Author Archives: mrswhatsit9

Framing. Yes, Again.

frame-pile

Hecate talks about this issue all the time, both here and on Twitter, and she’s right. Framing matters. How we choose to talk about things is important. Words have power. They create impressions in our minds that can be nearly impossible to change or erase.

Never use the other side’s framing.

It is NEVER, EVER “fake news.” Not even to be cute, or funny, or ironic. Legitimate news outlets sometimes make errors, and when they do, that’s what is it – an error – and they issue corrections. Outlets like Fox News, Breitbart, and the Daily Caller are state propaganda.

Julian Assange is not a whistle-blower or a truth-teller, and he’s miles from being a journalist. He’s a rapist and a Russian operative.

As my spouse is fond of reminding me, they aren’t “pro-life” or even “anti-abortion” – they’re “pro-forced birth.”

Hecate talks about this one all the time – Democrats don’t want to “pack the court,” they want to “bring the Supreme Court into the 21st century.” There are not enough Justices. They have to turn down far too many cases. We need probably twice as many, with the particular Justices that are going to hear and rule on a given case chosen at random. We also need term limits that ensure that each President gets to appoint two Justices per her four-year term.

(See what I did there? If “he” is a generic pronoun, so is “she.” Do what you will with that little piece of truth.)

There are positive examples as well.

It isn’t “gun control” – it’s “sensible gun safety protections that are supported by the vast majority of Americans, even those who are members of the NRA.”

It’ s not “environmental regulations” – it’s “air your kids can safely breathe, water that’s safe to drink, and food that’s safe to eat.” For everyone. In every community. Even poor urban communities (like Flint, MI). Even poor rural communities (like West Virginia coal country).

Two I learned this week that I think are outstanding that I’ll be adding to my lexicon ASAP:

Kids experience an opportunity gap (cause), not an achievement gap (that’s the result, and you can’t have an impact on the end without addressing the beginning).

Don’t apologize that someone was offended (that passive construction removes you as the actor and places the blame on them), “Own It” – own your own actions, and vow to do better (and mean it, and commit to doing to the work that requires).

What other issues do we need to reframe to create the world we want?

Image found here.

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The Five Bs

witch trial docket - already decided she's guilty

Bernie, Beto, Buttigieg, Biden, and BIAS.

I can’t believe we’re doing this AGAIN.

The 2016 election has been dissected repeatedly and in excruciating detail (and funny how the bros always manage to blame only and entirely Hillary), and yet the coverage of the candidates to date shows that we apparently failed to learn the MOST important lesson: WE ALL BEAR UNCONSCIOUS BIAS AGAINST WOMEN. THIS WILL 100% SHOW UP IN ALL COVERAGE OF WOMEN CANDIDATES. THEREFORE, IT IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT THAT COVERAGE OF ALL CANDIDATES BE RUTHLESSLY SCRUTINIZED FOR THIS BIAS AND THAT IT BE REMOVED TO THE GREATEST DEGREE POSSIBLE BEFORE ANY PIECE OF CONTENT ABOUT THEM IS SHARED WITH THE PUBLIC.

Yes, I know I’m yelling.

Kamala Harris pulls in 1.7 times the financial haul of Pete Buttigieg, and men in the media do nothing but talk about how well HE is doing.

Bernie still won’t release his goddamn taxes (where does he keep his files – Mordor?), and men in the media do nothing but talk about how mean Amy Klobuchar purportedly is to her staff. (You know what we would call a man who acted the same way? A tough boss with high standards.)

Elizabeth Warren is dropping incredibly detailed policy proposals daily, and men in the media do nothing but talk about how dreamy their man-crush Beto is.

Biden’s been handsy with women FOR DECADES and women are finally talking about it in a highly nuanced way, and men in the media do nothing but accuse us of trying to murder him in cold blood. Also, they’re still on: “Isn’t Kirsten Gillibrand such a bitch for being mean to poor Al Franken?” (And yes, I still think the Franken thing was a little fishy, but you know what? Tina Smith’s doing a great job, so it’s not like he was indispensable to the progressive cause. Pro tip: NO ONE PERSON is.)

I HAVE HAD IT.

Guess what? The women in the race are cool people who do interesting things, too.

B-boys, you need to sit down. Learn to knit. Maybe try winning a larger, state-level race before deciding that you’re the second coming of FDR, JFK, and Obama rolled into one.

We have FOUR outstanding women candidates, ALL of whom are MUCH MORE qualified than the boys to lead this country out of four years of darkness under TrumPutin. Maybe it’s time we all realized that and started treating them and their campaigns with the respect, consideration, and gravitas they’ve earned.

Image found here.

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Tell Me Something Good

While we wait for the Democrats to pry the actual Mueller report loose from William Barr’s compromised hands and share the real findings, not Barr’s slimy “nothing to see here – move along” bullshit attempt at a cover-up, I’m taking a victory lap about some good stuff going on in my life.

I’m FINALLY about to release the results of a research project I’ve been working on since May of last year. I had identified a conference that would be my top choice to introduce the project and my findings, and that worked out. I’ll be presenting them in just over two weeks at that event. Also, yesterday, I recorded a session on the findings for a virtual event taking place in May that will ensure an even wider audience.

Business has been slow this quarter (not just for me – other self-employed friends who are also in my industry report the same), but I’ve been using the downtime well (see above, also doing A+ work for current clients, reconnecting with colleagues and former clients, and getting off my ass and out to networking events, which had dropped off a lot last year because I was so busy with client work).

I’ve been able to do some fun travel this spring (Mexico and Puerto Rico, where they could really use your tourist dollars if you have any to spend), and I just booked a music-focused trip to Cuba for the fall.

Speaking of music, my birthday was last week, and Spouse and I took a short trip to Memphis. I found the live music scene disappointing, but the music history (Stax Museum, Sun Studios, Graceland)? [Chef’s kiss.] The National Civil Rights Museum is outstanding as well – we had allocated 3 1/2 hours for our visit, and it wasn’t enough.

Thanks to the generosity of The Green Man, I was able to attend a special event at the Newseum for the opening of the Rise Up exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising at which I got to meet Alan Cumming and NPR’s Ari Shapiro!

I’ve been taking boxing classes since January – not a boxing class at a general gym or kickboxing, but real, tape-your-hands, wear-gloves, work-the-heavy-bag, jump-rope-until-you-worry-your-heart-might-explode boxing. I love it, and I’m actually showing improvement! My stamina is increasing – I still can’t jump rope at speed the whole time without stopping when our coach tells us to do it for a full 2:30 round, but I can jump rope at speed the whole time without stopping when our coach tells us to do it for a 1:15 half-round – as are my skills (slowly). That, combined with cutting back on my drinking (in TrumPutin’s America, it creeps up without constant vigilance) has me in better physical condition than I’ve been since I quit long-distance running 13 years ago. Feelin’ good!

My beloved dogwood tree, that was damaged by municipal sewer work several years ago and as a result may have become infested by borers, seems to have survived another winter and is even showing some new growth, so I’m hopeful it might make it after all.

My niece had a big birthday, and we survived a weekend with my TrumPutin supporting family in TrumPutin country with no major blow ups. That is harder than it looks.

My biennial mammogram was negative (as usual, but always good news). I had another suspicious mole removed this spring (another constant vigilance situation), and it was benign. The worst I’ve faced to date is basal cell, knock wood.

My ophthalmologist confirmed that I have, in fact, reached the reading glasses portion of my life and verified what strength I should be using, so I’ve now ordered cute, fun readers to replace the too-strong, boring, practical ones I’d gotten from CVS.

One of my favorite local restaurants is closing this weekend, but one of our local newspapers sounded the alarm on Twitter, so Spouse and I were able to enjoy one last dinner there last night.

I’ve had the time to do some fun reading lately, treating myself (via the local library’s super easy to use ebook borrowing system) to N. K. Jemisin’s Hugo-award winning Broken Earth trilogy and Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower (I currently have a hold on Parable of the Talents and I’m second in line, so I should be seeing it soon).

Spring has definitely arrived in the Mid-Atlantic. It will be up in the 70s today, so Spouse and I are planning our first dinner of the season in our garden for tonight.

So tell me: What’s good in your life right now?

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

The Youth Will Win

Suffragist banner The Young Are At The Gates

Did you know that today, March 15, 2019, there is a world-wide strike going on?

It’s not workers striking for fair benefits.

It’s not women striking for equal pay.

It’s students striking for a safe climate future.

Today’s adults and senior citizens have failed tomorrow’s in numerous ways:

Ridiculously low tax rates since Reagan that have resulted in lack of funds for infrastructure, public education, public health, scientific research – all kinds of public goods. Quoting a recent Washington Post article on this topic:

“…from 1932 and 1981 the top tax rate in this country never fell below 63 percent and rose as high as 92 percent. It wasn’t until the election of Ronald Reagan that top tax rates dropped from 70 percent to 28 percent.”

(You know what else happened between 1932 and 1981? The largest growth of the middle class and wide-spread prosperity the world has ever seen. AOC’s tax plan doesn’t seem so crazy after all, does it?)

Deregulation that has fucked us time and again, most recently in the 2007-2008 worldwide financial system meltdown. Regular people suffered and were never made whole. The banksters got away with it. And Republicans have already repealed some of the very minor safeguards Congress managed to pass in the aftermath to try to prevent the same disaster from happening again.

Complicity with George W Bush’s wars-on-the-credit-card. Yeah, I know, I didn’t support them, either. But enough of us did that they happened, and that moral and financial debt is going to be weighing on future citizens for generations.

The privatization fad, which regularly benefits the richest and harms the most needy among us. Oh – and we’re more than happy to privatize profit and socialize risk. Again, guess who tends to bear that socialized risk? It’s not rich folks in fancy neighborhoods.

(For more on all of this, see Vox’s interview with A Generation of Sociopaths author Bruce Gibney. Notably, Gibney appears to let GenX off the hook, but I don’t think my generation’s hands are clean, either.)

But perhaps the worst way we’ve failed today’s youth (who will be tomorrow’s adults) is around climate change. Scientists have been aware that our climate is changing as a result of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since the 1960s. Governments have been aware of it since the 1980s. It’s been in the public consciousness for well over a decade.

What meaningful steps have adults taken to try to stop or even ameliorate the forces and choices that are going to render the earth uninhabitable for human beings within 80 years – OR LESS?

Bupkis.

So the kids are striking, Goddess guard and bless them. The idea originated with a group of students in Australia and has since gone world-wide.Their list of demands is simple, one local (stopping a local coal mine) and two global:

  1. No new coal or gas
  2. 100% renewable energy by 2030

Will that be easy? Of course not. But we put a man on the goddamn moon with less sophisticated computers than the one inside your iPhone (and the hard work and genius of some damn fine mathematicians who also happened to be black women). If we – today’s adults – cared, we could do this thing. We just lack the will and community solidarity.

You can read – and listen to – the stories of young people across the US explaining why they are striking today in a recent Washington Post feature (it’s excellent – I highly recommend clicking through and taking a few minutes to listen to these young leaders in their own words).

As of last count there were nearly 600 sister strikes planned in more than 60 countries world-wide. Perhaps there’s one in your area you could join (they tell me adults are invited)?

Edited to add: updated count is over 1.5 million student strikers, per Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) – and she would know!

If not – or if you can’t join – you can spread the word. Share this blog post. Look for #ClimateStrike tweets and Insta stories and like and share them. Amplify the voices and stories of these young leaders. Speak out about climate change to your family, your friends, and your neighbors. Call your Senators and Representative, your state legislative representative, your mayor, your city council, and demand that they take action. (The students even prepared an extensive online guide in case you don’t know what to say.)

The Young ARE At The Gates, as the suffragist banner above (that’s on display at the Belmont Paul Women’s Equality National Monument) states. But they need our help – and it is literally THE LEAST we can do.

Photo by the author. If you reuse, please link back.

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

Happy International Women’s Day!

 

1969-Sisterhood-Is-Powerful-button.w190.h190.2x

Of course, on International Women’s Day, we want to celebrate famous women, first women, trail blazers, women who changed the world, women like (in no particular order, other than me thinking of them/looking them up this way):

  • Abigail Adams
  • Harriet Tubman
  • Sojourner Truth
  • Phillis Wheatley
  • Sacajawea
  • Deborah Sampson Gannett
  • Admiral Grace Hopper
  • Clara Barton
  • Ada Lovelace
  • Ida B. Wells
  • Alice Paul
  • Lucretia Mott
  • Lucy Stone
  • Madam CJ Walker
  • Mary Wollstonecraft
  • Simone de Beauvoir
  • Martha Nussbaum
  • Theda Skocpol
  • Amelia Earhart
  • Jeanette Rankin
  • Frances Perkins
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Mother Jones
  • Margaret Sanger
  • Rosa Parks
  • Barbara Jordan
  • Mary McLeod Bethune
  • Dorothy Height
  • Shirley Chisholm
  • Angela Davis
  • Mary Anne Shadd Cary
  • Emily Dickenson
  • Mae Jemison
  • Sally Ride
  • Sandra Day O’Connor
  • Geraldine Ferraro
  • Ruth Bader Ginsberg
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • Nancy Pelosi
  • Kamala Harris
  • Betty Friedan
  • Robin Morgan
  • Gloria Steinem
  • Shulamith Firestone
  • Tracy Chapman
  • Dolores Huerta
  • Billie Jean King
  • Maya Angelou
  • Toni Morrison
  • Mary Elizabeth Bowser
  • Zora Neale Hurston
  • Maya Lin
  • Janelle Monae
  • Nina Simone
  • Rachel Carson
  • Malala Yousafzai
  • Tarana Burke
  • Katherine Johnson
  • Katharine Graham
  • Bella Abzug
  • bell hooks
  • Amy Ray
  • Emily Saliers
  • Carolyn Shoemaker
  • Wilma Mankiller
  • Marian Wright Edelman
  • Jane Addams
  • Elizabeth Blackwell
  • Dorothea Dix
  • Isadora Duncan
  • Marie LaVeau
  • Ava DuVernay
  • Nichelle Nichols
  • Leslie Feinberg
  • Queen Liliuokalani
  • Cathay Williams
  • Victoria Woodhull
  • Georgia O’Keefe
  • Judy Chicago
  • Shannon Watts
  • Emma Gonzalez
  • Mari Copeny
  • Anita Cameron

Don’t know who some of these heras are? To the Goog!

But, on this day celebrating women, I also want to celebrate YOU.

“Me? But I’m just a regular person. I haven’t been a famous author or artist or scientist or politician or inventor or explorer or soldier or warrior for a just cause or a ‘first’ anything. Why me?”

Because you’re a little girl who’s the pitcher for her co-ed Little League team.

Because you’re a teenage girl who dreams of being an engineer and is taking AP calculus to prepare.

Because you’re a Black Girl who Codes.

Because you’re in college and you’re fighting to end rape on campus.

Because you’re the first person in your family to proceed on to higher ed, working a service job while also working towards your degree at the local community college.

Because you’re undocumented and you refuse to be afraid.

Because you’re a single mom, and it’s hard as shit, but you had the courage to leave the partner who was dragging you down even though you knew it would be hard as shit, because all that you have is your soul.

Because you’re transgender and proudly serving your country in the armed forces.

Because you’re an out lesbian in a rural community who refuses to “cover.”

Because you’re a suburban mom who works the middle-management job and attends the games and recitals and ferries the kids around and does the laundry and the housework and packs the lunches and feeds the cat and walks the dog and pays the bills and balances the checkbook and does the grocery shopping and remembers the birthdays, day in and day out.

Because you invest your weekends marching and fighting for black lives, or gun control, or science, or immigrants’ rights.

Because you’ve been at the Kremlin Annex damn near every night for MONTHS.

Because you do the hard, thankless work of registering the voters and entering the data and sending the mailers and writing the postcards and running the small-dollar fundraisers and calling the voters and canvassing the neighborhoods. In 2015. And 2016. And 2017. And 2018. And you’ll keep doing it.

Because you installed solar panels on your roof and a rain barrel in your yard.

Because first thing in the morning, every morning, you call your Senators and Representative.

Because you screwed your courage to the sticking place and ran for local office.

Because you volunteer regularly at the senior center, or the community garden, or the local soup kitchen or food bank, or local library or elementary school.

Because you dropped everything and flew halfway across the country when your dear friend’s mother died.

Because every time it snows, you shovel your elderly neighbor’s walk.

Because you tend a little garden of native plants that feed and shelter the bees, the birds, and the other insects and pollinators.

You are the strong foundation on which your kids, your spouse, your friends, your community depend. You. And you think no one notices and no one appreciates it, and most of the time, you may be right. But I see you and I know what you do, and I love and honor you for it.

Image found here.

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

 

We Need Universal National Service

220px-WPA-USA-sign.svg

A federal judge has just ruled that it’s unconstitutional to require only young men to register for selective service. And he’s right. It *is* gender discrimination.

(Although I find it interesting that all of a sudden, woman are “equal” when it comes to sharing an unpleasant responsibility previously reserved for men. We don’t merit equal of pay or equal rights, nor do men have to share equally in our unpleasant responsibilities like house work, birth control, and child care. But I digress.)

I think we should go bigger, though. The draft ended more than 46 years ago, yet millions of young men have still – and are still – registered for it on their 18th birthdays.

So yes, every citizen should be required to register on her or his 18th birthday: register for national service AND when you register for national service, you are automatically registered to vote.

And I do mean national service. Not “someday if there is a war, I might get called up.” But “I will be serving my country for two years. It just remains to be seen how.”

Every citizen should be required to give the country two years of service. It could be – but doesn’t have to be – military, and you can’t buy your way out.

You would owe your two years when you’ve completed your formal schooling, whether that’s high school, college, grad school, professional school – whatever. You could choose to go into one of the branches of the military if you like, but you could also choose something WPA-like, planting trees, picking up trash in national parks, or other kinds of manual labor.

Nonprofit groups could register to participate in the program, so you could do your two years at an approved nonprofit, working at a local homeless shelter, food bank, immigrant services group, or soup kitchen.

Arts organizations could register to participate in the program, so you could do your two years creating public art works, supporting a community theater group, or helping teach and encourage the next generation of artists.

Local governments could register to participate in the program, so you could do your two years helping maintain local parks, working in a city agency and learning how to, for instance, process permit paperwork and inspect the work when it’s completed, or issue business licenses.

If you did your two years after completing more advanced schooling, your service could be related to your degree: two years helping low-income people with tax prep if you study accounting, two years providing medical care in a rural area if you’re a doctor, two years as a public defender if you’re a lawyer, two years working on public infrastructure projects if you’re an engineer, etc.

You could even choose to extend your service for another year and have some of your student loans forgiven in exchange.

Us folks who are older than 18 wouldn’t be exempt, either. Since we missed the “immediately post-education” window, we’d owe our two years in our first two years of retirement. Those who are already retired would owe it NOW.  Even the elderly can hold and soothe babies born addicted to drugs in the NICU or read to kids at the local elementary school.

You would get paid, although, as Corporation for National and Community Service and Teach for America participants can attest, not a lot, but enough to get by.

The universal national service program could incorporate a Fresh Air Fund/Smog Air Fund component, where young people who haven’t put down roots yet would be encouraged to work in a community that’s geographically and demographically dissimilar to the one in which they were raised, perhaps with some additional incentives (like a housing allowance). Rural young people would get to experience the excitement and diversity of the big city, and urban young people would get to experience the peace and quiet and open spaces of the country.

A universal national service program would have all sorts of positive effects. Communities would reap direct benefits. Young people would acquire practical job skills. It would reduce isolation and depression in older folks. It would strengthen the ties that bind us and help us see each other as fellow citizens, not scary Others. It would show young people, rural and urban, other ways of being and living. It would instill a service mindset in young people, while their adult identities are still being formed. I’m not saying it would fix everything, but I think it would help a lot of things.

Image from Wikipedia.

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

 

Women’s Lives Don’t Matter

Last night, I had the opportunity to attend a play, a comedy about the lives, loves, and struggles of three Millennial black women. It was hilarious and real and altogether great.

But at the end of the play, it took a swerve that, at least to me, didn’t flow with the rest of the story. Two of the protagonists are hanging out in an apartment, waiting for the third to come back from a doctor’s appointment, after a night of shenanigans, revelations, and an unexpected overnight male guest who ended up having a totally consensual, REALLY funny sexual encounter with one of the protagonists who is a lesbian. Suddenly, in the middle of their conversation, one of the women picks up her phone and plays the video of Sandra Bland being arrested, which turns the conversation to Black Lives Matter and how “we’re all going to get shot by the police,” briefly, before the third woman returns from the doctor and the play pivots back to a truly funny slapstick scene involving weed, WAY TOO MANY plastic bags from takeout, and the third woman’s prescription.

As we left the theater, I found myself thinking: Three women a day. One in four. That’s how many women are killed each day by their partners. How many women will experience “severe” intimate partner violence in their lifetimes.

I understand wanting to pull in BLM and Sandra Bland – that was a current event when the play was written. But those women are fearing the wrong thing, like all of us who freak out when Ebola shows up in sub-Saharan Africa, yet blithely get into our cars every day. Or all the people in Davenport, Iowa who lost their shit after September 11, when what’s really going to kill them is heart disease or cancer.

Last year, according to the Washington Post’s excellent database, 998 people were shot and killed by the police. That’s everyone – black, white, Latinx, First Nations, Asian, men, women, gay, straight, trans, cis, young, old, innocent, killed during an active gun battle – everyone. Women? 53. Black women? 10.

That’s ten too many, but it occurs to me that we may be freaking out about the wrong thing.

(The Washington Post maintains no database on victims of domestic violence.)

Hell, earlier in the play, when the three protagonists were on their way to the club, they came upon a sexual assault in progress on the street, and when one of them stopped it and the victim ran away, the man who was committing the assault started beating up the woman who stopped it. The real thing that women – even black women – have to fear WAS ALREADY PART OF THE PLAY.

Black people get gaslit all the time about their interactions with police: “Well, what did you do to provoke the officer?” Even when the citizen who was assaulted DID NOTHING. Even though officers should know how to de-escalate situations. But no one looks at their bruises and wounds and denies that anything even happened.

Not so with women who are beaten or killed. Not only are they asked what they did to provoke their assailants, they’re gaslit about whether it was really an assault. “Well, he just hit you because he was jealous.” “That’s not stalking – he just loves you so much.” “It’s not rape – you’re in a committed relationship.” (Marital rape was only outlawed in all 50 states in 1993. Minnesota only eliminated the “marital exception” that allowed men to DRUG their partners to get them to “consent” to sex YESTERDAY. As in Thursday, February 21, 2019.)

There IS no “say her name” movement for the 1,100+ women who are killed EVERY YEAR by their partners. Because we don’t care. We don’t value women’s lives. We never have. And that just about fucking destroys me.

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