America, Where Are You?

America is supposed to be better than this.

Where is the country, young, scrappy, and hungry, that stood up to a mad king and against all odds, won its independence? The country which has a statue at one of its busiest ports challenging the world to give us its tired and poor, its huddled masses yearning to be free? Where is the country of my great-grandparents, which took those immigrant lives and pushed them through a sieve of red white and blue until they bled apple pie? Where is the country which hails itself as a beacon of democracy and freedom, as bright as Liberty’s torch shining over New York harbor?

We are supposed to be better than this.

Where is the hunger to fix the problems pulling the country apart at the seams? Where is the drive to do better, to take care of our own whether they’re in Puerto Rico or Houston or Las Vegas? Or Iowa, Mississippi or Maine. Where is the innovative thinking we need to overcome problems like gun violence and systemic racism? Where is the scrappiness to face those challenges, the conviction to overcome them?

At what point will this great American experiment be deemed a failure? At what point will the absolute right of the individual citizen be responsible for the downfall of a nation?

I say this as an American who loves my country: I think we are very close to that point. I think we have championed the right of the individual over the rights of the whole for too long, and we are paying the price. Or rather the people in Las Vegas are paying the price, and the citizens of Puerto Rico, the families who bury their black sons and daughters are paying the price. Children who shoot themselves with unsecured guns, women who are killed by abusive partners, transgender citizens who are murdered by fellow citizens. People without healthcare. Citizens in the wealthiest nation in the world going hungry, going without.

We are all paying the price because we are all worse off.

Maybe some of us take nicer vacations or have more square footage. Maybe some have a nice chunk of retirement change. But this idea that our rights as individuals, to speech or guns or bigotry in the name of religious freedom comes before our unity as a whole, as a nation?

That idea is going to kill us as sure as a stake through the country’s heart.

We now accept mass shootings as a way of  life, especially those carried out by white male terrorists. We find neat little ways of compartmentalizing the actions of those men by giving them titles like ‘lone wolf’. By humanizing them in the narrative with occupations and family stories. And so it’s easier to think it’s yet again a one-off thing. There was nothing to stop it, it won’t happen again.

Until it does.

And does.

And does.

And does.

Mass shootings are now as American as baseball and McDonald’s. We expect them. We’re unsurprised by them. We pray and we send thoughts and push aside the fact that it is not going to go away right out of our minds.

Where is the problem solving? Where’s the courage to fix this? Where are the goddamn bootstraps I hear so much about? Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, but give me young, scrappy and hungry too.

In the aftermath which will follow Las Vegas, the same tired, old arguments will be trotted out. But the real tragedy, beyond the lives of the fifty-eight people lost is this:

Too many Americans have become immune. Inoculated against the bloodshed. Caring too much about the imagined individual restrictions than about the life of a nation. We’ve finally managed the neat, little trick of turning so far inward that we’ve ceased to see outward.

 

We have our own mad king now, who likes gold thrones just as much as George III. But Las Vegas did not happen because of the Trump administration. NFL protests are not happening because of it. I am not laying blame for any of this at the feet of the Trump administration.

Nor do I think the administration is capable of doing a damn thing about staunching the blood either.

So we will continue our descent. Our empathy will continue to atrophy. Our belief in the individual over all else, even the life of our neighbor, our lover, our child. Until there is nothing left but an island full of individuals who come up with ever new Hunger Games style ways of killing one another because ….somehow, someone somewhere will convince those remaining Americans it’s within their rights to do so.

Or we can channel those early founding fathers and stand up.

America, don’t throw away your shot.

 

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Stop Telling Women to Chill Out

angry-womanDudes.

I keep reading and hearing about women whose husbands or brothers or male family members or bosses or strangers are telling them to chill out.

Sometimes this is thinly veiled code for “Oh My God, I am never going to have sex again.” Most of it is male cluelessness. Sometimes that cluelessness (I’m done mincing words) comes from a place of benign unawareness. Sometimes it’s more than that.

Before I delve into what promises to be the mother of all profane and rage filled rants, I need to clarify a few important things. My husband is a white male. He is categorically not one of these men. That is one of the many reasons he IS my husband. For the most part, the husbands of my friends are not these men either. There are always one or two, and for them, I have zero fucks left. Many of the men I interact with on a daily basis are not either. Some are. I see them, nodding along, inwardly hoping I shut the hell up.

Yeah…nope.

I will not chill out and if you are a woman, neither should you. Nor should you chill out if you are a minority or an immigrant of a Muslim or LGBTQ. And please, if you are a man who is ready to put his money where his mouth is, you should not chill out either.

Other things you should not do: Apologize for being angry. Explain. Justify. Rationalize.

The US just elected, by a margin that’s so disgustingly small it pains me to think about it, a man who normalized sexual assault. To the point where it is apparently now a thing to grab a woman’s body and shout “We can do this now!” or to demand she open her legs to allow easier access (culled from first person accounts). It elected a man accused of sexual harassment by over ten different women. A man who, on 60 Minutes, said he has all intentions of nominating SCOTUS judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade. A man who has suggested that women who seek abortions be punished. A man who has surrounded himself with, surprise surprise, a cadre of old, white conservative men who care about three things: money, their dicks, and apparently, making the lives of women as miserable as possible.

You may say, “Oh, but he won’t do that!” To you I say, “Why the hell should anyone trust that he won’t do exactly that?”

So no, thank you very much, I will not simply chill out.

When someone starts creating nonsense legislation targeting penises, then come and talk to me. When someone starts slicing and dicing at health care plans and organizations which protect the health and well-being of penises, then you can tell me it’s not that bad. When someone starts normalizing women giving the old ‘twist, pull, twist’ on random male testicles, because “They can do this now!” then come and tell me we should just wait and see. When only men are held responsible for the upkeep of children, maybe then you can tell me to chill out. When, law after unconstitutional law is created which outlines and legislates penis upkeep and usage, then fine, we’ll talk.

Until then, uh-uh.

I am so weary of managing the emotions of angry, white men. Because let me tell you something. All those post-mortems and studies which show that the white, working class is angry about being left behind? Those are white, working class men. Do you know how I know?

Because women and minorities and immigrants have been working shit jobs for decades and getting left behind. And….wait for it…they’ve continually had their civil rights under threat as well! I imagine they’re pretty angry too. But I’m also fairly certain the white working class women who have been busting their asses in dead end jobs will continue busting their asses in dead end jobs. Because all those magical jobs which are going to fall out of the sky like so many manufacturing unicorns? They’re not going to be for women. Women will get left behind again. Including whatever margin of white, working class women opted to vote for ‘change’.

And they’ll still get told to chill out.

So now the rest of us have to stop what we are doing to manage the emotions of the white, working class male who is having an identity crisis as his role of sole provider is changing in a global economy.

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Goddamn. And they call liberals cry-babies.

What do you think women who have been abandoned by their husbands, left alone to raise kids, forced to have kids by restrictive abortion laws, have had to do for the last fifty years? Women who have gaps in their work experience from staying home and supporting their husband’s law career? Women who never had work experience in the first place because they were told they’d be provided for…until they weren’t? What do you think ALL THOSE WOMEN have been doing? They take a crap job cleaning toilets or working at McDonald’s or in some office, where they then have to deal with some asshole groping them. They do it to feed their kids. They put their heads down and get on with it while they figure it out. And let me tell you, administration after administration left those women behind. And so they chilled out. And got left behind again. I imagine they’re pretty pissed off too. Substitute minority or immigrant in there for women and the same holds true.

One article I read suggested the white working class male felt hard done by. They felt they were being laughed at by younger professionals. Their pride was hurt.

Holy shit.

Now the rest of us have to hold the line while white male identity figures out how to rebrand itself? We are here, on the cusp of having to fight another goddamn war over reproductive rights because men felt like they were being laughed at?

This is what privilege is. Privilege is bringing a country to the brink of cultural revolution because a white man feels like he is being laughed at. Fuck me gently with a chain saw.

Sure. You got left behind. Yes, the government should have done more. And yes, you should hold the government accountable. Hell, you should be angry. But you are not the only ones who get left behind. Yet you are the only ones who went and flipped the whole table over because if YOU can’t sit at the table, then by God, NO ONE is going to sit at the table.

So no, women do not need to chill out. What women really need to do is allow themselves the anger that they’ve been denying and supressing for years.

My mother told me about a show that studied the biological desire in males to conquer. How there is speculation that because there is so little left to conquer and explore, all that pent up energy has nowhere to go.

May I suggest the outer reaches of Russia? I think there’s a lot of space up there. You can roam around and shoot things. Or each other. Plant a few flags and deal with all the feels of manliness. If your pride gets hurt you can punch someone in the face.

Then if you’d like, come back where the rest of us have been carrying on doing what we need to do. Where we’ve been dealing with being laughed at, harassed, assaulted, groped, denied, oppressed, all the while still managing not to flip the fucking table over.

unknownSo don’t give me the spiel about how this is all about the white working class male regaining his pride. If the white working class male’s only way of regaining pride is by stepping on the necks and rights of others, than hell yes, I’m going to be angry.

And so should every other man, woman, immigrant, minority, Muslim and LGBTQ American that feels the same.

So no. You chill out. I hear Russia’s really nice.

 

 

A Million Women Cried Last Night–This is Why

history-is-herstory-too-quote-1When I was 8, I wanted to be the first female pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. Not because I loved the game, but because they told me it was possible.

When I was 10, my fifth grade teacher told me use my brain, to push harder, to go higher. I never doubted her, because they told me it was possible.

When I was 18, I planned a career in journalism, exposing stories of injustice. I assumed I would be paid the same any male colleague, because they told me it was possible.

Yet there were days and years in between in which I came to understand that in the real world, possible is very different from guaranteed. For so many of us, the possibilities given to those 8, 10, 18-year-olds turned out to be nothing more than lip-service, because our country was not set up for the possibles, let alone guarantees.

When I was in my early 20s, I watched Hillary Clinton enter the public stage. A woman who had been educated at a time when the seeds of those possibilities were being sown. A woman who came into the public eye with her own successful career. A woman who set off a maelstrom of controversy because of a comment about not wanting to stay home and bake cookies.

In 1992.

And there are those who still haven’t forgiven her for it.

You see, Hillary and the women of my generation, we did what they said. We played the game with the boys. Not our own game, but theirs. We played down and dirty. We wore shoulder pads, we busted balls, we often sacrificed our fertility in the process..because we were told it was possible. But the lives we were living proved otherwise.

We witnessed fight after fight to strip us of our right to control our own bodies. We were passed over for promotions, made to choose between a career and a family, vilified for making one choice or the other. We couldn’t even agree on baking cookies. Many times we were our own worst enemy, attacking each other with a volume to shatter wine glasses if not glass ceilings.

But you, you gorgeous young women who have grown up never doubting a woman could be president of the United States of America, please understand we have doubted it. And so I ask you to allow us this moment.

You may notice a lot of women over the age of 45 getting sappy, crying at what has recently come to pass. We are crying the tears of our grandmother suffragettes, our bra-burning mothers, our board-room bitch peers. And we are crying for you too, because we are one step further away from possible and one step closer to guaranteed. 

So I ask you young women, please allow us this moment.

Nothing–nothing–makes me prouder than watching a generation of  young women take gender equality, LGBTQ equality as part and parcel of their lives. Women who expect equal pay, bodily autonomy as a given right. Nothing makes me prouder than hearing how the local high school I attended has a gay/lesbian/transgender club for teens. Nothing makes me prouder than listening to today’s young women campaign passionately for further progress because they have been told it is possible..and it is.

But I ask you to allow us this moment to bask in what we were told was possible, but was never guaranteed, for all those days and months and years in between.

Allow us this moment of shine.

We are a generation that was promised a glass ceiling but often got a glass slipper as a consolation prize.

So allow us a moment while we listen to the crack in that glass echo around us.

And stand with us to break it once and for all, as we will stand with you on the other side, watching you soar.

Love,
Me

There Once Was a Man From New York…

There once was a man from New York
Whose antics of hate seemed to work
He foamed and he spit
A load of bullshit
We need to find a REALLY YUUGE cork

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There once was a pasty white Hoosier
Who fancied himself a bit of a bruiser
It was quite plain to see
By his misogyny
That he was really just a big Loser.

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There once was a far-right crusade
To undo the laws already made
Health care and choice
(despite a majority voice)
They really just need to get laid.

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There once was a man named Mike Pence
For whom the law made no sense
As Roe vs. Wade shows
And every woman knows
That choice was a right from thence.

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There once was a conservative male
Whose laws went beyond the pale
He tried to restrict
But a federal district
Said, uh-uh, The Constitution’s NOT up for sale.