decline of language

I love this tongue-in-cheek Washington Post article by Dana Milbank about 45’s penchant for misspellings. I do not share that love for what is exposed by this cavalier disregard for the English language.

It sure makes it clear who is the “dummer” [sic] of our most recent presidents.

Advertisements

trolls

I haven’t been able to write much lately because I’m stunned beyond words at what’s happening in DC (sending us back b.c.e.) But I’m enjoying sharing other peoples’ creativity while I’m conjuring up my own.

here’s GQ trolling he who shall not be named with makeover video. Enjoy.

EPA radio silence

The new administration’s first day resulted in a lockdown at the EPA: employees have been instructed not to talk to anyone outside the department and the grants program, which funds all kinds of scientific research, has been frozen.

The new administration refuses to respond to inquiries about the status of the EPA, whose nominated head, Scott Pruitt, has not yet been confirmed. Pruitt is a strong critic of the EPA.

One can only assume the agency is doomed, or at least gutted of all its effectiveness.

Write your senator urging denial of confirmation of environmental enemy number one, Scott Pruitt.

Keep your voices strong: our future depends on the health of Mother Earth.

our voices

our voices
ringing clear
you can’t claim
you didn’t hear

see images from Women’s Marches around the world

and hear Ashley Judd

and America Ferrera

and Angela Davis

Listen to each other, my sisters, and resist!

and for some comic relief, check out Kate MacKinnon mocking Kellyanne Conway (we’re still listening, Ms. Conway, if you have anything factual to say…)

misogyny much?

I don’t use Twitter, but today I saw a disturbing report about cyberthreats directed at Ashley Judd in response to a critical tweet she made about a sports opponent of her favorite team. I perused her Twitter feed to see what was up and was shocked by some of what she made public. Do not click here if you do not want to be offended.

The problem isn’t Twitter, although that particular platform seems to unleash the unchecked foulness of some people. The problem is the vituperative violence directed at a woman who dared to express an opinion about sports. The problem is that this sort of violence toward women plays out every day in real life, not just on social media feeds. From federal judges to sports stars, the perpetrators often go unpunished. Ashley Judd is making an example of her haters and pressing charges. I say Brava! You go, sister!

One has to wonder how one woman becomes the target of so much anger and loathing. My guess is that Ms. Judd’s politics play a role: she is an outspoken advocate for women’s rights and equality, which threaten the social and political structure on which some of these bullies precariously perch. Perhaps they feel the groundswell of our outrage at the mistreatment of our mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends. Perhaps they hear our voices ringing out through the airwaves of free speech, no longer held in check by greying newspaper editors or chauvinistic higher ups. Perhaps they fear the Elizabeth Warrens and the Malala Yousafzais of the world, who are not afraid to call them out on their bad behavior, who threaten to topple them from their place of privilege by speaking the truth to their delusions, from Wall Street to Taliban strongholds.

No amount of hate-speech or craven threats on Internet will stop our voices. The fire of our indignation is real, and they provide the fuel that proves us justified.

the invisibility of age

Lori Day’s article “Aging white female is not your worst nightmare” struck a chord with me that compelled me to return to this platform after months of focusing on other forms of creativity (mostly my Instagram art photography forums). Ms. Day outlines the intersection between misogyny and ageism, noting that the latter bias affects women much more than men in our patriarchal society, which values the wisdom and experience of older men but rejects older women as irrelevant.

One particularly poignant quote echoes many thoughts I’ve posted to this blog: “[The solution] isn’t to try to look or act younger. It isn’t to write blog posts about how hot/thin/beautiful/sexy middle-aged women are. They are, but wasting my written voice on championing shallow efforts at continued conformity to what is expected of women in a patriarchal society does not feel productive. It is an insidious capitulation.”

I am two years older than Lori Day and attempting acceptance of the 10 pounds I’ve gained post-menopause. This is no small task, especially for someone who has struggled with eating disorders in my distant past and body acceptance only in the recent decade. The first gray hairs didn’t bother me; the small lines and age spots on my face haven’t made me feel worse about myself. Yet my body changing causes me to feel “damn unpretty,” to quote TLC. I am not hot, thin, or sexy to my mind’s eye (although many around me may disagree, and I bless them). Intellectually I don’t give a damn, yet psychologically I am fading into the background of the public stage. This is an internal judgment that has grown from decades of being told by strangers what my true value is to the world, even as I’ve refused to believe it: “smile, beautiful.”

A good friend in her 40s was recently dumped by a man she was dating (and falling for, which by all signs was mutual) because she was “overweight,” according to him. She is intelligent, talented, adventurous, fun to be with, and beautiful, and yet this somewhat paunchy middle-aged man couldn’t accept her love and other gifts because he couldn’t turn away from the five extra pounds she may or may not be carrying (depending on who is judging). Although this is much more about him than it is about her, she has to process the anger and self-doubt that his cruel dismissal caused. And his assessment is neither rare nor unspoken: we see it all around us as women with good genes or good plastic surgeons are heralded and those who thicken or sag for good reasons are publicly mocked (look at Kelly Clarkson, for example).

Like Lori Day, I am grateful not to be cat-called in the street anymore. I relish being able to go out dancing and know that it is less likely than in my youth that some drunken jerk will start grinding up against me. But what I don’t like is for my opinions born of wisdom and experience to be ignored because I’m “of a certain age.” This is precisely why I started this blog. I hope other women will join me in a refusal to starve or work ourselves into the twisted, youth-culture image of what a vital, relevant woman should be. I do not have time to spend hours exercising away my “muffin top,” which I come by quite naturally from having birthed a child at 40, from enjoying healthy food, and from living an active — but not obsessive — life.

Gray hairs, laugh lines, and a belly bulge have nothing to do with who I am and what I think, but being less attractive and visibly older can lead to being dismissed. It seems that only those with exterior beauty are given public platforms to say what they think, even if what they say is pure nonsense (take Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter, for example).

The real solution is to change our societal norms to value the input of “elders,” as many cultures have for centuries. But while that snail crawls into mass media and sexist attitudes, we as sisters have the power not to capitulate to unreal ideals of womanhood.

Gloria Steinem, a portrait of feminism

Gloria Steinem, a portrait of feminism

post-haste reflection

Let’s get one thing straight: I like to abuse words … like the title of this article. Call it my inheritance from my father: the unalienable right to pun, or, in my case, play on words. The French preference for a jeu de mot or double entendre has always drawn me. In my own language, I know “posthaste” means quickly, but I’m breaking it down to it’s literal meaning: I am now in a state that is after (post) my hurry up and hurry some more (haste) state of the past four months. Call it reverse irony.

Without irony, however, my post-haste reflection includes my confusion around the Santa Barbara killings and the Men’s Rights groups that spawn such thinking (though not such actions), although this important topic has disappeared from the news cycle by now. I’m confused about the hatred toward women, the enemy, video-game bimbos to shoot dead in comic-book relief. As with all hate-infused crime, women are dehumanized to the “they,” (the Other). I see how a mentally ill person can become champion of the “we,” the norm, the dominant culture: speaking (and shooting) for the men who decry #yesallwomen (because the truth hurts). It’s nothing new: Read a Victorian perspective on accosting women on the streets here on the blog Splashes in Silent Water.

My confusion stems from how it gets so bad that someone takes a gun and starts shooting strangers indiscriminately. Where were all the steps between “I feel rejected by this girl here” to “you don’t deserve to live in my painful world”? I think I understand the lack of perspective: mental illness does that. Our culture distorts the reality of male-female relationships, as the by-now-over-shared post by the Geek blogger points out. And as Joe the Plumber ridiculously emphasizes, our guns trump all, so the shooting part is understandable from a certain American maverick/vigilante perspective. But who lets hatred toward women go un-noticed until it boils over and spews out bullets?

Misogyny to hides well in our culture: it hides on Madison Avenue and Wall Street in what we see and buy and how much we get paid. It hides in full view at Hollywood meetings that decide which stunning female is going to get stripped to her hard-won abs. It hides in wasp-waisted super heroines and women who go “postal” for revenge (the madonna/whore complex rewritten). It hides in women who assume traditionally accepted male behavior in the workplace and then get fired for being harsh. And it hides behind men who scream out their rights when women dare to speak the truth of their experience (which does not, in and of itself, deny men’s voice or perspective, although some individuals may). The #yesallwomen hashtag opened my eyes to some everyday forms of abuse that never even occurred to me: getting fingered in a crowded bar so a woman wears shorts under her dress, as a PG-rated example. My surprise is pure naïveté, willfully wishing it weren’t true, while knowing it is: I had my ass grabbed in a crowded space the other day, and I’m 52 years old!

Image

We all let misogyny go un-noticed every day, as men thump each other on the back for sexual conquests (consensual or not) and as women consider what we wear before walking alone on the street at night — as if we really had the power to stop assault and aggression. Does that mean we are all at fault for someone losing it and lashing out at humanity in the name of women?

Pointing fingers is unproductive, but we are all tasked to change things, to see the steps between bad feelings and devastating action. The first place to start is with our sons, with one of the most cogent baby steps toward better male-female relationships:

Teach our boys to respect the brains, bodies, and boundaries — however contrary to their world view — of our girls, period.

Teach our children (all of them) what to do with the frustration that happens when they don’t get what their world view says they should.

The girls will do the rest. I have faith that they will become better positioned to do so.

Girl Power: my daughter's first metal work (photo: afp 2014)

Girl Power: my daughter’s first metal work (photo: afp 2014)