"I wish I was a slave to an age old trade
Like ridin' around on rail-cars and workin' long days
Lord have mercy on my rough and rowdy ways
Lord have mercy on my rough and rowdy ways
Call it one drink too many
Call it pride of a man
But it don't make no difference if you sit or you stand
Cause they both end in trouble and start with a grin...
...We do it over and over and over again..."
Down in the Valley - the head and the heart
On Tuesday morning I knew exactly what I was looking at on the ground outside the left passenger door which I opened to insert the computer bag that comes in and out of the house every night but rarely gets unzipped during the week unless somebody from APMEA calls yelling OUCH! And they don't. APMEA is very polite. Most times I think they'd rather lose limbs than interrupt Elizabeth's Mommy time or risk waking up her up. I wonder what they imagine my household looks like in the evening. Possibly just like it is.
I picked up the toe tape and sock and tossed them into the back seat with the computer. At some point there will be an entire two rolls of hot pink tape accumulated from three nights a week (those are my pickups) of two girls peeling off the foot armor or what one of the moms likes to call the amputee wear (they do actually look like amputees with all that toe tape which really ends up being foot tape depending on the brand or fit of the pointe shoe and how badly the bruising happens to be at the moment).
I picked the girls up, including Ballet Mistress and as we approached the car she said she needed to see them on Thursday down in Tribeca at 5:30 because the director who didn't get to see them in August and only saw the other three girls because my two were away wanted to see them now. Now? Yes, now. Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.... Is it just a matter of logistics? Yes. Yes it is. We work. I work until at least six and the other mom until 4. I have no idea how we would get these girls that far downtown by 5:30 and here I am suddenly, between the Stamford studio and the Stamford train station which is no more than 10 minutes agreeing that my girl and my other girl, who is not really my girl, will indeed be in Tribeca on Thursday at 5:30 and will absolutely be interested in performing in NYC at the next possible opportunity (OMFG what have I just done) and, well, this is why we're here, right?
Toe tape in the driveway. There are only a handful of us who would know EXACTLY what that is and exactly why it's in the driveway and not the car still and not the garbage because it slid off the seat or was still stuck to her butt and she was too tired to even remember it was there and some of it does make it into the house where the dog hoards it carefully on her very big doggy bed but never seems to swallow any of it...
They are on their way into the city... NOW. She, Elizabeth, is in the front passenger seat (or at least she's supposed to be) with her computer in her lap doing her homework and the three younger girls are in the back and one mom is driving and one other mom has one other girl coming in one other car. The first three have another rehearsal for a current production. I don't know when she'll be returned this evening. All of this is part of a great and significant unknown where there is either trust by choice or heart failure. Or maybe a little of both.
Eff off, ladies.
I keep trying to write this post and I keep having to delete it. I can't publish a post when I'm angry. Nobody can hear through the anger. Try listening to the current political weather patterns and you'll see exactly what I mean. Shit, our government is currently closed because...
a. The Republicans are assholes.
b. The Democrats are stupid.
c. All politicians are lazy idiots.
d. This marriage fell apart a long time ago and nobody's willing to be wrong.
e. No one is listening.
f. No one really knows what's going on.
g. All of the above.
h. None of the above.
Where was I?
Eff off, ladies.
There's nothing special about you. Actually, I don't think it's called Neo Feminism anymore if it ever was. I call it Neo Feminism because I find it that sort of, um, in your face angry assertive single minded self-righteous castrating (both genders) mind numbing bitch slapping back biting fundamentalism.
Whew. OK, I got that out finally.
Also. I consider it sniveling in a lot of respects.
I understand that to initiate radical change, radical movement and radical behavior is often required. Usually we call that terrorism, but whatever. In the 60s and 70s we burned our bras, threw off our shirts, bared our breasts and told men to suck it up. All good. We went nose to nose with a lot of shit and wecamealongwaybaby...
(we did, actually)
We demanded equal rights and equal pay. We forgot about equal accountability. Seems we still don't get it about equal accountability. We paid a price for baring our breasts. To start with we also bared our dignity. Did ya see any men waving their penises around? OK, maybe a few but not with the same intent and not with the level of hostility with which we assaulted the world with our rights. Understandable, however. Learning to take back power takes some doing. Mistakes get made. We fall down, skin our knees and sometimes get ourselves into some real trouble. The only significant problem I see with this whole thing, well two, actually, are these:
1. We came out of all this blaming men. You know, for the trauma of it all. Men looked at my breasts and I felt dirty. I took my shirt off and sex happened. Yup. It sure did. Mixed messages were sent and we didn't have the skill sets to handle the power. Here's what this looks like: Shirt off Girl = Fuck. That doesn't excuse it. That just means we have some level of accountability here. Out of this came a level of political correctness that I find astonishing.
2. We have forgotten how far we've come. We have walked across the backs of our mothers and grandmothers as if none of this ever happened.
Fast forward back to the beginning of this post. Look at the picture. Now look down here.
In the 60s and 70s my mother wasn't burning her bra but women were doing it for her. She was busting her ass in a male dominated job market and she *did* have to be better and work harder and I suspect for a lot less money. When we were sick, my brother and I, she left us home alone. She didn't suck, it broke her heart and scared the shit out of her. Social Services would be at my door today if they ever found out I've had to do the same thing only not quite as bad. My own kid went latch key well before it was legal. Yeah, there are laws to protect my kid now but not enough laws to protect my job. Not quite, but we're getting there. If I lose my job, by the way, my kid is up shit's creek. For real. Real, real. (OK, I'll work it out but I'm not everybody)
In the 80s and 90s I wasn't burning my bra either but for a brief while I was doing what Pat Benatar called putting notches in my lipstick case and running my damn ass off keeping up with the corporate boy culture. And I did it. I kept up. I payed some serious prices but I'll be damned if I didn't do it and come out intact. Do I need to explain notches in lipstick cases to anyone, by the way? God, I hope not. I would like to know, however, how we came full circle from it being OK for men to have multiple partners (desirable even, we want you guys to know what the hell you're doing) but women need to be relatively unsullied and at least somewhat discerning and being emotional should never have sex outside of a committed relationship - where was that sentence going - how did we get from there - to the equality of equal promiscuity back to here - where my legs need to be sealed shut until the moment is utterly correct? How did we get from there to The Rules in 1995 to the new ethics for heterosexual men dating heterosexual women (ask before you kiss - uh, I know when you're coming at me and I know how to stop you if I'm not interested and if you're an ass and you don't stop I know how to make sure you don't want to do that again). I'm digressing.
I wasn't burning my bra because I wasn't wearing one and I was notching and running with wolves. I was getting into a shitload of trouble and getting myself the hell out of it. I called in a few lifelines but sniveling was not an option. At no point during my entire professional career has a man ever laid a hand on me unless I've asked him too. Interestingly enough, it was a woman who sunk her fingernails into the soft flesh of my arm drawing blood in full view of at least a dozen people on the forth floor of my office building. She was my boss. I had no recourse but to go to HR (because I was terrified it wasn't going to stop at that). The fallout nearly had me drive my car into an embankment one night. Violence in the workplace... mmmmmmmmmmm....
Anyway, not so for all women and not so for all men. I'm just saying. A lot changed in 50 years.
So the picture of the parking lot at sunset. The mostly empty parking lot. The parking lot I get to park in because I get there before or at least close enough to 8 AM.
I have a job in a mostly male dominated field. It is mostly male dominated because women just don't seem to be interested. I don't have a degree in computer science. Most of the people I know in this particular development area don't have degrees in computer science and they aren't math people. They are very bright finance people who happened to fall into this shit. Some of them are computer science people but this is just an odd mix I think. I earned the right to negotiate the top of my pay scale on the way in the door because I worked my ass off. Nobody in this department is stupid. I am not smarter than my peers. One of my peers can code circles around me. I can do administrative and server stuff that leaves him cold. A third can write automation script like nobody's business, I can pull an answer out of match sticks.
I have earned this right.
I walked across my mother's back to get to it.
The young women and angry older women have the same rights.
Shut the fuck up and let's get seriously accountable here. Rape or some level of sexual assault happens to 6 out of 10 women in this country. There is no doubt about it but I'm not buying that it happens because your boyfriend needs to ask your permission to kiss you. YOU need to learn to control a situation.
YES. It would be good to be safe anywhere in the world but the truth is, it is not. It's not safe in a lot of places in the world for a lot of PEOPLE.
If you are small and don't know how to protect yourself and look like you don't know how to protect yourself, i.e., you look like, smell like, feel like prey, then you will be preyed upon if you walk where there be monsters. Even if you happen to be sitting at home on a Thursday night in a nice middle class neighborhood writing a paper due tomorrow on F Scott Fitzgerald... there may be monsters...
(check the statistics on man and boy rape while you're at it, they're still not talking about it which makes THEM seriously not safe)
My point is this:
We've come a long, long, long freaking way. Stop sniveling. Stop whinging. Stop looking at how badly you think you're hurt. I'm not saying you're not hurt. Stop training men to do it exactly right but do continue to use your words. Start being responsible for the situations YOU get yourself into.
I *was* hurt. I *get* hurt. I fall down. I get up.
I have choices. So, so, so many, many choices.
And my rapist? Yeah, he's still out there (well you know what? I don't really know this. he might not be). Do I think he's a rapist because some Disney princess got kissed without permission? No. I don't believe he's ever seen a Disney movie, actually. You'd have to meet the guy. Actually, you'd have to have been there. Trust me, it wasn't a 'Disney' issue.
So there are the highlights. No dissertation or I'll never get published.
I have the right to go and say and be who I want to be. I have the right to slap the shit out of you if you do something I don't want you to do. No means no. Yes means yes. I guess I'd better be clear on that first. And ultimately, I am responsible for my life.
Did I ever tell you how I let NM know I liked him?
Did I ever tell you what NM told me he thought about me when he first met me online?
We met chatting on a Contra site with about 90 gazillion other people about gender issues, as it turns out. Gender issues as they relate to Contra in terms of men's and women's roles and gender balancing at dances because there are often more women then men and women have to sit out because no one asks them to dance. In Contra culture it is perfectly acceptable (and a very good idea) for women to ask men to dance (unless you're at Concord where I hear it's not because then the women wonder if the men think it means something?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!!!) but women don't and so dances are gender balanced and I'd never heard of this so I had fits and chimed in about asking ANYONE to dance because I really hate sitting out.
NM told me he decided I was a lesbian with kids.
From that? (Sorry, NM)
I didn't actually say a lot more than that either. We had some offline conversation about a dance at GFD and he invited me and told me to ask him to dance and I said I didn't think I could make it because it was so far away and a school night and that was that and of course it turns out I went.
I decided, at the dance, that I had a serious crush on the man. Not too serious because I really didn't expect to see him again anytime in the near future but serious enough I was going to let him know I liked him.
I waited for him at the top of the stairs on the way out of the grange. I waited there with two tired girls. Finally he came out. I ran up to him and kissed him on the cheek. The right cheek. Because it was closest to me. A big kiss. Not a small kiss but nowhere near his mouth.
15 years ago I would have thrown my arms around him and done a little bit more. I can't do that now.
Apparently I got his attention. Apparently I also crossed a line.
Well, I don't suppose I crossed it all that terribly because I heard from him the next day. Or that night or something like that. I heard from him pretty damn quick. But I do know I shocked the shit out of him.
Good thing I didn't snuggle up and bite his lower lip, huh?
So things have changed, I get that. I should not wrap myself around strangers anymore than strangers should wrap themselves around me... however.
Just that. That's all.
There are 3 epi-pens in my daughter's classroom too. Just sayin'.
As one of my co-workers says - 'off my box now'