Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


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Rotten Apples

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Good girls don’t fall.

If you fall you’re rotten. You’re damaged goods. Temporary. And no one will really want you.

And please do not forget, your value is wrapped up in whether or not a boy wants you.

Don’t give up your chastity. One day one of those boys who has been partaking of the damaged goods will tire of that and suddenly desire your virtue.

He’s not damaged goods. You will be happy to have him. He is a gift.

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Analogous…In Which the 99% can Relate and Understand

The other day, maybe a month or so ago, Donald Trump called in and spoke to Chris Cuomo, one of the hosts of New Day on CNN.  He does that a lot and gets buttloads of free publicity.

*During his conversation with Cuomo The Donald talked about how he understands the working class and how he, himself, had received a small loan from his father when he started out in the real estate business. When pressed about the amount of the loan Trump said it was a million dollars*.

 

Scratch…………..wut?!?

He later explained that the size of the loan was relative meaning that in his world a million dollars is small.

 

fascinated_cat

Now, pardon me for saying so but Trump was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.  He’s likely never rolled pennies to buy a gallon of milk.  I’m quite certain he’s never, not ever, wondered where his next meal was going to come from and I highly doubt that he has ever a day in his life worried that if he didn’t receive his next check his lights would be cut off.

Donald Trump is the one percent.

So when he starts talking to the working-class, also known as the working poor, my eyes glaze over.  No matter how much he shouts from the rooftops that he’s on my side and he can make it better and that, believe him, I have no greater ally than him when it comes to getting ahead my eyes glaze over.  When he says things like, I got a “small loan” from my father of a million freaking dollars, I roll my eyes so hard it’s a wonder they don’t fall out of my head.

When he tries to tell the American public that he understands their plight and that, believe him, he’s got problems, too, it really is laughable.  He lambastes anyone who dares criticize him in any way whatsoever.  But truly, he’s got my best interest at heart.

He’s boycotted networks because they weren’t “fair” to him.  Fair? I suppose that’s relative, too.

The difference here is I don’t begrudge him his wealth.  He was born into it.  He didn’t ask to be born to those parents, though I dare say he wouldn’t wish to born to a poor family.  I don’t wish he were poor.

I’d like to share in the wealth. I’d like to think that the system that keeps the one percent rich as hell isn’t also the same system that keeps me living paycheck to paycheck without a hell of a lot of luck.  If only I could wish it weren’t so.

So it isn’t Donald Trump, personally, that I have a beef with.  And he might be an ally to the working class.  But what isn’t helpful is for him to try to tell me that he’s got problems, or that something isn’t fair to him or that, or that me pointing out the disparity between our situations is somehow classist.   Or when the working class tells him that they need help and that the wealth should be a little more evenly divided that his answer wasn’t, “Believe me, I’m going to make America great again.  But you’re not getting any of my wealth. That’s socialism.”

What would be helpful is if he sat down with a group of the working class and asked them how he might help make it better.  If he asked what it’s like to be poor or working-class, listened to the answer, and then acted upon that to the best of his ability that would be helpful.

When Trump makes the working-class’ problems all about how it affects him it tells me he might be listening to the working class but he surely doesn’t hear them.

Now, apply that same logic, that same disgust, that most of us feel when Trump speaks to the middle and low income class of people to every other class imbalance.

We don’t want to hear about Trump’s problems.  We don’t want to hear how life has been unfair to him.  Because it pales in comparison to the problems and unfairness that the rest of us experience on a regular basis. It seems kind of pointless and idiotic for him to compare himself on any level with us commoners.  Sure, he puts his pants on one leg at a time just like us, but he puts his leg into an Armani suit, not a cheap polyester one.

Stay with me here.  That’s the way women feel when men talk about how feminism bugs them.  That’s the way women feel when men talk over them and past them.  I’d venture to guess that’s how black people or people of any minority feel when the classes  above them in the echelon try to tell them how hard life is for them.

It isn’t an attempt to make men or white people feel worthless or meaningless.  It is an attempt to make ourselves worthy and meaningful.  No, we don’t want to silence you.  We want to be heard – not just listened to.  Is that so much to ask?

*Edited because somehow in publishing WordPress ate a whole paragraph.


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Can the Frogs Get Out of the Pot?

In my last post I talked about the excesses of male privilege. It might have come across that I’m averse to affection. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’m a hugger. I like to give hugs and get hugs – appropriate hugs. I don’t care if you’re a man or a woman.

The trouble is casual sexism and misogyny often go overlooked. Women look the other way when there are catcalls on the street. Or when they’re told to, “smile, it’ll get better.” Or when the joke is at the expense of their gender. All because they don’t want to appear as though they don’t have a sense of humor, or can’t take a joke, or a compliment, for that matter.

A compliment is: “That’s a nice dress”. A man who works here in the office with me told me one day that I always dress so classy. I didn’t take that as a pass. He wasn’t looking me up and down. I didn’t get the impression he was undressing me with his eyes. I didn’t think it sexist or misogynist. I politely smiled and said thank you. Because, yes, I can take a compliment.

Not only can women take compliments, but we do, indeed, appreciate appropriate affection. Appropriate affection can be a touch on the shoulder – not a massage. Touch and move on. It’s nice to know a person cares about you. An affectionate greeting with a small, friendly, hug is appropriate. Sliding your hands below the waist down to the small of a woman’s back and not letting go is not a friendly greeting.

I know that what a person looks like is the first thing we notice as human beings, but don’t rate us solely on that score alone. We’re tired of comparing ourselves to airbrushed Victoria’s Secret models and trying to live up to unrealistic expectations. We look in the mirror everyday and instead of seeing beauty we see flaws.

To the men out there, you no longer need to wield a club and drag a woman by her hair to your cave. We aren’t pieces of meat on display at the market. We aren’t property to be claimed. Think about the scenarios in which you are involved. If it were happening in the reverse would it be uncomfortable? Creepy? Inappropriate? If it would be then it’s uncomfortable, creepy and inappropriate. Period.

To the women out there, it’s time for us to stop glossing over misogyny and laughing along with sexist jokes. When we do that we’re only sending the message that it’s okay; that it doesn’t bother us; that we accept unequal treatment.  We perpetuate misogyny and sexism when we seek to profit from it. We need to send the clear message that inequality is a problem and we’re not going to take it anymore.

Casual sexism and misogyny may not seem ‘that bad’.  It doesn’t have to be ‘that bad’ to be wrong.  Isn’t inequality a good enough reason to address these issues and make them better?  It is the only way we’ll ever climb out of the pot of boiling water.

I do see progress over where we were even twenty years ago.  It is slow, but it is progress.  Sometimes, though, it seems like two steps forward and one step back.  Thank you to all the male readers who expressed concern and compassion over these issues.  Perhaps there is hope after all.

Well, this sermon hasn’t been three points and a prayer, but how about a poll(thanks for the idea, Roughseasinthemed) and a song?

 

I also want to open up the comment section, not only to discussion about the content of the post, but to any woman who would like to share her story.  Not to make any men uncomfortable, but sometimes it helps just to be able to share it, even anonymously.


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We’re All Frogs in a Pot

[TRIGGER WARNING: This article may contain content about misogyny, sexism, sexual abuse, or assault which may be triggering to survivors.]

Indoctrination into patriarchy starts young. Very young. Even to girls whose parents don’t particularly subscribe to patriarchy. Boys get the same subtle hints at it, too. But they are on the top of the food chain. I’m sure it has negative effects, but I can’t speak for boys or men. I can speak for girls and women.
I am not unique in my experiences. Let that sink in as you read the rest of this post. Girls and women all over the world experience these things and worse every single day. This is hardly rare. So this is also not a tale of woe or how my life has been terrible. It hasn’t. This is to highlight exactly how commonplace misogyny and sexism are in all its forms, some blatant and some subtle.

Growing up I wasn’t what I would have classified as pretty. I was an ugly duckling. In fact, the boys at school let me know that I was on the opposite end of the spectrum on the regular. I looked like a boy. Ugly girls aren’t to be talked to. They’re to be talked about, the butt of the joke. They sure aren’t worth much. We learn at a pretty early age to just shake it off. Let it roll off like water off a duck’s back. It’s going to happen so we might as well learn to live with it. Does it hurt? Of course. But we learn early that looks are important and that they’re part of the package of anything that resembles worth. Keep that in mind as I tell you what I’m about to tell you.

When I was maybe six or seven, I went to the neighbor’s house to see if Margaret could come out and play. She wasn’t there. There was normally a house full of people there, but that day only her older brother was home. I don’t know how old he was, but he had already graduated from high school, so he must have been at least eighteen. At first he told me that she was there and that I could go on into her room where she was. When I got to her empty room and turned around there he stood in the narrow hallway of that two-bedroom house. He asked me if we were friends. I said, “Not really.”

As I tried to walk past he knelt down and put his hand on the wall blocking my path. My back against the wall, he leaned in close and said, “We can be friends. Let me show you what friends do.” With that he shoved me into the bedroom and pulled my pants down and his. No, he didn’t go quite that far either. His friends pulled up into the driveway and blew the horn. My salvation. He gathered himself, made me crawl through their house to the side door, and told me to wait until they had gone to leave. We could see my dad out the window in the door. He pointed to him and said I’d better not tell. I wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to him, would I? I never went back even when I knew other people were there and I didn’t tell.

When I was fifteen I got my first job. My granny and granddaddy got me the job. There was a man in town they knew who installed insulation who needed a part-time secretary. It was the summer and he’d give me all the hours I wanted until school and then it would be part-time. He was my grandparents’ age, which seemed old to me at the time, but probably in his mid to late fifties. He paid in cash. I was supposed to answer the phone, make appointments, sweep the floor, take payments, and make deposits. I thought I’d hit the jackpot because he was going to pay me two hundred and fifty dollars – in cash – every week! He rarely had checks. He always had wads of cash. I heard later that the insulation business was just a front for something far more lucrative. I have no idea if that’s true or not.

Things went pretty well the first week. I did all the things I was supposed to do and he seemed pleased with the work I’d done. Then it happened. He would come into his office in the morning before he went out to job sites and then in the afternoons around five. He sat at his desk and pulled me into his lap. I pulled away. He let it go. Then he started hugging me and trying to kiss me and trying to fondle me. After about a week of that I quit. I lasted all of two weeks. My granny came to see me because France had told her I quit. She wasn’t happy. It made them look bad because they had vouched for me. When I told her what happened her response was, “Every man likes to have a little pat on the rear – a secretary they can give a little squeeze.” The lesson? The bodies of women are for the pleasures of men. I still didn’t go back. Granny still wasn’t happy.

Mama hired a preacher to do some carpentry work at the house. Elbert Cox. He made me really uncomfortable. He liked to hug a little too close and a little too long. He liked to caress when he hugged and look into my eyes. Later he got arrested for having sex with an underage member of his church. Last I heard he’d repented and gotten another preaching job.

Then there was Mr. Eatman. He was a deacon at the church we went to. Dirty old man. He liked to hug a little too close, slide his hands a little too low, and give a peck on the lips. Only a peck because that was all he was getting a chance at.

In each instance I got the impression these men thought that I should be thrilled at the attention. They were perplexed that I wasn’t.

When I tried to talk to my mother about it she brushed it off. They were just being men. I wasn’t the only one they were doing it to, either. My friends and I talked about it and it happened to them, too. They felt just as uncomfortable as I did. Their parents were equally as nonplussed. No big deal. Men being men.

The lesson? Sweep it under the rug. Don’t make waves. It’s expected. Might as well learn to live with it. We’re here for the pleasure of men.

When I began to date my future husband he took me around to meet his grandparents. A few months later I saw his granddad in the bakery. He spoke, we chatted for a minute, and I went on my way. He told Charles about the encounter and said, “You know, when you first brought her to the house I thought she was homely. She looked really pretty the other day when I saw her. Son, she’s a keeper.” A backhanded compliment if there ever was one, but subtle. I eagerly accepted the compliment. Implicit in that is that if I were homely I wouldn’t be worth keeping. Throw that ugly fish back. Apparently my face had caught up to the rest of my body.

My ex husband had a saying about women who had an attractive figure but wasn’t particularly attractive in the face. He would say they were “two-baggers”. Put two bags over her head in case one falls off. His friend had a crass joke about having sex with an overweight woman, “It’s like riding a moped. It’s fun until someone sees you doing it.” All of her worth wrapped up in what she looks like. I am ashamed to say that I laughed an uncomfortable laugh. I didn’t want to be that girl – the one with no sense of humor.

I could go on. I have more examples. I’m not even telling the half of it, really.

The world we live in is misogynistic and sexist. If women fight back against the tide it is said that we can’t take a joke or we’ve got a case of sour grapes. I may be wrong, like I said I can’t speak for men, but I can’t remember hearing any quaint little sayings about men who might be less than attractive. I don’t hear of that many cases of women groping and fondling. When it does happen, if the advance is rebuffed it is respected. Men are allowed to have boundaries. Women are not. We are here for the pleasure of men.

You see, it starts when we’re young. Slowly, steadily, progressively, methodically we’re taught that a woman’s worth is in whether or not a man will have her. Men and boys are equally caught up in systematic misogyny and sexism. It isn’t entirely their fault. They have been indoctrinated, too. We are all like frogs in a pot. Place them in while the water is nice and cool, slowly turn up the heat, and they won’t even realize they need to jump out.

Let me be clear. I know that not all men are like that. But these are instances that average women deal with on a daily basis. These are not isolated incidents. It is there. When you hear women talk about rape culture, this is exactly what they’re talking about. The implications all around us are that the female half of the population is here at the pleasure of men and we ought to be damn glad about it. We should feel honored to have the privilege.

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**Edited to fix the formatting.  Jesus H. Christ I will never write a post in Word and do a copy and paste again!