Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Man Up

I have been watching the process of and arguments for and against the repeal of the U.S. Military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy. I have been especially intrigued by the Marine's General Amos' concern that openly gay people in the marines will serve to distract and potentially harm their units within the Marines. The few and the proud are not disciplined enough to complete the jobs they are trained to do only IF the man next to them is gay? I find this more than mildly concerning. What are we paying you to do, Marine?

But, I, as a woman... a straight woman, bring a lot of baggage to this argument. Nope, I've never served in the military, nor have I ever had a desire to. My baggage comes in the form of years of hearing horrible pick up lines, having men refuse to take no for an answer until being threatened. Men, in the form of my father, telling me that I have to dress a certain way so that I don't strain a boy beyond his capacity to reason. And no! I do not agree with girls or boys dressing less than their intelligence and own self respect demand. But I wondered even then, when was it the boy's responsibility to behave himself. And gee, I didn't even have it bad. Many cultures and religions demand their women to be covered from head to toe while the men wear fashionable clothes agreeable with the weather. We didn't have to wear caps and plain cotton dresses while our menfolk wore shorts in the heat of summer and jeans in the fall and winter. Why does our culture and other cultures call for this? I guess it's because boys will be boys, and since they can't control their crotches, women are to control it for them... while remaining pleasing to them.

A recent news story in our area was about an 18 year old star high school baseball player having sex with a 12 year old girl... let's call it what it was... rape. The public outcry against prosecuting this poor young man was heard far and wide. Boys WILL be boys, and she probably provoked him with her dress and easy ways. Besides, the state finals were coming up.

With this culture, it is no wonder, our men in uniform are so terrified of having gays serve openly in the military. Men can't help themselves! They'll be dropping your soap in the shower, and sneaking peeks at your naughty bits! Besides, doesn't gay mean "kind of girly"? This is in quotes because it was spoken by a young Marine. They will probably now request drag shows and "flaunt" their sexuality just all over the place. Sexuality has never been flaunted in the military before, has it? Pin up girls? Paintings of scantily clad women on fighter planes? USO show girls? The untoward and sometimes illegal sexual exploits of those in the military have never caused a problem before... Tailhook?

Think about this...
Gay men and women have not only been serving in militaries since the inception of war, YOU have also shared a shower with them, played on the playing fields with them, gone to church with them, revered their athletic prowess in professional sports, and they are also in your family. And for the most part, you never knew it. I guess gay "girly" men have managed something the stereotypical straight counter part has struggle conceptualizing: self control. Since we became bipedal and started using greater sophistication (for the most part) than clubs over heads to prove a point, gay people have learned to control their urges, focus on the task at hand, and get the job done.

Perhaps the military and General Amos in particular should find a now openly serving gay man to assist him with instructing the men whose bar was set so low, they believe themselves that they "can't help it" on how to not let anything distract him from getting the job done.

In other words, General Amos, you need a gay man to teach you how to man up.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Simonic Law

So shall it be known

Any who enter into the house of Simon
Must knowest in his heart he may be shorn
From atop his head unto his toes
His hair shall not enter into a pact with dust

The evil demon dust of bunny
Shall not enter unto the house of Simon
He shall be sent unto the dark tank of Dyson
His soul shall be wrent through the filter of HEPA

And yay any man, woman or child must surely know
If he holds within his hands an object
And he says I do not know the place for this object
He shall not place this object in this place or that
Thinking that at some time his intellect will
Shine a light as to where this object may find safe and permanent harbor.

Be it known that if he does place this object here or there
And should he not find for it safe and permanent harbor
But instead places it with his hands in any spot
And says this, this I shall think upon at another time,
Surely that person shall receive such a smite upon his head
With the precise sole of shoe as to make his ears hear a ring.

And verily unto the associates and brothers and sisters of Simon
Should an occasion of the anniversary of the birth of a Simon or
Should a time come when a Simon weighs upon your head and your heart,
Think not to yourself I should make purchase of this or that item of kitsch.
Think not to yourself this nick of knack nor this humorous bric-a-brac
Will surely place a smile upon the lips of a Simon and a song in the Simon heart.

This item, this hecho in Mexico, this made in China, this item of petroleum,
Should it enter into the house of Simon, it shall surely be cast into the pit of refuse,
It shall be placed as far from the house of Simon as the east is from another direction.
And you shall have in your heart the knowledge of a poisonous seep in the earth.

Give instead your talent and wit.
Your intelligence and banter.
The House of Simon is your hairless home
Your refuge

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ladies! You Know How We Are!

My friend and I are constantly triple dog daring each other to start some sort of stereotypical inspirational program. I think you know the type. The wife usually has little to say and knows to direct her comments to the other wives, "Ladies. You know how we are...". Then she trots off to the back and sells the dvd's and books and workbooks while her husband employs some horrible gimmick to speak to the whole audience. He's qualified to speak both to men and women because well... he's a man. DUH!

I've been watching my gender mates lately, and I've gotten plenty put out. I'm up to my plucked eyebrows in it. Slap a "real cute" bag with it and top it off with some scented allure, and you're still dealing in straight bullshit. It's time we stopped. The glass ceiling isn't going to go away on its own, and up until now, a handful of women having been the ones bearing the brunt while the rest stand by and criticize her shoes. The glass ceiling doesn't just exist in corporate world. It's in social networking sites, the store, and in your neighborhood. It's what people think of you when your gender is shown... usually the first thing noticed.

I'm not talking about the Summer's Eve ad of fame lately that tells you to freshen your naughty bits before you ask for a raise. I'm also not talking about Jan Brewer's recently school girl giggle fest on TV that made her look like a dumb fake blonde stereotype (of course that probably improved her image). I'm talking about you and me.

I know someone who was explaining the gender differences. She (yes, she) said that a woman needs to be made to feel like she is worth being rescued. WHAT??? There is so much wrong in that sentence that it's hard to dissect. I'll give it a go. First, she needs to be MADE to feel something. Then she needs to be RESCUED. And finally, she needs this to come from someone besides herself... a man.

I've been watching a handful of threads on Facebook that have blown my nearly 40 year old mind. These are the equivalent of high school girls loud talking in a cafeteria with the hopes of being overheard. Excellent work, ladies.

I have some thoughts on how we can manage this glass ceiling problem:

1. If you're with someone you can't respect, there's one person to look to... that's you. But it's just so hard. Yep, it is. I know from experience how hard. I also know that it can happen to anyone. Look back for that tiny spark containing the will to survive and push on.
2. You don't deserve it. That's right, you DON'T deserve it. Next time you blow a bunch of money on a mani/pedi, some cute shoes, or a new hair do, don't lie to yourself. Get it because you want it and because you're going to anyway. People deserve to eat. People deserve to be treated humanely. People don't deserve luxuries. Be honest.
3. You don't have to put yourself first. Think of the last 10 places you've heard this. You're going to realize it's the television or someone quoting the television. The greatest humans to ever walk the planet knew this.
4. There's nothing more powerful than a healthy you. The healthy you doesn't come easy. It's hard. Oh gawd, it's hard. You have to look down the darkest tunnel in the deepest secret filthy place in your soul and call that shit out to the top. You have to name what is ugly and mean and spiteful in you, and you have to put it out there and stare at it. And after you clean your house, you have to realize you're going to have to do it over and over again. When you're wrong. Stand up. Say you're wrong.
5. When you are in competition with a man for a job or even respect of opinion, you need to be better informed, more articulate, and as knowledgeable about his opinion than he is. That's right; it isn't fair.
6. Stand by each other. If you someone floundering, offer help. Don't think you can't end up in the exact same position. Have the decency to speak directly to each other if something is amiss. Grow up.

Or... you can... as the Disney song says wait because someday your prince will come.
You'll get exactly what you deserve.

What's the saying?
Don't be a pussy.

Since I'm surrounding be women with big brains, I'm kind of hoping to see more rules added as comments.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

If Mothers Ran the World

Motherhood, I've found, is treated like a sisterhood, a club, if you will. I just wanted a baby and tried for a few years. I didn't really want to belong to some sort of club. But, I'm in it now. I've heard from a few mothers that this world would be a different place if mothers were in charge. I'll buy it.

If Mothers Ran the Word:
1. Wars would probably cease. I don't know of any mother in her right frame of mind (i.e. allowed to speak in a culture that doesn't put women at the bottom of the human chain) that would willingly send her child off to war. I know a lot of mothers that are proud of their children who serve in the armed forces, but if the truth were totally aired about why war is occurring and what led up to the war... it would be pretty much... that's enough. And "well he started it" would not suffice as a reason to fight... no matter what "he did".
2. Violence would likely curtail. I have a friend whose child was severely injured in an accident. When I found out about it, I became physically ill. I thought I would vomit. Prior to having my child, I would have been sad and worried. After having a child? Sick. Of course there are drug addicted mothers and mentally ill mothers who are not in their right minds to properly appreciate violence. But, for the most part, violence would slow. Police officers wouldn't be allowed to pop out their tasers for any reason. And police officers would be paid more, get more time off, and would get plenty of sleep. We can't have someone jaunting about one of the most stressful jobs around on an empty stomach.
3. A grand sharing of ideas would ensue. Take some stereotypically motherly/womanly activities and insert into international policy: recipe sharing, babysitting, neighborhood welcoming committees, play dates, mothers' nights out

But I've learned something else about my new club sisters. DAMN, they can be BOSSY! I go on-line a lot and look for what other mothers are doing and see some nice stuff as well as some downright nasty stuff. I was checking to see what my girl should be eating by now, and I saw posts judging other mothers' schedules, feeding habits, napping habits, diapering habits, and on and on. I sometimes ask fellow mothers I know about what worked for their children, and BAM, I get a list of what I NEED to be doing. Hold the phone, sister... just asking what you did. When a group of mothers get together, what are you going to hear? You're going to hear about the mother that isn't there. Of course you'll also hear about the mothers that ARE there. "You really should be letting him cry it out", "Your daughter needs to be eating different foods". "You're going to pay later for letting your baby have a bottle past 12 months". And not a SINGLE one of these judgements is based on any researched best practice.
Maybe the bad parts of the motherhood sister club are due to guilt and insecurity. I think that's probably it. I mean, I'm terrified every day that I'm going to break this little beast that has my total heart in her unstable clutches. I'm an easy target. I'm pretty sure I'm screwing this up anyway, so I'm primed for a beat down. It's just interesting that the bossy beat downs come from fellow mothers.

I envision The World Mother Council

First Order of Business: Spain needs a break. They didn't win that soccer thing, and they just feel tired. Who's going to bake for Spain this week? I see. Lots of volunteers. WONDERFULl!

Second Order of Business: Korea has big bombs. Well then Korea won't get our help for a little while, will it? (Notice... no need to go out and make bigger bombs because if your friend jumped off a bridge, would you?).

Third Order of Business: The Mexicans are exhausted with all of the drug related violence. Who can put up some of the families for awhile until we figure this out? WOW! What wonderful response! Mexico? You'll cook if we help? OUTSTANDING!

Fourth Order of Business: Have you seen how Iraq dresses? I wouldn't be caught dead in that. I also think that if they want their children to not have ugly teeth, they'd do better with their dentistry (knowing nod at England).

You get the idea.

I think if we do some clubhouse cleanup (you know the cleanup song, don't you?), we'd be primed for a world take over... IF we stopped telling each other what to do and how to do it and in what order to do it in.

*wandering off whistling the clean up song*

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A River of Words

One Saturday morning, I stumbled on Melvyn Bragg on the television. He was talking about the origins of words in the English language. He is English English and not American English so it was even more fun. Of course the naughty words were the most fun. Did you know that calling a penis a "Johnson" stems (giggle) from a man who wanted to purify the English language? Oh, how Johnson (stifled giggle) would hate that. So it's even more fun. He also talked about American English.
Riff Raff: Rift Raft. People too poor to ride in a ship on the Mississippi River, the highfalutin (reference tops of large river boats) could afford. It seems our language is as fluid and fast flowing as the Mississippi itself.

Melvyn(if I may call him by his first name) said that language changes the most rapidly during technological growth spurts. Have you 'friended' anyone recently? What about texting?

Let's try some more words.

Filthy wetback. There are two words. They conveyed a thought. But it also forever sealed the fact I will never work for the government as more than a peon in sensitivity training. It makes no difference the point of this little essay. My words can be found by someone with an agenda and used to destroy my credibility with those I serve and who are unwilling to go beyond bias and seek the truth.

I read a comment regarding word censorship that said rational adults should not be offended by any words.

Let's try some more:


I culturally identify with Germans. The majority of my family tree is rooted in Germany. When people hear that, they use words like kraut and jokingly, nazi. It sort of offends me, but not really. There is no longer an action associated with calling me a nazi. I know there is a neo-nazi movement, but they are little threat due to intelligence issues. They are not main streamed. Their existence does not mean I may get a worse or better job. I will not get pulled over because I'm blonde with blue eyes, although that fact has helped me in the past. No one follows me around the store because I'm white. No one wants to check my papers to ensure I'm in this country legally. No one assumes I'm not educated. Blonde jokes started to die when Chrissy left Three's Company.

Here's another one:

I love that gay (also co-opted) people have stolen "queer" from those that hate them. The power of that word is so greatly diminished now.

But, let's go back to moron, idiot, and retard. Those words started off as medical/educational terms and have evolved into words of hate, judgement, and disdain. Those words have grown horns.

Another commenter stated that we should raise our children to be color blind but that people over 40 just need to suck it up. What a wonderful thought. A new history starts right now, no.... right NOW.... no wait... right now... okay... in 10 seconds, the new history starts... tomorrow... Monday is always the best day to start things. Forget about it, MY history is a part of me. It is a part of my child, my neighborhood, my town, and my world.

Words. If only they existed in a vacuum away from attitude, intention, and action. If only.

Call me a kraut. It's kind of fun. It means nothing to me. The attitude and intention and actions surrounding that? Harmless.

But let's pretend someone wants to build a wall to keep you out. Wants to hate you for risking your life to cross an arbitrary line. Wants to bemoan and hate your culture but wants you to serve a lighter version of your culture to him or her for $5.99 and then have you clean up the mess when he or she leaves. How fun is wetback now?

Let's say you get pulled over constantly by a legally armed individual who assumes you are not only breaking the law but are likely dangerous. Let's say that happens when you have broken no laws. What about recent history? The Tuskegee Syphilis Studies? The word 'nigger' just got offensive.

My first offensive words were "filthy wetback". My friend, a rational adult, was called that as a child when a girl in his class wanted to invite him to a birthday party. Her father said, in my friend's presence, "I won't have a filthy wetback in my backyard". That rational adult was once a child. He's still the same person, and while the wound healed, the scar remains.

If words were not powerful, there would be no speeches, radio commercials, newspapers, or even blogs. Censorship dams the flow of vital words that can heal, progress, and free people. Words must be pretty powerful.

So, no censorship. Agreed. How about some sensitivity (another word co-opted and made anemic)?

Maybe our language river will flow to a nice shady place where words like 'nigger', 'wetback', and 'spic' aren't so bad and maybe even kind of fun, like 'kraut'. It will only happen when they aren't tied to demeaning and harmful intention, perception, and action. Ahhh, but for some reason I suspect we'll have some offensive replacements.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Implosion of Excess

I was just thinking about an old place mat menu that's in a box of stuff that gets saved. It's from the 1950's. A lot of the fun we have had with it is looking at the prices: a WHOLE breakfast for fifty cents! The last time I looked at it, I looked at the portions. The meal proudly touted as the Big Country Man's Breakfast consisted of 2 eggs, 2 strips of bacon, a bowl of oatmeal, and 2 pieces of toast. That wouldn't even suffice as the diet plate at today's local trough.

I passed a billboard the other day that pleaded with parents to play with their children and teach their children how to play. Teach your children how to play? Quickly... don't think about it.... what was the "call" you heard in the neighborhood that you knew instinctively was your mother's or father's call for you to come IN from playing? Okay, now... what was the call when you knew they really meant it this time, or else?

A chicken in every pot, and a car in every driveway

2 full sized SUV's in every driveway

A home mortgaged to crisis... Foreclosure

The latest gaming system in the console

A TV in every room

Warehouse stores... MORE for LESS!

Live to Work! Work to feed the habit!

Cue the old timey radio music... go ahead and add some sounds of birds singing.
A neighborhood in the 1940's and 1950's
You can think about it in black & white or in technicolor, whichever works for you.

Mom's at home working in the kitchen or talking over the back fence to the neighbors as she gathers the laundry. She has to leave soon to go get Dad at work. The kids are playing safely in the neighborhood somewhere. In a little bit they'll eat some supper and listen to their favorite radio program together. The kids will go to bed and Mom and Dad will have a cocktail and read their favorite periodicals.

Okay, now cue the record needle scratching across this little soundtrack and remember...
Police turning hoses on our fellow human beings
A glass ceiling so low, women can't get past "sexetary"
Blind eyes at lynch mobs
The atomic bomb

Where is the middle? Where is this American Dream?

Our children know how to use "Type II Diabetes" in a sentence and play has gone on the "to do" list. Our need for oil and more oil is gushing uncontrollably from a gaping wound in our mother earth. Entire cities lie stagnantly speckled with the shells of homes, vacated in foreclosure. We have it ALL! We must have it all and have MORE! The TV in our kitchen or in our bedroom or our living room or our media room or in our child's room tell us it is because we deserve it and that we're worth it. Who is telling us we're worth it? Only those who will profit from us believing it.

The truth is what you get other people to believee.
- Tommy Smothers

Our excess is imploding.
The American Dream has clogged our arteries and made us ill.

I've been researching how to eat organically and ethically on a tight budget. I read an article about how a woman
made a "scrawny" chicken stretch for 3 meals. Let's be honest. Let's replace the word "scrawny" with the truth: a chicken that was not so genetically altered and pharmaceutically overloaded that it was able to walk on it's own without falling down after two or three steps. Chicken McNuggets, anyone? More? What-a-Size, Super Size, Extra Value Meal it?

How much car do you need? How MUCH inconvenience is it to add 15 or 20 minutes to your morning so that you can carpool? How much food do you need? How many TV's do you need? How much is the health of your child worth? How much is the planet worth to your child?

It's a huge problem. I can't change the world.

I can change a handful of things. I think you can too.

Go ahead.

You deserve it.

You're worth it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Beautiful Like Me

"If you would just lose five pounds, you could be really pretty".

That's what I heard when I was in high school and had to be soaking wet to weigh more than a hundred pounds. I heard this from my mother. She hates herself and always has. And, as I reflected her, she taught me to hate myself too. I put myself on a diet for women over 35 when I was 17 because I wanted to be pretty. My mother gave me the book and told me to try it.

I don't want pity for this. I don't want to be told that I'm beautiful just the way I am. I don't want to be coddled or pampered, and I don't want my friends to feel like they need to boost my confidence. I don't want to be told I'm beautiful. I just want to be. And I want that to be enough.

I now have a little girl. When I was pregnant, we discussed all of the genetic parts we hoped she'd get. I hope she gets your legs and your smile. Well, I hope she gets your eyes and your laughter. When she was born, she looked like a complete stranger to me because I had all of the genetics worked out in my brain. She is stunningly beautiful. She is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, and I haven't been able to stop staring at her since she first took a breath of air.

I know that self loathing was modeled for me. I know what not to do. Now what DO I do? I read an article about a woman facing the same question. No Barbies, no fashion magazines, and no beauty stereotypes around. Appear as though you are enjoying each bite of food, be it broccoli or be it chocolate pie. When this woman's daughter turned 4, she said to her mom, "please don't get f-a-t". It's out there. It's going to be out there, and we have to be out there with it.

This same publication had in its fashion section an article about a slimming men's undergarment, but we weren't to call it a corset. Why not call it a corset? The author was pleased that men may now have to suffer what women have had to the first time they go to the bedroom with someone. That someone sees that things may have been covered and aren't what they appeared to be.

It's so out there, and I can't close it down for my girl. I can't make it okay. If she's beautiful, that means ugly exists. Then what is ugly?

I'm not going to lie. My child is beautiful. There is something about her appearance that draws people to her. My sister-in-law suggested, in jest, that we get her an agent. I also know that a few years living with my self loathing will kill all that she knows to be beautiful about herself. I know my subtle refusal to accept a compliment, my posture, and my discussion about what is ugly about me will be absorbed into my beautiful girl. Sure, I'll never tell her anything but that she is beautiful. She'll never hear what I heard out loud. But if I don't change, she'll hear it in all the ways that count. But she won't be able to name it and call it out to fight.

Sister-in-law, I'm the one that needs an agent, because I'm embarking on the greatest acting role of my life. I want to act it so strongly that I lose myself in it and believe it myself. I want my daughter to be beautiful like me.