This election won’t bend or break me

I think we can all admit that it’s been one hell of a week. Regardless of who you supported in the election, there weren’t that many people that truly expected the electoral map to fall out exactly as it did. No one would’ve won this Powerball.

And now we have this situation that so many of us dreaded. I have to note that before anyone decides to go off about how I’m a “libtard” or a “bleeding heart”, please know from the depths of my heart and soul that I will NOT tolerate any of that bullshit, the comments on this blog are moderated to weed out spam and assholes, and if you can’t be civil, then STFU.

I have an immense amount of privilege in some areas, and a complete lack of it in others. I can camouflage. I can hide behind my skin color and others’ assumption of who I am because of it. I have a Western European background–primarily Anglo-Saxon–so I can masquerade and move silently through the crowds as though I’m something I’m not. But I choose not to.

I choose to be out as bisexual because bisexuality chose me and I will not be afraid to live as who I am. (Yes, I’m married to a man. Monogamy and bisexuality aren’t mutually exclusive.)

I choose not to hide that I’m a woman or pretend that I’m meek. I’m not meek. I grew up with examples of women on TV like Colonel Wilma Deering, Jaime Sommers, and Wonder Woman. I grew up idolizing a mother who worked full-time in management and was a full-time wife and was a full-time mother. I knew that if she could do it, I could too. I SHOULD. Meek is for mice.

I choose not to hide that I’m Jewish, although I must admit that I’m not and never have been an observant Jew. To those who hate Jews, though, that matters little. People have already been out on Twitter, loudly offering “tattoos and showers” to Jews. (If you don’t know how unkind this invitation is, do some research on World War II and you’ll see.)

So, what do I do with all my anger for an administration that’s pledged to roll back rights for LGBTQ people? What do I do with my frustration at so many people who think it’s okay that the President-elect has freely admitted to sexual assault of grown women?

I could be meek, but…nah. Fuck that.

Here’s what I do plan to do, and this action plan isn’t the end; there will be more.

  1. Renew my membership in the Southern Poverty Law Center. It’s always important to commit to stopping hate wherever it rears its ugly head, and given the number of hate crimes that have already occurred just in the first 48 hours since the new President’s election, they have a lot of work to do.
  2. Start donating to Planned Parenthood. In general, I try to concentrate most of my donations to food banks and children’s health, but things are about to get way worse for women’s access to healthcare, and Planned Parenthood IS the primary health care resource for many women across the country.
  3. Continue encouraging my kids to be themselves and not let others get in the way of that. Just because a bully has been elected to the White House doesn’t mean they have to be bullies. We always have the choice not to be the things we see that aren’t okay.

I know I lost friends along the way through this election. They took their leave or I dropped them out of my Facebook feed with impunity because this was real for me. I won’t cry for what I didn’t have in the first place. I trust my friends to have my back, as I surely have theirs. Actively supporting someone who has shown no respect for or belief in the humanity and equality of women, Black people, LGBTQ people, Muslims, Jews, or–really ANYONE who’s not from America shows that you don’t have my back. And I won’t miss you when you’re gone.

There’s been a lot of talk about people living too much in their own bubble, how those of us living in urban coastal areas (who overwhelmingly voted Blue) just don’t understand those who live in more homogeneous environments. Oddly enough, no one seems to want to turn that around with an expectation that those who live in less diverse areas try to understand what it’s like being in an area where people don’t look like you, don’t worship like you, don’t love like you. We are the only ones who have to change or understand. That’s utter bullshit. Either we ALL have to get out of our bubble or no one does.

I remember my first few weeks at college, when one of my roommates–who’d never met a Jew before–actually checked me for hooves. She didn’t realize Jews had feet. I’ve seen what that bubble looks like, and if those people don’t try to get out of theirs, they will continue to wallow in an ignorance that more than half the population rejects.

So, I’m going to be more active and work for a better America despite the election of a man determined to tear it down for his own personal profit. And I will teach my children to be better than he is (admittedly, a low bar to jump over). And I won’t be meek. EVER.

Reading a book is NOT the same thing as giving consent

There are some nice benefits of being one’s own Editorial Board, such as the occasional willingness to break the long-observed writing rule of “LIMIT THE PROFANITY HERE, PLEASE”. This is one of those times.

With the revelation that Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump had made comments 11 years ago stating that “when you’re a star” you can grab women “by the pussy”, that “You can do anything”, a slew of defenders have rushed to the aid of someone we already knew was a misogynist, someone we already knew disrespected women.

These mansplainers have come out with the argument that books like “Fifty Shades of Grey” sold by the millions, therefore millions of women must want to be grabbed by the pussy–or whatever it was that the titular dom, Christian Grey, foisted on the meek Anastasia Steele. Fellas, not just no but HELL NO.

Reading a book about sex isn’t the same thing as giving consent to sex. And reading a book about sex sure as hell isn’t the same thing as giving consent to touching from another person. It’s reading. In fact, the book in question–touted by Trumpers as justification for his assaults–is a work of FICTION. Fiction isn’t real. It isn’t necessarily what we want to happen, either. I just finished reading “The Man In The High Castle” and I have zero desire to live in a world where the Axis powers have divided up America and rule with an iron fist.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been sexually assaulted by someone. Too many damn hands go up. When author Kelly Oxford tweeted a request asking for women to post their stories of sexual assault, she figured she’d let it go if no one answered back. Instead, she got millions of responses. Our country has fostered and supported a rape culture of “boys will be boys” that makes it okay to touch, perpetuating the deeply flawed idea that women are property or they must “owe” something.

I still remember all too vividly the assistant manager at a store where I worked in high school–the one who walked me home when it was dark but then wouldn’t let me go inside my house until I kissed him.

I still remember the guy at the fraternity party who thought that my interest in seeing more of his fraternity house meant “I want to be groped” and not “I want to see more of the house.”

I know too many victims of sexual assault–date rapes, in particular–where hanging out with a friend cruelly morphed into someone they trusted to show respect breaking boundaries and violating them.

It’s never okay.

The argument of “But she reads stories with sex” is just another angle on “Did you see how she was dressed?” It’s still bullshit. It’s still unacceptable. It’s still someone violating societal rules that say KEEP THE FUCK OUT OF MY PERSONAL SPACE UNTIL I TELL YOU SPECIFICALLY IT IS OKAY TO BE IN MY PERSONAL SPACE.

We already know that Trump has no respect for the sanctity of marriage, otherwise he wouldn’t have broken his marriage vows with at least one woman he later married. Hypocritically, he beats with a verbal stick a woman who stuck by a husband who cheated on her repeatedly–while flaunting his own infidelities.

It doesn’t matter what women read or don’t read. It doesn’t matter whether they use the words “fuck” or “pussy” in casual conversation. Grabbing ANYONE by ANY part of their body without their consent is assault. Period.

Letting lies stand and perpetuating rape culture bullshit is unacceptable. I’m not surprised to hear that Trump said these things–even a decade ago–and it has no effect on my vote. What it does do, however, is remind me yet again how far we have to come in terms of showing respect for women all over the country. It reminds me that there are still too many people who hold the Neanderthal mindset that women are just two tits, a hole, and a heartbeat…and now these jackasses have Internet access.

People aren’t property, and this whole ridiculous misogynistic rationalization is just another sign that too many people live in a past we should have long since evolved beyond.

It’s on us–as parents–to teach our kids to respect other people and their personal space.

It’s on us–as adults–to call out inappropriate behavior and not let it pass without pushback.

It’s on us–as a society–to stop the marginalization and dehumanization of 51% of our country’s population.

It’s not about “Fifty Shades of Grey”. It’s about misogyny, it’s about rape culture, and it’s about fucking time we put a stop to all of it.

It’s long past time to stop blaming wives for their husbands’ infidelity

Editor’s note: this post doesn’t address same-gender relationships or relationships with >2 committed parties. If you read it carefully, you’ll see that the messages I’m trying to convey can easily be translated to those.

Now, all that out-of-the-way, it’s time to address the big fat hypocritical elephant in the room: It’s not Hillary’s fault that Bill cheated on her, and it’s not Huma’s fault that Anthony lives up to his last name.

Let’s pick this apart bit by bit, since the vultures already came out to play.

A few years back, we all learned the incredibly smart, statesman-like, folksy Bill Clinton had a wandering eye and wandering hands. He slept with women other than his wife. He accepted special benefits from a White House intern that clearly weren’t part of the standard job description. In short: he cheated on Hillary. He accepted that publicly and was raked across many coals and an entire impeachment process over it. Hillary decided to stand by her man and stay married. Outwardly, she claimed it as her religious principles and her own mores that led her to believe their relationship and trust could be repaired. Cynics derided her as a fool and they claimed she was only doing that to patch up his political career so that he could follow through on quid pro quo support of her own political ambitions once he was out of the White House.

A few years after that, a New York politician running for Mayor named Anthony Weiner made national headlines by having rather private pictures of his private parts become embarrassingly public. Without shaking her head so hard it dislodged from her head, his wife Huma Abedin continued on and worked quietly behind the scenes to get her own relationship back on track. Weiner promised to be a better human, dropped out of the race, and we thought that was that until just a couple of days ago…when yet another picture of his briefs-clad bulge got sexted to some girl eagerly waiting to go public. Why was this a big deal yet again other than the fact that he was back at it? This time, their sleeping son was included in the photo–purely by accident, I’m sure–and now there’s a question as to whether Weiner should be allowed near his son. OH WAIT NO THAT’S NOT IT.

Nope, rather than everyone jumping on the fact that Weiner keeps losing his pants just as he’s about to text someone who has the New York Post on speed-dial, they’re all over Abedin’s inability to control her husband. She must have judgement issues. Oh, and worse still–she works on Clinton’s presidential campaign, so these folks are making the mental leap that obviously Weiner’s wiener has been able to get at classified material and other sensitive items that he shouldn’t be near.

While I can agree that Weiner and his wiener need to be out of the public spotlight for as long as possible–and perhaps all the major mobile carriers should revoke his access to a smartphone–it’s absolutely ludicrous that all of this is backing up on the ladies in question.

Did Bill Clinton cheat all those years ago? Yes. He admitted it.

Is it Hillary Clinton’s fault he cheated? Nope.

Did Anthony Weiner send images of his scantily clad package to women other than his wife? Yes. He admitted it.

Is it Huma Abedin’s fault he did this? Nope.

We are long since past the point where a woman should be held responsible for her man’s sexual satisfaction–and these transgressions from the monogamous relationships they supposedly committed to aren’t related to their wives. The wives in question could be having sex with their husbands multiple times in a day and it still may not be sufficient if A) the husband decides he wants more than that but fails to communicate that, or B) the husband decides he wants his wife AND another person’s attention, or C) the husband decides he just wants another person’s attention.

If we are to say that monogamy was the rule for these marriages, and that it’s a character flaw for these breaks to have occurred, let them back up on the people who actually caused them: Bill Clinton and Anthony Weiner.

It’s utterly ridiculous that the women who choose to keep their marriages together following a breach like this are at fault no matter what they do; it’s sexism and it gives the men a free pass that teaches our daughters they are ALWAYS in the wrong, that they are ALWAYS responsible, even when it’s clearly NOT their fault.

When the stones and arrows are being lobbed by someone who’s on wife #3 (when it’s well-known that the transition from wife #1 to wife #2 was caused by cheating on wife #1 with the woman who’d become wife #2), and the media is willing to eat that up with a spoon, it’s obvious that our ingrained misogyny still needs to be exorcised.

Huma shouldn’t have to take away Anthony’s phone in order to get him to stop sending dick pics, and anyone who says otherwise is admitting that men can’t control themselves. If that’s the case, then clearly a man doesn’t have the self-control to lead our country. Or, if men DO have self-control, then it’s Weiner’s fault and let’s all leave Huma and Hillary alone.

You can’t have it both ways, sexists. We won’t let you.