Tag Archives: Trump

Being 2nd Class Feels Like #2

11 Nov

Mere days before the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, a young male colleague overheard another female co-worker and I make passing comments about “always having to be ready” for some asshole to step out of the shadows (or even in the light of day!) and rape and/or otherwise mess with us.  Not because we’re shit-starters, but because we’re, y’know, women.

Wide-eyed and amazed, my young male work friend admitted “Wow, I never thought about that. What a drag!”  I gave him a pass on that ignorance, given that he has only fairly recently entered the realm of adulthood and is, in fact, a genuinely nice guy.  However with the international shit storm now transpiring around sexual harassment in all its forms & milieus, I imagine (hope) my previously ignorant friend is experiencing a Big Education right about now.  Because, well, I sort of am too.

I was a 70s California Kid raised in a Single Mom household energized by the new promise of Women’s Liberation.  For much of my young life, I was under the misguided impression that all the Bad Stuff had been fixed for us gals, and we were now free to do as we pleased.  Sure, maybe we didn’t make as much money as men yet, but surely that was right around the corner, ya?  Oh, most certainly.

Other than having my virginity taken from me in high school via what the kids today call “date rape” (at the time I just thought of it as “going further than I really wanted to go”), I am fantastically fortunate in that the degree of sexual harassment & violence I’ve suffered throughout my life has been relatively low-level.  It is the garden variety kind that any American woman or girl can most likely attest to: annoying cat calls and uninvited conversations, the need to cross the street to avoid potential Male Hazards, never going certain places alone, and the occasional discomfort of an inappropriate comment made by a teacher, co-worker, and sometimes even a “friend.”  While I can’t say I’ve taken all this “in stride,” as the realistic pragmatist that I am, I’ve just acknowledged all this as a Very Unfortunate Given.

And that is why I’m experiencing my own Big Education right now.  The first harsh slap came on November 8, 2016. Like many people, I was weepy, bitter and nauseous for days afterwards.  I felt utterly belittled and humiliated by a country that so enthusiastically reinforced what I already knew:  I am a Second Class Citizen.2nd Class

As the current, progressively Nastier Year** unfolded, the secret misogyny that has simmered below the surface of polite American society for, apparently, decades, is now boiling over all over the place.  Need birth control?  Oh no, we won’t allow women controlling their own bodies or destinies.  Want to speak your truth?  Be prepared for a vicious onslaught of trolls!  Don’t like your creepy Uber driver?  Too bad, you called him so he is now free to express his need to rape & kill you with total impunity.

And now, the Weinstein story and ensuing clusterfuck of sexual harassment revelations amongst a myriad of professions.  While I am not the least bit surprised by any of it, the apparent magnitude of the issue is shockingly beyond what I had imagined. Because I have spent my entire work life entrenched in mid-sized arts nonprofits – a business sector predominantly run by women and not generally motivated by the pursuit of power – I’m guessing that is why I seem to be one of the rare few women who has suffered absolutely no on-the-job harassment.  Sure, a Board member once asked me to go “fetch him a sandwich” (I refused), and I’ve had to literally wrestle a fake priest to the ground to retrieve a stolen checkbook from his grip as he called me “a worthless gutter punk and insult to womanhood,” but I consider those particular episodes personal victories.

I’m still not sure what to do with all these new realizations.  I feel suddenly vulnerable, lucky, sympathetic and enraged all at once. But I guess that’s womanhood for you – us females are just so emotional, you know.  Yet we endure, and as many people have been made aware as of late, we persist.

** BTW:  This year hasn’t been 100% horrible:  I DID get married to the love of my life.  And he isn’t a misogynistic asshole – there are, thankfully, still a few of those left.

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Now For Something Completely Different

1 Jan

I was born a Skeptic.  I literally came out of the womb that way; my mother can confirm this.  I never believed in Santa Claus, spent a lot of time irritating adults with uncomfortably penetrating questions, and have a total lack of ability to just take things at face value.  It’s physiological, I swear; my brain just naturally gravitates in that direction, without any assistance from Conscious Me.  i.e., I’m not TRYING to be a pain in your ass, I just AM a pain in your ass.

Yet also I am, inherently, an Optimist.  Many who know me may question that statement, but it’s true.  For whatever reason, I have a hokey underlying faith that Good usually prevails, and that humans and Humanity will ultimately work out our vast array of problems.  (Granted, “ultimately” may be centuries in the future, but that’s OK – it’s a process.)  I try to send out as much positivity as I can, usually in the form of Gratitude-to-the-Universe type vibes, with the hopes that keeping cosmic Good Juju afloat will do someone some good, somewhere.  So while I may constantly question the Universe, I guess it’s just because I want it to be the best it can be.

(Egads, sounds like the twisted logic of an abusive spouse -“Melania, I only criticize you because I know you can be better!” – Er, well, that’s totally not me. Or at least I don’t think so …. )

ANYWAY it is with that same dichotomously skewed eye of optimistic skepticism, or skeptical optimism perhaps (depending on the day), that I have approached social media since I first signed on (resigned?) to that particular party some years ago.  After all, I say Yes! to freedom of expression and Yes! to alternative, emerging forms of communication and Yes! to Why The Fuck Not? and figured I should at least try it before I knocked it.  The Skeptic said fuck-that-noise, but the Optimist said there’s-gotta-be-something-worthwhile-there, and the Optimist emerged victorious.

For most of the ride, I’ve managed to keep social media at an arm’s distance.  While the Theatre Major/attention whore in me would love to constantly post post post, a vague sense of decorum, as well the general understanding that the world does not, in fact, revolve around me, has fortunately reined in that impulse. My interest at first was, like most folks’ I’d imagine, primarily recreational – staying updated on various friends & family’s doings, taking one of those stupid fucking quizzes (why?), and maybe getting in a little News Lite.  I remember that the passing of Lux Interior (RIP 1946-2009) was the first crushing celebrity death I learned about on Facebook (sad face).

It’s only the past two or three years of touring the wonderful world of Facebooklandia (I am a relative Luddite; FB is the only social media waters into which I care to dip a toe) that my Skeptic has really kicked in.  Not surprisingly, in the most recent of said years, that skepticism was in full-blown overdrive.  Yet almost never in the midst of that ever-increasing media hysteria did I point out to friends that the “news” source they’re citing isn’t all that vetted, or that fixating on the various hollow shenanigans of Our Evil Overlord-Elect To-Be was just a distraction from likely much greater horrors, OR – full disclosure – did I myself manage to remain completely free of the pull to join the downspiraling frey, chonies temporarily bunched into thick wads over something OEOE To-Be said or did. I too am guilty of allowing myself to be flushed down that particular toilet.  Even the Skeptic gets pulled in. Blame the Optimist, I say.

So as I face a new year with much trepidation, I still don’t know which of those two attributes will serve me best in the New World Order.  Excessive optimism is perhaps partly to blame for the “disaster” (to echo some of OEOE’s favorite hyperbole) of November 8th, but to move forward into this new horizon without at least a shred of that optimism will be unbearable.  Skepticism is useful, but applying it indiscriminately doesn’t win one all the friends and collaborators needed to make the future a more rockin’ place.

Deep sigh.  The answer is out there somewhere.  Or, quite possibly, it’s not.  I may be only skeptically optimistic, but that’ll have to do for now.

.xylo