with the ALS foundation/ice bucket challenge campaign making 3M more than they did last year? I admit I was amused. After all, it’s almost like a-pie-in-the-face funny to watch your friends and co-workers dump ice water over their heads. And the celebrities! Lady Gaga was outrageous of course and Bill Gates was all intellectual about it. I even proudly posted a step-niece doing this on Facebook. One of Bob’s cousins is married to a man who is currently in the last stages of ALS. It’s probably one of the most feared of all diseases, including cancer, because like Ebola, there’s simply no treatment.

However, mental health diseases are the single most common problem in our country according to the CDC: “Mental illnesses account for a larger proportion of disability in developed countries than any other group of illnesses, including cancer and heart disease. In 2004, an estimated 25% of adults in the United States reported having a mental illness in the previous year. The economic cost of mental illness in the United States is substantial, approximately $300 billion in 2002. Population surveys and surveys of health-care use measure the occurrence of mental illness, associated risk behaviors (e.g., alcohol and drug abuse) and chronic conditions, and use of mental health–related care and clinical services.”

ALS, on the other hand, has been harder to quantify according to the CDC because, “Worldwide, ALS affects white males aged >60 years more often than any other group. In the United States, ALS surveillance is necessary to estimate the incidence and prevalence of ALS and collect data on risk factors. ALS is not a nationally notifiable condition in the United States (i.e., it is not a reportable condition in all jurisdictions), and individual state reporting requirements differ, with Massachusetts being the only state that mandates reporting.”

But the VA did commission a study of ALS and found roughly 3.9 cases of ALS per 100,000 people in the American general population. Which would make the occurrence of Lou Gehrig’s disease in mostly older white males less than 0.004%. A quarter of our nation’s population vs 0.004% Sooo…

I’m not saying NOT to dump a bucket of ice water on your head, and give money to ALS research. I’m just asking you not to only give your charitable donations to ALS this year. Please spread the love. Because organizations like Erasing the Distance are doing important work in their community, and I know there are others out there working to bring mental health issues to the forefront, to bring malaria nets to Africa, to fund genetic research to cure cancer and to stop the spread of polio and bring reproductive health care to women around the world. Pick your passion, and do your research.http://qz.com/249649/the-cold-hard-truth-about-the-ice-bucket-challenge/

And BTW, I went to Catholic School, in other words Woodstock wasn’t an option.

Brighid and Djouby

Brighid and Djouby

 

 

 

 

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Slut shaming, it’s nothing new. Long before that Rush ‘to judgement’ Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a “slut” on his radio show, young women everywhere have been objectified and marginalized for ages. Think of the adulterous “A”  sewn onto Hester Prynne’s bodice, now think of the “walk of shame” I first heard about when the kids went off to college. If you haven’t heard about it, ask a twenty something. I remember feeling pained even then, we “Our Bodies Ourselves” feminists burned our bras for what?

Now it’s back with a vengeance – the public humiliation of a young woman for embracing her sex. Yes, I’m talking about 20 year old Miley Cyrus, and isn’t everyone else? The Rocker and Cait first filled me in on the controversy between Miley and Sinead O’Connor last weekend. Odd I thought. One rocker who chopped all her hair off and ripped up a picture of the Pope 2 decades ago vs the Wrecking Ball baby. I missed her stellar performance on SNL, but did catch Miley on Ellen this week, doing her best to explain her fascination with her own tongue (turns out she just hates smiling on the red carpet) and her love of wearing onesies, oh and teddy bears. And this morning I read a great new blogger’s take on the whole shebang, http://fishershannon.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/the-s-word/

The problem with the word “slut” is that we don’t have a male equivalent. It’s like the French don’t have a word for “snack.” It’s because they just don’t do it, no fast food, no eating in the car, no walking down the street with coffee in hand. Nope, the French sit down and savor every single morsel of food and drink. Let’s think for a minute, what if we did have a derogatory term for a man who was enjoying his body and didn’t mind having a little sexual fun with it, no regrets. What would it be? Player, no since this is gender neutral. Manwhore, no since the whole whore part is female specific. Sex addict, maybe. Hmmm, a promiscuous man. “A single young man who sleeps readily with a number of women would probably not have any label attached to his behavior.” http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fighting-fear/201302/certain-aspects-promiscuity

Slut first appeared in the written language in 1402, according to the Oxford English Dictionary , that great repository of language information. At that time, slut meant roughly what one sense of slattern  means today: a slovenly, untidy woman or girl. It also apparently meant “kitchen maid” (”She is a cheerful slut who keeps the pots scrubbed and the fires hot.”). By the end of the 15th century the sense “a woman given to immoral or improper conduct” had come into use, and it is the only meaning in use today. Interestingly,the same second meaning, a promiscuous woman, developed for the term slattern. dictionary.com

So Miley isn’t writing songs about her old boyfriends who we must presume she’d been intimate with a la Taylor Swift. Taylor, who mostly keeps her clothes on is still rather boy crazy. Miley didn’t fade into the woodwork, like Annette our first Mouseketeer. She twerked her way into America’s pop culture, for better or worse, with her mother in the background signing her checks. And taking a selfie with the signature “tongue and wink” move in this AP pic.Miley Cyrus, Tish Cyrus

My brother Dr Jim, the psychologist, called Ms Miley a master marketing strategist, and I have to agree. So stop feeling sorry for her America, she refuses to be shamed into submission. And let’s drop the word slut from the Oxford English dictionary. After Britney’s brief affair with a boa, and Madonna’s many semi-nudist and full frontal nudist concerts and picture books, and Cher, and Lady Gaga, Miley romping around in a teddy bear outfit that covered her like a one piece bathing suit with a foam finger is pretty tame, or lame, depending on your point of view. Let’s get off our puritanical white horse…and wink back.24176_1250095808770_946372_n

 

 

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It’s that ghoulish time of year again. Sometimes, I honestly wish we had been Jehovah’s Witnesses. There is no conflict, they just don’t celebrate All Saint’s Day. They view it as a pagan custom, and happily go about their business of knocking on strangers’ doors and handing out pamphlets all the time! But in my kid’s elementary school, when everyone would wear their costumes and march about the schoolyard in late October, the JW kids felt bad. I even felt bad for them. Still, what I want to know is when did it become OK to stereotype young girls as sex objects for Halloween?
http://www.missrepresentation.org

You’ve heard about the furor of slimming down Minnie Mouse for a storefront display at Barney’s in NYC, right? Well who’s complaining about all these girls and young women, respectable by day, dressing up in Daisy Dukes on Halloween? I only remember dressing up as a “Gypsy” back in the 50s, in a long, full skirt. That was exciting enough, getting to wear make-up and bangles on my arms. Today, once our little girls outgrow the “Princess” phase, at about pre-puberty, who thinks it’s just fine to dress like Lady Gaga?

When my children were little, I was that much hated crafty mom. I had a sewing machine and knew how to use it; I actually made many of their Halloween outfits. The Rocker’s best was Sonic the Hedgehog, and the Bride made a nifty Wonder Woman. All of a sudden, somewhere in middle school, all bets were off. Monsters and madonnas littered the schoolyard. But I do remember one girl dressing up as Amelia Earhart. You had to have a lot of confidence to fight the culture of sexism that surrounds our kids. “You can’t be what you can’t see.” http://tedxwomen.org/speakers/jennifer-siebel-newsom/

Siebel, in this video, says she wanted to get away from the media push for power and strength outfits for boys at Halloween and soft, passive-princessy things for girls and dress her small children as gender-neutral animals. So she chose a lamb for her daughter and a lion for her son. She then saw the joke, it is a subtle thing, this sexism. I remember feeling that way when the Bride was small – where are the female super-heros? The Love Bug will be a giraffe on her first Halloween, because we have always had a fondness for “long, tall blondes.” http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/tall-blondes/introduction/2253/ You will find giraffes roaming free all over my house! And her Uncle and Ms Cait?
Zombies of course!

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