“I Don’t Consider Myself a Feminist”

I always cringe when a female says that. A friend of mine said it recently, and it nearly broke my heart. She referred me to Judge Judy, who, according to this article, says, “I never felt I didn’t have equal opportunity as a woman.” But in that same article Judge Judy admits that there were only 6 women in her law school, and the professors didn’t treat them well. She also concedes that she did all the housework and child rearing even though she and her husband both worked. I’m not sure how she characterizes opportunities for women, but this seems kind of contradictory to me. Yes, she may have overcome those hurdles, but the point is, an attitude of “suck it up and deal with it” does nothing to remove those hurdles.

Here’s why I think everyone should be a feminist: It means you believe that women should be treated equally. It means equal pay for equal work. It means not being harassed. It means an equal level of human rights. It doesn’t mean we’re out to get all men or expect special treatment as is often claimed by those who speak out against feminism. If your primary focus are those who occupy the radical fringes of this movement, then at least acknowledge that every movement will have its fringe elements.

When I have this debate with friends, they often state that they are not feminists because that equality of which I speak should be the way it is anyway. As if the unfortunate need to ask for equality or demand it somehow delegitimizes the right to have it. You may not want to be identified as part of this group, but like it or not, by virtue of being a woman you are being treated like it by outside forces.

Should equal rights be a given? Abso-freakin’-lutely. But here’s the thing: It isn’t the case. Judge Judy is the exception, not the rule. It’s awfully easy to not support the minority that you’re a part of when you’re at the top of the heap, but there are a heck of a lot of us below you, your honor.

And Judge Judy couldn’t have reached her successful pinnacle were it not for the work of feminists. For example, according to this article, here are things American women could not do less than 100 years ago:

  • Have their own name printed on a passport.

  • Wear whatever they wanted.

  • Work in “dangerous” jobs, such as in bowling alleys.

  • Maintain US citizenship if married to a non-citizen.

  • Work the night shift.

  • Hold a job while pregnant.

  • Enlist in the military.

  • Serve on a Jury.

In theory, we finally got the right to vote in 1919, but it actually took decades for that to be universally practiced in this country. Some Trump supporters, even in 2018, want to repeal the 19th amendment. Women fought and were tortured and jailed and force fed and died for that privilege, and yet only 63 percent of eligible female voters turned out for the 2016 election, and 42 percent of them voted for a man who admits to grabbing women’s private parts. I’ll never understand that as long as I live. Do we hate ourselves?

And if the Me Too movement isn’t giving you a sense of how shabbily women are treated in the workplace, your head is buried in the sand. I’ve written a couple posts about my personal experiences with harassment, and I’m pretty typical. Eighty-three percent of American women believe they have experienced discrimination in the workplace. That’s a statistic that ought to be hard to ignore.

According to this article:

  • The more education a woman gets, the higher the wage disparity becomes. The average woman will earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes.

  • Only 30-40 percent of all small businesses are owned by women, and they generate 61% less revenue.

In my workplace alone (the Seattle Department of Transportation), in one of the most liberal enclaves in the United States, of the 99 field positions, only a handful are held by women. And when I suggested that they make more connections with Woman in Trades organizations, to attract more female electricians, mechanics, welders and engineers, it went in one ear and out the other. That’s probably because the administration of SDOT is overwhelmingly white and male. I still work with people who use the term “cat fight” and don’t believe women should be bridgetenders.

Women’s rights are under threat all the time. We have to constantly fight to have birth control covered by insurance. No one has to fight to get Viagra covered. And there’s little or no support for affordable child care in this country. There’s constant political pushback against us making our own decisions about our health. Keep us barefoot and pregnant and out of every man’s way. Yeah. That’s the ticket.

And if we are in such an enlightened country, how is it possible that sex trafficking, child marriage, and domestic slavery still exists here?

So when a woman says, “I don’t consider myself a feminist,” what I hear is that they are comfortable enough in their situations to not have to stick their necks out. They have no desire to address the many outrages that they’re in denial about. They have theirs, and to hell with everybody else.

It would be nice if feminism were not necessary. If only wishing could make it so. But now, more than ever, we need to show a united front. Even if you don’t feel like it. If we don’t step up, why should we expect anyone else to?

feminism

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If Thy Job Offends Thee…

I have got to stop listening to NPR on the way to work. Sometimes it makes me swerve. If you ever hear of me dying in a ball of fire on the freeway, please sue them on my behalf.

Yesterday, they spoke of the latest bit of brilliance from the Trump Administration. According to NPR, “The Department of HHS is adding a ‘Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom’ to protect doctors, nurses, and other health care workers who refuse to take part in some kinds of care because of moral or religious objections.”

I’m all for religious freedom. And that’s how Trump will spin this. As a way to prevent people from being discriminated against due to their faith.

Here’s the thing, though. (Yes, there’s always a thing.) I didn’t become a drug dealer, despite the financial benefits thereof, because it was against my morals. If my religion prevented me from opening a drawbridge, I’d have never become a bridgetender. Everyone in this country has always, always had the right NOT to take a job, except in times of slavery.

What you should not have a right to do, in my opinion, is take a job, expect to be compensated, and then refuse to do parts of it. If you’re against abortion, don’t work in an abortion clinic. If you can’t work on Sundays, then only take jobs that give you Sundays off. If you don’t want to do business with homosexuals, then, I don’t know, go off and live in a cave somewhere and live off berries and beetles.

Make no mistake. This draconian policy has nothing to do with religious freedom. First of all, the “Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom” is doublespeak that sounds like it came straight out of George Orwell’s 1984. It gives me the chills. But the intent behind it is even worse. It is a way to allow people to discriminate. It’s a way to make it harder for women to get birth control and choose what to do and not do with their bodies. It’s a way to refuse to treat homosexuals and their families. It’s a way to prevent people who are suffering needlessly and without hope from seeking succor in states where assisted suicide is legal.

I want every human being on this planet to have religious freedom. But I also want them to be proactive with their faith or lack thereof. If there’s a job that crosses the line for you, then DON’T TAKE IT. Simple.

job

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You Have Been Warned

I’ve seen two things recently that have made my hair stand on end because they seem to be so prescient. We are living in terrifying times. And they’re all the more terrifying because these things have happened before.

The first thing I’m referring to is the Hulu series, the Handmaid’s Tale, which is based on the dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood. Here are some of the events that have taken place in the first 4 episodes. These things either sound very familiar at the moment or very possible:

  • Militarization.
  • Propaganda and catch phrases.
  • News is regulated.
  • People who protest are shot at.
  • People are forced to don particular clothing to identify their role in society.
  • Special rewards for the rich.
  • An atmosphere of divide and conquer.
  • Forced religion.
  • Doctors, professors, and homosexuals being executed by hanging them on a wall.
  • People encouraged to do violence by the ruling party.
  • Calling women sluts and whores.
  • Increased surveillance.
  • Book burnings.
  • Travel restrictions.
  • Martial law in response to terrorism, real or imagined.
  • Women’s credit card and bank accounts suspended.
  • Women fired from jobs.
  • Institutionalized misogyny.
  • Women’s rights over their own bodies prevented.
  • Rape by men in positions of power with no consequence.
  • Women being blamed for all of the above.

Chilling, isn’t it? Even more disturbing is a website that lists the events that occurred in the first 100 days of Fascist Germany. I read every single day. I actually learned quite a bit that makes me even more worried about our future. Here are some of the things that went on:

  • Attacks on the press.
  • Widespread belief in unsubstantiated conspiracies.
  • Prohibition of protests.
  • Public urged to report foreigners who are causing conflict.
  • Communists rounded up.
  • A big effort to crush resistance.
  • Politicians overstate successes.
  • Jew bashing doesn’t start until Day 40. (That surprised me.)
  • Hitler wants to arm all the people.
  • There as much more resistance than I thought. People were going into exile.
  • Artists and writers and homosexuals attacked.
  • Gay bars closed down.
  • Trade Unions banned.
  • Jews begin to be fired.
  • The first concentration camp, Dachau, is open by day 49 and starts receiving political prisoners by day 51.
  • The press warns that its freedoms are being diminished, and stresses the importance of relying on multiple sources to confirm the validity of information.
  • On Day 55 Goring states that persecution of a person based on ethnicity will not be tolerated. The next day the Nazi Party orders a nationwide boycott of Jewish merchants.
  • Hitler says the press are issuing “slanderous propaganda” about Germany. The Nazi party claims that the press is run by “international Jewry”.
  • Book burning.
  • Civil service workers who do not agree with the Nazis are dismissed.
  • Anti-semitic signs begin to appear everywhere.
  • The government begins identifying all non-Aryans, using early IBM computers.
  • Day 74, an opinion piece appears saying that actual Christian values are nothing like the values of the conservative Christians who have aligned themselves with the Nazi party.

Wake up, people! Wake up! Wake up!

handmaid's tale

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No Good Deed…

Yesterday, I was driving to the grocery store, thinking about how mad the world has gone and how helpless I feel about everything. I don’t know how things came to be this way, and I don’t know what to do to stop this slow motion political train wreck from happening. Nothing I do as an individual will ever be good enough.

While I was in the grocery store, I bought some flowers and decided to drop them off at the Idriss Mosque on the way home. I can’t imagine what it must be like to feel as if you are surrounded by people who want you gone, and I wanted them to know that not everyone feels that way. In fact, the majority of us do not feel that way.

When I pulled in to their parking lot, there were several cars there, and I certainly did not want to disturb them in the middle of prayers, so I decided to simply leave the flowers on their front porch with a note.

As I approached, there was a woman standing on the sidewalk around the corner. She was a tiny, older woman. I really took little notice of her. I assumed she was waiting for a bus or a ride or something. But as I was leaving, she confronted me and asked me what I was doing.

When I told her I was leaving flowers, she asked me why, so I told her I wanted to give support to people who were being discriminated against.

In a thick accent, she then began quizzing me as to my family background, and I said Danish, and she shouted that I was not an American, then, and that I had better take care of myself instead of worrying about anyone else.

When I told her I couldn’t disagree more, she pointed at my flowers and said they were bullshit, and that I called them Islamic f*****s. As I walked away, I said I would never call anyone that. The hatred in her eyes is something I will never forget.

I went back to my car and wondered if she was going to throw the flowers away. That bothered me a great deal. But I knew I couldn’t sit there, guarding the flowers all day. So I left.

As I drove home, I grew very upset. Here I tried to do something good, and this woman had made me feel much worse. But was I leaving the flowers just so I could feel good? If so, then maybe that woman was right. Maybe they were bullshit, and I wasn’t doing it with a pure heart after all.

I came home and I sat down and I cried. I cried for me. I cried for the mosque. I cried for humanity in general. And I am still left with the feeling that nothing I do will ever be enough.

The experience was very surreal. I suspect there are lessons I will learn from it as I reflect on it over time. The only thing that I’m certain of is that I really did hope for a positive outcome.

I don’t know what that woman expected to achieve. I don’t know why she perceived me as being such a toxic force and felt the need to respond in kind. I just hope that one experience with a random hate-filled crazy woman will not keep me from trying, in my admittedly inadequate way, to heal some of the wounds in this world.

Update: Recently I received a lovely card from Idriss Mosque. It said, “Thank you for your continued support and friendship.”  I’m glad they got my message, and the encounter with the crazy woman was not their fault. I wish them well.

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News Flash: I Don’t Care Where You Pee

When I lived in Florida, I used to dream about moving to the mountains of North Carolina. To me, that was paradise. I had convinced myself that I would find my ultimate happiness there. I used to vacation there every chance I got.

The reason I was so anxious to get out of Florida, believe it or not, had nothing to do with the oppressive heat or the gigantic cockroaches (although I don’t recommend them). It had everything to do with the conservative culture and the, frankly, bat shit crazy politics. Florida seems to have more stupidity per capita of politicians than any other state with the possible exception of Kansas or Texas. North Carolina, I thought, would be a refreshing change. Until now.

Thank God that relocation never came to fruition. When I hear what’s currently going on in North Carolina, I have to cringe. No matter what your opinion is about transgender Americans, you have to see how stupid this bathroom legislation is. Oh, where to begin.

First of all, is that state battling against some secret underground organization that has been suppressing the news and statistics about public bathroom violence? Because, to be honest, I feel more uncomfortable in the average parking garage than I do in most bathrooms. (Thanks, Hollywood.) And how would they keep this conspiracy quiet? I mean, nowadays if a snake comes up out of a toilet, it’s all over Facebook before nightfall.

My whole life, I’ve never had a dangerous bathroom encounter, unless you count bullies in junior high school. I’m sure violence does occur occasionally, but that can be said of any public place. If a bathroom seems sketchy to me, I avoid it. Simple. For example, I wouldn’t go to a New York City Subway bathroom at 1 a.m. That’s just common freakin’ sense.

Second, has NC also discovered some statistic that shows transgender people to be more violent than the rest of the population? If so, I’d like to see it. Even a basic Google search of “Transgender” and “Rape” seems to only come up with hits in which the Transgender person is the victim, not the perpetrator. They’re not vampires, people. They weren’t put on this earth to attack you.

If the State of North Carolina genuinely believes that its bathrooms are dangerous places, then they need to employ more security guards and beef up their police force. (And not so they can stand outside of every public crapper asking people to produce their birth certificates.)

If they truly want to make the world safe, and they are under the stupid belief that this particular group of people are their most likely criminals, shouldn’t they be introducing legislation to keep transgender people out of back alleys, away from bridge underpasses and other high crime areas? Of course they’d think that. If they really believed any of these things. But keeping people safe isn’t their concern at all.

Their agenda, plain and simple, is to open the door to discrimination against a group of Americans whose lives they don’t approve of. (They’re basically throwing a tantrum because everyone can get married now.) First it will be bathrooms. Then schools, jobs, and rentals. Pretty soon they won’t be allowed to own bicycles and will have to wear a pink and blue star on their sleeves… This is the kind of thing that happened to the Jews in Nazi Germany.

You’re probably thinking that’s a little extreme. Don’t think they’re that dedicated to their cause in this day and age? Think again. They’re willing to do without billions (with a b) of dollars in federal funding to prove their insane point. That’s pretty freakin’ scary if you ask me.

Here’s an idea. When you go into a public bathroom, go into your stall, close your door, lock it, do your business, wash your hands (please!) and leave. Stop trying to be the pee pee police. If you’re in there all focused on the authenticity of everyone else’s genitalia, then you are a pervert.

Shame on you, North Carolina.

Toilet

 

 

 

 

How Do Men Do It?

At the risk of setting the women’s movement back 50 years, I have to say there are certain characteristics that are more traditionally male that I’d much rather not take on. Having recently thrown my hat into the dating ring, I’ve been trying to make the first move a lot more than I ever had to in my younger days. This goes against all my instincts. I’m so far out of my comfort zone that I can’t even see it from here. But my current philosophy is nothing ventured, nothing gained, and therefore I’ve been putting myself out there. Or at least I’ve been trying. So far all this has gotten me is a boatload of rejection.

Men may not like rejection, but they’re more used to it. Life is really a numbers game, and they have been made to understand this since early childhood. I, on the other hand, have had the luxury of sitting back and letting relationships come to me up to this point. And I had no idea what a luxury that was. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and it’s giving me blisters.

There is other man stuff I would never be able to incorporate into my character. I am totally cool with asking directions. I can’t imagine my default position being that I should act as though I know what I’m talking about even when I’m not sure. That would close me off from all the many fonts of information that come in the form of friends, family, and coworkers. I’d feel completely isolated if my only brain trust were my own brain, as formidable as it may be.

I’m also not particularly competitive. I’m happy when others win. I’m surprised when others resent it when I win.

Despite the fact that I deal with discrimination everywhere from the workplace to the used car lot, I have to say I’m really glad I’m not a man. It’s just not in me.

'You two need to get over yourselves and just ask for directions.'

This Takes the Cake

Sometimes I can’t believe there’s still a need to write about this sh… uh… stuff, but here goes.

I just read the most appalling article about Christians who are to the right politically and their take on the State of Oregon’s fine on Sweet Cakes by Melissa when that business refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.

Oh, where to begin.

I will quote the article in bold, and then respond to these quotes, one by ignorant one.

“Let’s help the Kleins through this hard time as they fight for religous freedom.”

Has anyone stopped the Kleins from going to church? No. Has anyone told the Kleins that they could no longer be Christians? No. Has anyone confiscated their Bibles? No. Has anyone told the Kleins that they cannot believe what they want to believe in any way, shape, or form? No.

If your belief system prohibits you from certain actions or behaviors, then it might be a good idea to avoid careers that call upon you to do certain things. If you are against abortion, you might not want to work in an abortion clinic. If you want to keep kosher, then don’t work in a non-kosher meat packing plant. If you don’t believe in selling crack to minors, then don’t become a drug dealer. These are choices everyone has the right to make.

You have a right to believe what you want to believe. What you have no right to do is use your job to cram your beliefs down the throats of others. Sorry. That’s the price you pay for living in a law-abiding, democratic society. You don’t have to like it.

“The Bible does tell us to expect persecution as Christians, and we should understand that when this happens it’s an attack on Christ, not on us.”

First of all, persecution is defined as a program to exterminate, drive away, or subjugate people based on their membership in a religious, ethnic, social or racial group. If anyone in this scenario was being persecuted it was the lesbian couple who was refused a wedding cake. They were refused because they were lesbians. And by doing this, the Kleins broke the anti-discrimination laws in the state of Oregon. There are consequences to breaking the law. The Kleins made a choice to break the law. The fact that they faced consequences for that choice does not mean they were persecuted. It means they were prosecuted. It means that they were required to obey the law that every other resident of that state is expected to obey.

And talk about persecution—the Kleins published the lesbian couple’s names and addresses on the internet for all to see, because they wanted them to be attacked, verbally, and physically. There was no other reason to do that. That’s why the size of the fine was so large. The couple got death threats. This caused them to almost lose their foster children, whom they were trying to adopt. That’s sick. Twisted. And frankly, it doesn’t sound particularly Christian to me.

“And keep exposing as a lie the secular left claim that gay marriage has nothing to do with you and won’t hurt you in any way.”

Expose away! Please, do explain to me how someone marrying the person that they love, regardless of whom that person may be, has anything at all to do with me. How will this hurt me, again? How is it even any of my business?

If you’re afraid that all these gay people, parading around their gayness by getting married, will influence your children to go all gay on you, you might want to ask yourself a question or two. Why would your child make the choice to be discriminated against and marginalized if it really is the “choice” you think it is? Why would your child be so easily persuaded to change his or her entire life forever, based on someone’s marriage? Has someone’s marriage ever changed the course of your entire life? Really?

Oh, and by the way, people on the left can be religious, too. I am. The phrase “secular left” is ignorant.

“This whole gay marriage movement isn’t even about gays. It’s a pretext to attack Christianity and everyone who freely practices it.”

Get over yourself. The world does not revolve around you. Thousands of people aren’t running off to marry someone of their own gender, a lifelong commitment, just so they can attack a religion. Nothing about their marriage is going to stop you from practicing your religion. If your religion is so easily threatened you may want to work on that and stop looking outward in paranoia.

“Gaystapo”

That term is used a couple times in the article. Even in the headline. I find it particularly interesting. It’s a play on words, referring back to the Gestapo, the secret police of Nazi Germany. In 1934, a division of the Gestapo was set up to target homosexuals, causing 100,000 men to be arrested. So implying that gay people are like the Gestapo is absurd.

If anyone should be compared to a Nazi, it’s someone who supports the Kleins in this debacle. The Nazis restricted all sorts of services to many groups, the Jews being the most commonly acknowledged. But along with the homosexuals mentioned above, they also persecuted communists, socialists, social democrats, trade union leaders, gypsies, Poles, Slavs, Asians, the disabled, Catholic and Lutheran clergy, people who were in resistance movements, Jehovah’s Witnesses, “asocials”, and repeat criminal offenders.

If the Kleins refused service to a Jew, how would you react? How about if they refused service to someone in a wheel chair? Would it be okay for them to refuse service to a priest?

Where does it end?

Yeah, okay. But, uh... you don't have that right. Not in America. Thank God.
Yeah, okay. But, uh… you don’t have that right. Not in America. Thank God.