You’re Hired

Although our next election is a year away, candidates are currently doing and saying whatever they believe the American people want to hear. The conservative candidates are so plentiful, one can scarcely keep them all straight. But one of the candidates is not like the others.

 

He is loud. He is obnoxious. He is belligerent. He wears a million dollar kitten on his head.  He is…

trump

 

…The Donald.

A lot can be said about Trump’s candidacy thus far. His disrespectful tone with women, his thoughts on immigration, and his views on political contributions have been ferreted out for our perusal. Well, ferreted is not quite the best word to use, is it? The truth is that The Donald can’t shut up.

While I personally believe that if Trump ever articulated one good political idea, it would die of loneliness…

…He’s hired.

Wait, wait, wait. Don’t curse me like a drunken sailor just yet. I haven’t fallen and bumped my head. I just believe that there are a few things we -conservative, liberal, or other- can learn from this spectacle. Love or hate him. Let’s learn from him.

The Donald is honest. Brutally abrasive, almost cruelly honest. We can debate why he is so blunt, but I don’t believe that matters. What does matter is that Americans are fed up with pandering. A good chunk of America is sick to their back teeth of what they call political correctness.  Although rational people recognize that political correctness is a derogatory term for civility, many loathe it nonetheless. Presently, there is a certain level of admiration for a person willing to tell the unvarnished truth as he or she sees it.  We are seeing this admiration play out in liberal circles as well. A great deal of Bernie Sanders’ appeal is his speaking truth to power approach.

Then, there is the fact that Trump doesn’t need anyone. He is a very profitable business man who has come back from the brink more times than we can count. He is full of the can-do American spirit; He never gives up. As a known contributor to both parties, he has the freedom to entertain all points of view. As a billionaire, he runs a lesser chance of being bought. Americans want someone willing to hear other perceptions and someone comfortable in his/her own decision-making abilities. While very few openly admit to agreeing with most of Trump’s most outrageous statements, they do admire his confidence to stick to his guns. Again, look left…The liberal juggernaut, Sanders, is drawing huge crowds who adore him for sticking to his guns.

Finally, he is making politics interesting again. For many years, Americans have been, well, angry. Ranging from mild irritation to frothing at the mouth, anger and frustration has been an ever-present undercurrent in political discussions. The Donald has energized us all. I appreciate that. He and his kitten make me laugh, but his unique brand of outrageous foolery has people paying attention again. We need people paying attention. I’ve been saying for years that WE were the tyranny, that we have become far too uninvolved. Apathy does no favors for democracies. The Donald and his kitten are just entertaining enough to draw in viewers. Viewers are voters. For that alone, Trump, you’re hired.

 

 

 

An Open Letter

Dear Duggar daughters –

I am not here to chide you, or your family. I am not here to pass judgement on what anyone should or shouldn’t have done in regards to what your brother did.

I am here to tell you that I’m sorry. For everything.

I’m sorry he touched you, in the manner he did, without your permission. Regardless of how you dismiss or rationalize it, he should have never invaded your body like that.

I’m sorry that the adults in your life failed you. They failed to protect you, and they failed to right the wrong, after you were violated.

I’m sorry that it happened to you. I’m sorry you had to feel the confusion and shame afterwards. And I’m sorry that you’ve had to deal with all your feelings, while trying to put up a united front on TV cameras.

I am truly, truly sorry.

I say all this, as someone who’s been there, minus the TV cameras. Someone who was supposed to love and protect me as a parent, did not. And convinced me it was my fault. This person violated me as well, many times, while I was awake, and aware, and scarred me to this day. He gave me nightmares until my adult years. Because of his actions, I was unable to trust any adult male in my life for a very long time. I thought all men were going to try and treat me as a sexual object as well, even my male teachers.

Like you, I told one day. I’m not sure of the reaction your parents gave you, but the reaction I was given by my adults was not positive. I was called a “lying  little bitch” by a member of his family, who again, said they loved me. This was quite traumatic for 12 year old me. However, instead of my perpetrator being shipped away, I was sent to stay with a family friend for the summer. I went home just before school started.
And like you, it started again.
I told again, but this time the police were involved. But even they questioned me, and pointed out that I was going to “ruin his life”.

Never mind that he had already almost ruined mine.

I was 30 before I started to feel better about myself. I do hope that the therapy your family says they gave you will allow you to have a normal relationship with someone of the opposite sex before I was able to.

I’m rambling, I know. You’re telling yourself that nothing bad happened. It’s not like he raped you, or you were even aware of it. I’m sorry you’ve rationalized things to that point. There are no degrees of this. He violated your space, your body, and your trust.

So in closing, as the story dies from the media,  I just want to say that I hope things are better for you. I hope you’re not harboring any negative feelings about yourself, or what you could have done to stop it. I hope that you don’t occasionally still cower from the men in your life, (husbands/partners included) despite how much you love them. Above all else, you deserve to have a happy, whole life, away from the fear to sleep these feelings cause.

Yours ever sincerely,
Samantha Regina Imperiatrix

Ladies, we’ve come a long way, but…

There are some guaranteed ways to get me all fired up and ready to fight. They include but aren’t limited to spewing rhetoric about keeping women in their place, limiting their options and thus their potential, or blaming them for being raped. Recently my fired-up button was pushed. Salon.com had picked up an article, “6 Reasons (+2) to Not Send Your Daughter to College” from FixtheFamily.com. Please read it if you dare. I wasn’t going to but had to acquiesce in order to write this post. As I figured, it is misogynistic nonsense. Lindy West at Jezebel.com wrote an excellent rebuttal—one that I could’ve written, minus all the expletives. Keep it classy is my motto, even when angry—well, at least when speaking or writing for the general public. I highly recommend reading both pieces.

A fellow Evergreener shared the Salon.com post on her Facebook page and as you can imagine, women were responding with objections and hurling insults at the FixtheFamily guy. There was a comment from at least one man. I checked out after I left a comment in response to his because I dislike getting into back-and-forth political arguments on other people’s social media pages; I’m fine doing that on my own page with people I know, but not with complete strangers.

Anyway, the guy wrote, and I am paraphrasing, that we (women) were trampling on this Catholic man’s freedom of speech and that we were being dishonorable to those who had fought for that freedom of speech with our harsh rhetoric. To reiterate, I’ve greatly simplified his response to focus only on the elements that caused me to clench my jaws and release a low growl then a sigh, ending with a major eye roll. I would’ve also banged my head on my desk in one final dramatic display of disdain, but I was on the bus heading home, not at the office.

My response was, and again, I’m paraphrasing because I haven’t gone back to revisit the exchange, but basically it read: “No one is interfering with his freedom of speech. He can say what he wants, but we also have the freedom of speech to disagree vehemently with him. That’s the beauty of this country. Furthermore, there is nothing dishonorable about this, especially where women see oppression and speak out against it.”

Thank goodness my parents didn’t buy into this garbage. They had three daughters and always believed the three of us deserved the same rights and opportunities that boys were afforded. It was never a question of whether or not their daughters would go to college. Neither of them possessed college degrees, but as long as I can remember, the plan was that I and my siblings would attend college, one way or another. They wanted their daughters to have a better life than they did. I will forever be grateful for that. Furthermore, I was brought up Catholic, and I know no Catholics who believe what FixtheFamily guy does—some probably do, but I don’t know them personally.

Now, I am not saying all women must or should go to college or work outside the home. If a woman chooses not to further her education or chooses to stay at home and raise her children, that is fine as long as it is her choice and not her parents or someone else forcing that decision on her. I feel the same way about men. Their choices are limited too. I know a few stay-at-home dads but not many. Why? Because even in the 21st century, society still sees men as breadwinners and women as caregivers. If a man decides to stay home with his children, he is a slacker or a sissy – he’s not a real man because he is not providing for his family. Give me a break. Until we eliminate these archaic gender-role assignments both sexes are doomed to limited life choices. Hopefully, future generations will be more enlightened.

I’m glad my small-town, high-school educated parents (Dad received an Associate’s degree in Criminology after I graduated high school) were wise enough, and dare I say progressive enough, to want their daughters to fulfill our potential. I am proud they are my parents and that even with their limited exposure and experiences in this great big world, they expected me and my sisters to thrive and succeed. They allowed us and encouraged us to go out into the world where we made our own decisions and choices, and yes, we made some mistakes—we still make mistakes—but we’ve always learned from them. Happily, I can report that we three college-educated ladies have made the most of our lives, in our own unique ways, and contributed to our communities.

Maybe Mr. FixtheFamily wants to stifle his daughters’ potential and their futures, but he should stop encouraging others to do the same to their female offspring. Women have come a long way baby, but we still have a ways to go. I will not stay silent or not write about that which I find demeaning and oppressive to women, and I don’t care who thinks I am being dishonorable. I repeat, I will not stay silent or remain unengaged.

Southern Style: The Belle

Welcome back to the south, friends, where our chicken is fried and biscuits come with gravy.  Y’all pull up a rocker and grab a glass of tea.  Why don’t we chat a spell about Southern Belles?belle1

Tell me, do you think of Scarlett O’Hara?  A delicate young lady with a feminine southern drawl?  Bless your little heart,  we probably all do. We imagine hoop skirts, wide-rimmed hats, and parasol umbrellas.

More than that, we envision a flirtatious, yet chaste, beauty, who has been taught that hospitality can win the day – and the man.  Even though, the man she will always love best is Daddy. (wink)  Mama has taught her that a wide front porch is the ideal setting for entertaining guests, and manners – ladies never sweat or cuss, thank you very much! – are of utmost importance.

As time passed, things changed.  Fiddle-dee-dee!!  Hoop skirts were replaced with feminine skirts.  Wide hats replaced with regular salon visits.  Women began to venture outside their homes to work.  In short, Scarlett O’Hara was replaced by Julia Sugarbaker and friends.

These changes, or advancements, came about by both force and choice.  Many women had to seek employment in order to care for their families.    Many more chose to seek a life outside of the traditional roles laid before them.

Gone with the wind.. are the days where a smart girl lets a man take credit for doing exactly what she wants him to do.

Todays Belle prefers to take credit for doing exactly what she wants to do.  Todays Belle is often the sole provider for her family.  She is educated.  She is industrious.  She is determined and persistent.  She knows her own mind.  And she is speaking it.  Loudly and clearly.

Let’s meet a few, shall we?

belle2If you haven’t already, meet Wendy Davis.  Mrs. Davis is a Harvard educated lawyer and Democrat from Forth Worth, Texas.

I’m rising on the floor today to humbly give voice to thousands of Texans who have been ignored. These voices have been silenced by a governor who made blind partisanship and personal political ambition the official business of our great state.

With those opening words, she solidified her place on the national stage.  She became a hero for women when she donned her pink tennis shoes and staged an 11- hour filibuster against an abortion bill she labeled “draconian”.  The bill would have banned all abortions after 20 weeks and closed all but five abortion clinics in the state.

Hats off to this Belle for showing them what a filibuster really is…No food, drink, sitting, leaning, or breaks of any kind.  Yes, friends, an honest to God filibuster!  We have become accustomed to the “threat” of filibuster by our do-nothing Congress.  Because a do-nothing Congress can’t be expected to actually do anything, right?  And while her friends from across the aisle think she owes them something, the rest of us think she has a bright future ahead of her.

Wendy Davis isn’t the only Belle of the ball.  I’m not sure how many of you know of Alison Grimes.  This attorney and Democrat currently holds belle3the position of Secretary of State of Kentucky.  She is also seeking to replace Mitch McConnell in the United States Senate.  With her sweet smile and gentle voice, she has laid down the gauntlet:

Now this part’s for you Senator. Your campaign wants to play silly games about where I am and where I stand.  Well I’m right here in Kentucky, Senator, where I’ll be holding you accountable for voting to double Medicare premiums on Kentucky seniors, including our retired coal miners, for being against requiring the Department of Defense to buy equipment that’s made in America first, for failing to stand up for women when you voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and the Violence Against Women Act, and for opposing raising the minimum wage over and over again while you became a multimillionaire in public office.

Well, I do declare…these ladies aren’t sitting on their porches gossiping about the town cad, are they?  A younger generation of southern women are eager to help change the tone in government and further our nation’s progress.  Take a peek at this:

belle5 belle6

Southern Belles are raising hell…

along with millions of other women, all over the country.  The largest and most reliable voting block in the country has something to say.

Are you listening?

Kirsten Gillibrand is tackling sexual assault in the military.   Elizabeth Warren is sick of banks being catered to, while students pay the price.  Not one to abandon veterans, is Tammy Duckworth.  Interior Secretary, Sally Jewell, doesn’t want climate change deniers in her department.

It is past time for women to take their rightful place, side by side with men, in the rooms where the fates of peoples, where their children’s and grandchildren’s fates, are decided.  – Hillary Clinton

Women, the Belles included, are no longer content to be seen as pretty shells with a uterus.  So, you should be listening.

A 3 hour tour: What’s the matter with Texas?

I sometimes worry, “maybe I write too much about abortion on this blog.”
I quickly overcome this concern:

I wouldn’t have to write so much about abortion/reproductive rights if these basic human rights weren’t under such blatant and constant attack.

Last night, I opened up my facebook feed, expecting to catch up with friends, and instead, I see this story and that lead me to read this legislation. (Yes, I *do* follow the links in blog posts.)

There is an excellent book called What’s the Matter With Kansas? by Thomas Frank. (A must read, and do support indie bookstores,  such as the one linked!)

The title is certainly catchy . . .  and it came to mind when I read over the new proposal some legislators in Texas are supporting. The bill in question would require a woman seeking an abortion to undergo a three hour “adoption education course” before having an abortion.

texas-flagTexas has been in the news over abortion this summer. This is also the state that brought us  Roe v. Wade (listen here to the oral arguments. And yes, please, do take some time to listen not just to this case, but others. In Roe, listen to  Wade’s attorney make a sexist joke about Roe’s attorney and listen to the awkward, appropriate silence from the all-male court.)

So what’s the matter with Texas? Why is a government purportedly pro-small government and individual liberties forcing government into the lives of women of reproductive age, which (hopefully obvious to you, dear reader) affects men and children too.

Texas already has multiple restrictions on abortion.

The following restrictions on abortion were in effect as of May 1, 2013 in the state:

  • A woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided.
  • The parent of a minor must consent and be notified before an abortion is provided.
  • Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
  • A woman must undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion; the provider must show and describe the image to the woman. If the woman lives within 100 miles of an abortion provider she must obtain the ultrasound at least 24 hours before the abortion.

(Via)

We can add to these overly burdensome restrictions that a woman cannot seek an abortion after 20 weeks in Texas. This 20 week ban is unconstitutional, but didn’t stop the small-government, liberty and freedom loving state legislature or Gov. Rick Perry of Texas. (See Idaho and Arizona.)

Abortion is expensive. It is increasingly and unnecessarily time-consuming. For a simple procedure, many women (not just in Texas) must take days off from work to get this basic procedure. That’s money not paying their rent, feeding the children they already have, etc. That’s money they may not have.

That’s time off they may not have.

Time is money.  Texas, and many other states, are wasting our money.

So already, as I write this,the state of Texas is unnecessarily burdening women.

The proposal on the table about a three-hour “adoption course” is now that pro-small government folks in Texas think,

Hey, it’s great if you want to continue your pregnancy. Don’t look to us for support. Liberty! Freedom! Personal responsibility!

But we don’t fully trust you if you decide abortion is the best option for you. SO we’re going to make you sit through a three-hour adoption “course”, you know, because you little ladies maybe didn’t think about that.

Whatever happened to trusting women? If we expect a woman to raise a child, then why can’t we trust her to make her own damn life decisions and know what’s best for her?

Choosing to have an abortion is being “personally responsible”.

I have experience with abortion. I gave women neutral (no politics were discussed) counseling post-abortion–as a volunteer–for over 5 years.

I didn’t meet a single woman whose life scheme included “having an abortion.”
I didn’t meet a single woman who “wanted” an abortion, at least not in the way I “want” someone to help me buy a car, or the way my children “want” to play outside.
The word I would use to best describe the decision is that the woman “needed” an abortion.

And folks, your pro-life stickers, plates, signs–they’re not changing anyone’s mind.

If anything, you’re most likely hurting or angering a person who has had an abortion or knows someone who has had an abortion and is open about it. (Given that about 35% of American women have at least one abortion by age 45, you probably do know someone who has had one.)

From the bill, it seems that the adoption course material hasn’t been designed that.

I’ll be happy to help you out with that Texas.

It seems fitting to end this with a good sea ditty sitcom opening theme:

Heart of the Matter

After my sister’s death in May, I promised to devote this space to a discussion of the factors that contributed to her death. While I have to a limited extent, I have found that the words just will not come. I don’t know if it’s because I’m still in denial (while the facts are irrefutable, it still hasn’t sunk in) or if my grief is just causing me to have writer’s block. So, the most I can offer you at this time is my word to keep up the awareness on important health issues facing women, and particularly women of color.

The very most important thing we can do is realize we are responsible for our own health, and we need to make it a priority. As important as all the things we have to do on any given day for ourselves, our family, and others may seem, the best way to ensure we’ll be able to continue to do them is to remain healthy … and alive. Don’t make the mistake of thinking “It can’t happen to me.”  Heart attack is no respecter of class, gender, race, ethnicity, or age. Best to err on the side of caution and think, “It could happen to me if I don’t take care of myself.” That’s not to say that you should swathe yourself in bubble wrap and sit quietly on your sofa munching carrots and celery. Just remain aware and be proactive.

Be informed. There is a wealth of information right at your fingertips, free for the taking. The American Heart Association has a wealth of information on cardiac health. Go Red for Women has a wealth of information specifically related to cardiac disease in women. WomenHeart is a lesser known, but valuable resource, as is Heart Healthy Women.

Try to lead a balanced existence. Yes, exercise is important, but 30 minutes a day is generally regarded as at least a good starting point. Unless you are planning to enter a triathlon, there is no need to train as though you are. Find something you enjoy, as you’ll be more likely to continue to do it. Don’t underestimate the value of the at-home exercise routine, especially if you’re just starting out.  Try to get outside for at least 10 -20 minutes a day. Not only will the fresh air do you good, the sunshine (even on overcast days) can help stave off depression.  Communing with nature can also be a good stress reliever.  Watch your nutrition, but don’t go overboard. If you deny yourself those yummy french fries too long, you will end up gorging yourself.  Remember the 80/20 rule: eat healthy 80% of the time, and allow yourself some leeway 20% of the time. Take time to enjoy yourself. I know that may sound a little crazy, but in re-evaluating my situation, I found that I wasn’t doing much of that. By the time I finished all the things I had to do, I was so mentally and emotionally drained, all I did was sit on the sofa and vegetate. It’s been a difficult habit to break, but I notice a big difference in my outlook and attitude when I take the time to make myself happy. It doesn’t have to be anything big: a few hours spent wandering around Barnes and Noble is a real treat for me. Take up a new hobby. Pick back up and old one.

Pace yourself. A major lifestyle overhaul can be daunting and fraught with frustration and failure. Try the “Change One Thing” approach: identify one fitness and one nutritional goal and incorporate them into your life. When you feel you have mastered one goal, set a new one. These goals don’t have to be major: maybe you can resolve to park further away from the entrance of anywhere you go. Or – a big one for me – drinking more water.  Small successes lead to big gains!

We, as women, spend so much time selecting just the right shade of blush, or lipstick or foundation; in choosing the perfect shoe or coordinating the ultimate outfit. Now is the time to check our priorities and put our health first; like our life depends on it. Because it does.

Not Far Enough

This past weekend, my family made our umpteenth trek through the nation’s capital.

dc2

We picked quite a day for it.  It was nearly 100 degrees.  And the humidity!  Let’s just say it was the type of heat that would make Satan knock on your door to ask for a glass of iced water!

Our plan was simple.  The children would see each and every thing they wanted to see.  If time allowed, I could do the same.  Which was a good thing, since the only thing I hadn’t seen a million times was the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial.

We spent many hours walking and talking.  We spoke of the American spirit and discussed inventions that changed the world.  We debated which famous American was best, in his/her respective field.  I had to referee the occasional brotherly skirmish.  In other words, it was your typical garden variety family day-trip.

It never dawned on me that I would learn anything .. from my children.

Let me remind you:  It. Was. Hot. My asthma was trying to take center stage.  I had four (somewhat spoiled and over-indulged) boys in tow.  By the time the kids were satisfied that they had seen all they wanted to see, I was exhausted.  And, sure, trying to ensure the satisfaction of four boys can make me a little cranky.  My overall mood was not great.

The more we walked, the less oxygen I seemed to take in.  I was stopping every ten feet to catch my breath.  I wanted to give up on the journey.  I was urged to give up and “just see it next time”.  But I have lived long enough to know that there may be no next time.  And to be perfectly honest, that stubborn Mommy part of me was determined that if I had been walking through an inferno for 7 hours, I would damn well see that exhibit.  Or pass out trying.

Not understanding, my oldest son remarked: “Mom, I know you want to see this thing, but it’s hot and you can’t breathe.  Maybe we should forget it.  Is it really worth all that?”

[Enter visions of cotton fields, torched houses, protests, jail cells]

To which, I responded: “That is why I must keep going.  Men and women, like King, got sick.  They kept going.  People told them it wasn’t worth it, but they kept going.  Heat wasn’t the only thing beating at them, but.. They. Kept. Going.”

So…we kept going.  I was dizzy, light-headed, and wheezing.  But I kept going.

dc3

Finally!!  We were there!  At that moment, my fatigue vanished.  My initial joy was not in seeing the monument.  It was in pride that I made it without collapsing.  It was all about me.

Once I realized that, I took a step back.  I removed myself from the equation.  I remembered how grateful I am for those –  like Dr. King –  who removed themselves from the equation, daily, so that we all might have a better quality of life.  I read his words on the Inscription Wall, and I felt humbled.  And small and petty.  My small accomplishment of “making it” paled in comparison to the type of endurance he needed.  Every day of his life.

After having splashed my face and arms with water from the waterfall, I turned to the faces of my children.  Observing me.. and my humility.

Initially, I was a little embarrassed.  They, then, did something I will never forget.  They, too, splashed their faces and arms.

At that moment, a lesson was driven home.  Children need to observe humility.  They need to see adults continually fighting for what is right, fighting for a more perfect union.

Sadly, it isn’t  hard for me to imagine Dr. King’s America.

An America of fear, prejudice, and hatred.  An America where equality is privilege.

True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.     MLK 1963

An America of poverty.  An America that excuses bad behavior and ignorance.  An America where workers are treated poorly.

I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.     MLK 1964

An America at war.

It is not enough to say “We must not wage war.”  It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.  We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but on the positive affirmation of peace.     MLK 1967

I can imagine it, because that is MY America, to a lesser degree.  We, as a society, have become complacent and selfish.  We rationalize this by saying we have come pretty far from King’s America.  Well, I say we haven’t come far enough.  I say there is always work to be done.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Related articles: