Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bullying, Slut-Shaming, the Country and Me

Recently I saw a poster of a subdued girl on a bus with a bunch of guys jeering at her.  This image brought back everything I endured as a girl in a small town. Riding the bus to school was an agony as every boy on the bus -- or so it seemed -- harassed me.  We lived in Merced, California, which was at the time a tiny town known as "The Gateway to Yosemite".  The populace at that time was about  20 thousand, surrounded by ranches of all sorts, and many of those rich ranchers' sons remind me now of G.W. Bush.

I ruled the playground for the first several years of grade-school, but then I was forced to get glasses.  My popularity vanished almost overnight. I was a smart, dorky girl for a period from 4th grade through 9th grade, when my mom got me contact lenses. Before this occurred, I'd learned that the shy and weak attract aggressors. As I grew more attractive the whole creepy thing just got worse. We lived on the outskirts of town, and I had about 1 1/2 miles to walk to school, a good part on a truck bearing roadway.  Fun, huh?

Guys honked and whistled and shouted obscenities -- it was AWFUL. As I became much more willing to take a stand the violence surrounding me grew. Things were so much different then.  Girls sat primly on the grass, forced to wear SKIRTS in the worst of weather. Seriously, it didn't matter how hard it was raining or how freaking cold it was - our legs had to be bare or we had to wear those primitive stockings and GIRDLES -- oh the horror!

For those who are too young to know what these atrocities are, look 'em up, the ghastly things.  There were no comfortable leggings or tights for us. I doubt that anyone gave any thought to the girls and our comfort, and I remember the feeling of unfairness that my legs and I endured throughout my school years.

The boys, however, could of course wear pants and sprawl around as they pleased. I've always liked  lying around, so it occurred to me one day to relax at lunchtime like the guys! Within minutes people were throwing tomatoes and other foods at me, and even some rocks.  When I got up later I found a dead bird in my purse. My companion, an exchange student from Spain, was so furious he wanted to cause mayhem.  How could this happen in the great America, he wondered. 

These memories are coming up again, and there are a lot of them. The shaming didn't just come from the boys/men either. The dean of girls called me a "witch" in front of a few hundred people.   My senior history teacher made inappropriate remarks about me when he caught me day-dreaming, intimating that I was day dreaming about last night's SEX. Oh please. If that isn't sexism, pure and simple, I don't know what is. "Slut-shaming" is its more "mature" and uglified self;

These few stories are a tiny fraction of that kind of behavior and its effect on my life, or on the lives of others who've had the same sort of experience.  I have been sexually assaulted and experienced the kind of "slut-shaming" that is occurring once again in our land. This was years ago, and in some ways I do not think I am over it. I still automatically crosses the street when I see more than one man hanging out  together on a sidewalk. I am still shy in ways that I think I ought not to be and a lot of this scarring originates from the YEARS of that kind of vicious sexism. I prefer now to live in a more isolated fashion.

Who's afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?  Hell yes -- I am.  Being chased down a country road near Sacramento by the ZODIAC KILLER didn't help.  But that story is for another time,

I think -- yes, it seems that at this time our culture is even more severely degraded. The very real victims of a society gone wrong are its children. I look at the faces of the kids who've been scarred, at home or at school, and wonder what the hell is wrong with us, as individuals and as a country.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Limbaugh and the War on Women

It seems as though Rush Limbaugh lingers like a bad dream in my subconscious, and the only way to exorcize him is by writing until he goes away.  How can such a blubbery whale of venom and bloody self-righteousness be allowed to RULE the airwaves?  Why is he always rubbing his body when he's being filmed doing his job?  When he was demonizing Ms. Sandra Fluke he couldn't keep his hands off himself. Ick. There are many, many true gentleman in the Conservative movement, for example George Will and the late William F. Buckley, Jr.  WHY is Limbaugh the de facto KING of the CONSERVATIVES, this man without any self-awareness at all?  What does his lofty position in "society" really say about us AND the U.S. and OUR current values?

He'd most likely blame anybody but himself for being a boiling piss-pot of rage. This man has the gall to say the most toad-like remarks, words that pour like slimy polliwogs from his mouth. He blames women: bad mommy! eeevil Girl Scouts (huh? tiny-femi-Nazis in training??); his ex-wives, his house-cleaners -- ANY woman unfortunate enough to cross his path.

He stirs the cauldron of hate and seems to relish his role in the degradation of speech in this country.  Yup, First Amendment rights for all, except for gays, minorities, the 'elites' - not a single person in the country has properly, logically defined this word "elite/s in any way. What have we got here: liberal elite, elite media, elite universities, newscasters, newspapers? How can you define a word when it is a 'one size fits all’ insult?

One comment on that point of view, and this is the matter of attacks upon Education -- particularly science and the matter of EVOLUTION and (mournful sigh) Devolution When (if ever) do we grasp what is happening on our home, this beautiful, beautiful earth, and stop with the name-calling already!

Anyone, I mean ANYONE who goes after GIRL SCOUTS is a blight upon the land (I was one -we sat around the campfire singing "Kum Ba Yah" with innocent hearts and hope for the future.) That man whose hatred of a gender extends to the tiniest of the species, or anyone who doesn't think like King Rush; gets sliced and diced faster than a carrot in a Cuisinart! WITCH! (or in Rush Terms, "itch-Bay", unt-cay, femi-Nazi, ad nauseam.)

Don't you just love the idea of that man poisoning the minds of the people of America? There are so many damned fine guys out there, and they are needed for a set of problems that have never beset the world before. We need to work in tandem, in harness together, or we might as well kiss our glorious country and its formerly heroic status in this world goodbye.

So can we get off the Trash Talk Train and get back to business?

Somehow I doubt that the Founding Fathers had Rush Limbaugh in mind when they envisioned an America in the future. Don't get me wrong -- free speech in a free society is essential, but there is a difference between writing an op-ed piece and turning the hoses and rubber bullets on innocent albeit annoyed protestors like the kids in Oakland at the Occupy protests. Oh, beauteous, bounteous America, you're looking like a police state instead of the Land o' the Free. Swell, just swell.

As many women have been observing lately, there is a giant conservative movement to keep us down on our knees, scrubbing the floors, and servicing our husbands/masters -- yes, serving them in all ways (see “Mad Men" - and yes, it really WAS like that).  Now that we have shown what we CAN DO in the world and in the workplace many men are feeling just a wee tad frustrated by our intellect, capacities and ability to perform as well as a man.  Now we have the incentive of equal pay for equal work; thank you Lily Ledbetter and the Prez.  Just keep keeping the word "obey" out of those wedding ceremonies!!

My god I never thought I would see our country go Retro so fast, ever ever.  But I have noticed that when there is a time of great Change people become fearful.  When people are fearful, they tend to suppress those that are smaller and weaker -- i.e. women and children, gays and minorities.  Close your eyes if you will, but the signs of this Change - migrations of populations, extinction of species and the geographical changes of the earth in general are all around us.  I think the men are frozen in primeval terror and have turned their unwelcome attention to "fixing" and repressing women as opposed to fixing bridges, roads, medical care, and so forth.

Women have been dominated and suppressed like chattel for thousands of years.  Yes, we have made some advances, but even those are in danger and I think we'd better stamp out this new but dangerous fire here and NOW.  I thought politicians were supposed to -- govern?  They are elected to do things like fix the roads and bridges - but from the moment of THE previous election most of them begin planning for re-election, jousting for power for tasks they don't do, and trying to interfere in the most private women's business, which is NO BUSINESS of men except within a family!  If this sort of "Father Knows Best" "Leadership" from the GOP persists we're going to have some damned upset women in this country.

The commonplace but incredibly important tasks of running this country seem quite secondary to the current batch of Republican politicians. They are sooo busy making sure "the gals" are in their place, with wombs open for business non-stop.  Endless Viagra for all, covered by insurance, and a job for the ladies for the next 20 or so years whether they want it or not.  Rush Limbaugh (he of three wives and who knows how many affairs) decries the amount of sex all we sinful people out there are having as he's caught with a friend's Viagra.  Well, Rush -- there will be less sex all right, and we monogamous couples will be NO exception, unless you fancy playing Russian roulette with the old "rhythm method". I did, and I have two lovely daughters to show for it! One was conceived during the first day of my cycle, the other during the last day.  So much for that approach!

Once women understand that Viagra puts her in danger of her next pregnancy, how interested do you think they will be in keeping those fires hot within your relationship?  And as for the guys -- I predict that new brothels will be doing a booming business with frustrated, attention needing (and deserving) husbands and eventually, there will be hell to pay as the formerly cheerful voting block of happy, independent women lose their freedom to their 8 children while her husband is enslaved to the modern version of the "company store" and a "more understanding" woman on the side.

I know JUST where this is going because we as a Nation founded by Puritans have done this before.  We are obsessed with sex; we are ashamed of sex.  We are so repulsed by it that our movies have been sexually suppressed by moguls for decades.  The movies we allow our children to see are for the most part filled with unspeakable horror and violence, or repugnant swill of some sort.

At least the GOP candidates have been VERY clear about their philosophy: no Planned Parenthood, eventually, or as little contraception as possible, Viagra on demand, women enslaved -- but they played their hand so ruthlessly and quickly that hopefully we do NOT FORGET.

Marriage is for procreation, they say.

I mean come on!  There are a lot of reasons for people who want sex not to marry -- loss of benefits, various legal issues, etc.  Or simply, people marry for companionship, to pool resources, because they are lonely and don't want to be alone.  For Example my 85 years + years old Granny married an 89 year old gentleman (a very innocent, young accountant for AL CAPONE in his junior years) for companionship.

Is there a Cookbook Plan out there for defining and legislating the morality of Senior Sexuality? Should they be allowed to marry at all? If marriage is for procreation, according to the staunch protestations of Newt, Rick and Willard -- should Seniors even be allowed to wed? Why? They can't procreate, so if that's the reason Gays can't marry, why should Seniors ... how does your philosophy stand up to that question?  Quite simply, it can't.

The hypocrisy around the word "Life" is staggering, since the gang pushing us to change our ways doesn't want to provide for the "Life" it wishes to force upon our country. The world groans with an unsustainable population, while the medieval Pope insists that the population grow unchecked.  I do not mean to offend, but it seems to me that many religions are stuck in the middle ages and do not have the flexibility to change their policies even about contraception.  The priests prefer the rich, cloistered halls and cool chambers inhabited only by a world of men and hairless young boys.  We were too blind to see.

Women, get yourselves elected -- there's only a few ways we're going to turn this around -- through the help of our men, at the voting booth, and by helping to shape the policy!! Plus, in the words of Graham Nash, "Teach Your Children Well".

Consider Rush Limbaugh and the shocking degree of ignorance he betrayed on the pill as contraception:  his understanding is that you take a pill every time you want to have sex! That left me absolutely choking with laughter - what an idiot. And HE is the one teaching all this crap to all those people who soak up his "knowledge" on a daily basis. What horrifies me is that folks actually BELIEVE him. All those good men and women traveling through the states listening to BIG RADIO get their education every day.

We must educate all of our children about American and World history and the current political climate so that they can be informed voters as they mature.  We and our children MUST somehow be protected/protect ourselves from this most vile, paternalistic form of hateful of government, which masquerades as the world's greatest Democracy.  Maybe we still are, but our vaunted freedoms are slipping away, under attack by Right and Left.

Then there's that "SMALL GOVERNMENT" that the GOP wants to foist upon us -- as opposed to a Government that exists to SERVE its people.  Any Government that assumes the radical power to "rape" a woman with a cylindrical tube is no small government, despite what the GOP says they desire.  Don't believe them -- they want "kitchen slaves" again
How does that work for the rest of us - women, minorities, the poor - and our desire to be rocket scientists, physicists, doctors, nurses, teachers, etc.?

It doesn't.

I want my country and the hope and opportunity it represented, and still could.  Really. It still could.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Professor Rush-Bo The Hutt and the Public Discourse

It's time; it's more than time, to find a way to cleanse the public Airwaves.  We suffer from tiresome pollution of the radio by obscene trash-talking shock jocks, and this has risen into a virulent flood as the elections near.  As I am incurably naive I had thought - had hoped - that the chilling, graphic scenes of hatred would be absent from the 2012 elections - why I certainly don't know.

Education is a topic on the public consciousness these days. The President has asked everyone to try for at least another year of training after high school.  There is so much opportunity and necessity to absorb other content than vicious political ads and diatribe.  God I am sick of vulgar programming by vulgar people that have been allowed to, indeed been welcome to run amok on the radio, becoming the de facto Political Science professors of this country, forming people's viewpoints with poisonous bile. 

It is a sobering thought, if you give it some attention, that people like Limbaugh and his ilk are busy educating people who spend hours a day in cars, trucks or home behind the range. These Americans, whose minds are perfectly active and hungry for education, are literally soaking up distorted, uglified politics as though these "facts' - were tried, tested and absolutely TRUE. 

Are we aware that we are providing a very poor but effective type of "adult education" on the airwaves of the land? If we are aware of this, do we feel this sort of brain-food is appropriate for our ever less educated population? Who do you think is responsible for the fact that more of the South than EVER thinks the President is a Muslim/follower of Islam?  Does the Free Speech Amendment guarantee this staggering manipulation of the public airwaves and of the public trust??

My god, Advertisers; there will be hell to pay if you let that noxious Pot of Bile continue to shame and demean the Daughters of America. We have heard and witnessed a 3 day assault on a young woman of obvious breeding and character!  How would you feel if Sandra Fluke had been YOUR daughter?   

I personally would have felt an intense pride in either of my daughters, both of whom are about the same age as Ms. Fluke, for standing up and speaking out in the glare of the public spotlight.  I would also have felt, as I do now, a sense of utter, unmitigated rage at the verbal rape by Mr. Limbaugh of a woman of integrity.  

He and his radio brethren have attacked women so often and consistently and we have become the perennial victims of the Airwaves.  I doubt that many women enjoy his anti-female shtick this stuff even if they're identified with guys in some way.  Those raised in extreme climates have to make do, and those women are TOUGH. A girl raised among 7 brothers will have a different perspective than an older daughter of a younger brother, or one sister among another three others.  My point is that we are half the world's population, that we are the Mothers and the Grandmothers, the Lovers, the Sisters, the Comrades at Work.

We are coming into own as the Spiritual Counselors (except at places like the Vatican, where we count for nothing at all), the nurses, midwives, scholars and teachers -- and are because the "powers that be" are allowing it.  

When we realize what an effect listening to this sicko belittle our contributions to our society - the "slut-shaming", we have to stop and know this:

WE have let him get away with it, and shame on us if we continue to submit ourselves to this sort of harassment and degradation.  I mean, HAVE YOU EVER HEARD HIM TALK ABOUT WOMEN without using the terms "Femi-Nazis", "itch-Bays” or unt-Cays?" I haven't, but I will confess that I cannot tolerate listening to him for more than a few moments.

I say it's time to get more creative and put something else on radio other than grumpy hate-fests and shock jocks. I've had midnight encounters with obscure, brilliant programming stuck where nobody hears it, whereas Rush is out there front and center, a hate-filled, bilious representative of "America the Beautiful". 

There are so many people with positive points of view.  My simple suggestion is that we put more cool, educational and stimulating programming out there to fill the vacuum that will occur if we can get rid of Limbaugh and his ilk, RIGHT OR LEFT. Let's get educational content on the airwaves, no more toxic, inflammatory crap. PLEASE!! We NEED it from any source we can find!  Our school systems are degenerating; let's make use of the airwaves.

Oh, and in case I forgot to mention it, PLEASE STOP ADVERTISING WITH LIMBAUGH, FOREVER.

He hates women more than anyone, even minorities, and that probably has something to do with his known problems with ED.  Google "Rush and Viagra" -- I don't want to go further!