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rage and injustice

August 10, 2019

Waking this morning to the news that accused pedophile and sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide in his jail cell has me filled with conflicting emotions and some not-really-unreasonable conspiracy ideas.

The fact that the man found a way to kill himself while on suicide watch raises some red flags, though I suppose someone who is determined will find a way.  It isn’t a stretch to start thinking about the other powerful men he could conceivably bring down and how far into a prison like his their hands might reach.  I’m sure President Orange Buffoon will sleep better knowing the man is dead, and he likely isn’t the only one.

There’s also the idea that maybe Epstein did “what was expected” of him by his powerful friends.  Who knows, maybe he was given just enough room to do it by those in charge of his “suicide watch.”

Conspiracy theories aside, I am not unhappy that he is gone.  There is a rage for the victims that will not receive justice and for the powerful men that will now be protected a while longer that fills me when I think about it. It’s a rage that I don’t want to cool.  Those women deserve justice for what was done to them and those men deserve punishment for what they’ve done.

I am still hopeful that some good comes out of this.  Maybe some secret diary or files that will come to light now that the monster has departed this earthly realm.  Maybe more women find their courage to step up to the mic and name names.  Maybe some woman kept some form of proof she’s been too afraid to share with the world.

I don’t care who a man is, what group he belongs to, which side of the political divide he stands on; any man who forces himself on a girl or woman, especially those who are too young to consent, deserves to be called out, prosecuted and jailed, as well as to be made to provide financial compensation for all of the medical and mental health expenses incurred due to the rape(s) and lost wages from any amount of time she has been unable to maintain gainful employment due to the damages caused.

Once they’ve paid up, and named any names of those who committed these crimes with them, I don’t care if they commit suicide in their jail cells.  I’d be done with them at that point.  Maybe that’s why the rage at Epstein’s death is so strong, he didn’t pay up, he didn’t have to face his accusers, he hadn’t named names.  He took the coward’s way out of his predicament, rather than putting on his big boy underpants and giving society the justice it was demanding.

I do hope something good comes of this…but I won’t hold my breath…

Photo by Emiliano Bar on Unsplash

revolution

July 5, 2019

It’s difficult these days to find my love of country underneath all of my disgust, anger and fear of my country. The America I have always been so proud to be a part of seems to be gone, and in it’s place we have this dark pretender that puts children in cages, lets it’s vets rot homeless on the streets alongside the families that have nowhere to go, takes food out of the mouths of the poor and the elderly, and denies medical coverage to anyone who is not fortunate enough to get it from an employer.

We spend billions of dollars on military spending that we don’t need, and leave roads crumbling.  We pay for our “president’s” many trips to his own properties to play golf while people die for lack of medical care.  Our elected congress sits and does nothing while our jobs continue to disappear overseas, our skies and waters are polluted and our LGBTQ brothers and sisters lose their jobs, families and lives.

Our message to those who are different is that they are no longer welcome in the country where we were once proud to take in all those fleeing from oppression, from war, all those looking to find a place to call their own.  Those with hate in their hearts have found themselves emboldened in the last few years to speak that hate out loud again, to follow that hate to it’s inevitable end and that end is brutal to those on the receiving end.

Somewhere, underneath all of that is the country I grew up in…the country that I fight for.  Yes, we are a country founded on resistance, on revolt, on revolution…we are a country where every single person has the right to speak. But we are also a country where everyone has the right to exist, the right to pursue happiness.  It’s time to remember that, to restore order and pursue true equality again.

Will it take another revolution to get us there?

 

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

time to party

June 28, 2019

This weekend, in the heart of San Francisco, the LGBTQ+ community will come together to for Pride. While it is a big party, and the atmosphere can get wild and silly and stupid, we need to remember it’s origin.  We’re at the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and I think we need to find time amid all of the celebrating to remember those who were the first to stand up and say “No, we won’t be treated this way.”

We’ve come a long way since then…but in some ways we’re still mired in that ugly past when people were free to discriminate against the “degenerates” and “perverts” even to the point of threatening their lives.  The rise we see in hate crimes against our LGBTQ+ brethren hearkens back to that time.  No, we aren’t being arrested just for being us…yet.

However, the number of trans women of color who have been murdered in the last two years is terrifying.  It was trans women of color who threw the first brick at Stonewall.  They started the movement that has brought us to the place where we have the rights of our straight brethren, and we need to stand up for them.  Loudly.  We need to put our bodies between them and those that would murder them for existing.

I have a niece who is transgender.  She is a beautiful girl whom I love dearly.  Sometimes I fear for her safety in this world that is trying desperately to return to a time before Stonewall.  Fifteen years ago I knew one person who was transgender, and she ended up taking her own life.  Today my life is filled with transgender folks, and while we might argue that things are better today than they have been in the past, the truth is they are still in danger.

It’s time to remember the T in LGBTQ+ and that they are a part of us as a whole.  We have no room for the in-fighting and self-flagellation that can be seen within various parts of the family.  As we gather for the big LGBTQ+ family reunion this weekend, lets embrace everyone and let love guide us past our fears and the hate fomented by those outside our community.

So, go out and party this weekend (but be safe and don’t do stupid things like take drugs from strangers and all that), but make room for those who may not be like the people you usually hang with.  Hug a transgender person (ask first).  Embrace pronouns.  Talk to someone whose gender is ambiguous.  Step outside your comfort zone and learn something new.

The Mom instinct in me also wants to say:  Wear sunscreen on ANY exposed skin.  Drink lots of water.  Pace yourself with alcohol.  Don’t do drugs.  Support our vendors.  Donate to help Pride keep on keeping on, just find a PINK BUCKET at any of the gates or the donation booth.  If you donate, you get a sticker that will get you a dollar off all drinks, all day.

Now then, I should focus on the morning routine.  Lots to do the day before Pride!

 

Photo by Tristan Billet on Unsplash

big ideas

June 2, 2019

Yesterday I got to attend MoveOn’s Big Ideas forum in San Francisco, where 8 of the democratic Presidential candidates got to present 5 minutes on their “big idea” to move the country forward, followed by a little Q&A with the moderators.

I went in knowing that I really liked both Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, that I was completely over Bernie Sanders, and not a lot else about the other five candidates.  I was prepared to be underwhelmed by the men because at this point men in politics have left me pretty cold since Obama left office, but I went in willing to listen.

I was really surprised when Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro all had passionate, important ideas to share that ranged from closing the racial wealth gap (Booker) to Immigration reform (O’Rourke) and demilitarizing the police/ending police brutality (Castro).  All three were well spoken and articulate, provided not just their BIG IDEA but also their reasoning for why it is something we need, but HOW they’re planning to go about making it happen.

The only woman I didn’t find particularly compelling was Kirsten Gillibrand.  She seemed like a paler, less passionate ghost of the other women.  Not that her ideas about paid family leave weren’t important, but when compared to Warren’s comprehensive idea to battle the corruption that plagues D.C. and Wall Street and thereby the whole country, or Amy Kobuchar’s idea to improve voting rights, including automatically registering all citizens at the age of 18, her presentation was lacking somehow, failing to capture the audience as successfully as the others.

Of course, Kamala Harris’ presentation was interrupted by a jackass with his own “big idea” who jumped the stage and stole her microphone to try to speak (presumably about animal rights as I understand it), but she recovered nicely and was able to carry on talking about equal pay, and shifting the burden of getting employers to be responsible to obey the law from making women chase after it to making employers prove that they are providing equal pay, and significantly penalizing those who don’t.

On top of that, I made a few connections with other attendees, and overall, enjoyed my afternoon.  I only had a few moments of sheer panic, but as an agoraphobe who is determined to get out in public, that’s expected.

Thank you to MoveOn for inviting me!

 

Photo by Bogomil Mihaylov on Unsplash

…the cult of the dead…

May 25, 2019

There are many cultures and religions that revere the dead.  Some worship their ancestors.  Some celebrate their dead.  Here in America it isn’t really a formalized idea, outside of those who practice specific religions, but visit almost any home in America and you will see altars filled with pictures and mementos of those who have gone on ahead.

This is even more true of those homes that have lost a soldier, someone who went out in service of our country, or what was passing as service to our country at a time, and came home in a box, if they came home at all.

You’ll find the formal “graduating basic training” pictures of stern and/or happy looking soldiers in their dress uniforms, carefully folded and framed flags, maybe dogtags or casual photos of them on their deployment laughing with their friends.  You might find trinkets that soldier picked up along the way.

In some ways, I suppose, these altars to the dead are a way of keeping them close, of keeping their memory alive.  We don’t worship them like other cultures, at least not in the traditional sense of that word: worship.  There isn’t a formal practice, no chanting or meditation in any formal sense.  It isn’t really religion.

Except for the militant military cult that has been growing in recent years…the vehement veneration for men with guns, for forcing the world to accept what we want them to be, for the idea of our young people dying in our service, without really stopping to consider what that service actually is.  As long as they put on that uniform before they die, we practically worship them.

Of course, for those who return still alive, well, we have next to no use for them.  They didn’t die for us.  They didn’t fulfill their purpose.  We ignore them until they become a convenient political football for us to lob at the heads of those who disagree with the cult of the dead, those who would spend time and money fixing the broken who didn’t die.

This Memorial Day we, as a nation together, honor those who fell in service to the idea that is America.  Our young nation has spent a lot of years involved in war and we’ve fed generations of soldiers into the grinding machinery of war in that time, from that first shot in the Revolution to the last to die on the sands of the middle east…and this is the official weekend for us to honor that sacrifice.

May your veneration be filled with awe and wonder and not anger.  Lay flowers on the graves, talk to them, sing their favorite songs, cook their favorite foods…embrace your neighbor and for at least the one day set aside your differences.  Remember the idea that those men and women died for and maybe turn your attention to making that idea a reality.  The idea that America is a country worth our blood.  That our founding fathers (and mothers) set down the notion that all men are created equal, even those who are very different from you.

 

Photo by Einar Storsul on Unsplash

lets talk about sex…and abortion

May 24, 2019

I meant to post earlier this week, but the job hunt is a whole job of work!  That said, there have been a few things on my mind lately, in particular about that dirty word “abortion” and what it means to women.

As a woman over 50, I have never been pregnant, I have used birth control of at least one type whenever I’ve had sex my entire life and I’ve used birth control to manage health issues.  As a matter of fact I am using two forms of birth control right now to manage my extremely painful periods that come with excessive bleeding.

My generation was taught that these aren’t things we talk about in polite company, and that might well explain why so many cis-gender, white male people have absolutely no idea how a woman’s body works.  They don’t understand what a period is or why they happen.  They don’t understand how birth control works.  They don’t get that if every woman everywhere just “didn’t have sex” until they were ready for babies, they would never get laid.

Not to mention the increase in acquaintance rape that would occur, because so many men feel that they are entitled to a woman’s body, regardless of what she wants.

It also doesn’t touch the internalized misogyny and self-loathing of the women who believe that it is their god given duty to fight to end all abortion (and birth control) because clearly they don’t ever actually read their own good book in any detail.  I mean, their god sent a bear to eat children for making fun of a bald man, I doubt he has any serious feelings about a clutch of cells inside a woman’s uterus.

So, let’s be real here for a minute.  Let’s review what would actually reduce abortion, namely: a) Scientifically informed sex education, b) Free access to effective birth control regardless of race, wealth or location with education on how to use it and what can counteract it, c) stiff, mandatory sentencing for rape and sexual assault including cases of incest and child rape and d) access to reliable, affordable reproductive healthcare.

Let’s face it, the argument against sex education is lame.  Learning what sex is, how it works, what it does to the body and all of the possible consequences, including pregnancy, is not going to make your kids run off to have all of the sex.  Just like learning that gay people exist doesn’t make your kid gay, or learning how rich people got rich doesn’t make your kid rich.  Kids are going to have sex.  It’s part of being human.  Part of that drive for survival that had us marrying and procreating at fifteen just so we’d have enough kids to work the farm, and we just haven’t evolved out of it.  So while our morality about under age sex has evolved, those under age bodies haven’t.  Sex feels good, and kids are going to have sex.  Wouldn’t it be prudent to arm them with real information so that they can protect themselves?

And let’s talk about sex for a minute.  It’s 2019 people.  Women are allowed to have sex.  We’re allowed to like sex. Sex feels good, when it’s done right.  We don’t need men’s permission to orgasm.  As much as we’re allowed to say No to sex, we’re allowed to say yes as well, and in a world where science has gifted us with options for birth control, there is no reason at all that sex necessarily has to lead to pregnancy.

But no birth control is 100% effective.  Things happen.  Condoms break.  Birth control fails from time to time.  And when that happens, a uterus may get a new, unwanted tenant.  If someone moved into your house uninvited, used up all of your resources, made you sick and threatened your very life, wouldn’t you want them evicted?

Pregnancy is a hard, hard thing on a body. Anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t understand the science of it or is blinded by religiosity.  Here in the US, our infant and mother mortality rates are climbing.  Pregnancy can and does kill mothers and babies.  No one who chooses not to be pregnant should be forced to give birth.

If you would force an 11 year old rape victim to give birth to her rapist’s baby, you are an asshole.  If you would force a scared college student with no money, no support system, no health insurance to give birth to a child just because you say so, you are an asshole.  If you would force a married mother of four who is barely making ends meet and will lose her job if she has to miss as much time as a fifth pregnancy will require her to miss, to carry that child to term, rather than aborting it as soon as she is sure she’s pregnant, you are an asshole.

If someone needs blood, I can’t be forced to give them mine even if we’re a type match.  If someone needs a kidney to survive, no one can be forced to undergo surgery to give up one of theirs.  Hell, if I die and make it clear that I don’t want to donate any of my body to anyone, no court in the land is going to over ride those wishes and take anything from me.  Why?  Because I have a say over what happens to my body, even when I’m dead.

That authority over my body isn’t suddenly superseded because it is suddenly invaded by a parasite.

Pregnancy and birth is a wonderful, miraculous thing…when that child is wanted and planned for.  When it is unwanted, pregnancy and birth is terrifying, painful (both physically and emotionally) and it ruins lives.

Our world is already over populated.  We already don’t take care of the children we have.  They go hungry, they suffer at the hands of abusive caretakers. They languish in the foster system.  All over this world there are children who were born because their mothers had no choice, no access to safe abortions.  All over this world there are children who need the help and resources that this country spends fighting abortion.

Maybe if we spent that money on taking care of the children that are already here and funding education, health care and actual prosecution of abuse and rape, we might find that the number of abortions drops all on its own.

 

Photo by Jan Zhukov on Unsplash

somewhere out there…

May 3, 2019

So this week, I got laid off.  Again.  It seems to be the fate of the technical writer.  It’s one of the first jobs cut when tough financial times hit a company.  I guess we aren’t completely essential to the bottom line, even if our job is to make life easier for the company.

Having just gotten a glowing review and a substantial raise, this one kind of came out of nowhere, and I was not prepared for it in anyway.

I did rise to the occasion though, and within a couple of hours I had an updated resume and was applying to various positions in the area.  The market seems fairly robust at the moment, and I’ve made sure I can cover two months worth of rent, so I’m not overly concerned. The search begins!

I’m a resourceful woman with a lot to offer the right company.  I just have to find that company.  Here’s hoping it doesn’t take too long, because unemployment is not even a third of my salary, and won’t even pay my rent.

I should go take my shower so I can head in to clean out my desk and pick up my last check.  I’d like to get that over with, so I can focus on what comes next.

 

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash