Saturday Ballet Blogging

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Of Course #MeToo, But Does Anyone Even Give a Shit?

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Once again, we’re faced with a powerful man who’s used his power to attack and assault women for years without consequence.

Once again, women are being asked to dredge up what were, for many of us, the most painful and humiliating moments in our lives for public consumption.

Once again, I have to ask: Is anything actually going to change?

I wish I could be more hopeful, but I doubt it.

In response to brave women coming forward to reveal Harvey Weinstein’s crimes against them, Alyssa Milano suggested that women could find solidarity in #MeToo:

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Hundreds of thousands of women have replied, re-tweeted, launched their own threads, and carried the campaign to other platforms.

I should point out that Milano did not originate the idea. The “Me Too” campaign was begun in 2007 (when Twitter was a baby social media platform, little known outside the confines of sxsw) by Tarana Burke, a black woman, seeking to connect and empower survivors. (Milano, to her credit, gave credit when she was alerted to this about 24 hours later.) #BlackGirlMagic strikes again.

We know the stats about rape: 1 in 4.

When we broaden the circle to include assault (things like groping, unwanted touch), harassment (things like inappropriate conversations and requests from men with power over women), and threats (things like “blow job or lose your job” and like my story from the bus from last week), it’s much higher. When we broaden further to include things like catcalling, it is literally 100% of women. #YesAllWomen

Yes me, and no, I don’t owe you my fucking story. Sorry not sorry. Yes Hecate, and she doesn’t owe you a goddamn thing either.

(I am aware that men can victimize other men, that women can victimize men, and that women can victimize other women. Motes and beams, though, y’all. Motes and beams.)

It’s funny how EVERY woman has been a victim and yet NO men seem to be perpetrators – or even know anyone who is.

I know I’m just a girl, but that math doesn’t seem to work.

Two words for you on that one: Joe Biden.

Rebecca Traister wrote a far more calm, cogent, and smart piece for The Cut than I’m writing here (that may be because I am fucking pissed), where she breaks it all down.

Ole Handsome Uncle Joe just gave a barn burner of a speech in the wake of the Weinstein revelations. He’s been very active in the movement to prevent campus sexual assault. He authored the ground-breaking Violence Against Women Act back in 1994.

He has NOT ONCE admitted or apologized for the way he treated Anita Hill. He is, as Traister points out, complicit. But nobody talks about that.

In 1991, then-Senator Joe Biden led the all-white, all-male Judiciary Committee presiding over the confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas for the Supreme Court. When word got out that Anita Hill, a former colleague of Thomas, was willing to speak about how he’d sexually harassed her, Biden made no effort to seek her out or speak to her. He also initially resisted the calls of his female colleagues in the House to delay the vote to hear Anita Hill’s testimony.

Once Hill did appear before the Biden-led committee, she was interrogated about her sexual proclivities, called an “erotomaniac” and depicted as lonely and desperate (then-conservative writer David Brock famously referred to her as “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty”). Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, meanwhile, didn’t even object to Senator Orrin Hatch’s suggestion that Hill had copied one of her stories about Clarence Thomas from The Exorcist. Most crucially, however, Biden declined to call three other women who were willing to testify in support of Hill, including Angela Wright, a woman who had worked with Thomas and had previously complained of his having pressured her to date him and his comments about her breast size.

Altogether it was as vivid an example of every dynamic Biden described in his Weinstein excoriation last week: the shaming, the silencing, the ways in which long-embedded attitudes have allowed generations of perpetrators to escape consequences.

In the end, Clarence Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court, where he has, ever since, diligently worked on the side of the powerful and against those who might want to challenge that power. He voted against reproductive autonomy. He voted to weaken equal-pay protections. He voted to dismantle the protections of the Voting Rights Act. And he voted in favor of weakening the federal ban on sexual harassment in the workplace — a decision that would make it infinitely more difficult for anyone to speak up in the manner Biden recommended.

As I mentioned above, it’s funny how #YesAllWomen are victims and yet NO men seem to be perpetrators. Somehow I doubt 157 million American women have all be assaulted by one guy who apparently has no friends.

We’ve been shouting about this shit for 50 years or more, and yet here we are.

Just as it’s not on black people to fix us white people’s racism, it’s not on women to fix misogyny, sexism, and the sexual and physical violence that’s done to us EVERY DAY (when you actually work out the math, five women a day murdered by their intimate partners) – that’s on men. And if men aren’t willing to start by looking in the goddamn mirror and asking themselves “How have I personally contributed to the victimization of women, and what am I going to do about that?” this will never be fixed.

(I swear to the Goddess, the first person who responds #NotAllMen to this post is getting turned into a toad, and I am not kidding.)

Image found here.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

 

America Lost.

I felt today, with an American general defending the actions of a corrupt Russian traitor who stole the White House, that America is as lost as it has ever been.  I remembered Cavafy’s poem, The God Abandons Antony, set to song as Alexandra Leaving by Leonard Cohen.  The poem is about  Antony realizing that his God has abandoned him and he is going to lose the city.  The song is about a man realizing that he has lost the woman that he loves.  In both cases, the protagonist is urged to face the actual loss, not pretend that it isn’t happening.  Cavafy writes:

At midnight, when suddenly you hear 
an invisible procession going by 
with exquisite music, voices, 
don’t mourn your luck that’s failing now, 
work gone wrong, your plans 
all proving deceptive—don’t mourn them uselessly: 
as one long prepared, and full of courage, 
say goodbye to her, to Alexandria who is leaving. 
Above all, don’t fool yourself, don’t say 
it was a dream, your ears deceived you: 
don’t degrade yourself with empty hopes like these. 
As one long prepared, and full of courage, 
as is right for you who were given this kind of city, 
go firmly to the window 
and listen with deep emotion, 
but not with the whining, the pleas of a coward: 
listen—your final pleasure—to the voices, 
to the exquisite music of that strange procession, 
to say goodbye to her, to the Alexandria you are losing.

If I can’t quite hear that procession yet, I do hear some suspicious sounds in the distance.

But I also take hope from this poem:  Lost

We could still stop in the forest that knows where we are and let it tell us the way home.

Words for Wednesday

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October

~ Robert Frost

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.
Picture found here.

Don’t Be That Guy

Not-all-men

In response to the accusations that have come to light concerning Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment of so many women, there has been a social media campaign for other women to tell their stories.  Identified by the hashtag #metoo , the point of the movement is to make clear how pervasive this problem is in the lives of most women.  And there’s a hope that when men see that this happens to their mothers, grandmothers, co-workers, wives, daughters, etc. — and not just to some actress who was “asking for it” by wanting to, you know, get a job — that they’ll take action to stop to it.  For many women, simply telling this truth about their lives has been empowering, if also, in some cases, a bit scary.

Yet, today, social media filled up with guys performing several variations of “not all men” and “all lives matter.”  I watched one interaction on Facebook where a guy showed up to lecture women to not allow themselves to slip too far into victimhood.  If they do that, then, he informed them, the abusers win.  And, he quickly noted, men are sometimes the victims of sexual harassment.  Maybe we could talk about that, too.  When a woman suggested that lecturing women on how they are allowed to react to sexual harassment was maybe not such a good idea, he became furious, angry that his “experience was being discounted.”

What happened here was that a man essentially told women to shut up.  All that wallowing in “victimhood” was boring him, although he tried to wrap it up in a nice bow:  don’t let the abusers win.  No manipulation, here, nosiree.  And, then he attempted to center the conversation back on men and men’s experience.  After all, that’s what’s really important.

On another Facebook page, a man indignantly proclaimed that he’s never harassed any woman, ever, and women should be careful not to tar all men with the same brush.  And, he knows some accounts are fake because his buddy’s ex-wife lied in order to . . . .  You get the picture.  Of course, women weren’t saying all men harass.  They were recounting the times men did harass them.  One wonders why he felt the need to proclaim his innocence.  Regardless, he managed to hijack the conversation and make it all about how women are allowed to discuss what’s happened to them in ways that won’t hurt men’s feelings.

A third interaction involved a man letting everyone know that he’d love it if women on the street told him to smile or paid him a “compliment” by telling him he had a nice ass.  And, of course he’d love it.  He’s not worried that it’s going to turn into something more sinister, that the woman’s going to follow him down a dark alley and rape him, or deny him a job, or single him out for attention on the street when he’s just trying to get home in time to start dinner.  Once again, a conversation about women’s experiences detoured and became about how men perceive the world.

So what IS a man to do?  Well, you could try listening.  You could practice the skill of listening without feeling the need to immediately insert yourself into the conversation, to tell women how to behave, to turn the conversation to men’s experiences.  You could try imagining how women feel when these things happen to them, given that men are bigger, stronger, and prone to violence when they don’t get their way.  You could, if you feel the need to say something, tell the women who are opening up about these experiences that you’re sorry they had to endure that, that you’ve learned something new, that you plan to speak up the next time you see something like this happening.  You can ask women what they need from their male allies.

We are long past the date when #notallmen or #alllivesmatter are acceptable responses.  So do yourself a favor.  Don’t be that guy.

Picture found here.

Monday at the Movies

Water Wars.  Coming soon to a landbase near you.

The Magical Battle for America 10/15/17

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As @mrswhatsit9 noted, this has been a painful week.  In addition to many other problems, this week — after all of our phone calls (I called every single day, for months. and I know that many of you did the same) and other efforts convinced the Senate NOT to take away healthcare — Trump, as dictator, went ahead and took healthcare away from millions of Americans.  It hurt.  It was intended to hurt, to discourage, to make us feel powerless, to make us give up.  I’m a breast cancer survivor.  So any re-occurrence, even now, 20 years later (thank you very much), will be a “pre-existing condition” that insurance won’t cover.  I’ll simply have to choose palliative care (aka opioids) and hope to die before I run through all my assets and — full disclosure — I will retire with more assets than most Americans.  So if this is tragic for me, I can simply imagine what it means for most Americans.

There’s an old saying that, if you have your health, you have everything.  It’s a bit of an overstatement, but the obverse is certainly true.  When you’re ill, or when you’re worried about whether you’ll be able to get health care for yourself, your aged parents, your children, or the people who work for you, then you’re much more tractable.  Your boss, the dictator, some evangelical church with a clinic –  they’re all able to control you.  I remember a few years ago when G/Son was staying with me for the weekend and came down with strep.  Of course, his parents were able to get medical care for him.  But when he woke up crying because his throat hurt, I’d have done anything, anything to make him well again.  They know that.  Never forget that when Trump wanted to control his brother’s family and steal money from them, he cut off the insurance for his grand-nephew who suffered from seizures and developed cerebral palsy.  They know that taking away our access to health care gives them the whip-hand.  That’s why they’re so desperate to do so.

I want to remind us that — while we’re also fighting a long-term war — here, in these weekly workings, we’re focusing on battles for America.  It’s true that you can win a battle and lose a war, but it’s also true that if you keep winning battles, you’re much more likely to win the war.  Today, we’re going to focus on the battle for health care.

We’re going to win this war.

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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 or grasp a stone or talisman that matters to you.  Grow your roots, send them deep into the soil, let them intertwine 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.  As you sit upon your hillock, look due North and see the banner of the Statue of Liberty.  Watch as it grows larger, brighter, more three-dimensional, and fills the sky.  From where you sit, you can reach out and touch the base of the statue.  You can stand up and walk into the banner.  You are standing on the island, at the base of the American Libertas.  The base is a twelve-pointed star.

From each point on the star, you watch America’s nurses emerge.  You see the great nurses of American history:  Clara Barton and the women who helped her to heal Americans on both sides of the Civil War, Mary Breckenridge, Dorothea Dix, Margaret Sanger, Walt Whitman, and Mary Eliza Mahoney.  You can see the prejudice that each of them fought simply in order to be able to bring comfort and health to Americans.   You can see the nurse who helped you to deliver your children.  You can see your school nurse, handing out information and giving vaccines.  You can see visiting nurses going into America’s homes and showing mothers how to feed their babies, setting broken bones, changing bandages after surgery, providing information about birth control.  You see nurse practitioners giving breast exams, taking blood pressure readings, drawing blood.  You see nurses, employed by granges, weighing babies.  You see the nurses who used to be employed in American factories and offices, listening for pneumonia and watching for outbreaks of measles, mumps, rubella.  You see today’s nurses, checking information on their iPads, accessing NIH data from the field, providing basic health services from the sites of hurricanes, forest fires, and earthquakes.

As you watch, the light grows even brighter, and you see Hygeia emerge from the base of Libertas.  As health is the basis of liberty, you can see the Goddess of health come forth from the 12-pointed star upon which Libertas stands.  You see her join with America’s nurses.  She is full of light.  Clear, New England thinking follows her.  She carries health-giving plants from the American South.  She brings warm cowboy blankets and she brings strengthening stews made of salmon, cloudberry, and greens from the Pacific Northwest.  And she and her sister Libertas — health and liberty — hold hands and walk with America’s nurses, past and present.

Just now, when the veils are very thin, you see all of the nurses — mostly women, but, also, some men — who have given their lives to keep Americans healthy.  Stand up on your hillock.  Call to them, now, in our time of need.  Call to them, now, when our own government is trying to make us sick so that they can control us.  What can you offer to them?  Herbs from your garden?  A dance that tells the story of your quest for health?  A commitment to one practice that will strengthen your own health?  Going to get a flu shot?  (They tell me that they especially want to see us commit to stop smoking, to walk more, to eat more greens, to make fire cider, to get flu shots.)   Will you stand up for nurses to receive fair pay?  Will you help them to distribute information?  Will you read a biography of an American nurse?  Can you use the power of your menstrual blood or semen to fertilize the ground where you grow greens, elderberries, or garlic?  Will you pack a backpack full of needed food and medicine in case you must leave ahead of a hurricane, earthquake, flood?  Can you teach a child how to use an herb to heal mosquito bites or a nettle scrape?

You and America’s nurses stop Trump’s evil right in its tracks.  You freeze him out of his attempt to steal health care from Americans.

Remember that the archetype of American nurses is available to help you every time that you need to do magic for America.

Take a minute to catch your breath.  As you sit 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.

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 hot coffee or pear cider, served icy cold.  If you like, have something to eat, maybe hard-boiled eggs or boiled peanuts, served warm from the pot.

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 nurses.  You may want to visit your local health center or public clinic.  You could bring them a pumpkin or some extra blankets or towels, if you have some; you could  knit a cap for their patients.  You may want to journal about it.  Are you inspired to make any art?  Can you sit beside a warm fire, or light incense, or 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.