Thursday, October 13, 2016


DATELINE: GETTING A WORKPLACE REALITY CHECK – After days of watching news coverage of the election campaign for the leader of the most powerful country in the world, I can no longer sit silently. No, I was not grabbed or kissed by Donald Trump, and no, Bill Clinton didn’t drop his drawers for me, BUT for every woman who has been through that experience with any man, it is once again visceral for them. Old wounds, long thought scarred over, are red and raw once more.

This morning I listened to commentaries and pundits talking about being skeptical about the timing of these things, and why it’s coming out now. How could these women have remained silent for so long? How could they even remember what happened that long ago. It was years, so is it really relevant now? Well, let me enlighten you.

First, imagine being young, idealistic, energetic, with a whole world in front of you, but each morning, as you get dressed, you look in the mirror and wonder if you are making the right choice. You know, as a young woman, your clothes, nylons, shoes, hairstyle… everything… will be up for scrutiny. You consider what lies ahead of you that day, what’s on your agenda, and which co-workers you will be working with, knowing that if it’s this one, you should be wearing slacks because otherwise you will be in a wrestling match again when he tries to slide his hand up your skirt. You weigh in your mind how much photocopying you will have to do that day, because you know the photocopier is across the hall from an office of a man who seems to think that bending over to reload paper is his personal invitation to be an ass. You have to think about all these things, every day, before you even consider walking out the door… all just to do the job you are hired to do (at less money than your male counterparts, who obviously are considered more worthy than yourself).

So, you get to work. One of your male supervisors leans up against the wall when beside you, looking at your chest as he talks to you, not even making an attempt to hide the entitled expression on his face. You dressed for him. How nice. Well, not really, but that’s what he says, and you know if you say anything to correct that, you will pay for it. Another leans over your desk, invading your space with his halitoxic (yes, patent is pending on that word) breath because how could you get through the day without him stopping by to say hello. You have to put up with wolf whistles as you walk down the street and strangers yelling at you to smile; you worry about who might reach out to touch you, both on the street and in your work environment. This is all just in the first half hour of your day – every day.

There are few women, over the last forty years, who have not experienced this to one degree or another. A torn dress, a ripped sleeve, a broken heel on a shoe: those are just the cost of being a woman in the workforce. It’s simply a fact – a sick, sad fucking fact. You have no recourse, especially in decades past. It was the entitlement of the men in the office to be assholes to the women. Not all the men were; there were many who were absolute gentlemen. They were generally the ones who had their work done first. That was our only show of protest at the time.

Women didn’t complain. They couldn’t. If you complained, your job changed. You got demoted. You missed out on promotions. The men talked about you more, viciously, hurtfully, lying about you among themselves, but making sure you knew what they were saying. They talked about their conquests. They talked to each other. They gave you a bad job reference when you tried to leave. That was all just for asking them to stop. You wanted it, but couldn’t handle it. You were a child playing an adult game. You dressed like you wanted it. You stayed through your coffee break so that must clearly mean you wanted that attention. It was just fooling around anyway, nothing was serious. If you laid a complaint, it would cost you your job unless you could prove it, and prove that you hadn’t instigated it. Not only did it cost you the job you were at, but it cost you any future ones as well. This isn’t rocket science, assholes. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t demand that we say nothing at the time then condemn us after the fact for remaining silent.

You didn’t report this behavior. You had no one to report it to. You didn’t ‘lay charges’ *insert riotous laughter here* because how were you to prove your case… not the case that it happened but that you didn’t ‘provoke’ it. You had absolutely no recourse then. To change jobs just meant you had to learn all over again who not to trust and who to avoid, and what to wear each day. In many ways, the old ‘devil you know’ thing definitely comes into play.

So, Morning Joe and the rest of you, why are women speaking out now, with just weeks until the election? Well, for starters, they probably didn’t believe that Trump would go this far, that people would wake the hell up and see this monster for who he is. Maybe when he lied in the debate and stated that he never does anything like this, it was the last straw. Maybe it was his surrogates stating that ‘no women were hurt’ or that it was just ‘locker room banter’ or that it really didn’t count because it happened anywhere from 1-50 years ago. Hearing those things from Trump is expected; hearing those things from other people, especially women, is infuriating and hurtful as all holy hell, because those people should, and I would argue that they do, know better. These are the truly vile individuals in this debacle.

I will state, without any doubt at all, that at least 80% of women in the workforce in the last 50 years have experienced inappropriate advances from their male counterparts. I will also state with the same confidence that every one of those women, over the last two weeks of watching coverage of the election for President of the United States, is reliving those experiences, can remember every detail, can remember the names of the men involved, what they were wearing, and how they felt about it afterwards. It doesn’t leave you… EVER.

They didn’t come forward earlier because they hoped they wouldn’t have to. They didn’t want to relive the experience. In case you’re wondering, yes, at the time and every time you think about it afterward, it is degrading. They didn’t want to go there again. They didn’t want to be judged by family, friends, co-workers, just like before, but now they also get to be judged and persecuted for it, by an entire nation. We have been told for centuries that we don’t count as much, that we are to blame, that we have to provide ‘proof,’ that we have to defend OUR behavior before any man is held to account for his.

Why is this an issue in this election? Because Donald Trump wants to be the most powerful man in the world. He felt entitled before. Imagine now. Imagine the women he will abuse. He did so shamelessly, proudly even, for decades. It’s about his character. It’s about how he will treat female world leaders, female corporate leaders, any female he has to deal with. It’s because he is not mentally fit for the job. He wants to complain about Bill Clinton’s abuse of office in that way, yet he expects to be handed the same opportunities on a platter. If anything, if the Trump campaign had any brains at all, they would want the entire Bill Clinton issue to go away, because it should at the very least teach us that if they do it outside the office, they definitely do it inside, and that means a road of legal impairments and probably impeachment for Trump… at least if he is held to the same standards as Bill Clinton was – and let me say, those weren’t very high standards even then. Riddle me this, though: Why is it okay for Trump to bring up Bill Clinton’s behavior 30 years ago, and Hillary’s reaction to it, but not okay to mention Trump’s behavior even in the last week? Why is it okay for Trump to attack the women who are now his accusers, but not for Hillary to do likewise 30 years ago? None of them were right then, and it sure has hell is not right now to do either.

Oh, and Billy Bush… we know all about wingmen like you. We know that you are right in there with the rest of that basket of deplorables. Living your sexual fantasies vicariously through others, and helping to set women up for just this purpose, makes you as much a lowlife and the wanna-be presidential prick you stroked. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

O-R-L-A-N-D-O. Find out what it means to me.

People standing outside Pulse during attack, Orlando, Florida

The names are being read. The final text messages from people trapped in a nightclub are being made public. This is what happens after a mass murder… and once again, I find myself sitting back as a mother, aching inside for what the families and loved ones of these victims are feeling. With Sandy Hook, I was heartbroken for those victims, for their families and for society. That has been my response to most of these shootings… because honestly they all start to blend into one for the observer. How very sad is that. Most of those shootings/bombings were carried out by very disturbed, misguided people who had access to guns. They were done by men filled with rage, misplaced rage.

Pastor Steven Anderson. If this doesn't scare you,
then nothing will.
This shooting made me mad. Actually, ‘mad’ doesn’t come close to what I felt inside that first day. Yes, this was again someone who clearly had mental health issues, but it was the result of absolute hate. This hate, over the last six months, has moved from the back burner where it has been smoldering for the last decades. Newly unleashed by political and religious machines, hate is modeled every damned day for us on television. Religious people stand on their pulpits decrying women, calling for the execution of gay people, damning and instilling abject fear of those who practice other religions. They demand freedom of speech, freedom to practice their religion, but they refuse to respect those rights in others. How can you preach the word of any God while not modeling respect for others… all others?

We have political people, screaming about the need to control women and what they do. They cheer when people are thrown out of rallies. They make open, blatant statements of what is wrong with other people, while offering absolutely no solutions to help anyone. They hide their nefarious activities required to do whatever they have to in order to obtain and/or maintain their position of authority. They have sprinkled water and a whole lot of fertilizer on those little seeds of hate, saying that it is okay to harbor that hate, and to act on it in whatever way necessary. Ask any child. They see this on television – the bigotry, the hate, the thuggery… and the fact that respect has been lost for all.

Websites make hobbies out of shaming people. We laugh at the pictures of the poor people shopping at WalMart, and their less than fortunate choice of clothes, but we don’t stop to think that these people have no choice but to shop at WalMart, that they are for the most part the disenfranchised of society, and that they are forced to shop at a place that prides itself in paying such low wages, their own employees have to live on handouts from others. Yet this is okay? They are a good corporate citizen? Do these religious and political leaders give a damn about these people? There is no respect shown for the employees there, or for the people who shop there. They are less fortunate than we are; it sucks to be them.

Brock Turner, Rapist... No, we won't forget about you.
You're not off the hook yet.
How can we be surprised that a white boy can rape a young woman and, because of his whiteness, his athleticism, and his clean-cut appearance he gets nothing more than a slap on the wrist – then has the audacity to complain about his sentence. (Yeah, it’s the last part that really gets to me – the plea for pity for his misguided ’20 minutes of action.) If he had been black, or poor, or Muslim, would he have gotten that same sentence? Fuck no. Not a chance. Rape is about control, about power, authority at any cost… and is a lifelong sentence to the victim. When are we going to respect the victims enough to stop making it about them, and start to focus on the rapist? When are we going to start looking at the disparity in a system that treats white different than black, rich different than poor, Christian different than Muslim?

Machine Gun America... a theme park, no less, ironically
(or not) in Orlando Florida.
How can we be surprised when a young man goes into a club that he had frequented himself for some time, pulls out a gun and opens fire, killing 50 people, injuring 53 more, shattering countless thousands of lives? You cannot turn on the television anymore without someone telling you who to hate and why. Now they want this act to be considered religious terrorism because the man screamed out religious phrases as he carried out this heinous act. Lemme ask you this. If he had been Christian and was quoting Leviticus at the time of the shooting, would people still be calling for it to be a religious terrorist attack? They should. I would like to think they would, but I know better. If this slaughter had been done by a right-wing fundamentalist Christian, his religion would not be an issue.

The day after the shooting, after the anger had waned, I felt nothing. My soul felt like scorched earth, because something more happened this weekend. Like Brock Turner last week, like the San Bernardino shootings before, and Sandy Hook before that, and Columbine before that, the interest will fade. Politicians will block bills to make changes. Mental health issues will still be ignored. Donald Trump will still exude hate and bullying. Hillary Clinton will still defend her right to destroy government emails. The GOP will continue wringing their hands at the clusterfuck of a mess they have now found themselves with their extremist sellouts and because they chose to dance with the devil to make some points over the last 8 years. The Democrats will continue to play games with primary results and their convention in their determination to ensure that Hillary is on the ticket. Gay people will quietly step back, many of them looking at that closet door and wondering if that isn’t the wiser choice. Mothers will send their babies, be they 5 or 25, out the door, never to see them again because some other person with some other gun has been listening to the hate-filled, take no prisoners rhetoric that is spewed every day by religious, political and pundit figures.

Pro-Life? No, not at all. Pro-Birth. What happens after the
baby is born is absolutely no concern of theirs.
I am devoid of feeling, because we have long passed the tipping point, and that realization has nestled in my heart. There is one thing… one thing only… that is needed to fix all of this. It sounds so simple. It should be simple, but apparently it is unattainable. That one thing is respect. We need to show respect for others, for their political beliefs, their religion, their sexual choices, their life choices, and their problems. We need to start to take ownership of our global community, and that requires us to accept and respect each and every one of us. If you want freedom of religion, then you must allow others to enjoy that same freedom even if you do not share the same religious tenets. If you want to lead the country, you must show respect for the people you wish to lead – ALL of them. If you want to cover the news, you should do so respectfully, with balance and without agenda. Regardless of color, religion, mental capacity, physical ability, race, or sexual orientation, it all comes back to one simple little thing: treat others as you wish to be treated. Walk a few steps in someone else’s shoes before you belittle them. Remove the excuses for hate.

I am scorched earth… because no one is addressing the elephant in the room. The shooting in Orlando was a hate crime. It was not ISIS. It was not Muslim terrorist. It was a man who was Muslim who hated gay people. His hatred could have been based on his religion. It could have been triggered by the MANY Christian leaders who spew the same hate from their pulpits every week. The religious aspect is nothing more than an excuse to keep us from talking about the reality. Hate runs rampant; respect for others is gone. By all means, fly your flags, light up your buildings, change your profile photos to show solidarity, but please, this time, do not let it stop there.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Back to the Future

Bernie Sanders has changed me. No, I am not an American. No, I have no vote in the upcoming election. I am registered as neither a Democrat nor a Republican. I am a Canadian... but nonetheless, I have been changed by Bernie Sanders.

I’m not sure how it happened, but am equally unsure of why it doesn’t happen to more people. I find Bernie to be infectious, in such a good way. He is like the coming of spring, when we pull back the curtains, throw open the window, and breathe new life. I find myself taking mental walks in fresh fields, brimming with potential, seeing possibilities where none existed before.

(Yes, I know it's photoshopped, but
how could I resist?)
I wax poetic? Well, maybe. I admit that. But I also have to admit that I see ‘patriotism’ differently. It’s not waving flags, or wearing the Stars and Stripes, or in my case a maple leaf, on the arse of my jeans, or as a bikini top to cover my far-too-ample bosom. Love of a flag means nothing. Putting a hand over heart while reciting empty platitudes is insulting to others, especially if that is all you do. It absolutely is not a catchword to be used to justify sending young men and women to war that is intended only to benefit corporate campaign donors. ‘Patriotism’ is a love not just of country but of the people who live in that country – ALL of them; the poor, the sick, the challenged, the lost, and yes, especially those who would put on a uniform and protect the rest of us. It is respect for the people who make up the country, and a respect for their struggles and their sacrifices. It is a desire to see that the ideals that created the character of the country are attainable by everyone.

While I like to think of myself as progressive enough to not buy into the general social opinion of people, because of Bernie, I see that I can and should do more to ensure that this general social opinion changes. I didn’t think I looked down on the poor, or that I avoided people of a different culture, but I know now that I also didn’t do enough to make a difference to them. We all get wrapped up in the struggle to make it through another day when the corporate and institutionalized deck is stacked against us, but now I have a new appreciation of the fact that in order to make MY struggle easier, I have an obligation to help lessen those struggles of others as well.

We do need banks and corporations, but we do not need them voting in elections, while more of the people are shut out of the process. We do need oil companies, but they need to respect and be responsible to the people and the environment, not demand those entities continue to sacrifice that which is essential to life. We do need people who govern and who bring differing opinions and insights to the table, but we absolutely do not need those who care about nothing but their own bank accounts and raising money for the next election, and who will cut off their own noses to save their far-too-partisan faces. Governing should be about doing what is right not because of party lines, but because it is right, but right is a concept that has been totally sacrificed on the altar of maintaining power at any cost. Elections should not be about who has the most money. They must be about the ability, integrity and character of the person whose name is on the ballot, and nothing more. None of these revelations are new to me, but they are now, perhaps, seen with new perspective – through that newly opened window. Two months ago, I would have said no, it’s pie in the sky, but now? Hell yes, we do have it in us. We do have the strength, the conscience, the ability and now the means to see a change. 

So why do I care about who wins the election in a country that is not mine? The close proximity is one reason. The fact that our economies are so closely linked is another. But the real reason is because we see this hatred, strife, self-centered leadership in so many places, in the governmental institutions of so many countries now, in schools, in companies, in the workplace – Bernie is the first domino, the most important one, and once allowed to take action, his words and logic, his integrity and passion to do the right thing, his love of and respect for the people he wishes to represent, and his inherent desire for equality, will be contagious. It will set the standard for others. It will show that all of us – companies, governments, people and establishments – can work harmoniously together. It will show that good can triumph, that bullies and fear-mongers have no place leading others. This is George McFly come to life, putting Biff back in his place. This is the modern developed world getting back to business, back to the future, because now, as Bernie changes us all for the better, we once again have a future to plan for.