Category: Culture

Out of the frying pan…

Out of the frying pan…

Post-it notes on a glass door that say "Sorry we are closed" and "COVID-19"
Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash

So way back when, 20 months ago, shortly after the New American Era began, I wrote this: Aftermath (Part 11): It took six years…. Ten days later, I wrote this: Endarkenment (Part 5).

Today, as the country gets ready to lock down again, for what’s the fourth wave in a viral pandemic that carries the -19 identifier because it started IN 2019, we are seeing record numbers of infections, in children and adults, the vast majority of whom haven’t been vaccinated.

In the second post, I ended with the following flat statement:

Talk to me six months from now. If all of this is a distant, awful memory, I will thank you for reminding me that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it could be.

And here we are. Continue reading “Out of the frying pan…”

Still wondering if this shit’s real? Here’s a clue by four…

Still wondering if this shit’s real? Here’s a clue by four…

Early this year, in the mad grab for Hamilton tickets, I decided to go ahead and get a full subscription to the Hippodrome in Baltimore. I invited a friend to join me, and we got a pair of tickets for the coming season. Continue reading “Still wondering if this shit’s real? Here’s a clue by four…”

Endarkenment (Part 3)

Endarkenment (Part 3)

I’m all too familiar with the spiral Anne Wheaton describes here. The stress of the news, coupled with the kitchen repairs and impending divorce and new job and old job and milestone birthday…they all wrap around the next two and a half weeks. Continue reading “Endarkenment (Part 3)”

Achilles’ Heel…

Achilles’ Heel…

Achilles’ heel

  • n.
    A seemingly small but actually crucial weakness.

Continue reading “Achilles’ Heel…”

A departure, in appreciation: Frank Deford

A departure, in appreciation: Frank Deford

In 1986, I moved into the Metro DC area. Eventually, my first boyfriend got me to listen to WAMU (mostly for Mary Cliff’s folk music show, Traditions. I started to use WAMU in the morning as my wake-up radio station, way back when Bob Edwards was still the host.
Continue reading “A departure, in appreciation: Frank Deford”

Goodbye, Amazon: A cancellation story in seven PDFs and a phone call…

Goodbye, Amazon: A cancellation story in seven PDFs and a phone call…

“Hey, Amazon.com!”

Sorry, but you don’t get to market HATE objects to me or my kids. I’ll be sorry to see Woot and IMDB go, and Prime was useful for a while there, but it’s time to part company. Continue reading “Goodbye, Amazon: A cancellation story in seven PDFs and a phone call…”

How we process the news from Santa Barbara…

How we process the news from Santa Barbara…

In this world, too many people see discussions as only about one topic or another, and these folks shun the idea that topics have many subtopics and sources.

The world of Elliot Rodger is by no means exclusive, but if his actions bring these multiple threads of discussion to a head, perhaps we can have the discussions we need to that will help us get past what corporate interests prefer not to discuss for the sake of continuing to generate revenue at the cost of human lives.

In this discussion, but by no means an exhaustive list: Misogyny, misandry, gun control, mental illness, autism, entitlement, politics and more. Every single one of these topics has something to do with the murders and injuries in Santa Barbara, but not the way you might think. And for me, this post has been coming since Sandy Hook and Aurora, but until now I couldn’t wrap my mind around the pile of implications and threads without being afraid either of outing myself or offending someone else, so I’ll say this first and get it out of the way, because you need to know.

It all starts with

#YesAllWomen

And it ends with

#NotAllMen

Now before you blow up all over me and say I’m interested in taking away ALL TEH GUNZ, as some now-unfriended people have done in the past, let me share some facts with you:

1. I have been in therapy on and off since I was a teenager. Losing a parent early is bad enough, but I also suffered bouts of depression and headaches and cramps that were bad enough to put me out of commission for a couple of days. Add to that being unable to get organized because I would start one process and then ten hours later find I’d gotten sidetracked and only partially finished the original goal, but forgot those 15 other things that also needed doing (along with the food I was supposed to eat regularly), well, that’s ADHD in a nutshell. Add to all this a separation from my husband and how to handle his behavior and the aftermath of the break-up, and death of a parent, and it’s not a surprise. I have been on medication but am not now and have not been for the better part of a year, and in that year I’ve accomplished Dean’s List two semesters running. My ability to cope has been tested sorely and I’ve come out okay on the other side.

Mental illness comes in all forms and so do other mental issues. I’ve never considered myself a danger to others. I used to think it was all on me, that I was broken, but no more. Having watched my ex-relationships and how they handle their current relationships, I’ve come to realize my biggest fault is in the relationship choices I’ve made and not so much with me. Some of the problems I’ve had could be chalked up to immaturity, narcissism flawed logic on the part of the opposite sex. I’m tired of playing romance roulette and I’m not looking anymore, mostly for this reason. And I’m mostly okay with that.

2. I grew up in a household with an NRA member who also smoked. I never picked up either habit, though I am a fair shot with a .22 rifle. I have spent time with people who were doing drugs, but never knowingly took drugs on my own or sought out more than alcohol and I don’t drink much now because I don’t like the effect or (in many cases) the taste.

3. I have suffered sexual abuse, above and including the “dirty phone call” variety. In more than one instance I was not a consenting adult. Only one time did someone of the opposite sex hit me, and he’s been out of my social circle for an extended period of time. No, I won’t go into details. The statute of limitations ran out a long time ago.

4. I like movies quite a bit, but am increasingly uncomfortable with what I see in them, especially when they revolve around relationships between men and women. The Bechdel Test is weighing particularly heavily on my mind just now.

So, when the news broke about Santa Barbara over the weekend, I had plenty of thoughts on the subject, but until I started seeing responses on my Facebook feed, I was willing to ignore them until I could get my thoughts to gel.

What follows are a number of articles and videos, in what I think are appropriate order. You can feel free to follow my path down through the material or just take my word for it: We have a major problem on our hands and we don’t even know how to talk about it because these issues are coming up and getting in the way of the conversation.

We can start with Ann Hornaday’s response (auto-launch video warning!) to the critical feedback she received on her scathing article published May 25, 2014, in which she indicts the Hollywood movie machine as a foundation for the problem of male entitlement.

What follows here are four reactions, every one of them written by men. I want you to read what these four men have to say on the subject. I am excluding from this conversation the father of one of the male victims in the Santa Barbara rampage because he’s addressing his questions to congress. In the end, this is what you must do, as well, or the conversation will not change.

First, regarding the shooter’s mental health condition, a subject that should really be investigated further because we do NOT treat mental illness the way we should and we never ever have. Worse, assumptions by the police that it isn’t as bad as observers have seen has much to do with lack of training, coupled with a lack of beds in hospitals and the lack of trained medical staff for dealing with violent mental illness.

Washington Post: Sheriff: Calif. shooter Rodger flew ‘under the radar’ when deputies visited him in April

That the pharmaceutical industry and health insurance companies restrict access to care and shunt everyone to drugs first is a failure to address the fundamental problem: We are not equipped to handle mental illness because it’s not in the interests of drug companies to fix a problem that nets them billions of dollars annually.

These situations exist because we have failed both the families of our most fragile citizens who know better and try to warn about the dangers and those victims who likely never knew what hit them or why. There is but one target for this: Our laws fail us and our lawmakers fail us because they answer to the industry and not the people.

But then, there are those in congress who prefer to blame the mentally ill and regulatory failures instead of looking at why those gaps exist:

Washington Post: GOP’s Rep. King calls for more background checks in wake of Calif. killings

Rep. King’s views aren’t new, but they are politically motivated, and it’s still easier to point a finger at background checks without recognizing that without a universal database to check, such a system will fail, and such infrastructure simply doesn’t exist because of the taboo discussion regarding mental illness in the first place. So sure, go ahead and talk as if a background check might have kept the violence from happening, but it’s a smokescreen on a much larger problem.

And on top of all this, there’s the dreaded “Autism = Murder” issue that came up with Sandy Hook. I read the article below when it came out, and I think it bears rereading. I know at least a dozen people in my social circle who fall somewhere on the spectrum. Everyone wants something to blame to try and explain the actions of murderers. Consider these words before you become part of the problem:

Psychology Today – Asperger’s, Autism, and Mass Murder: Let’s stop the rush to judgment.

Two more articles, and I’m done for now. I’ve posted at least one of these on my Facebook feed already, but both bear reading and further reflection.

First:

Slate – Not all men: How discussing women’s issues gets derailed

and second:

Patheos.com – John Beckett: Dude, It’s You

If you want to have the discussion here, you’d best spend the time and read these last two articles because I will boot you otherwise.

You can feel free to share this information. We can’t have the discussion if we don’t recognize the foundation for the problem.

A Tale of Two Rapes… *Trigger warning*

A Tale of Two Rapes… *Trigger warning*

CNN and the rest of our media are taking a lot of well-deserved flack for their report on the Stubenville, OH, rape verdict handed down Sunday.

There is also this report from CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/17/justice/ohio-steubenville-case/index.html 

I recognize that reporters are far less objective than they once were, but CNN (and the rest of our media sources) should take the public backlash as a clue to re-evaluate their reporters’ investigative standards. They need to understand that they promote this reprehensible custom: Sympathizing with criminals while leaving victims out to hang. Jezebel says Here’s What CNN Should’ve Said About the Steubenville Rape Case

CNN isn’t alone in letting this unadulterated crap slip through. Too many members of our society encourage this sort of thinking.

NBC News and Fox fared just about as well, though neither source came out and said it was a shame what happened to those boys. Yahoo (of all places) gets much closer to the truth of the situation Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel for calling it what it is.

Throughout this trial, the two defendants and a parade of friends who wound up mostly testifying against the defendants, expressed little understanding of rape – let alone common decency or respect for women. Despite the conviction, the defendants likely don’t view themselves as rapists, at least not the classic sense of a man hiding in the shadows.

We live in a culture of rape, patronizing subordination and violence. We glorify gun ownership and alcohol and we look for ways to excuse bad behavior because they’re young and don’t know better. But who taught them about behaving this way in the first place?

We encourage our kids to dress in ways that enhance their attractiveness to each other, but too often we fail to teach them anything about what should happen when they are together, about taking responsibility for one another, or what abuse means. The emphasis on the victim’s level of intoxication should lead us to wonder how she had access to so much alcohol, how she came to be in that condition when they abused her.

This “they’re OUR kids, hands OFF” approach to sex education leaves kids with a basic understanding of biology and no understanding of ethics. Add alcohol into the mix, reduce remaining inhibitions, and you have a mess on your hands. Assuming the family or church will handle it absolves our society of dealing with the real problem: Education our kids with empathy, understanding consequences and recognizing right from wrong.

But that’s not what CNN reported.

Is it social media that’s to blame? No. In fact, without access to the electronic connection, the victim’s abuse would have gone unreported and she would have had no recourse. Nobody would have believed her because “she lied” and must have “asked for it” by being at the party and drinking. At least, that’s the gist of the reports coming out of this trial.

So when her rapists are found guilty and punished, we hear sympathy for them and what they’ll go through now that they’ve been found guilty.

Really?

The only way we’re going to change our society is to acknowledge that these crimes deserve punishment and that victims are NOT to blame for being in the wrong place at the wrong time or for provoking the actions of their abusers.

In fact, there should be NO WRONG PLACE.

The real story here is how hard it was for victim to seek and receive justice, not how the verdict destroyed the lives of two boys because the victim sought justice.

How we address these issues speaks volumes about who we are as a society. For all the good we can do, there’s this, also from CNN:

6 men arrested in gang rape of Swiss tourist in India

Contrast? You bet. Sadly, it happens here, like this, all the time.

Nobody told those boys they were doing anything wrong until they got caught and punished.

Seems to me they regret getting caught as much or more than the acts they committed, as horrific as those acts were.

That is the biggest crime of all.

Attempting to see the forest…

Attempting to see the forest…

Last weekend I attended a Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Dinner. It’s an annual event held by congregations across the country, as a chance to get to know people from the congregation and to share entertainment, conversation and good food.

During the conversation at dinner, the subject of race came up.

Continue reading “Attempting to see the forest…”

Theme: Elation by Kaira.