This is what democracy looks like

Yesterday’s heartbreak and rage led to today’s feelings of nausea and fury, and so really, I had to do something. After a meeting and a doctor’s appointment, I met up with a friend -the aforementioned Pilates teacher- and hauled ass to the Supreme Court where we met up with another friend of mine, my Supreme Court-protest buddy, and then saw my forever resister sister.

After a vigorous rally on the steps of the Supreme Court, three of us marched to the Senate buildings for another protest. After walking in the damn front door and politely asking, “Can we come in?” a friend and I led a large group into the Dirksen building with the intention of visiting Lisa Murkowski’s office. Looking over the directory, however, our eyes froze over Mitch McConnell’s name: Russell building 317.

Can you imagine where we headed? Third floor.

On the way we met one of Senator Durbin’s aides, a delightful man who showed us exactly where to go and thanked us for being there. We cheered him with wild abandon. Guards helped us when we were stymied by the many buildings’ twists and turns, and before I knew it, we were marching through one of the underground tunnels and into Russell.

It’s a beautiful, grand place. The marble halls of power, the rotundas of history, the old school formality, the flags and medallions. In some awe, in hushed tones, we persisted. Right to 317.

I haven’t any idea how I ended up as the apparent representative of our group, but before I knew it I was writing a letter -on a red leather bound legal pad embossed “Senate”- to McConnell that we all signed. It ran the gamut from “sir, you serve your constituents” to “we remember the ‘let’s make Obama a one-term president’ obstruction” to Merrick Garland and here we are today.

IMG_2691.jpg

It wasn’t lost on me that prior to my protest I had a GYN appointment and then had to leave the Senate building to get home in time for carpool; what women do. But it all felt so very therapeutic, a way to put rage and fear to work. This IS what democracy looks like, and I will fight to the end for it.

In the cab on the way home, a text came in: Flake has reversed course somewhat and is calling for an FBI investigation. Bless the women that confronted him in the elevator and all the Americans who have called, faxed, tweeted, written, and showed up in person. Murkowski supports his call. We have one week.

Make it count.

Senator Murkowski: 202-224-6665
Senator Collins: 202-224-2523
Senator Flake: 202-224-4521
Senator Manchin: 202-224-3954
Senator Heitkamp: 202-224-2043

Broken, and still so very angry

It has been raining here for days, weeks now really. It feels like a deluge, like something has broken, and the safety guards and gauges and pressure valves went wonky. They don’t work anymore.

I got the kids off to school and saw on Facebook that a dear friend and Holton-Arms alum was at the Senate building before the sun rose. She was waiting with other alums and friends in the hopes of witnessing Dr. Ford’s testimony and offering support. She posted a picture of current Holton seniors, young, in their uniforms, smiling earnestly and hopefully. In one I spotted one of the boys’ favorite babysitters. My heart burst with pride.

I went to Pilates shortly after. I didn’t feel like it what with the hearings looming, but I went to distract and also take care of myself. And because studio 2 on Thursday mornings feels like a mostly-warm community in which many of us have known each other for years. I walked in and could tell my teacher felt the weight of today. I saw an older friend who said she had a terribly sleepless night; she was thinking back to Anita Hill and forward to now.

Our teacher asked, “How are bodies today?” One woman started crying; another could barely contain her fury. Comments starting bursting forth despite the setting and place and time. Soon, a group hug commenced, men and women alike, ages 40-something to seventy-something. And then we attempted to turn our fury and fear to our cores.

Once home, one of my dearest friends came over, and we sat rapt and hurting and stunned and furious and nauseous. And also deeply moved by Dr. Ford’s incredible grace, courage, and earnest desire to help in any way with anything. I have no idea how she comported herself like that. At times it seemed to take everything she had while at others her composure seemed it must be some innate gift.

When she cried, it was silent and composed, measured, and heartbreaking to watch. So many of us cried with her, for her.

We cried that the GOP men were too cowardly to speak to her and so hired a “female assistant” to do.

We cried when Grassley repeatedly referred to Dr. Ford as “she," “her,” and “you.” She, her, you have a name.

We cried when she told us about her house having two front doors (so that she doesn’t feel trapped) even though that means “Our house doesn't look aesthetically pleasing from the curb.”

We cried when Leahy asked what she most remembered, and she replied that seared into her hippocampus is “the laughter, the uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense…”

We cried when she said “I convinced myself that because Brett did not rape me, I should just forget about it and move on." We cried because we know the weight she has carried since that night.

We cried because we weren’t sure anything she said would change anything. We cried because women aren’t disposable doormats but are too often treated as pitiful lesser beings who should “get over it.”

We cried because it is inconceivable that she is lying.

We cried because after her testimony, Senator Orrin Hatch said Dr. Ford was “attractive.”

IMG_2649.jpg

And then there was Brett. The smug, whiny, furious, spitting nails picture of privilege who played victim in the most grandiose and despicable of ways. The nominee to the highest court in the land who is supposed to be non-partisan but blamed everything angrily and openly on the Democrats and our continued fury about the Clintons and Trump.

He cried, he yelled, he interrupted, he accused. He did things that would have had a woman literally removed from the room or at least wholly discounted and laughed at. He said he was a victim, that what he has been through recently has been hell, that he was innocent, that every claim against him was nonsense, garbage. He said he would do anything to assist the judiciary committee but refuses to support an FBI investigation or hearing from his old blackout-drunk drinking buddy, Mark Judge. He is a man used to getting his way, and his anger was palpable whether you were in the hearing room or on a couch somewhere.

kav.jpg

The Republican senators gnashed and cried with outrage and apology. “You shouldn’t be treated like this.” “You’re the one owed an apology.” You’re the victim, you are great, and on and on. They dismissed the “female assistant” and carried on as an old boys club of epic white proportion. If they had heard Dr. Ford, heard her at all, her story was now gone, replaced by a country club bad boy who has lied repeatedly and wants power. They all do. They are willing to self-immolate for it. Lindsey Graham was the scariest example of that, screaming with fury and disgust at his Democrat colleagues.

 The face of the female aide beyond Graham says everything.

The face of the female aide beyond Graham says everything.

Tonight I went to middle school Back to School Night. I saw so many friends, I felt grateful for the community. To a T the women looked drawn, exhausted, broken, furious, defeated. I’m home now and it is pouring. The world feels broken and as if it’s crying out in pain.

Senator Corker has already said tonight that he’s voting for Kavanaugh. The confirmation seems a foregone conclusion. What does that say to women? About our value and worth? What does it say to victims of assault and mistreatment? What does it say to boys and men who mistreat? What does it say about the impartiality of the Supreme Court? What does it say about the future of America? Nothing good. I am so unbelievably angry.

Angry AF

I am mad. Mad for women, on behalf of women, as a woman. I have a wonderful father, a wonderful husband, marvelous sons, and even an incredibly wonderful male cat. I love them. Generally speaking, I love men. This isn’t about Men. I am not, as my father’s extended family used to “joke,” a femi-Nazi. (PS- not funny then, not funny now.)

This anger is about patriarchy and men who persist in behaving badly and who feel entitled and sanctimonious and smug. Toxic masculinity. General bullshit. Assault, cat calls, unequal playing fields, unequal standards, unequal pay, the male experience being the default, the woman having to prove and compensate and do more. The ways women are and are not allowed to emote. The expectations about how women experience their sexuality and how men do, and what is normative in each realm. Sluts versus youthful men sowing oats: nonsense like that. For the record, I’ve known a lot of male sluts. None was ever called a slut or a whore. How about we all just accept that anyone can love sex and choose to engage in lots of it, and none of that is any of our business whether that person is male or female. Thanx.

I am mad that despite the ease of that simple wish of gender parity and a realistic approach to libido, holier than thou men and women wish to abstinence-education away sex and so kids are neither given sex ed nor equipped to deal with their hormonal urges and burgeoning sexuality, and oh, let me think, which one gets pregnant and is then judged by/saddled with a child? That would be the female. See this link if you really do not understand that men are awfully responsible for pregnancy and maybe we all just need to accept that and find ways of encouraging all sexually active people to be both safe AND respectful of the fact that just one partner gets pregnant. Even if you understand this, you should still read that thread. And also, abortion should be absolutely legal and safely accessible in part BECAUSE not enough people seem to understand how pregnancy happens.

I am mad that because Brett Kavanaugh coached his daughter’s basketball team, it appears to be inconceivable to far too many that he ALSO seems to have assaulted a peer while drunk at a party and that maybe he doesn’t respect women and legal precedent enough to not overturn Roe. You know what’s infinitely conceivable? That a comfortable white guy with every advantage in the world since birth both did assault a peer AND has since coached his daughter’s basketball team. That shit is not mutually exclusive. Also, it’s very likely that he will vote to overturn Roe which is rich since he A) does not have a vagina or the ability to get pregnant and B) has said just enough about legal precedent to make GOP women feel warm and fuzzy about confirming his ass. Susan Collins, you are dead to me and I hope you lose HUGE in November. Do you remember all you said about how Franken MUST resign? No claim against him involved forceable assault of an underage woman. Your hypocrisy on behalf of party is ugly.

This Kavanaugh crap mirrors in gross ways shit we’ve already seen and struggled with. Per the remarkable Rebecca Traister, “27 years later, almost to the week, there will be another hearing into alleged sexual abuses of a SCOTUS nominee. Also almost a year to the week of the Weinstein story, two years to the week of Access Hollywood tape. 229 years since women’s riot kicked off French Revolution.” Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill, Harvey, our “president,” Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Les Moonves, and on and on. Is someone kidding?

I am real mad at women in history getting the shaft as the present and future march on. Who saw Hidden Figures? Also, Texas just voted to remove Helen Keller and Hillary Clinton from their school history curriculums. This is not remotely surprising but it is enraging on multiple fronts. Why not excise a man or two from the curriculum? And why does Texas still wield such power over the textbooks the entire country of America uses to “educate” its kids? This article, written in 2012 and fully corroborative of the paper I wrote at Harvard in 2005 about Texas’s influence (bad) on American texts, still holds today. And it’s why American kids in public schools are getting screwed more and more when it comes to real education as facts and science would have it.

I am peeved to the max that my female students report having to work extra hard to be heard and appreciated in their STEM classes (versus their male classmates), and I am angry that the statistics on women in STEM in America show a major drop from interest to degree attained and then another drop from degree attained to actual field worked in.

I am also mad at women who behave badly, lest you continue to think this is a gendered issue. Tomi Lahren, Anne Coulter, and Dana Loesch? Hard pass on all three. They are toxic, venomous, soulless vessels who put nothing positive into the world. That repulsive white cop in Dallas, Amber Guyger, who murdered the man in the apartment directly above hers? That bird needs to go to jail for the rest of her life.

And don’t even get me started on the racism in this case. In so many cases. This tweet says it all in that respect:

41911327_10155841733465208_3513610339952361472_n.jpg

I’m also mad at women who throw other women under the bus. Mad because they sometimes feel like they have to because women are fighting for a tiny slice of the pie and available attention and sometimes figure they need to throw their lot in with the men. Any woman north of 20 years old has experienced being hurt, betrayed, or even ghosted by another woman for (often) no reason beyond some manifestation of competition.

And lastly, I am damn tired of emotion being equated with behavior. Emotions are what any sentient person experiences when in touch with their inner selves: disappointment, fear, exhilaration, pride, love, sadness, fury, jealousy. The better acquainted we are with our feelings and the better we are at articulating them makes us better able to empathize with, support, understand, disagree, and live. The healthy expression of emotion is valid but is NOT the same thing as shitty behavior. My kids can be frustrated with me but that gives them no right to break my belongings.

While I’m at it, let me voice another potentially inflammatory opinion by stating that I disagree 1000% with the National Organization for Women’s petition to dismiss Carlos Ramos from umpiring professional tennis because of his calls during the US Open final between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka. By all accounts, from men and women alike, Ramos has long had a reputation for being strict but fair, an excellent ump. NOW’s demand befits only the stereotype of women as one-dimensional hysterics, and I found it appalling. Did Ramos officiate perfectly? No. Did Serena Williams behave perfectly? No. You know who was flawless? Naomi Osaka, the player who won and then apologized for winning because everyone’s disappointment in that was abundantly clear. For more on this perspective, please see Martina Navratilova’s opinion piece and also this piece by Juliet Macur.