Monthly Archives: October 2016

When you’re the hunted, words matter.

Once my brother,  obviously critical of my reluctance to watch swearing, fucking, killing television or listen to hate radio levied the ultimate criticism, “You’re delicate!”  In other words,  I was too fragile to handle the gross assaults on my everyday happiness. But how could I embrace the portrayals of  women being hunted, strangled, raped and tortured?  I refused to witness these sufferings.  I knew assaults happened but it didn’t have to happen in my living room every single day.  And I refused to hear Rush Limbaugh’s swirling tongue, sliding out from his mouth, calling a woman a bitch or a slut and suggesting that women want to be sexually assaulted.  Rush Limbaugh rants

Am I delicate?  Soft?  Fragile?  My children will give a resounding,  YES! When it comes to movies, hate radio and television, they believe I am a wuss.  I think most of my friends and former colleagues would find this assignment laughable.  “Her, delicate?” Ba, ha, ha, ha.  I am the strong-willed, aggressively passionate, feminist, mama bear, who grew up a tom boy.  But I have to admit that the language of Trumpian Surrogates sends waves of prickling goose bumps across my skin. I have been assaulted more than once and I am  a  domestic violence survivor.  It is easy for me to imagine this continual current of careless hateful words taking up residence in an unbalanced, vulgar young man.  “Bitches” deserve  to be beaten back, beaten down, beaten into manageable submission. It’s not a “stretch” when you are the hunted.

I learned a long time ago that sexual assault has nothing to do with how pretty you are or how you dress.  It’s about power, it’s not about sex.  Women in their 60’s have been stalked and assaulted and sadly, so have little children.  It’s not a sexual act of intimate intercourse, it’s a forced brutal attack of dominance, often culminating in a kill.

So when Roger Stone, a man who funds the Trump Campaign, organizes a group using the acronym CUNT, (Citizens United Not Timid) my anger and fear can not and will not be dismissed.  Nor, can the well-documented legacy of Donald Trump’s actions, words, and behaviors be wished away for the “greater good”. Calling Clinton a Bitch  He’s a dangerous man who incites violence and pits us one against another. His life-long behaviors describe a man who is misogynistic. (Brit Brogaard, Ph.D. describes misogyny as,  “not a man who simply hates women,…but (who) hates women who are not subordinate, women with power and status, women who can stand up for themselves and make their own decisions.”What is Misogyny Anyway  )

When you see images of Mr. Trump surrounded by women, enjoying their company, publicly displaying his affection for them,  take note that this behavior is dependent on their subjugation to him.  Independence is exercised when an individual woman chooses the trade-off of servility for prestige, power, or money.  A leader modeling subjugation by demeaning women and disrespecting women could become the existing condition.  And if our President can treat women and girls this way, wouldn’t our boys and young men assume that yes, that is the way to treat women.  If you doubt this could happen, look up supportive articles of Hillary Clinton  on line and read some of the comments.  Or check out Twitter and see for yourself how women who disagree with Trump’s supporters are treated. (See for example #GeoGee, who calls Hillary Clinton a cunt.)  Will Mr. Trump and his cronies lead us down the slippery slope of American systemic female subjugation?  Could we end up wearing a Hijab?  Only if we allow it.

 

The Stuff in This House Where I Live

I walk through this assemblage of family faces staring back at me, these black & white photos, resembling me, resembling my Italian husband and lining the walls of a long hallway carpeted in grey.  It is a carpet that I now appreciate for its ability to hide the light and dark daily soil of our lives.  These faces staring back at me, pulling at the threads of my memory remind me of the echoes of a mass, long ago attended, when monsignor smudging my forehead with a black thumbprint said, “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”.

My pulling away from this house recalls for me the pulling away of a bandage covering a serious wound;  the fine, thready fibers sticking to a wispy veil of translucent skin.  It is a tedious painful process,  but necessary.  My children and grandchildren like the singular, woven filaments of gauze  have already lifted from this house into a horizon that awaits their brilliant participation. The road before them is an unwinding spool of predictable and exciting adventures.  Their chests are puffed with courage as they face and direct the un-spooling of their stories.

But my pulling away demands the willingness to leave behind the mementos of the stories made in this house.  These stories that twist and turn upon themselves with equal parts of happiness and regret.  To trust that all the things contained within these bricks and boards are not required to remember a love served freely.  A happiness shared willingly.

My insecurity about this leaving is at times washed with sadness and anxiety.  And I understand my friends who cling to foundations and stuff to avoid the prickly pain of letting go.  The “stuff” relinquished to the universe: couches and chairs, figures and paintings, sculptures and photos are the selections in our galleries that establish the dialog of lives lived here in this place and time.  They are a vivid and distinct momentary pattern of  lives lived glowingly. They announce, this is who WE are.

In our home hangs a painting purchased at a tag sale.  It’s a beautiful work in blues;  a framed Dutch Watercolor keeping company with a long wooden dinner table.  In the foreground is a demure young couple in traditional dress who appear to be courting.  But the flaw (not easily identified), is that the couple only have 3 legs. No matter what angle or view you apply you just cannot find that fourth leg.  Hilarious and lively dinner debates have been summoned attempting to locate that lost limb.  And grandchildren to grandparents express passionate opinions regarding their theories about where it might be hiding.

A large serving of trepidation is now being served at our table and it prevents me from casting our home and our things out into the abyss. The potential loss of this painting is not what troubles me.  It’s the possibility that this painting is a reminder of stories that characterize a family that lived, loved and laughed around a meal.  And a fear that our family’s memories might be drowned by the depths of our inadequate memories.

 

*Your thoughts, comments and observations are encouraged.  Follow me @patricialeapens.com

 

 

 

 

A Letter to my Grandchildren: The responsibility of democracy

October 5, 2016

Dear Grandsons and Granddaughter,

By the time you read this, history will have been made and my part in it will be just a tiny pebble in a huge river of politics.  One of the greatest things about our democracy is that it allows each of us to believe we make a difference.  I love that about our country.

But like so many memorable times in our history, it seems this time our presidential election has the power to shift the direction of our country, and the weight of it feels more like a burden than a gift.

I could itemize all the costs and benefits of each candidate.  I’ve certainly considered it.  But a politician’s character, experiences, and policy platforms often fade when compared to a system that: rewards the attainment of wealth at the expense of another person’s well-being, dismisses serial marriages and infidelity by saying “everyone” does it, and uses their religious beliefs to judge, punish and minimize the freedoms of others.

I will be voting for Hillary Rodham Clinton because I believe that she represents the safest course for our family.  I will trust her to negotiate our foreign policy based on her sound judgments and comportment as Secretary of State.  I will trust her to advocate for an affordable option for attending college.  I will trust her to negotiate and amend a health care policy that still leaves people financially ruined or without coverage.  I will trust her with leveraging her power to mediate Wall Street and Main Street.  I will trust her to protect the rights of women, Latinos, Black Americans and the LGBTQ community. I will trust her to help us with mental health parity and reasonable gun legislation that is reflective of our constitutional right to bare arms. I believe she is our best shot at an America we can be proud of.

I did not come to this decision easily.  The decision was not informed by television, political pundits, memes or well-meaning family and friends.  I studied Mrs. Clinton’s life and career through written works for and against her.  This is the responsibility of democracy.  This is my responsibility to you, my grandchildren.

With all my love & hope for a bright future,

Grandma

157-hrc-books

An Partial Reading List:

Hard Choices, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2014

The Case Against Hillary Clinton, Peggy Noonan, 2000

Americans’ Views of women as political leaders differ by gender, Pew Research Center, May, 2016

Ways of Looking at Hillary, Reflections by Women Writers, edited by Susan Morrison, 2008

It Takes a Village, Hillary Rodham Clinton, 1996

Any aggregated article containing the name Hillary or Hillary Clinton, The Drudge Report, September 2016

10 Most Powerful Women in the World, Tech Story, Jan. 4, 2015

Hillary Clinton’s Worst Week in Washington, the Washington Post, by Chris Cillizza