Persist

Before I begin the rant, I want to make a point about Vice Presidents, in light of everything I am about to say. The choice of Stacey Abrams or Kamala Harris as a running mate would go a long way toward attracting my vote, if there’s any choice left in this debacle of a primary campaign by the time it reaches Pennsylvania. Elizabeth Warren, too, of course, but the loss of Warren in the race was only the most recent blow in a line of killing the vast diversity of the overwhelming field of candidates. (I’ve never been sure what to do with Gabbard, and I’m not sure she knows herself.) (Also, I know that Sanders, as a Jewish man, still brings a little diversity–it’s not simply two old white men remaining. Just two old men.) (Ugh. And now I sound really ageist. In this context, the default seems to always be old white men, so that’s part of the story.)

I wrote this rant in pieces yesterday between naps as I was resting to fend off the worst edges of a bad cold. That bit was successful, at least, and I am feeling much better today.


Today, I am an enraged middle school girl. I am a third grader stamping her foot at the unfairness. I am a high school girl rolling her eyes at the absolutely stupidity of it, a college girl sighing yet again in defeat. All of these girls in me had their absolutely valid reasons for rage, and I cannot see over my own middle-aged rage to deal with the echoing memories of theirs. Mine. Ours. The layers.

I just have to say it. This has been a triggering experience for me. I find myself flashing back to younger versions of myself, living this fifty-two-year-old experience along with my college self, my high school self, my middle school and elementary school selves. I don’t remember the first time I noticed that a girl could be smart and articulate and shiny and dynamic, but she couldn’t beat out a goofy boy with a sense of entitlement. For anything. She couldn’t be heard above the clamor of an angry boy, no matter how lucid and smart her own ideas.

This is how it’s been my whole life: A brilliant girl tries for something—some honor, some leadership role, some place—and a goofy boy with a sense of kingly entitlement begins to talk about the inevitability of his own winning, and suddenly she has completely disappeared. No matter that she has a plan for EVERYTHING. No matter that she can talk her way around that boy ten times before he has put together a coherent sentence. No matter that she was born for this. And so he wins.

And today the goofy boy and the angry boy win again, beating out the brilliant girl who has been invisibilized and now erased.

I’m just tired.

I can live forward through this. I can “get on board.” Goddess knows, I am experienced at that part of the story. Still, I just get tired of hearing people talk about the inevitability of her disappearance from the story. And when the goofball wins, he gets the brilliant girl to assist him. Or the angry boy gets the nice girl to help him. Because they need her in order to truly succeed. But then everyone says, “Look! She’s got something anyway, doesn’t she? She should be happy now. Satisfied now. Everybody wins.” And she ends up doing his work for him or putting out the fires he starts. And he gets the credit. And the next time a girl is running against a boy, everyone says, “Now don’t be too hasty. She really can’t compete. If we want to keep the bullies at bay, we need a good strong boy to take the reins.”

I will vote for whichever of these boys takes the nomination, but I will do it with the rage of a middle school girl who has repeatedly seen her brilliant girlfriends completely marginalized and ignored for goofy and angry boys who have controlled the process for her whole life. I will be happy if she gets to be a good strong vice or cabinet something. Absolutely. But I will know, with the heart of my 12-year-old self, that she was always the best choice: Elizabeth, Kamala, Amy.


Gratitude List:
1. Feeling better. That first nap–three hours of serious sleep–felt like the most rejuvenating part of the day. Even the tossy-turny nature of last night’s sleep hasn’t thrown me back to the exhausted state of earlier in the week, and I feel like I can fight off this cold.
2. Friday. End of the week. Faculty Hymn Sing before school (every Friday–how lucky am I?), the International Women’s Day chapel planned by students. It should be a pleasant day.
3. Daffodils
4. The crocus are blooming, too, and in some strange and wonderful places, way out of the beds. Crocus always remind me to let myself leak outside the boundaries.
5. Nimbleness. How my child just leapt onto the bench to straighten the curtains. I think that one of my physical goals for the next part of this year will be to develop greater nimbleness. I think I have become more sedentary rather than less, and it is affecting my nimbleness.

May we walk in Beauty!

He Said. She Said.

“Why would he lie?”
That’s what Chris Matthews asked Elizabeth Warren this week about the numerous accusations against Mike Bloomberg and his company over the years: sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and sexist and harassing comments that contribute to a hostile workplace. Anna North, in an article in Vox, refers to at least 65 women making accusations against Bloomberg and his company in about 40 cases.

“Why would he lie?” Matthews asked Warren about Bloomberg’s denials that he had told one pregnant employee to “kill it.”

“And why would she lie?” rejoins Warren. “That’s the question, Chris. Why would you assume. . .?” And then he interrupts her.

He said. She said. Why would you believe her? Why would you believe him? He’s innocent until proven guilty. Bloomberg, with his dozens of non-disclosure agreements with women. The president, with twenty-seven accusations of sexual assault. Kavanaugh, with his three accusers, one at a public confirmation hearing. Why would you believe her? Why would you believe them?

And that’s just it. The women’s stories are always accusations. Always awaiting that adjective: credible. Always waiting to be proven, always a likely or possible lie, until proven. Sexual assault. Sexual innuendos and crude talk that create hostile and unsafe environments. Pregnancy discrimination. She has to prove he did it, said it, suggested it, made it unsafe. And he is always innocent until he is proven guilty, and until then, she is a liar. She is guilty. Guilty of lying until she can prove he’s the liar.

And he is (usually) white. And he is powerful. And he is male. He is (often) wealthy. He is the default for all the power dynamics: for truth and believability, for threatening posturing, for the pay-off.

Innocence until guilt is proven is an important tool in our legal process. In an ideal world, you are protected from conviction without strong proof of your guilt. It’s backbone, foundation, bedrock.

So what do you need in order to prove guilt? Tears? Hidden cameras? Secret recordings? Semen? Blood? Twenty-seven women coming forward with similar stories? (I’m looking at you, Mr. President.) How many women’s truths does it take to outweigh one rich man’s lie? What is the tipping point when we suddenly stop seeing Cosby, America’s dad, and start conceiving the possibility of Cosby, sexual predator? How do we go from Bloomberg or Trump, wealthy and powerful political leaders, to sexual harasser and sexual predator?

What does it take to believe the woman in the story? Why would you believe her? Why would you believe him? She is the accuser. Always. She is always the accuser in the story, and so her burden is proof.

In the secret stories that women and girls tell each other, he has groomed her for silence, or intimidated her to silence. He has gaslighted her until she can no longer separate his false reality from her truth. He has stepped over so many boundaries with such deadly skill that she no longer knows where the first boundary lay. He has paid for her silence. He has cajoled, intimidated, forced her to sign the non-disclosure agreement. He has told her the devastating truth that no one will believe her anyway.

I am not necessarily advocating for the elimination of innocence until guilt is proven. It’s foundational to our understanding of legal justice in this country. But I think that there is something terribly broken about the way we use it. It privileges the powerful, the wealthy, the white man, the abuser; it makes eternally possible Chris Matthews’ question: “What would you believe her?” It is a cloak behind which the rapist, the predator, the hateful misogynist boss can hide, with a fair degree of certainty that no one will believe her anyway.


Gratitude List (Beauties I See on Saturday Morning):
Saturday mornings are for birding-watching from the kitchen table.
1. That cardinal is the purest scarlet I may have ever seen.
2. A flock of goldfinches has claimed the thistle sock. They’re beginning to glow gold around the edges, gold shining through the olive, leaking onto their wings. They look so delicate and faerie-like next to the muscular house finch who has zipped in to share the thistle.
3. I heard the doves call this morning. Haunting.
4. The ground under the feeder seems to be alive until you let your eyes focus on the little flock of sparrows, juncoes, and doves feeding.
5. Something in me flies, too. Something sings. Something rises in the cool dawn.

May we walk in Beauty!

Some Rooney Rants

I had a couple long conversations with Thor yesterday. I reminded him that my success rate for waking up in the morning has been 100%, so he doesn’t need to check whether I am still alive. I told him to wait until the alarm goes off. And here’s the thing: He did not wake me up last night.


Gratitude List:
1. The doves are getting all amorous out there in the weeds and the vines. Sure sign of spring.
2. During my lunch watch yesterday, at least three students came up and told me about book series that they love.
3. I correctly identified that Araucana hen in the FFA quiz in chapel yesterday, even if I missed the one about the cultipacker.
4. Friday. It’s Friday
5. How the kids in Speech class support each other. Some powerful stories were told.

May we walk in Beauty!


I’ve been really circumspect about not discussing the Democratic political candidates here. From the early days of 27+ candidates, I have been mostly sitting back to watch what happens. It feels to me like the more we citizens fight about our candidates, the more unruly the whole process becomes, the ore tarnished all the candidates become. When a nominee rises to the top, I don’t want them to be muddied and bruised by the Dem rivals. But this most recent candidate is causing me no little angst, and so here are a few thoughts, Andy Rooney-style:

  1. I have not been particularly vocal about my candidate choice in the primary, and I’m still keeping all the doors open, with the exception of one candidate. I think it’s best, in general, to avoid jumping into the negativity and back-biting tornado. Still, when you line them up on a debate stage, you can sing Sesame Street’s teaching song “One of these things is not like the others. . .” with a pretty clear view of the one that “just doesn’t belong.” If he wins the nomination, I don’t know how I will be able to vote.
  2. Speaking of Andy Rooney, I am getting so tired of grumpy old white men running things. Just tired. Tired. And I’m getting grumpy–like those old white men.
  3. I can get behind a woman who can speak the truth about the Old Boys’ Club right to their faces. Call them out. Stand up to them. Call the bluff on their obfuscations. Such a woman empowers other women. I feel intense gratitude for people who don’t let the boors hide their bad behavior under a veneer of Good Old Boy bluster.
  4. Stridently calling out bad behavior is not the same thing as being mean. Sometimes you have to be strident to be heard above the bluster and the big money.
  5. I laughed out loud at the Elle article by R. Eric Thomas. Google it–you know how.
  6. Can someone tell Bernie that pointing at people comes across and hostile, and emphasizes all the negatives of the grumpy old white man persona?
  7. Some of you are older white men. I have no quibble with you, per se. I just want to try something different in the White House for a while.