There Is No Such Thing

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I tend to go on a bit about the matter of issue framing, the concept that how we discuss ideas matters almost as much as the ideas, themselves.  Thus, we can either refer to taxes finally paid to the country when someone wealthy dies as “death taxes,” or as “estate taxes,” or as “owed anti-aristocratic adjustments.”  We can refer to people opposed to abortion as “pro-life” or as “pro-coat-hanger.”   We can talk about “putting coal miners out of work” or we can talk about “providing new, clean-energy jobs.”  We can talk about “taxing corporations,” or we can talk about “anti-corporate freeloader adjustments.”   You get the idea.  And, as George Lakoff  has pointed out, attempts to negate a frame —  Your President is not a crook! — often backfire.  By invoking the other side’s frame, even to argue against it, you strengthen it.  Far better to do a good job framing your own position.

The right-wing tends to be much better at framing than we are.  First, they believe in it and spend money doing focus group tests of various phrases.  Then, once they’ve picked a term, they all get on board and use it over, and over, and over again, drilling it into the national subconscious.  Meanwhile, we liberals are trying to be exact, using as many words as possible to make sure we’re being clear, and assuming that everyone else functions, just as we do, on an intellectual, rather than an emotional, basis.

I bring framing up today because the Patriarchy has come up with a rather insidious bit of framing and it’s slipping instantly, as it was meant to do, into our national dialog and, as a result, into our national subconscious.

“Sexual marketplace.”

(Not going to link, but the fucking NYT is one of the worst offenders.  You can Google.)

If you’ve followed the sickening “incel” movement and the so-called intellectuals and male professors of economy and psychology who are getting rich promoting it, you’ve undoubtedly heard the term.  Some young men are being “excluded from the sexual marketplace.”  In the currently-unregulated “sexual marketplace,” attractive women are only willing to have sex with successful men.  Society is going to have to “re-distribute” the “commodity” of women’s bodies and sexual services more “equitably” throughout the “sexual marketplace” in order to keep the incels from murdering even more of us.   (Know who actually runs a “sexual marketplace”?  ISIL.  They action off, on the internet, captive girls as young as eight-years-old.  A man can buy a female body, use it, and then, when he tires of it, sell it off in a market that makes Craig’s List look well-regulated.  And that’s what the incels want.  Welcome to the Handmaid’s Tale.)

And you can see, right away, what’s wrong with this framing.  A marketplace is where commodities are sold.  You can go to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and watch traders sell stocks — interests in corporations.  You can go to the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade and see interests and futures in various commodities — wheat, corn, pork bellies (marijuana crops are coming soon) — traded and sold.  You can go to the  floor of the PJM Regional Transmission Operator and watch electrons, electricity futures, black start services, and ancillary services — all forms of electricity sales– traded and sold in increments that range from minutes to years.  PJM runs auctions for everything from capacity (long-term supply), to demand response, (being willing to power down in times of high demand), to FTRs (financial transmission rights:  the right to use congested transmission lines.)  Those are commodities.  There are marketplaces for them.

There was a time in America when you could go to the slave market — there used to be one in SouthWest D.C.,and there were hundreds of others throughout the South, but also in New York City, and Philadelphia.  There, you could see human beings traded as commodities.  In those markets, women’s bodies were commodities and there was, indeed, a sexual marketplace.  Attractive women brought a higher price — could only be afforded by wealthier men — than less attractive women.  Men could buy women and use them for sex whenever they wanted, and then send them out into the fields to pick cotton, or into their kitchens to cook, or off into their wives’ boudoirs to serve as ladies’ maids.  Let’s be clear.  These women weren’t just required to lie still and be raped, although, certainly, that happened.  If the man who owned you wanted you to perform oral sex, to act excited, to enact whatever fantasies he had, then, well, you did that.  You got pregnant, you bore children who were enslaved and could be sold away from you, and then (because you had no choice) you went back to his bed and did it all again,  You were a commodity in the sexual marketplace.

We fought a pretty ugly war to put an end to that crap.  To stop the idea that there could ever be any such thing as a “marketplace” where the “commodity” of women’s bodies and sexual attentions were auctioned off.

Women’s bodies, their sexual attentions, their children, their lives are not commodities.  What the incels, and the economists and professors who give them legitimacy, are pushing is enslavement.  And to enslave people, you have to turn them into commodities.

I hate that we even have to discuss the incels.  By murdering women and then getting their powerful friends to discuss them and push the narrative, Incels rip open the Overton Window  and now, great, we’re seriously discussing whether or not we need “forced monogamy” (for women, obviously.  There will never be any such thing for the men.  Sally Hemmings had “forced monogamy;” Thomas Jefferson did not.)

But for the LOVE OF THE GODDESS, STOP USING THE OPPRESSORS’ FRAMING.

There is no sexual marketplace.  There is enslavement and enforced female monogamy.

Period.

The end.

Please stop using the oppressors’ framing.

Picture found (don’t go there) here.

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The Magical Battle for America 5.20.18

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Now’s probably a good time to remind everyone to check/refresh the wards on your home or wherever you do this work.  Be sure that you’re rested, grounded, and in a comfortable position.  Maybe wrap up in a blanket or cloak and grasp a stone or talisman that matters to you.  Grow your roots, send them deep into the soil, let them intertwine with, and grow small hairs to attach to, the mycelia in your own landbase.

Breathe.

Anchor yourself firmly to your landbase.  Notice a small detail that will call you back when this working is finished.

Ground and center.  Cast a circle.

Breathe.

As you move to our American plain on the astral plane, you can see again the safe hillock where you do your work.  You can see the five giant banners, shining in the sky:  Walden Pond, the Underground Railroad, the Cowboy, the Salmon, and Lady Liberty.  Do they seem more defined since we began our work?  Do they have anything special to tell you this week?

For a few moments, just sit on your hillock and allow yourself to become comfortable. This place should be feeling very real to you by now; we’ve been working together to create it for months and months.  What’s become familiar to you?  A tuft of prairie grass?  Buffalo off in the distance?  The scent of sand carried on the wind?  You’ve been involved in a months-long magical working here, joined with magic workers from across the globe.  Feel your connection to this place on the astral plane.  It is always here for you, always a source of strength.

Surely women, from time immemorial, have pieced together bits of hide or cloth to make a larger covering.  But American women, quite early, turned quilt making into a serious art form.  That old shirt that had been patched too many times could still be cut up into some usable pieces.  The cloth bag that contained the corn meal or flour could first be made into a dress and, then, the scraps could be worked into a quilt.  You may have had too many red pieces, but your neighbor over the hollow may have had too many green pieces,  Patterns abounded and could even, when needed, send a message.

As you sit on your hillock, you look across America and you see women making quilts:  piecing together bits of cloth, turning what would otherwise have been waste into warm blankets, beautiful wall hangings (which insulated everyone from the heat and cold), messages for the Underground Railroad, art destined for museums.  You watch their descendants wrap up warm, winter after winter.  You see their granddaughters carefully folding these family heirlooms into cedar chests.  You see art historians using modern techniques to preserve these works of art.

On the astral, all times are one time.

And, so, you go backwards to your ancestors and forwards to your descendants, and you pay homage to the magic worked into every quilt, everywhere in America, those created hundreds of years ago, those being created today, those that your great-great-granddaughters will stitch in Space.

Americans have been protected by the warmth, and beauty, and utility of quilts for centuries.  And will be protected by quilts far into the future.

You also see the Women of the Resistance, piecing together the work done by local Democrats, the efforts of the League of Women Voters, the accomplishments of neighborhood associations, PTAs, and volunteer firefighters.  The Resistance is pulling together a very diverse group of people, including, especially, young people registering to vote, and is stitching them together into a quilt that will protect America this November.

Stand upon your hillock and draw up energy from the prairie earth.  Throw magic and strength out towards the women of the Resistance.  Strengthen the coalitions that they stitch together.  See the tiny stitches holding strong, see the quilts becoming works of art, protective blankets, family treasures.

What are you moved to offer to those women who stitched together tiny bits of cloth?  Are you registered to vote? Are the other members of your family?  Could you give two hours this week to local Resistance efforts?

As you sit on your hillock and rest, know that you are not working alone.  The Resistance — both magical and in all of its mundane (phone banking, check writing, representative calling, letter writing, canvassing, voting, volunteering, tutoring, restoring wetlands, growing plants for bees) manifestations — is huge.  Know that you are a powerful worker of magic, rooted in your very own landbase, working with the strong archetypes of this land, assisted by countless unseen others who labor in league with you.  You are brave and growing braver.  Your magic and your practical workings can make the difference.  America’s quilts are always available to you when you want to do magic to strengthen America.

Breathe.

Return to your own body, your own landbase.  Open your eyes.  Rub your face, move your arms and legs.  Notice the detail you selected to call you back from the astral.  Open your circle.  Drink something, maybe tart lemonade or iced tea with mint.  If you like, have something to eat, maybe banana bread or strawberry shortcake.

During the course of this week, you may want to visit the bannered prairie several times in order to strengthen its presence on the astral.  You may want to repeat this working.  You may want to place something on your altar to help you to remember America’s quilters.  Can you stare into a candle?   What actions are you inspired to take for the Resistance?  If you’re willing, please share in comments what happened and how this working went.

Picture found here.

Self-Care in the Time of Trump

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Back an aeon or so ago, when Trump was first “elected,” and the Resistance was in its initial stages, there was a lot of talk about self-care.  You remember:  articles and posts reminding all of us to not get so caught up in resisting that we neglected to eat healthy food, get enough sleep, exercise, take some time to relax and have fun.  As many pointed out, we’re in a marathon, not a sprint, and, as Son has taught me, you don’t burn all you’ve got in the first few yards of a marathon.

It’s been a bitterly grim slog since then and there are weeks — last week was one for me — when we seem to careen from one unbelievable evil (needlessly ripping children from their parents’ arms), to another (dehumanizing people by calling them animals), to another (foreign governments bribing Trump & his corrupt band of dependent family members), to another (yet another school shooting), and it’s almost impossible NOT to feel overwhelmed, defeated, ground down.  As some friends reminded me this week, that’s a feature, not a bug.  These narcissists thrive on keeping you so overwhelmed that you can’t focus.

And then, of course, we all deal with the normal day-to-day problems of living.  (I swear that, in the last six months, my little cottage has needed more home repairs — roof, generator, fence, phone, printer, computer, water heater, screen porch, lawn mower, locks, gate, drainage in the garden, etc. — than ever.  This week, I finally managed to cajole repair-people into coming to fix the toilet and the bathroom sink.  And, then, last night, the bulb in the bathroom light, which I can’t reach (even with my step-stool), burned out.  Oh, and the microwave died.)  Even before Trump, we were overextended:  working, raising families, doing volunteer work, studying, trying to exercise and to have a daily practice. . . .  And, many of you are now, also, doing the regular Magical Battle for America workings, which, as I know, take time, mental and emotional effort, commitment.

We’re heading towards the November election which, and I don’t mean this as hyperbole, is likely to be THE most important midterm election in America’s history.  Every single one of us needs to be certain that we’re registered to vote, that everyone we know is registered to vote, that we’re volunteering to knock on doors to get out the vote, to phone bank, to drive voters to the polls, to hand out sample ballots.  Seriously, go take Tuesday, Nov. 6th, off NOW and plan to spend the day making sure we manifest a Big Blue Wave.  And, block out at least one evening a week between now and then to get out the vote.  Your local Democratic Party website, or Indivisible webpage, or League of Women Voters’ volunteer will get you started.

So, with all of that going on, I want to re-remind everyone about the importance of self-care.

If you burn yourself out, you can’t be much good to the Resistance.

Some of the most committed Resistance workers I know have taken time over the last few weeks to go to the beach or New Orleans, to get out and ride their horses, to spend Sunday evenings with a friend watching The Crown, to edit the LWBs for tarot decks, to work in their (rain-soaked) gardens, to watch Gardeners’ World on Britbox (talk about a cheap, but glorious, indulgence), to sit at their grandson’s baseball games.  To bake, knit, clean out closets, journal, pet cats.

You can, too.

Take a long, hot bath.  Throw in epsom salts, or herbs, or rose petals, or crystals.  Burn candles or incense.  Go directly to bed.

Have sex.  Do it again.  All acts of love and pleasure are rituals of the Goddess.

Did you set goals at Samhein or pick a Word of the Year on Jan. 1st?  Spend some time journaling about where you are.  Do some divination.  Make a fun offering to the fairies.

Make the perfect cup of tea.  Drink it.

Bake something satisfying; bread has the advantage of allowing you to punch, knead, and roll, but fruit pies are wonderful this time of year (strawberry/rhubarb, blueberry/thyme, lemon meringue), while cheese straws last forever in a tin and are perfect to pull out when unexpected guests (or expected guests for whom you didn’t find time to get ready) show up.

Make something concrete:  a painting, a sweater, a clay pot, a new blend of incense.

Turn on music you love and dance as if nobody’s watching.

Go for a long walk somewhere interesting.  What’s your version of “old town”?

Chop up cucumbers and throw them into your ice-water.  Slice strawberries, or limes, or angelica stems , and do the same.

If you can afford it (or can trade with a lover or friend), have a pedicure, or a massage, or a manicure, or a haircut, or get your cards read, your astrology chart drawn, your chakras cleansed.

Go to the library, wander into sections you never visit, and come home with at least two books you never thought you’d read.  Read them.

Use Duolingo or Mango Languages to regain (or build) your proficiency in Spanish, or Gaelic, or Whale.   (Yes!  Mango offered lessons in Whale).  Take an online course (or MOOC (massively open on-line course)) in the history of Hadrian’s Wall, or Chinese ceramics, or Algebra, or Wordsworth poetry, or Magic in the Middle Ages.

Climb into a friend’s truck and visit a nursery, an old cemetery, the mountains, an antique store, a regional museum, the new beer garden, a local theatre.

Have you binge-watched Rome, Anne with an E, Larkrise to Candleford, Dickensian, Midsomer Murders, Shetland, Death Comes to Pemberly, the Tudors, the Medici, Wolf Hall, Queen Elizabeth’s Secret Agents, Call the Midwife, Vera, Hidden Villages, Emily of New Moon, Wives and Daughters?  Can you suggest others?

At a MINIMUM, ground, center, breathe.  Relax the muscles in your shoulders.  Unclench your jaw.  Roll your shoulders.  Eat some protein.  Use this, which I stole from someone (the Dali Lama?), years ago:  “Breathing in (breathe in) we know that we are in the present moment.  Breathing out (breathe out) we know that it is the perfect moment.   Breathing in (breathe in) we know that we are in the present moment.  Breathing out (breathe out) we know that it is the perfect moment.  Breathing in (breathe in) we know that we are in the present moment.  Breathing out (breathe out) we know that it is the perfect moment.”

I think you get the idea, but, PLEASE, add your own suggestions in comments.  How do you take care of yourself so that you’ll be fresh for the fight?  We really, really need you.

Picture found here

(Traditional) Masculinity *Is* Under Attack

when you're accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression

My nephew recently turned 13, and my evangelical brother and sister-in-law decided they wanted to throw him a “knighting” party (based on this evangelical bit of tripe, and just in case you’re like “what’s so bad about a knight?” realize that the complimentary book for girls is about raising a goddamn princess). The concept was kind of an evangelical bar mitzvah (and don’t get me started on the fact that they did not throw a similar party for my oldest niece when she turned 13 a few years ago), only women were distinctly disinvited from participating (other than as food servers EYE ROLL). We didn’t participate – we also declined to participate in last year’s party for my younger niece with an “Indian” theme where everyone was supposed to dress up and take a fake “Indian” name, and yes, I pointed out in declining that, while I’m sure they didn’t mean any harm by it, they were engaged in something called “cultural appropriation” and that most First Nations people object to it – but they did ask all the men in the family to pass along “advice on becoming a good man” that would be read aloud to the birthday boy during the party.

We wrote ours together – of course, and made sure to point that out in our submission – and it basically came down to:

  • Lots of people are going to give you lots of advice today. Question all of it.
  • Only you can decide for yourself what becoming a good PERSON means.

Men, that’s my point.

Men and women of color have had to fight to define and realize the promise of their own liberation since settlers first started bringing enslaved people to the colonies. That took many forms: periodic major uprisings during the hundreds of years of chattel slavery in the US; learning to read in secret; fleeing first for the free states and, after the imposition of the repugnant Fugitive Slave Act, Canada via the Underground Railroad; preserving culture, language, religion, music, and tradition and passing it down as best one could; literally fighting for freedom during the Civil War; agitating for education and political participation and power (at least for the men) in the immediate aftermath of the war; forming tight, supportive communities during the Jim Crow years; fighting redlining and exclusion from the unions in the North; taking to the streets and the courts during the Civil Rights Movement to attempt to realize the promise of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments; the Black Is Beautiful movement; the work the Black Panthers did to feed and educate children and work for the economic empowerment of the black community; Black Lives Matter.

The queer community has had to fight to define and realize the promise of their own liberation. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the non-queer community even became aware that there MIGHT be a problem with criminalizing and pathologizing people’s sexuality. Butch lesbians and drag queens, who couldn’t conform to society’s expectations, have always been on the forefront of gay liberation, and they were the ones who lit the fuse at Stonewall in 1969. (Don’t believe me? Read Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg, who, as a final gift to the queer community before hir death, made it available for free.) They fought in the courts to overturn sodomy laws, to make sexual orientation a protected class (which it still isn’t in many states), and for marriage equality. They fought for attention to and funding for the HIV/AIDS crisis (for those too young to know or remember, it is difficult to express the devastation of the 1980s). They continue their fight, as their precarious gains come under increasing attack in Trump’s America.

Women have had to fight to define and realize the promise of our own liberation for pretty much the entirety of human history. It took 72 years of concerted effort to win us the right to vote in the US. (Fun fact: As one might suspect, some heavily Muslim Middle Eastern and African countries have only recently enfranchised women. But before we all get up on our high horses, Portugal didn’t grant women’s suffrage until 1976.) Birth control wasn’t legalized until 1965, and even then, it was only legalized for married couples. (Another fun fact: Attacks on women’s ability to control our own bodies and reproductive choices continue today. Literally today, as so-called (for now) President Trump TODAY called for denying federal funding to any clinic that even performs abortions, despite the fact that federal funds are already prohibited from being used for abortions. So yes, your local Planned Parenthood would have to build and staff an ENTIRELY SEPARATE FACILITY in order to continue to receive Title X funding. But “abortion isn’t on the ballot in 2016,” right, Rosebros?) Women were allowed to be fired for getting pregnant until 1978. Women weren’t allowed any sort of credit in our own names until 1974. As I’ve pointed out earlier, marital rape wasn’t criminalized in all 50 states until 1993. We still don’t have the ERA or equal pay for equal work. And #MeToo. And #TimesUp. And #YesAllWomen.

What am I driving at here?

“Traditional” masculinity – white male patriarchs who’ve convinced themselves that they run everything because they really are the best and the smartest and the most qualified (when really, everyone else has been prevented by law and custom from even being allowed to complete) – IS under attack. It has been so since at least Reconstruction, but in recent years, that arc Dr. King spoke so passionately about has started to bend more noticeably and quickly towards justice. And when you’re used to privilege, etc.

We used to operate under a largely unstated bargain: Men and women of color and queer people of all colors are pretty much fucked, and white women prop up the patriarchy in exchange for white men protecting us and providing for us. That had a lot of pathologies – lynching black people (mostly but not entirely men) on any pretext or no pretext at all in the name of “protecting” white women, violent suppression (including involuntary institutionalization, regular police harassment and beatings, and murder) of any non-approved expressions of sexuality, blocking men of color and all women out of unions, blocking women from most professions. But for white men and some white women, it felt like a pretty good deal. In the mythologized Eisenhower America (which, despite many people’s insistence otherwise, occupied an EXTREMELY brief period of our history), a man could graduate high school (or even maybe not), land a good union job with wages that would allow him to buy a house and support a wife and kids (the wife very well might have been dulling the pain of the “problem that has no name” with booze and Valium, but she didn’t have to/wasn’t permitted to work outside the home) and still maybe have enough money left over for a fishing boat and a cabin on the lake, and he’d get to retire after 40 years with a pension and lifetime health care.

THAT WORLD IS GONE.

Men, you have two choices.

You can follow Jordan Peterson and his ilk down the path of the incel movement and PUAs and MRAs and neo-Nazism. You can become “Promise Keepers” (remember them?) or “knights.” You can stand on the beach and curse the tide for coming in. And it might even work for awhile, because you’re the ones who can and do use violence against the rest of us with impunity. Meanwhile, black men are still getting shot in their own damn yards for holding a damn cell phone, and women are still going to jail in ostensible “stand your ground” states for attempting to use guns to defend themselves against abusive partners.

Or…

You can wake up to the fact that the patriarchy hurts you, too. That women are full human beings, just like you, with the right to make our own decisions about all forms of bodily autonomy, whether that’s related to who we do and don’t want to fuck or whether and when we want to procreate. That men and women of color have an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, even if that means they’re now allowed to compete with you for jobs and access to other resources, which means they’re going to win sometimes. Your dad – or your grandpa – was born on third base. He didn’t hit a triple. What you’ve been taught about white men running everything due to greater merit is a lie. You can educate yourself about your own situation, and I don’t mean by red pilling yourself down the goddamn rabbit hole of Reddit and 4 chan’s racism, misogyny, homophobia, and xenophobia. You can raise your consciousness and allow yourself to become full human beings, not cut off from your own emotions or other people or the world past the end of your own nose. You can fight to define and realize the promise of your own liberation.

Women of all colors can’t do it for you. Men of color can’t do it for you. The queer community can’t do it for you. You have to do it for yourself.

It’s hard fucking work. It takes a long time. It hurts. You mess up. A lot. But it’s the only way you’ll every TRULY understand what it means to be a good man – to be a good person – and to live in right relationship with all the people and other living creatures around you.

Choose wisely.

Image found here, although the quote is ubiquitous online. It’s origins are unclear, but it seems like it may have made its way into popular use via Brian Sims, the first openly gay member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Disrespect on the Daily

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I feel disrespected.

And, I have good reasons to feel that way.

As this white paper   notes, I am judged more harshly, paid less, and will always have less power than a man.  (See also, e.g., What Works for Women at Work, noting further the double-bind that requires women to “act like men,” but that then punishes them for doing so.)  Most medical studies ignore the impacts of a new drug or treatment on women, preferring to use only men as study subjects.  The right wing has been calling me a feminazi for decades.  America recently elected a man who bragged about sexually assaulting women.  Not only did a majority of white men vote for him, including those whose very livelihoods depend upon the migrant workers he promised to exclude, but more African American men and Hispanic men voted for him than voted for Mitt Romney.  While liberal white men have made free college a rallying cry, they are not at all worried about free child care, an issue that would have a giant effect on women’s lives and finances (and on the lives of their children).  And, speaking of finances, I’m much more likely to be impoverished in my old age than a man.  The right wing has, for years and years, referred to my party as the Democrat party, a deliberate slur, instead of referring to the Democratic party.  And it’s not just some fringe nut jobs who do this; George W. Bush did it, Trump does it, they all do it.  They refer to us as libtards, instead of liberals, to emphasize their belief that we are mentally slow (and to show that they don’t have to be “politically correct” towards people who are differently abled).  When that’s not sufficiently insulting, they print up t-shirts that say, of the first woman nominated by a major party:  “Trump that Bitch,”  and “Monica Swallowed; Hillary Sucks,” and they work themselves into twitching fervors chanting “Lock Her Up,” ecstatic at the notion that an ambitious woman should be jailed.  Bernie Sanders’ supporters threw dollar bills at her to call her a cheap whore for daring, as prominent men do, to get paid for giving speeches.  (All the rest of us got the message; they only burned a few women as Witches, but they burned them as examples to all the rest of us.  Making money is a sin for Democratic women, but not Democratic men.)  And we’re not even going to talk about my religion except that I will point out that we get blamed for floods and other climate change disasters on a regular basis and no one is surprised, or worried, or offended.  Sure, that, too, makes me feel disrespected, but that’s the point of that kind of talk.

So, yeah as a woman and a liberal (and a Witch), feeling disrespected is simply a part of my everyday existence.  You know:  get up, feed the cats, make coffee, water the plants, meditate, check the internet, feel disrespected, answer emails, throw in a load of laundry, read a law review article, feel disrespected, take a conference call and get interrupted by the men, feel disrespected, stop at the dry cleaners, drop off knitted caps for homeless newborns at the hospital, show up to register voters, go home and cook dinner, turn on tv, feel disrespected . . . .

Oddly, though, all of that disrespect never turned me into a racist, or a Nazi, even when Rush Limbaugh got rich calling me a feminazi, or a fascist.  No one worried for even a moment that women would riot if the jury verdicts in trials of Bill Cosby or other sexual abusers and harassers didn’t go our way.  I can’t live for an hour in this world without suffering disrespect, but it never made me want to vote against my own interests, support a fascist, rip immigrant children from their mothers’ arms, drive my car into a crowd, shoot up a school, or make up lies about child sex rings.

And, yet, there’s a genre of political commentary devoted to scolding women and liberals for failing to make Trump’s voters feels sufficiently “respected.”  David Brooks does it; Bari Weiss does it, hell the NYT more and more regularly makes it their main message.

As Paul Waldman notes in this very good piece  in the WaPo (which paper, itself, is often guilty, as well), there is an entire industry devoted to convincing the white “working class” (which, by the way, is NOT the entirety of the working class, but it’s standard to ignore liberal waitresses in NYC, Hispanic paralegals in SF, African American mail carriers in Indianapolis, female IT professionals in Chicago, Asian medical technicians in Atlanta, Hispanic women who clean hotels in San Antonio, African American day care workers in Washington, D.C., gay florists in Denver, . . . .) that some strange group of liberal elites (but these elites don’t include the billionaire Trump family, the Mercers and the Waltons, millionaire Paul Ryan, George W. Bush (man of the people who sold his brush-filled ranchette the day he left office and moved into a mansion with servants’ quarters)), regularly sneers at them, doesn’t give the respect that they DESERVE (as opposed to “have earned”), and causes all of their griefs.  That industry has been phenomenally successful and, no matter what Democrats or feminists say, do, or espouse, they’ll never convince the rubes that the reason their lives aren’t as nice as they should be isn’t totally due to the fact that liberals look down on them.  One fragment of a sentence, taken out of context and broadcast over and over and over again, can convince the rubes that Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or [insert here the name of the next Democratic candidate no matter who s/he is, or how strongly they advocate for free college, or how often they go to NASCAR races, roll up their sleeves, eat BBQ] sneers at them and that belief will send them off to the polls, angrily pulling the lever for the latest plutocrat elite white man who will take away their health care and give their tax dollars to the corporation that will pollute their water and send their job to China.

Waldman explains what Democrats need to do instead of chasing that elusive Jabberwock, the white working class male who, finally given just the right amount of (non-racist, non-sexist) respect will vote for a Democrat :

So . . . what exactly are we asking Democrats to do? It can only be one of two things. Either Democrats are supposed to abandon their values and change their policies, despite the fact that many of those policies provide enormous help to the very people who say Democrats look down on them, or they’re supposed to take symbolic steps to demonstrate their respect, which always fail anyway. How many times have we seen Democrats try to show respect by going to a NASCAR event or on a hunting trip, only to be mocked for their insincerity?

In the world Republicans have constructed, a Democrat who wants to give you health care and a higher wage is disrespectful, while a Republican who opposes those things but engages in a vigorous round of campaign race-baiting is respectful. The person who’s holding you back isn’t the politician who just voted to give a trillion-dollar tax break to the wealthy and corporations, it’s an East Coast college professor who said something condescending on Twitter.

So what are Democrats to do? The answer is simple: This is a game they cannot win, so they have to stop playing. Know at the outset that no matter what you say or do, Republicans will cry that you’re disrespecting good heartland voters. There is no bit of PR razzle-dazzle that will stop them. Remember that white Republicans are not going to vote for you anyway, and their votes are no more valuable or virtuous than the votes of any other American. Don’t try to come up with photo ops showing you genuflecting before the totems of the white working class, because that won’t work. Advocate for what you believe in, and explain why it actually helps people.

Finally — and this is critical — never stop telling voters how Republicans are screwing them over. The two successful Democratic presidents of recent years were both called liberal elitists, and they countered by relentlessly hammering the GOP over its advocacy for the wealthy. And it worked.

In other words, quit worrying about this small (and increasingly smaller) group of voters.  Yes, living in Patriarchy has made all of us more likely to center white men (even, especially, unconsciously) and their desires, than other voters.  But those men are never going to vote for you.  Black women are.  White women with college degrees are.  So do what the Republicans have successfully done for decades:  get your actual base enthusiastic, riled up, and out  to the polls.  (Remember how Rove would get questions related to gay marriage on the ballot to get the Evangelical nut jobs out to vote, knowing that while they were in the booth, they’d also pul the lever for the Republican candidates?  Like that.)  Make sure that they can vote when they get there.  Ensure a paper trail to stop Russia/Diebold from changing just enough votes in just the right places to steal another election.  When you finally get in power, do what it takes to stay there.

For example, make DC and Puerto Rico States and gain 4 secure seats in the Senate.  Ensure paper trails and provide other voting security measures nationwide.  Require all candidates for national office to release their tax returns for the last 10 years.  Pass Don Beyer’s Fair Representation Act to “move US House elections into multi-member districts drawn by independent redistricting commissions, and elected through ranked choice voting.”  Make election days State and National holidays and require states to allow motorvoter registration, excuse-free early voting, and mail-in ballots.  I’m sure you can think of others; please add them in comments.

You know, I expect to die being disrespected by this culture.  I’m still not going to turn into a Nazi or a Republican.  I’m not going to go on a racist rant in a coffee shop or in my neighborhood.  I’m not going to buy a gun and go shoot up a sports bar, or a football game, or a barber shop, or any of the other spaces in which white men congregate.  But I am going to call bullshit on people pretending that racists shouldn’t be called out for being racist.

See What You Made Me Do?

Have you ever lived or worked with an abuser?  Do you have an abusive uncle who ruins Thanksgiving dinner every year or a regular customer who makes sure your life is a living hell?

One of the largest and most effective tools in every abuser’s tool box is:  “See what you made me do?”  It’s odd how they — the ones who must be in control because you are too emotional to manage things — can be reduced to senseless violence simply because you failed to comply with all of their (increasingly stringent & progressively unreasonable, not to mention meaningless) standards.  Hence, your failure to hang his shirts in the closet, in order, by color, overwhelmed his normally Olympian self-control and somehow made him break your arm.  Your failure to arrange the cans of food in the pantry in alphabetical order simply left him no choice but to throw everything on the floor, give you a black eye, and break the clock.  See what you made him do?  The fact that you dared to mention Colbert at the dinner table made him throw his wine glass and ruin your mother’s meal.  It’s your fault.  See what you made him do?

It’s odd that nothing he does ever “makes” you destroy things or injure him, but, well, there’s no time to think about that when you are frantically spending every minute attempting to live up to his ever-changing and increasingly-more-dramatic “standards,” in a desperate attempt to not “make” him hurt you, trash your home, ruin the holiday, get you fired.

I bring this up because we are being subjected recently to a barrage of “It’s your fault I voted for Trump because you called racism deplorable,” or similar nonsense.  (Not going to link it; it’s all over Twitter and the web.)

No.

Here’s what I finally told my abusive partner:  I’m not responsible for your behavior, any more than you’re responsible for mine.  We’re both adults.  We both have agency.  You choose to hit me because it gives you a feeling of control and I am choosing to leave you because I don’t want to be hit.  I’m using my agency to walk away from you.  Have a nice life.

Racists and sexists voted for Trump because he made them feel good; they loved his racism and sexism.  They didn’t vote for Trump because Hillary had the nerve to tell the truth and say  that “just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?  The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”  What she said didn’t make me revenge-vote for Trump, but then, I knew she wasn’t talking about me.  If you thought that she was talking about you, well, you were already going to vote for Trump and don’t @ at me about how Hillary made you.

So, now, we’re not going to hang your shirts up by color in the closet and you’re not entitled to hit us if we misjudged which blue shirt you thought was darker than another.  You won’t get invited back to Easter dinner next year if you made grandma cry by throwing a fit because your youngest nephew came out to the family as gay.  You can take your business elsewhere if it infuriates you to hear the receptionist speaking Spanish to a Spanish-speaking customer.

We didn’t make you vote for Trump and we’re not going to stop calling racism, sexism, homophobia, etc, deplorable.

I’m not responsible for your behavior, any more than you’re responsible for mine.  We’re both adults.  We both have agency.  I’m using mine to walk away from you and register as many college-educated women, African Americans, and reasonable people as I can.  You go revenge vote against your own self-interest and then pout that I think you’re stupid.

Menu for Magic

Ploughmans-lunch-platter-5

Cakes and ale.  That’s the traditional ritual meal that Witches supposedly have at their gatherings.  Tonight was the May Dark Moon and I spent a bit of time thinking about the practice of cakes and ale as I prepared for, well, you know.

What “cakes and ale” often means, in practice, is a pot luck:  everybody brings a dish to share after the ritual is over.  And, given the realities of people coming to ritual from work, on the metro or by bus, in the middle of the work week, my experience is that the “luck of the pot” is usually two or three loaves of grocery-store rosemary bread, a hunk of cheese, something from a salad bar, a frozen vegan casserole that transported easily.  (I was once in a group where one of the women was a serious vegan and one of the women was on the Adkins diet, and we ate a lot of bread, apples, and cheese.  The vegan scowled at the cheese, and the woman on Adkins scowled at the bread, and the rest of us went home to eat our real dinner.)  And, certainly, the fellowship is the important thing and the quality of the meal is secondary.   A well-organized group may have someone who assigns dishes:  Sarah will have the main dish ready at her apartment, Sam will bring a salad, Susan will bring a starch, and Steve will bring fruit salad.

But my group does things a bit differently.  One of us is married to a serious chef and is, herself, no slouch as a baker.  One of us is a good Southern cook who can make chicken and vegetables cook together into a magical and nourishing dish.  Some of us show up with cheeses for appetizers, wines and vodka to drink, decadent desserts from the local pastry shop.

Tonight, it was my turn to cook.

We started with cheese and crackers, which my companions are willing to guard from the cats.  (Merlin WILL cut you for some cheese, yo.)  Some of us drank the rose Sancerre, some drank water, some drank a wonderful potato vodka.

For dinner, I made slow-cooker BBQ chicken (made yesterday and heated up today) sandwiches.  I made my cole slaw, which, if I do say so myself, is always v. good (chop up cabbage, sprinkle w/ sugar, add mayo, salt, pepper, and lots of lemon juice; I got the recipe at least 40 years ago from Woman’s Day).  And, we had chunks of watermelon mixed with chopped mint. (I was ashamed to have to go to the grocery store today and buy mint.  But this chilly spring has hindered everyone’s mint pots here in the Magical MidAtlantic.  My mint never starts growing later than mid-March but, this year, it’s just now beginning to, slowly, sprout.  A dear friend asked me a few weeks ago if I could give her any mint for Derby Day, and I had to, shamefacedly, decline; I just didn’t have any.)  Ahead of time, I’d debated adding another side dish, maybe black beans or cheesy grits.  I decided not to, but I think, now, it would have made the meal better.  Since Virginians put our cole slaw on the BBQ sandwich, it was as if the watermelon was the only side dish.  I think a meal has at least two and, preferably, three side dishes.

Our practice is to have dinner before the ritual, discussing what, exactly, we’ll do, and to have dessert afterwards, as we debrief.

Dessert was the easiest Southern dessert ever.  Biscuits (shortcake) sliced, heaped w/ strawberries, and covered in whipped cream.

Clean up was minimal.

I do this meal probably once a year, sometimes substituting pulled pork (from a shoulder) for the chicken.  People always like it and, since I’m working alone, enough of it can be made ahead (the BBQ, the cole slaw, the watermelon, and the beans or grits) to make it do-able.  I bake the biscuits and slice the strawberries the day of the working and the only thing I have to do at the time is whip the cream.

What’s cakes and ale to you, or you to them?  What’s your favorite recipe for a dark moon?  What do you bring when you have to cook the night before and transport your dish on the bus?  What would you eat if you were having the most decadent ritual ever?

Picture found here.