Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Things you should read this week

(In order of priority)

The Washington Post on the backlog in processing evidence of sexual assault.

Then, on a lighter note:

The Dissolve on female characters in movies.

First Things on Not-A-Dates.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Quotidian happenings

These things happened today:
  • I got called Mrs. Lastname twice by strangers.
  • I ran into an ex-boyfriend.  [Most of the men I know -- including ex-boyfriends -- are really wonderful guys and I am very fond of them.  But there are exceptions every once in a while, and this one is an exception.  Ugh.]
  • I stopped at a local sandwich place for lunch and was asked, "are you two paying together?" I said no -- I had no idea who the guy in line behind me was -- and the cashier said, very loudly, "You're here ALL ALONE?!?" Because no woman could ever walk into a chain sandwich restaurant and say yes, she's dining in.  
  • I was in a 45-minute meeting with one other woman and a man.  The man -- who was not originally supposed to be attending the meeting -- interrupted me and the other woman again and again and again.  I got three uninterrupted comments in.  She got two.  The meeting was supposed to be between the two of us, and we got a total of five sentences.
Not one of these things on its own is a big deal, but the weight of all of it together (especially the meeting!) took a lot out of me today. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

John Steinbeck on love

From a 1958 letter to his oldest son.  

"There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had."

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Concerning #yesallwomen

I've been trying to stay apart from the #yesallwomen phenomenon sparked by egregious acts of violence at UC Santa Barbara not long ago.  This is primarily a survival strategy on my part -- I can't afford to loose that kind of anger right now.

But I do want to respond briefly by (1) posting a link which provides a glimpse of what the movement is all about, and (2) stating what I take to be the underlying point.

(1) This link publishes together 17 tweets affiliated with the movement that succinctly provide common responses to the myriad issues being discussed.  All of them are representative of the broader movement; many of them express attitudes I readily relate to.

(2) I want to respond briefly to the #notallmen counter-movement with a statement that many others have already made, but nevertheless which I believe is the major lesson to be gleaned from this:

Those of us who are speaking out against sexual harassment are not claiming that all men engage in such activities. Yet the fact remains that all of the women we know have been sexually harassed by men (hence "yes, all women").   Can you appreciate the logic here? The issue is not a call to misandry, but rather a call for men to recognize that sexual harassment is a "fact of life" for women -- even in the U.S. -- and that this is an unacceptable, intolerable state of affairs. 

In the country where I currently live, I am harassed (to varying degrees) nearly every day.  This is part of the reason why I haven't been more vocal about #yesallwomen -- it's hard enough to fight my own individual battle.  Just walking to the bus or to buy groceries or to choir practice or taking a taxi is an anxiety-inducing, stressful occasion that saps my strength noticeably.  I am constantly on-edge and often seething with anger just below the surface. It isn't this intense in the U.S. (thank God), as far as just walking on the street goes.  But it is still intolerably bad in other venues.

Awareness is the first step --and that means you, men.  Because all women are/have been/continue to be sexually harassed whether or not you are aware of it, and whether or not you are the cause of it.