Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Harveys

I’m getting whiplash from the continually breaking and increasingly disturbing allegations against Harvey Weinstein. And each day more women (and men) are coming forward to tell stories of their own. Stories of harassment at the hands of the powerful.

Same old song and square dance. In case it’s been a while since you heard this one, (who was the last? O’Reilly? Cosby? Ailes?), let me remind you how the old grab your partner do-si-do goes.

Grab your partner with your left hand! Powerful man sexually assaults/abuses/harasses women. Back to the Partner for a Right and Left Grand! Women are silenced by payouts, nondisclosure agreements, threats, bribes, and the harsh reality of bringing accusations against those in power. Ace of Diamonds, Jack of Spades! Excuses are made, justifications proffered, denials scattered like seed on the wind. Women are blamed for enabling the behavior. Meet your Partner and All Promenade! More women come forward. They are routinely accused of doing it for the fame/money/press. Men complain.

The dance ends. Until the music starts up again.

You see that neat do-si-do trick there? Men abuse. Women get the blame. Oh sure, we focus on the star-quality name for a hot minute or two. We all tsk-tsk and oh, isn’t that awful, but it always–always–comes back to bite women in the ass. Because by the end of it, the media, the powerful, the ignoramuses with Twitter followers (Et tu, CNN?) still put the burden on women to speak out and put a stop to this behavior.

It’s up to women! They must report it! They must stop enabling and allowing it! They must stand up to rich and powerful men (or just regular old asshole men who sign their paltry paycheck every week). They must create a culture at work which does not allow for this! They must understand not every creepy hand on a shoulder is sexual harassment!

They, they, they! Women, women, women!

Fine. You want to put the onus on women? Do it this way:

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be Harvey Weinstein.

Or Ben Affleck. Or Casey Affleck for that matter. Or Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Bill Cosby, Bill Clinton, Clarence Thomas or any of the thousands of nameless, faceless men across the world who feel the presence of a woman gives them carte blanche to grope, proposition, grab, belittle, demand, leer at–oh hell, use a damn thesaurus if you’re not sure what I’m trying to say here–women.

Once upon a time there was a seventeen year-old girl, working in an office for the summer. One day she had on a vintage green dress, the color of Sprite. Darted at the bust line, scoop necked, below the knee. She liked the way she looked in it. So did the man whose office she walked into. He liked the way she looked so much he backed her into a corner with his chair. He never got up, just sat, wheeling that chair from left to right so she couldn’t leave without brushing past him. There were suggestive comments about the lemon-lime dress. Most of them went over her head. Because she was seventeen.

First, she panicked. Is this real? Was she imagining this? Did she miss something? Then she planned. How would she get out of this? She could scramble across the desk but if she does her pretty, lemon-lime colored dress will ride up, exposing her underpants, her ass. Would he grab her? Would he put his grown-man hand, the one that looks like her Dad’s, on her skin? Too risky. If she told him to stop would he call other men over to laugh at his joke, laugh at her who’s not in on the joke? Too risky.

So she stood there. Because she was fucking seventeen and this man was an adult and should know better.

But he didn’t. Because–well, why didn’t he? No one taught him? Do you really need to be taught that crude sexual innuendo aimed at a seventeen year-old girl is wrong?

So she stood there. And she felt dirty. As if she’d done something wrong. As if she wasn’t getting the ‘joke’.

Do-si-do and around we go.

Let’s be clear. That seventeen year-old girl didn’t ask for a grown man to corner her in his office. What was she supposed to do? Who was she supposed to tell? In the end, she did what women have been doing for decades.

Nothing.

Seventeen year-old girls may be young, but they intuit the way the real world works. Which is why men mostly get away with it. Because no one is going to believe a seventeen year old girl over a grown man.

Just like no one wanted to believe a nineteen year-old Rose McGowan. Or maybe they did, but it was more important to protect the big, important man who held all the power.

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be Harveys.

This is not rocket science. This should not be hard. It shouldn’t take having a daughter to realize that forcing women into a corner, literally and metaphorically, is wrong. That soliciting women is wrong. That asking women to perform for you, on a casting couch, in a board room, in a work shop office that smells of metal and machinery oil, is not ok.

Teach your sons it is not someone else’s daughter’s fault. Or her responsibility. Teach them the lemon-lime color of a pretty, vintage dress makes no difference. Do not make excuses and justifications for the Harveys, the Clarences, the Bills. Because every time you do-si-do around the truth, you make it easier for the next guy to get away with it.

There are a lot of Harveys out there. Weinstein is not a one-off. His is just the biggest name..today. Most of them have no damn clue what they are doing is wrong. They lash out because they feel confined by political correctness.

Sure, because it’s political correctness telling your grown-ass, should-know-better self it’s not ok to corner a seventeen year-old. Or promise an actress a career-making role if she gives you a blow job. Or to talk about porn with your law clerk, or dazzle your White House intern with your power.

This is not about ‘how it used to be’. This is not about political correctness or not being able to ‘say anything anymore’. This is about power: who holds it and who doesn’t.

There are thousands of thousands of women with stories about their own Harveys.

Don’t let your sons grow up to be Harveys. And don’t let your daughters grow up to think they’re responsible for them.

I don’t remember that asshole’s name. But I can tell you the exact hue of that Sprite colored dress. And how I never wanted to wear it again.

 

 

All quotes from 21 Harrowing Stories of Sexual Harassment

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Faux News

If satire is the highest form of wit, well, this is my way of going high. Right now, it’s all I got.

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Brietbart: Six Steps to Tame Your Feminist Wife. Take it From Us, These Tricks Will Change Your Life! Hint: You’re Going To Need a Bigger Basement, Chains, and a Padlock!

NY Times: Trump Demands Statue of Liberty Apologize for Welcoming Tired, Poor and Hungry. “Have you seen her? She’s no more than a 3. Sad!”

Country Homes and Garden: Jeff Sessions: Down Home with Alabama’s Favorite Son. We Talk to the AG about His Plans to Overturn the Emancipation Proclamation While Enjoying a Down-Home Barbecue in Beautiful Ante-But-Soon-to-Rise-Again-Bellum Home.

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Guns and Ammo: Supreme Chancellor Trump Declares Open Season on Sore-Loser Pussy Libtards. No Background Check! No permit! Hunting Season Runs November Through Late January.

Nexus News: Trump to Move 2nd Amendment Up to 1st  Because “I can.”

Elle: Canadian Women Hailed as Heroes for Founding Underground Railroad for American Women Seeking Birth Control.

NPR: The Rise of White Supremacy: Do Endless Headlines, Interviews, and Articles Only Help to Normalize It?

Entertainment Tonight: Listen to Our Exclusive Interview with Twitter Sensation Milos Greeklastnameolis Who Wished a Pox, Rape, and Cancer Upon a Senator’s Family for Wishing him “Happy Holidays”.

preview_newspaperBoston Globe: GOP Scrambling to Spin Trump’s Late Night Twitter Admission: “I thought ‘Hypocrisy’ was just a nickname for a  Hippopotamus named Christina.”

BBC News: Britons Send Congratulations to Americans For Their Stunning Upset at This Year’s Darwin Awards.

Ham Radio Monthly: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot???!!!

Hollywood Reporter: Motion Picture Association President Considering Petition to Include America! in This Year’s Oscar In Memoriam.

 

 

Stop the Madness

walking to schoolThe local elementary school I attended as a child now sponsors “Walk to School Wednesdays.” If you would like your child to walk to school you merely need to sign up, pledge to have a parent or other adult chaperone, and endure the police escort. Apparently walking to school, something that we neighborhood kids did from the age of seven or eight without a thought let alone a chaperone, now requires not only a parent, but a police escort and an excel spreadsheet.

Have you seen the spate of articles in the media of late surrounding parents getting arrested for things that used to be as everyday as pie? Things like leaving a happy pre-schooler in a locked car for five minutes to make a quick return, letting a seven year-old walk to the park by himself, or letting a child play in the Lego store at the mall while his mother was somewhere else shopping.

If you are anything like me, you might be thinking “hmmm…bad parenting choice but they don’t deserve to be arrested.” Now take a step back and ask yourself why. Not why they don’t deserve to be arrested, but why is it bad parenting to do things that thirty years ago used to be commonplace?

What do we think is going to happen if we let our kids be…kids? If we let them get dirty, let them make mistakes, let them screw up….leave them alone?

A dad blogger laments that an arranged play date is a sorry excuse for running next door to see if Johnny can come out to play. Everyone agrees…on the surface. Maybe play dates came on the scene when both parents started working, but their continuance is partially down to the fact that we don’t allow our children the freedom to just go to someone else’s house anymore. We arrange it. We expect them to text upon arriving, upon leaving. We trace and track them to from sun up to sun down.

Another article surfaces about how important play is. But even free, spontaneous play is supervised. Kids can’t climb because they might fall. They can’t swim because they might drown. They can’t hang out in packs and roam the streets because they might get abducted. Might, may, perhaps.

swing

I was babysitting my sister at 11. I was mature for my age: not because I am special but because my mother wasn’t hovering over me every second of every day. I was allowed to make decisions  for myself. I was allowed to make mistakes. I also had neighbors that I could call if I needed help or guidance, neighbors that would drop what they were doing and help me rather than calling the police because my mother left an eleven year old at home unsupervised.

I inwardly cringe at some of the stuff I did as a kid. I’m sure my mother would too, if she knew about it. Does it terrify me to think of my own kids doing that stuff or worse? Of course it does. But I cannot wrap my kids in bubble wrap and tie it up with a pretty bow. I can’t keep them swaddled until they are young adults. I can’t do those things and then expect they will be able to function in society.

In the name of protecting our children, we are denying them the experience of living their own lives. We are holding them hostage to our own fears. we are fattening our kids for slaughter.

And the slaughter is real life.

We need to stop the madness.

Life today for kids is like a giant simulator. We put them in front of a screen that shows virtual scenes of life, but we don’t let them control the joy sticks. Then, when they are old enough, we send them off hoping that mere simulated scenarios will be enough to keep them from getting hurt.

The truth is this: in all likelihood, your child is not going to be abducted walking to the park. They are unlikely to be hit by a car when they walk to school. They are unlikely to be molested while playing in the Lego store while Mom shops nearby. I wish I could say none of those things EVER happen, but of course that is not true. What is true is that they don’t happen any more today than they did when I was a child or when my mother was a child. Though statistic after statistic shows that crime is down, we have convinced ourselves of the opposite. We have convinced ourselves that it is unsafe for our kids out there in the big, bad world.  No, it’s not the 1970s anymore.

It’s safer.

The fact is, our children have never been safer. Seat belts, bike helmets, banning of second-hand smoke and Kinder Eggs. They are coddled and protected and nanny-cammed to within an inch of their life.

Photo: Huffpost
Photo: Huffpost

Yet, instead of parenting out of common sense, we parent out of fear; fear that something bad is going to happen, fear that the unthinkable will happen, and now, increasingly, fear that someone is going to turn you in for making a choice. Because instead of living in a world where adults look out for a child walking on his or her own, they call the cops.

I want my children to be safe. I want your children to be safe. But shielding them from playground apparatus and independence is not the way to keep them safe. By creating what is essentially a never-ending infancy, we are cheating our kids out of a childhood. Childhood is when you learn how to do things; how to be friends, how to make choices, how to negotiate and how to react and how to make mistakes. Children need to succeed and they need to fail. They need to fall, even though sometimes falling means breaking an arm. Or a heart. That’s what growing up is. It is not all sunshine and roses, it’s not craft projects and organic ice cream, structured days and a false sense of fairness and security. Growing up is a dress rehearsal for life. It’s when you see what works and what needs to be changed.

If you love something, the saying goes, set it free.

If we never let our kids out of the sight of our nest, if we keep grooming their feathers for them, dropping organic, grass-fed worms into their waiting beaks, when it comes time for them to leave, they’re not going to fly. They’re going to fall.

It is time to stop the madness.

We need to set our kids free.

So, this happened…..

Once upon a time

Back in May, I submitted a short story to be considered for inclusion in the third volume of Precipice, a literary anthology put out by the writing community Write on Edge in collaboration with independent publishers Bannerwing Books. Earlier this month, I got an email letting me know that my story, The Space Between Our Names, was chosen to be included in the anthology.

The book (book!) is due to be published (published!) in October and will be available on Amazon (Amazon!) as an e-book and in paperback format. More details will follow.

Several of the authors (authors!) included in this year’s anthology have blogs here on WordPress, and some have books published or about to be published with Bannerwing. Though I haven’t had time to look up all of the authors (authors!) who will feature in this volume of Precipice, there are others whose adventures in writing I have been following; some since the beginning of my time here and some only as of recently.

Andra Watkins writes at The Accidental Coochie Mama is the author of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis.

Ericka Clay is the founding editor of Tipsy Lit and is the author of the upcoming novel Unkept, which is due to be released in early 2015.

Valerie Boersma blogs beautiful words at The Word Pirate.

If you haven’t already, they are all worth checking out. For more information on any of the authors (authors!) included in the volume itself, please go to Bannerwing’s web page. Of course, if you need any information about me, just ask ;-).

Precipice, Volume III authors

This is a pretty big deal for me, enough so that I finally felt justified updating my work profile on Facebook to ‘writer at Wine and Cheese (Doodles)’. Self promotion has never been my strong point. Hopefully this will be the beginning of my ability to justify my new position.

For those of you that have read and encouraged me here on WordPress, I thank you heartily. I’m excited to share the story with you all.

xx

D