Monthly Archives: September 2016

Sexism: Face, A Body, B

Stepping into his office, I placed the requested file on his desk.  He and his assistant had left for the day and I was asked to keep the office open and schedule appointments for later in the week.

This job was a dream come true for me.  I had managed to finish high school and take classes at the junior college with two kids in tow.  Now I had my first real job that was “professional”.  My grandmother had encouraged me to become a secretary – in her cohort this was making it.  “You’ll have your own money”, she’d beam.  At the time it seemed an insurmountable goal but with long hours and many sacrifices, I had achieved the hardly possible odds of getting off of welfare and earning a paycheck.  Success never seemed so sweet as the day I got the call back that I was hired to be the secretary/receptionist at the two person Orthotics Office.  I knew my grandma would be proud.

That day, being a somewhat curious…okay, nosy person I looked around his desk.  It was very neatly arranged except for the file I had just brought in.  I’ll never know why, but I opened the small drawer on the right hand side where I assumed pencils and other tools would be kept.  In it was a folded half-sheet of binder paper.  I lifted the paper and unfolded it.

There were two columns with a line drawn down the middle.  The top of one column was headed with clearly printed black letters:  “Face” and the other column, “Body”.  Women’s names including mine ran down the left hand side of the paper, each clearly printed in black pen.  When I found my name I read across the columns: Face, A and Body, B.  Each and every candidate was “graded” according to her physical attributes and obviously I had been valued highest.  A flush of elation swept over me.  I had never thought of myself as stunningly pretty, so this pronouncement was new to me.  I thought, “wow! I won.”

But in the long aftermath of that euphoria, as I matured, I realized that day I had recognized on some level that all of my accomplishments and the position had been devalued.  My success was nothing more than, tits, ass, and face to him.  My knowledge mattered little.  His probable fantasies had trumped every bit of scratching and clawing I had endured to achieve a better life for myself and my children.  His sexism had defeated my accomplishment.

His end at the office was not a good one.  The drama of it all never reached me except that I was there when he had to clean out his desk.  And I got to meet his ex-wife, a very beautiful and kind woman.

 

 

 

 

Grandma in My Head

via Daily Prompt: Unfinished

My inner critic has always been relayed to me in my Grandma’s voice.  “If you’re going to do something, do it right,” she’d say with a straight long line for a mouth.  It was never a suggestion with her, always a command.

She was like a razorback boar some of the time, snorting and grizzling round our house – cleaning and grumbling and dishing out orders to all of us, her servants.  It wasn’t too bad for me, cause I was little.  And I definitely was treated like a little princess since I was the first granddaughter and adored by everyone except maybe my uncle who was only 8 years older than me.

By the time I had escaped the “Golden Child”- failed expectations of my family and moved far, far away from them all,  I began to struggle with the most frustrating problem.  I could not begin a new book until I had finished the book I was reading.  I’m serious I could not make myself check-out another book until I finished the current one.  This bled into other activities too.  I couldn’t start a new sewing project until I had finished the present one.  I couldn’t buy a new skirt or pair of pants until I had hemmed the last one.  I had to finish whatever I started before I could move on, even if I hated the book, the pattern or the garment.  But why?  I was an adult now, I could do what I want.

In my late 20’s and newly married, my husband remarked that sometimes he was reading 3 books at a time.  “What?” I asked.  “How can you?  You have to finish the one you’re reading before you begin a new one.”   “Or what?” he asked.  “I don’t know”, I stammered as my mind raced in circles to find the answer. I started thinking, why couldn’t he read more than one title at a time?  There was no reason.  “Won’t you get confused?  And what if its’ left unfinished ?”  I questioned, struggling to figure out my thinking.  “So.  he replied, “sometimes I don’t like the book I’m reading or half of it is good enough.”  I scratched my head considering the opportunity of actually having two or three books to enjoy at one setting.

And then I heard my Grandma’s voice say, “Young lady, finish what you start. You don’t want to be that person that starts a million things and never finishes one.”

 

“As American as Apple Pie” unless You’re a woman

Thousands and thousands of letters scribbled across college-lined paper in an attempt to find out the truth about Hillary.  For and against, hate-filled and complimentary, everyone seems to be scared shit-less about a woman who will or will not become President.  Me? I’m just drowning in information: books, on-line articles, insights, comments, television talking heads.  Before you call me a “fucking liberal”, (I’m actually becoming more & more desensitized to it), you should know that I haven’t decided to vote for her yet.  The white-collar Republican thug presented this election won’t be getting my vote.  He’s a creep.  Wouldn’t want to explain that one to my children & grandchildren.

But let’s talk about Hillary Rodham Clinton.  God, even I’m sick of her.  But is it “her” or is it the social media’s relentless degradation of the only woman to ever ascend the last hold-out of the male bastion of dominance.  (44-0 male presidential terms of office.)

I am not here to give her a “Pass” on anything (all the accusations included: lying, cheating, pay for play, murder) or to encourage you to vote for her. If the GOP hadn’t been held hostage,  if they had given me ANY alternative, I would have seriously considered their candidate.  But they didn’t so I am taking a closer look at HRC and the accusations being leveled at her.

 1.  LYING 

Donald Trump is denying his “Birther” history.  Hello!  We’ve heard this accusation for 5 years, at least.  There are videos, interviews, etc. of him that substantiate his conspiracy theory.  So he’s a liar.  No surprise there.

Chris Christie denied he knew anything about the bridge closures.  (And today there is an article in the NY Times stating that he did in fact know.  So he’s a liar.  No surprise there.Feds Say Christie Knew    

President John F. Kennedy lied about the invasion of the Bay of Pigs.  He lived a lying life with his many extra-marital affairs.  So he was a liar too.Lying Presidents

Lying is a political currency.  Should we give any politicians a PASS?  NO! but if we are going to castigate a woman, this time Hillary Clinton, then we better damn well hold powerful men accountable too.  Donald Trump supports Christie’s denial of knowledge about Bridgegate.

2.  QUID PRO QUO (Pay for Play)

From what I can learn, the underlying problem in politics, not just the Clinton Candidacy, but ALL active and aspiring politicians,  is that it is a campaign financing issue.   All political aspirations require big amounts of money.  So for example, the Koch Brothers;  are two billionaire brothers who want to use their money to propel and accelerate their ideals and belief systems.  This is as American as apple pie  and they have the money, so what’s the problem?  Simply put, unequal access to policy making and “makers” because of their monetary support.  It’s a simple equation:

politicians need $$ + billionaires have $$ to give = campaign financing  $$

  When you receive all this cash though do you listen differently?  act differently?  add meetings to your calendar?  The Koch Brothers  are very secretive by all accounts and disperse their actions from the Americans for Prosperity network.  So it’s not easy to track down.  This election cycle they have offered $900 million for endorsement of GOP Candidates.  That must be pretty tempting.  But do they get  “enhanced” access?  That’s as difficult to discern as say, did people who asked for meetings with Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, get penciled in?  But these were foreigners she was dealing with, heads of state, you say.  Do you think for one minute that billionaires aren’t dealing with and advocating for foreign heads of state?  Trump’s Foreign Business Ties a Threat to US Security       The Koch Brothers, Israel and Foreign Affairs

3.  TRUST

We’ve all lost trust in our candidates haven’t we?  I think Bernie was so appealing because he was a plan talker and had so little history in the public eye.  But even he was a “player” on some level.  I was very surprised to find out he was Jewish.  Not that I minded, but why didn’t he ever talk about it?

Everywhere I look there is an issue of “trust”.  For me, my political mistrust started when I found out John F. Kennedy, my families hero,  was a philanderer.  Certainly not unusual (especially for that time period)  but we expect something different from our president.  And remember the conspiracy theory that he had something to do with Marilyn Monroe’s “suicide”?  And then there was the Vietnam War.  And then Nixon, and Regan, Clinton & George W.  All of them liars, some of them employing a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” quid pro quo.   And all of them in the end disappointing most of us and weakening the fabric of the idea of a democratic government and our fantasy of politicians who would be perfect.

It takes every bit of self discipline I have not to be disrespectful to anyone whose lack of good judgement contributes to the instability in our country, Hillary Clinton included.

Each and every one of us has baggage.  Accusations  about lying, cheating, and even murdering have been documented and investigated with special committees, inquiries and juries paid for by the American People to find Hillary guilty.   Absolutely little to no judicial consequences or outcomes have been delivered.

I am NOT endorsing an acceptance of her behavior or a withdrawal from critical evaluation. However, at some point each of us must ask ourselves, how much the targeted attacks on Hillary are warranted and how much of her behavior and actions are criticized because  1.) we have no clear idea of how we think an ambitious, determined, powerful woman should behave and  2.)  our political system clearly favors men.

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The Bitch is Back: Hillary & Misogyny

I am NOT a “vagina voter”.  I wouldn’t vote for say, Sarah Palin, vagina or not.  The people I vote for are evaluated and judged by me as though they were applying for the job of President of the United States. I  consider their job experience, their character, and their temperament.  I don’t have to necessarily “like” a candidate because  I’m pretty sure we won’t be hanging out.  As I’ve researched HRC and her relationship to misogyny I have been appalled, surprised, disgusted and entertained by the verbal barrage of insults and commentary about her person.  If she is nothing else, she is a woman who is thick-skinned.

If we want to just consider the words that Mrs. Clinton has endured, there are plenty of examples,  “…angry bull dyke womyn president“, (Robert Morrow F.B. 12/11/12), “that buck-toothed witch, Satan“, Don Imus, “the Antichrist” Glenn Beck  “the woman with the testicle lock box” Rush Limbaugh, and “Pond scum, White Trash“, Ann Colter (quoted from the book, “Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary, Reflections by Women Writers“).  She’s definitely been called a “bitch” more than once.  It is the one thing she and I share.  Among other choices, I’ve  been called a bitch.  I’ve also been called a “nympho” – an interesting word that is defined as an “uncontrollable or excessive sexual desire in a woman”.  Men are expected to have uncontrollable or excessive sexual desires.  This is the language of sexism.

If you’re looking for specifics about misogyny in politics, and what a female leader has to endure, the Guardian does a nice job of laying out the details. Hillary and other women leaders around the globe are considered.   The Top 10 Sexist Moments in Politics

Questioning the status quo is not making excuses for Mrs. Clinton.  It is an act of curiosity, reflection and thought. Why do we hate her? dislike her?  Is she held to a different standard than her male opponents?  (I guarantee you that you don’t have to do much research to find out that she is.)   Does she behave in a way that is unfamiliar to what we understand a woman should be? and does that behavior make us uncomfortable?  In the end we still might not vote for her but it will be for reasons that would disqualify any candidate to represent us and not because she is a woman.

The escalation of a woman to power, particularly in a male domain, charts a parallel course of increased misogyny and sexism.  And if a girl is lucky, her family will have prepared her. Simone Biles wasn’t just prepared to win or lose.  She was prepared for the predictable sexist questions by the media.  Simone Biles replies to sexist comments  Every woman accepts it as the ancillary cost to achievement.  We cope and endure and sometimes we have fun with it.   Bitch is the New Black

 

This Ain’t No Football Game

I took my books by and about Hillary Clinton and thought I might find some moments for study while vacationing in Lake Tahoe, California with our family. But my children and grandchildren were too irresistible and I chose spending time with them instead.  They are amazing people and how I vote is heavily weighted in their favor.

The constellation of our family is brilliantly unique and we are the richer for it.  Some of us are white, some of us are black, some of us are Mexican, some of us are Japanese and all of us are awesome.  We’re married, single, divorced and living together.  We are represented by many belief systems including Christianity and Atheism.  Our ages range from 6 months to 67 yrs old.  We are heterosexual, bisexual, transsexual, lesbian and chaste.  Some of us love baseball, some of us love Salsa Dancing & Zumba, some of us love M.M.A. and all of us love bocce ball.  And this weekend we ate spaghetti one night and hamburgers the next.  We are blue-collar and white-collar workers and my husband and I are retired.  The adults all find truth in both the Democrat and Republican Platforms and some of us voted for Bernie Sanders in the Primary. We respect our President and love our country.

I told them about my blogs about “finding” out about the real Hillary,  (Finding Hillary  ) and one of my children was interested.  This small level of interest made me realize that many Americans are reluctant to research or take in any new information and some just don’t think they have the time.   It’s also easier to go with the pundits on T.V., hate radio and the brief written word that corresponds to what they already “know”.   Pick a team and go with it, kinda like a football game, except it’s not.  And this “game” has lasting effects for the people we love.

There were four young boys at this gathering and watching them I couldn’t help but wonder which one might decide to join the service and perhaps see combat. Several of our family members have served.   I’ve already lost one grandson to gun violence so if the gun laws don’t change will I lose another?  And the baby girl sitting on our laps and crying to be breast-fed and cuddled, will she be assaulted and her perpetrator given a sentence typical of a first offense DUI?  Brock Turner Freed in Sexual Assault Case.  And what if crisis takes away a mother or father, will it be a campaign season where helping the needy doesn’t sell? It makes me shudder.

The love I have for my family and the challenge of the breadth of our diversity has given me a lot to consider. I’ll pick up my pen and consolidate my note taking in my search to find the truth about Hillary.  It’s a lot of time and dedication, but my family is worth it. And my vote is precious to me.  I won’t surrender it for anyone.