Friday Reads: transient, evanescent, inconstantPosted: November 17, 2017
Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!!
I’m not sure what manner of factors has created the circumstances of this year but I’m really over it. Kinsey is putting on weight and eating nicely. Dinah’s fur is returning. Miles has had a terrible few days. Something triggered a drop in his blood sugar and he’s got so many things wrong suddenly that it’s hard to separate what’s wrong from what’s causing it. I feel under siege. Turning on the TV and reading the newspaper or any myriad of things I usually do to help is not really helping because the chaotic Kremlin Caligula has my stomach in tight knots already. He’s ready to make all the creatures of the earth go extinct. Every thing he does destroys life.
Those three words up there are how the Buddha describes our existence. Now that we live in the nightmare realm of a person with an extremely awful personality disorder we can add destructive chaos to that list.
I was going to try to stick to other things today because frankly it’s one moment at a time for me at the moment. I am certainly not alone. Here’s a nice read via one of my cousins: “Annie Proulx Gave One of the Best National Book Award Speeches in Recent Memory.”
We don’t live in the best of all possible worlds. This is a Kafkaesque time. The television sparkles with images of despicable political louts and sexual harassment reports. We cannot look away from the pictures of furious elements, hurricanes and fires, from the repetitive crowd murders by gunmen burning with rage. We are made more anxious by flickering threats of nuclear war. We observe social media’s manipulation of a credulous population, a population dividing into bitter tribal cultures. We are living through a massive shift from representative democracy to something called viral direct democracy, now cascading over us in a garbage-laden tsunami of raw data. Everything is situational, seesawing between gut-response “likes” or vicious confrontations. For some this is a heady time of brilliant technological innovation that is bringing us into an exciting new world. For others it is the opening of a savagely difficult book without a happy ending.
To me the most distressing circumstance of the new order is the accelerating destruction of the natural world and the dreadful belief that only the human species has the inalienable right to life and God-given permission to take anything it wants from nature, whether mountaintops, wetlands or oil. The ferocious business of stripping the earth of its flora and fauna, of drowning the land in pesticides again may have brought us to a place where no technology can save us. I personally have found an amelioration in becoming involved in citizen science projects. This is something everyone can do. Every state has marvelous projects of all kinds, from working with fish, with plants, with landscapes, with shore erosions, with water situations.
Yet somehow the old discredited values and longings persist. We still have tender feelings for such outmoded notions as truth, respect for others, personal honor, justice, equitable sharing. We still hope for a happy ending. We still believe that we can save ourselves and our damaged earth—an indescribably difficult task as we discover that the web of life is far more mysteriously complex than we thought and subtly entangled with factors that we cannot even recognize. But we keep on trying, because there’s nothing else to do.
It’s difficult being realistic these days. I fully admit that I’d like to be able to live in a world of my invention. For example, I’d like people to stop killing animals unnecessarily. How can you call killing anything that’s sentient and beautiful a “sport”? What kind of freak gets enjoyment out of that? You eat out of necessity. Anything beyond that puts you in the ‘disturbed’ category in my ethos.
And why, still, at 62 do I have to avoid dark streets and places? Warn my daughters about things put in drinks? Worry about being at event that isn’t mostly filled with gay men and women of any stripe? When can I just go some place and relax without checking for the nearby predators? Why am I supposed to laugh off incredibly disturbing behavior involving my biology or some other aspect of my existence as a woman? How do I get the media to understand the difference between a tasteless cad and a perpetrator of sexual assault? #EveryWomanTOO
I am a Democrat because I am a feminist who lives under a two-party system, where one party consistently votes against the interests of women while the other sometimes does not. I am not a true believer in the party itself nor in any politician. I am a realist who recognizes that we get two viable choices, and Democrats are members of the only party positioned to pump the brakes on Republicans’ gleeful race toward Atwoodian dystopia. Meanwhile, I recognize that men’s harassment of and violence against women is a systemic issue, not a Democrat or Republican problem, a Hollywood problem, a sports problem, or a media problem. Its roots lie in a patriarchal culture that trains men to believe they are entitled to control women’s bodies —for sex, for sport, for childbearing, for comedy.
When you combine these things — an awareness that the Democratic Party is no more or less than best of two, and an understanding that men in power frequently exploit women — it becomes difficult to believe that Franken is the only sitting Democrat with a history of harassment, abuse or assault. The recent #metoo campaign demonstrated how normalized unwanted kissing and groping are in our culture. Donald Trump was caught on tape crudely admitting to both of those transgressions, and we made him our president. According to the CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 1 in 3 women experiences some sort of contact sexual violence in her life. Sexual harassment and assault are simply too widespread for Democrats to respond to Franken’s offense with only Franken in mind: We need to respond in a way that helps us develop a protocol for meaningful change.
I really didn’t want to go on and on about this but wtf is this? “Congress paid out $17 million in settlements. Here’s why we know so little about that money.” This equals 260 settlement over the last 20 years. This reminds me of Newt Gingrich going after Bill Clinton while cheating on his current wife with the Calista. This is happening in their offices and while they’re in office.
On Thursday, the Office of Compliance released additional information indicating that it has paid victims more than $17 million since its creation in the 1990s. That includes all settlements, not just related to sexual harassment, but also discrimination and other cases.
An OOC spokeswoman said the office was releasing the extra data “due to the interest in the awards and settlement figures.” The OOC has come under fire in recent days for what lawmakers and Hill aides alike say are its antiquated policies that do not adequately protect victims who file complaints.
CNN has also learned that during the current Congress, no settlement payment approval requests have been made to the congressional committee charged with approving them.
Go read up on how little the public knows about this huge sum of money going out to the victims of sexual predators in Congress. Now, think about how things change when there are a critical number of women that get to make decisions. Take difference in costume choice for Wonder Woman with a woman director choosing a woman costume designer vs. the alternative. How many of us think that that Uncle Clarence Thomas would not be on the Supreme Court if it was Senator Hillary Clinton instead of Senator Joe Biden in charge of things?
Wonder Woman was great for many reasons (Diana Prince for president, etc.), but one of the most lauded moments was the representation of the Amazons, a team of female fighters who spend their lives on an island devoid of men. This group of women were brought to life by director Patty Jenkins and costumed by designer Lindy Hemming, and their outfits were essentially armor. Flash forward to Justice League, and fans have noticed that the Amazons’ attire—designed by Michael Wilkinson with direction by Zack Snyder—are slightly…smaller.
The graphic stories told by woman on Capitol Hill–Boston Boomer wrote more on this yesterday–were probably similar to the ones that would’ve come out at of the Clarence Thomas Hearing or any hearing on Teddy Kennedy or Strom Thurmond.
Others said they had been harassed by two sitting members of Congress. Speier (D-Hillsborough) declined to identify those members, saying only that one is a Republican and one is a Democrat.
“The culture in this country has been awakened to the fact that we have a serious epidemic in the workplace in all professions, in all walks of life, and it’s incumbent upon those who are in authority to address it and address it swiftly,” Speier told reporters Tuesday after testifying in front of the House committee that is considering changes in how harassment in Congress is investigated. She said she couldn’t provide more details on the incidents because the victims had signed nondisclosure agreements as part of settlements.
The rich and powerful man always manages to get those disclosure agreements even when it’s his work or our taxpayers that pay to silence the stories of women. Back again to that CNN article at the top:
It is unclear how much of the $17 million is money paid to sexual harassment cases because of the Office of Compliance’s complex reporting process. However, even knowing that dollar figure doesn’t quantify the problem: a source within the Office of Compliance tells CNN that between 40 and 50% of harassment claims settle after mediation — an early stage in the multi-tiered reporting process.
And the number of settlements reached may not be indicative of how widespread sexual harassment is, as many victims chose not to proceed with OOC’s process for handling complaints. Tracy Manzer, a spokeswoman for Speier, told CNN last week 80% of people who have come to their office with stories of sexual misconduct in the last few weeks have chosen not to report the incidents to the OOC.
The most evident and clear thing to me is that we can’t even get a good hearing on the topic unless there are enough women in places of influence in institutions to find ways to make it all come out. Then, make it stop. We’re probably going to have to rely on complicit men–however, not full blow predators–that have enabled rape culture with their frat boy humor and antics. I don’t see any reason for them to be kicked out of anything unless they have a pervasive problem. I expect, however, the enablers, like those guilty of the tasteless humor and actions shown by Franken to repent. I also expect those that quietly enable or jokingly enable predators–like freaking Billy Bush–to do some acts of repentance. In our law, we have varying degrees of sexual assault and sexual battery. The law and our society agrees that the worse form of predation is of the grown up on child. This should be punished–as it is–with the full force of the legal system. There is no equivocation of first degree rape with lesser counts of sexual assault or battery or harassment.
Specific laws vary by state, but sexual assault generally refers to any crime in which the offender subjects the victim to sexual touching that is unwanted and offensive. These crimes can range from sexual groping or assault/battery, to attempted rape. All states prohibit sexual assault, but the exact definitions of the crimes that fall within the category of sexual assault differ from state to state. The laws share some basic elements, but the structures, wording and scope of sexual assault offenses vary considerably, so always check your local statutes for specific questions.
Discussion on topics like sexual assault and racism are always full of nuances and backlash, denial and witness, and tribal amnesia and defiance. Media is our current platform to work through all of these. It should not be a good thing under any circumstance for a person of power just to force themselves or to do something violent to a helpless child, animal, or person sitting in their car while being black, or an intern. What kind of person gets a thrill be taking away some one else’s humanity and moral authority? What kind of person thinks an endangered animal in a wildlife park is some form of manhood trophy? My short answer: a morally bankrupt and abhorrent one.
Meanwhile, Americans living in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are dying from lack of basic necessities. One head has rolled, but it’s not the one that ultimately deserves it.
Talk amongst yourselves!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?