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Is this the new face of the resistance?

US First Lady Melania Trump looks on as her husband President Donald Trump speaks at a meeting with administration on the opioid addiction crisis at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on August 8, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

In a strange twist of fate it appears that the only human capable of putting the narcissist-in-chief in his place is a Slovenian mail order bride who exchanged a small grim life of Eastern European “lingerie modeling” for a more lucrative position (although she had no reason to think it would ever in a million years include living under a political microscope). While living under a corpulent wallet on legs had its obvious appeal, Melania was no doubt aware of her old man’s predilections. After all, he hit on her while on a date with a different woman, after cheating on his first wife with his second, then cheating on his second with pretty much everyone, and so forth, to the tune of three marriages, five children, porn stars, Playmates, Russian prostitutes with bulging bladders and a growing number of beauty pageant contestants who claim to have been groped with the child-sized vagina-grabbing hands of the President of the United States of America. (If you just threw up in your mouth you are not alone.)

Anyone else who even looks at the president sideways learns via Twitter or through the blowhole of Sarah Huckabee Sanders that they have just resigned, effective immediately, which makes Melania the most powerful person on earth. Only she is able to dominate, shun, humiliate and shame the most powerful man in the world without recrimination. If ever there was an alpha bitch in Yves St. Laurent sheep’s clothing, it is Melania.

I’ll admit I am not a fan of women like Melania; females who sell their souls for a life of creature comfort, but I am pretty sure there is some kind of unwritten code (and a prenup) that specifies what they will and won’t have to endure. Affairs, yeah, sure, of course. Hookers and porn stars, only if necessary. Creepiness with the daughter…what now? But to become FLOTUS…

Look at Melania’s expression on the night her husband was elected. My dog looks happier when she’s having her anal glands expressed.

Once he became leader of the free world all the smarmy, crappy, low, base, vile, nasty, immoral, unethical and illegal stuff that is the cornerstone of how he comports himself both personally and in business became public knowledge. We will never know the depth of Melania’s humiliation before her husband was elected, but now that his despicable actions are broadcast in a 24-hour news cycle, her degradation is on display for the whole world to see. The good news for Melania is that she has found a way to level the playing field and there’s nothing he can do to shut her down because his base simply would not tolerate anyone belittling his beautiful and shapely immigrant migrant worker alien wife.

The MAGA moonies fervently defended Melania’s honor when nude photos of she with another nude woman locked in a passionate embrace surfaced on the Internet (passionate in Melania’s range of expression looks exactly like she’s under anesthesia with her eyes partially open) even though these same people lost their minds when Michelle Obama went sleeveless. Any time anyone is critical of this FLOTUS her husband’s supporters froth at the mouth and say Michelle Obama is really a man, and Benghazi. So, nope. He can’t ridicule, smack down or silence “the babe” at 16oo Pennsylvania Avenue.

Melania is well aware that the hand swats, cold shoulders and gonad-shriveling daggers with which she looks at him are going to be meme-ified tout de suite. Whether it’s Botox, permanent Zoolander-face or steely resolve that prevent her from forming any expression other than abject acrimony, there is a flash in her eyes that indicates she is not taking this sitting down on a gold toilet. 

In her most brazen act of revolt yet, Mrs. President just unveiled the child-welfare platform she plans to champion, using some pretty ironic language in her statements. “I do believe children should be both seen and heard,” she began. “And it is our responsibility as adults to educate and remind them that when they’re using their voices, whether verbally or online, they must use their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion.”

It’s a great cause, of course, but in her choice of words Melania managed to point a laser beam right at the orange head of the worst imaginable role model for these values, or any principals really. And it’s the gift that will keep on giving because every single time she mentions her cause, free press all over the world will reference her husband’s abusive comments on social media, his screes against adversaries, his aversion to the truth and his ridicule of the handicapped, heroic and dying.

“I am well aware that people are skeptical of me discussing this topic,” FLOTUS told a room full of tech execs and Internet-safety advocates at the White House in March. Pretty much every time she makes a public appearance, swats his tiny hand or opens her mouth she is shining a light on her husband’s bottomless well of character flaws, and there’s not a thing he can do about it.

These are troubling times, when a fourth-rate underwear model from a country most people didn’t know existed sees her approval rating nearly double her husband’s in the wake of a porn star scandal. All I can say at this point is, you go, girl! A humiliated nation thanks you.

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful moms out there! Loves ya!

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What’s right with Facebook

COMPASSION

So…I haven’t written a blog in a long time. All the things I feel passionately about have the effect of agitating readers; both those who agree with me and those who do not. Then today I was deeply moved by a post on Facebook and I realized that common ground is closer than we think.

A lovely young woman fell in love with a puppy she saw on a breeder’s Facebook page. Ashley, the breeder, insisted on meeting “Tina” (not her real name) in a well-lit Panda Express parking lot because she didn’t want to be ripped off…or worse. They met, money was exchanged, and Tina mentioned that the dog seemed a little sickly, which the breeder explained was the result of the deworming meds the vet had given the entire litter, and the fact that the 10-week old dog was anxious being separated from its pack for the first time.

Two days later, one of the puppy’s litter mates was dead from Parvo virus and “Chanel,” Tina’s puppy, was dying. Turns out the “breeder” is a scam artist, or a ghost, and her Facebook page has already disappeared. She knew all along the dogs she was selling were deathly ill and highly contagious. Ashley will suffer a painful, ignoble existence just short of the relief death offers because…karma.

Tina simply did not have the money to pay for Chanel’s hospitalization, which required a hefty 4-figure deposit, so they sent her home with the dog and instructions for her care. Parvo virus in such a tiny dog—a 10-week old Yorkie—is a 50/50 proposition in terms of survival in a veterinary hospital, and it is an agonizing illness. Her chances of survival would be maybe 30% at home.

I don’t know Tina, but somehow through the ether we are Facebook “friends” and I had been reading Tina’s posts about the dog with a mix of horror, sadness and anger. When Tina posted this morning that Chanel had taken a turn for the worse I was hit by a tsunami of grief. My throat tightened and my heart seized exactly as it had on the various days over the years when I would learn that a beloved dog of mine was sick and about to leave this earth. I wept.

No matter on which side of the political aisle we align, I believe our humanity transcends tax cuts for the rich, entitlements and even morality or intelligence. I believe most people, if given the opportunity, would do just about anything to help a sick dog, or a friend with a sick dog. Those of you who know me or read me or follow me on Facebook know I am an unapologetic atheist, so I don’t think being compassionate has anything to do with a god, or an eternal reward, or a ‘get out of hell free’ card. But compassion is redemption that washes us clean of a lot of the filth we stew in when we forget our humanity.

I messaged Tina and told her I’d pay the hospital and vet bills. I picked her and the dog up thirty minutes later and off we went – two strangers with puffy red eyes and a tiny sick little dog, hauling ass to the veterinary hospital, cry/laughing like sisters.

In the hours we were together I learned a lot about Tina and her life. She’s made some bad choices, but so have I. The key difference, as best I can tell, is that my bad choices weren’t exacerbated by a tragic medical diagnosis which destroyed my financial security. That’s pure luck. Even so, I’ve had plenty days that I felt sorry for myself. Those are the days that made me less human than a day like today, when I met someone who has managed to rise above all kinds of adversity—who beat cancer and is facing down MS with a fierce determination, but who has been brought to her knees by a sick little dog. In all her weakness and strength, fear and bravery, sadness and laughter—in all the things that seem to work and then to fail—Tina represents the best of humanity. She loves with all her heart.

We don’t know whether Chanel will make it. As of right now she is improving and the vets are guardedly optimistic. Her mom Tina started a Go Fund Me campaign to help with the vet bills because I can’t really afford the medical bills either, but I’ve been a little luckier than some. Whatever your belief system, maybe offer up a positive thought for Chanel and Tina. What could it hurt?

 

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Like Putting Socks on an Octopus

dylan cover

I’ve been a little lax in writing the weekly blog. I have been working on a photography project for an exhibition that opens July 20 and I just learned that my project has already been done by another photographer. I am also making a film, by which I mean I have descended into a surreal world of jugglers, dogs that play poker and melting clocks where I spend my time pushing a massive piece of granite up a Teflon hill.

The film is from a script I wrote called Bob Dylan Stole My Wife, which is about a man who neglected his wife and when she doesn’t return from a Dylan concert where she was spotted getting into Bob’s tour bus, the hubby assumes the worst. He must join forces with a small town music critic who claims to know the bard, and who further asserts he can help get the dude’s missus back. The entire film takes place between Kewaskum, Wisconsin and Duluth, Minnesota—arguably the whitest swath of America this side of the Mason Dixon.

Trying to raise the money to make the movie is like getting your first job out of college, or putting socks on an octopus. Investors want to know which stars will be in the movie before they pony up, but the stars want to see the money before they agree to be in the film. My producing partner and I figured we should start with a casting agent who could help us navigate this great divide.

The first casting agent we contacted was in Los Angeles. He allegedly read the script before proffering tips as to how we might make the movie better. I spent a hundred years making TV commercials so perhaps I am unfamiliar with the wily ways of Hollywood. Even so, it seems forward and a bit presumptuous for someone whose job it is to find actors to fill a role written by a screenwriter to send the screenwriter “notes” about the screenplay particularly when the “notes” suggest a major retooling of the entire plot.

Specifically, we were asked whether we might consider making the male leads lesbians, and if that was too “out there,” how ‘bout we make them black? In addition, he wanted to know whether we were married to the title Bob Dylan Stole My Wife because Chance the Rapper is on fire right now and Bob Dylan is sort of…yesterday. Oh, and could the story take place in the Bahamas?

I’d give my right eye to work with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jodie Foster or Chance the Rapper, and hailing from the fine state of Wisconsin I would relish the opportunity to spend a few months in a tropical paradise, but the reality is that I wrote a story about a clueless ostensibly tone deaf white dude in Kewaskum, Wisconsin who believes his wife to have run off with an aging, Nobel Prize winning, poet laureate of rock n roll. Next, I fully expect someone to suggest we animate the whole shebang with dwarf non-binary lobsters from Bed-Stuy who speak Italian because…Fellini.

As I have often said about the process of having a book published, the writing is really the easy part. It’s all the crap that comes after that causes you to sweat. But we soldier on.

This week we scored our first star for one of the supporting roles. Mind you, Bob Dylan Stole My Wife is what we call a buddy road pic so other than the leads, i.e. the buddies, the supporting roles are smaller, yet respectably well written and meaty. When the actress learned we planned to shoot in Wisconsin, which is not the same as Minnesota although almost equidistant from LA, she said she was “going to need more pages,” by which she meant she wants a larger role with more screen time. I can’t wait for the eight-year-old who plays a visually impaired altar boy to send us his contract rider. At this rate the movie should clock in at a tidy 9 hours.

I apologize for being remiss in blogging especially when there is so much to say about gun violence, politicians who are bought literally lock, stock and barrel, boycotts and teenage revolutionaries, but I am swimming hard as I can just to keep this world of make believe afloat. Comparatively speaking, it’s not so bad being surrounded by jugglers, dogs that play poker and divas. Come to think of it…cue the lobsters. Miss Thing is ready for her close up.

See ya at the movies!

 

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Sexual misconduct: art v the artist

 

david copy

A former employer who had no case other than he was butt hurt because I had quit my job and he had money to burn recently sued me. Used to be bullies were the kids with nothing to lose and everything to prove. Today, as an adult, all you need to be a big fat bully is a $350 court filing fee and a gripe. Grown up bullies have the financial resources to crush any employee who disagrees with their politics or religious beliefs, quits their job, or who refuses to touch the boss’s pee pee, watch the boss touch his own pee pee and/or have conversations about pee pees and/or va-jim-jams.

If Louis C.K. were a stage hand who asked an aspiring comedienne if it was okay to masturbate in front of her, said female comic would likely go to the union rep or whomever was the dude’s boss and get him reprimanded, if not fired. But when the person doing the asking has the money, and in our culture that means the power, then the underling has little recourse but to either participate in something that makes her throw up in her mouth, or she can take her chances, walk away from her job and hope her career isn’t hindered or tanked by the person with the power.

The other day a friend of mine, an artist and former museum curator, expressed outrage that an exhibition of artist Chuck Close’s work at the National Gallery in Washington D.C. had been cancelled in the wake of multiple sexual harassment allegations against him. My friend’s objections seemed to stem from two equally important factors, a) that we must separate the art from the artist, and b) for the love of Mike, Chuck Close is in a wheelchair.

Does the mere fact that Mr. Close would be unable to tackle a woman, hold her down and grope or otherwise sexually assault her make it somehow okay to make grossly inappropriate comments about her genitals? These women had come to Mr. Close for employment as models for his work, which required that they disrobe. It is not unusual or wrong or horrible for women and men to pose nude for artists. What is wrong is that the artist holds not only the chisel, paint brush or camera in his hands, but since he is paying the models he wields the power, and with that power comes a responsibility to behave if not legally, then ethically, morally and professionally like a frickin’ human and not some slobbering Neanderthal, whether confined to a wheelchair, or not.

Imagine if Michelangelo had sexually harrassed the model for David, arguably the world’s most famous sculpture, for having, as Keith Richards referred to his pal Mick Jagger’s male appendage—a tiny todger. Geez, if the dude ever wanted to work in Florence again, he had best just shrug it off. Had Michelangelo been sexually inappropriate with a paid employee, and had the world then been such a place where that sort of thing was verboten, as is finally occurring now, a mere 500 years later, would it have been acceptable by today’s standards for the Vestry Board to refuse to exhibit the sculpture? Before you answer, think of the millions of souls that have been forever enriched and inspired by gazing upon that magnificent piece of marble.

The question then becomes, should artists have special dispensation? It’s a no brainer when we think in terms of Picasso and Michelangelo, but what happens when the artist’s work doesn’t pair with our individual, peculiar understanding of art? Artists are by nature provocateurs, but what inflames me may be vastly different than what pushes your buttons and that doesn’t give either of us the right to deny anyone access to art that moves them deeply.

The Nazis labeled modern art “degenerate” because it was Jewish, considered communist or was just plain “un-German.” Artists were forbidden from creating “modern” art, teachers were forbidden from teaching it and masterpieces were banned, burned and blown up. Music, film, plays, books and entire careers were destroyed and even today we remain outraged. And yet major galleries and museums, TV and cable networks and other entertainment venues are doing the same thing right now, but with fewer flags, fires and fanfare, undoubtedly hopeful that advertisers and patrons will continue their support uninterrupted.

What it comes down to is whether we, as adults, can be trusted to digest allegations, accusations and even convictions against artists and then decide for ourselves if we wish to patronize their work. Unfortunately, gallery and museum directors and network executives have decided we are not to be given dominion over where we choose to cast our eyes and ears. It’s not so much political correctness that’s driving the freight train of censorship as much as a desire, I think, for executives, curators and entertainment overlords to give the appearance of being #MeToo sympathizers when in fact they are simply hedging their bets that this #MeToo stuff means money at the box office and ticket counter. In addition to being run-of-the-mill consumers who represent a massive market share, women are also formidable benefactors and investors.

I feel for the people who have in any way been sexually assaulted, harassed or abused by someone in power, be the offender an artist or the President of the United States, but #MeToo is a big loud voice and we have options in terms of how we deal with exploitation in the aggregate. For one thing, we vote. And for another we have the right to protest. Perhaps it would be better for the National Gallery to proceed with the Chuck Close exhibition, and let #MeToo show up in all its glory—in a big, beautiful artistic act of solidarity with the abused. Then the abusers will answer directly to us, and not someone’s bottom line.

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Shame on…everyone?

 

topiary

Shaming has become the great American pastime: slut shaming, body shaming, shaming over what we eat, how we feel, who we sleep with and what we drive. I’ve seen cell phone shaming, headphone shaming, shoe shaming and even landscape shaming, as in, “The rest of the lawns in our neighborhood are manicured to a perfect 3.25” height once every 5.75 days. Your grass looks like the savanna.”

Shaming is sport on Facebook where we are admonished to “share if you love Jesus,” the implication of which is that to not share is to diss the Christ in Christmas (and just what kind of succubus are you?). “Share if you support law enforcement, the national anthem and the elderly,” is counterbalanced by demands that we “share if you hate cancer, bullies and the president,” again the implication of which is that to be stingy with one’s shares is to be against cops, country and coots while the latter proclaims we are in favor of disease, oafs and imbeciles.

My female dog Zuzu stands at will over her male counterpart Alfie in a show of alpha-ness. People often snicker when I say Zuzu is the alpha female, aka an “alpha bitch,” (and also because that is how I often refer to myself) which supports my impression that many humans are unfamiliar with the term, erroneously thinking “alpha male” is just…natural, while alpha female, or boss lady, seems somehow made up. But I digress.

The point is, as she asserts her dominance, Zuzu “shames” Alfie by positioning her crotch over his scruffy little head. That is exactly how it feels when some nitwit suggests my footwear is better suited to a younger woman, say in her 20s, or a stripper. (I will admit some of my heels sport rather suggestive architecture.)

Likewise, to hear that a woman “had it coming to her” because she wore a miniskirt and push-up bra when she was sexually assaulted makes me see red, then I weep with pity for the male of our species because according to “what did she expect with that outfit” logic, menfolk are just too weak and intellectually impaired to control themselves when they see lady bits. Poor little snowflakes dears. I don’t think people thusly debilitated should be allowed to vote, really. Or drive cars. Or serve in the military.

When I was a kid we didn’t call it shaming. We called it bullying and picking on and we were generally instructed to to walk it off, but in the trenches we knew what happened when the bully was bigger or more powerful than the person being bullied. The little guy got her ass handed to her.

All the sticks and stones platitudes in the world didn’t prevent me from being smacked down every 6th grade recess by Tom P.  Having been held back about a dozen times in the third grade, the dude was like 30 years old–a dangerous combination of grown-up gigantic and smart as a box of hair. My folks told me to ignore him. I was afraid to go to the authorities for fear I’d make things worse and he would escalate from knocking me down and pulling my hair to strangling me in my sleep, as he had often promised.

One day as Tom P hurtled in my direction, shoulders poised to knock me into next Tuesday, I braced myself against the building, thinking it would keep me from falling to the ground. The impact of being slammed into a brick wall by a speeding troglodyte shattered a bracelet my grandpa had given me, which then cut into my wrist. Without thinking I spun around and slugged Tom P in the stomach. I will never forget his eyes just before he crumpled to the ground and started crying like a bitch. He looked exactly like Alfie when Zuzu stands over his head—slightly bewildered and totally submissive.

An hour later I was called out of class and told to report to the principal’s office where Mr. and Mrs. P sat facing Sister Benedictine, our principal. “Did you hit Tom?” Mother Superior asked.

Knowing Sister Benedictine and the baby Jesus would want me to apologize, I said, “I’m sorry I made him ugly cry.” Mr. P winced and I immediately knew the beat down I gave the boy was nothing compared to what was going to happen to him when he got home. He had let a girl get the best of him. He had been shamed in the worst possible way.

I have a scar on my wrist from the incident, and have long since learned that only in grade school can you teach a bully a lesson by hitting him back. In the real world—Facebook and Twitter—there is no amount of “hitting back” that stops someone from shaming, or bullying. All I can imagine is that the people who feel better about themselves by trying to make other feel less than were abused themselves—be it physically, emotionally or by being given hundreds of millions of dollars with which they could go repeatedly bankrupt.

So I will do what I always do when someone tries to shame me. I will slip on 5” heels  and lie on my neighbor’s perfectly manicured lawn, forcing her to mow around me. The resulting grass topiary shall serve as a beacon for anyone who refuses to let the dogs of shaming stand over her head.

 

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In the true spirit of giving…

Red heart in child kid and mother hands on old blue wooden table in vintage retro style

The other day a man on the street gave a homeless person a dollar, and I smiled at him. “What can I say?” the man told me, puffing up his chest as he got into a new Mercedes. “I’m a generous guy this time of year.” It got me to thinking…people seem confused about generosity.

Rosalind Russell stars in the 1958 film “Auntie Mame” as a wealthy eccentric with a heart of gold. In the stock market crash of 1929 Mame loses it all—including her new job as a clerk at Macy’s. Demoralized and broke, she foregoes a warm cab ride home and opts instead to drop her very last dollar into a Salvation Army bucket.

In flusher times Mame might have handed the bell ringer a couple of Benjamins, but it would not have been a fraction as benevolent as giving away her last dollar. Generosity is not conveyed by tax breaks for charitable contributions or crowing about giving someone less fortunate a couple of dollars. True generosity requires a bit of personal sacrifice—and comes from a place where we actually care about people irrespective of social station, income, religion or race.

Maybe it’s just me, but I am not blanketed in warm fuzzies when I see gratuitous Christmastime TV ads touting the “generosity” of a company that donates a few pennies on the dollar to charity “in the spirit of giving.” It doesn’t strike me as particularly giving to donate money simply to earn a massive tax break when your workers don’t have affordable healthcare. #ScroogeMart

In a decidedly ungenerous move, and for reasons beyond my comprehension, a swath of the American public has decided to jump onboard the “restore Merry Christmas” crazy train, ignoring the fact that, quite simply, we have a proud multi-cultural history and not everyone believes in Jesus. Considering Christmas, the birthday of said Jesus, is the penultimate celebration of generosity, it seems disengenuous to cram one’s religious beliefs down people’s throats by insisting they get with the ‘Happy Birthday, Jesus’ program, then label them un-American when they won’t.

This year I decided to try something new—something perhaps…charitable. I ask, “Do you celebrate Christmas?” When people say yes, then I wish them a merry Christmas. When they say no, I tell them happy holidays. There is a brief pause as the person digests the question, then come the words, “Thank you for asking.” Boom.

There are so many ways to express generosity, from helping an elderly person across a busy street to honoring someone else’s culture. Among the same group that is leading the Merry Christmas Goddammit assault, there is the argument that if African American persons refer to one another with the N word, then why can’t the rest of us? (This proposition reared its head at a Christmas party, which seemed ironic somehow.)

We could go round and round debating the roots of systemic racism, which would be the right thing to do if we were really interested in learning anything, but that would demand logical consistency and factual accuracy. Instead, in the spirit of Christmas, I propose that persons who are not African American simply accept that persons who are African American really don’t like it when persons who are not African American use the N word. Can’t that be enough?

To suggest white people should be allowed to call African American people by the N word because African American people use the word is to insist upon calling Richard ‘Dick’ when he has specifically asked to be called the former. It doesn’t matter whether Richard’s family calls him Dick, or what his race is. Unless you are in Richard’s family, and assuming you have half a brain, you will call him Richard. Otherwise you are the real dick.

Was that ungenerous? My bad. (Your appreciation, or acceptance of my sense of humor and language is quite generous.)

This holiday season I want to thank you—for sharing your stories with me, letting me know what you thought of a blog, laughing with me, crying and raging against the machine with me.

Here’s to all of us, honoring whatever tradition, belief or non-belief we subscribe to by being tolerant, kind, compassionate…and you know. Generous.

Happy holidays. Loves ya,

Pam

visiut pam at huffpo

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Get Over it? I Don’t Think So.

9 to 5

Some men I know are whining about the legion number of sexual misconduct accusations and resulting firings and humiliations that have been coming to light every five minutes for the past few weeks. I do not share their bewilderment, frustration and suspicions that women are jumping on some over-sensitive bandwagon.

One man thinks it is only famous men who are being persecuted because those are the only guys we’re reading about. Unless a “civilian” guns down 50 people or sets himself on fire while deep frying a turducken, the media doesn’t generally cover my neighbor mowing his lawn, or whether he has been let go from his job at Ace Hardware because he groped Sally from the paint department in the paint department. I’m thinking this must be a crazy time to work in Human Resources, but the New York Times and Variety aren’t going to devote ink to my neighbor when Garrison Keillor has been caught with his hand up a woman’s blouse.

Keillor was smart. He released a statement to the New York Times in an effort to get out in front of the accusation—with his version of the “alleged” sexual misconduct. So now people are debating whether what he describes was really so terrible—the woman’s blouse was open in the back, he was consoling her, and his hand accidentally slid 6 inches up her bare back. Jeez, has it occurred to any of the men who think, “Yeah, I can see how something like that could happen” that Keillor, a storyteller by trade, might have written a less lascivious account for the public? And frankly, I don’t find his carefully constructed prose even slightly okay.

If I break down and cry and a man seeks to console me, trust me. I know the difference between empathy and horny. It’s exactly like pornography. We may not be able to define it, but we sure as hell know it when its creped, liver spotted hand creeps up our bare skin.

Another argument I hear in Keillor’s favor is that he is really old. Huh. There is an 89-year-old man I see at a professional meeting every month, who persists in giving me a hug, which includes grabbing side boob, sometimes actual full frontal boob, my ass, and occasionally, when I am distracted, he tries to French me when we do the cheek kiss greeting. I am ashamed to admit I have never called him out on it because he is old, but I hate myself every time it happens. I feel dirty, confused, violated and I have anxiety the instant I see him.

I’m not going to kill myself or seek professional psychiatric care because of it, but it is not right. If I learned that one of my dear nieces or stepdaughter were being fondled, groped, felt up or licked by this guy I’d punch him in the throat and if he broke a hip, so be it. That’s the price of being sexually inappropriate when you’re not a celebrity who can be fired from a big time job, but are instead simply a dirty old man from Milwaukee.

I am fortunate in that I have never been raped, but when I look back at behavior that was deemed acceptable, because to not accept it would have meant I was “uptight,” “frigid,” “no fun,” or a “poor sport” I can hear my blood pressure rising and my armpits begin to sizzle. I am a formidable creature at 5’10” tall, especially when I wear 5” heels. My parents blessed me with self-confidence in spades and attitude a mile wide, but even so I have been cowed by men in positions of power, and almost as bad, embarrassed by the likes of nobody idiots who think it’s their god-given right to touch my ass on an escalator or comment on my legs just because, you know, I have them and I am using them in public.

Again, many men will argue there is no harm in a man telling a woman she has lovely appendages. Right out of the gate, I reject this on its face. Unless I have signed up to be in a leg, ass or tit competition, shut up. Think what you will, but please, just shut up. I am not flattered or moved by a sleaze ball in sweatpants who tells me I’ve got long legs, like this is some revelation, or worse yet, a compliment. A compliment implies we give a rat’s ass about the other person’s opinion, and believe me when I speak for all women; there are not few enough fucks to give for your “opinions” about our body parts.

Older men tell me it’s natural to compliment a woman on her smile, hair or legs, but when it is said with a leer and a tongue flick the man is not innocently commenting on my inseam, but instead is very crudely letting me know exactly how he envisions my legs vis-à-vis his personage. It is creepy, disgusting and leaves me feeling violated. This doesn’t mean I will be damaged for life, unable to work, create, love or bake soufflés, but it does mean another person has invaded my personal space in a manner that is just not acceptable.

Human touch can be the very best thing ever in the history of our species, but we can’t allow it to be co-opted by men who think our bodies are mere chattel, like the women of internet porn who seem to exist only for the sexual enjoyment of others. I actually have nothing against porn, but it’s important to make a distinction between what’s on a screen and what’s in front of you on the escalator, and then behave accordingly with your hands.

I feel sorry for men who do not understand what “all the fuss is about.” These human specimens are either profoundly flawed, unable to get it up for empathy, or they are delusional. I do not buy that men are confused by the sudden, copious accusations of sexual inappropriateness, or what being sexually inappropriate even means.

Here’s a simple freakin’ litmus test for those fellas: would you conduct the behavior in front of your boss, wife, daughter, mother, aunt, grandma or fourth grade teacher? Would you be comfortable grabbing a handful of a stranger’s shapely butt in front of Mrs. Worshefsky?

Would you masturbate in front of a coworker with your daughter standing beside you, then when she freaked the F out tell her, “Oh, honey. It’s okay. I asked first?”

Sexual politics have always been tricky, but since forever we have excluded sexual conduct outside of intimate relationships from the discussion. Women burned their bras, got the pill and slept with whomever they damn well pleased, and yet no one was talking about being groped in the supply closet or missing out on a promotion because she refused to blow the boss.

My friend Brigette Breitenbach posted the simplest, most meaningful statement on her Facebook page today. It said simply, “You know it’s a racial slur if it was meant as a racial slur.” Same can be said for sexual inappropriateness. Men can pretend, “I didn’t mean anything by it,” but not one of them would “not mean anything by it” if their wives, mothers or bosses were standing right there.

It doesn’t matter whether the woman you’ve sexually accosted—be it physically, psychologically or verbally—is a shaking mess of protoplasm unable to feed or fend for herself as a result of your misconduct. I, a statuesque warrior goddess with nerves of steel and a wicked right hook, have been made to feel dirty, violated and anxious by an 89-year-old man who thinks it’s cute to feel me up. Next time he does it, ima knock his block off.

To all the warrior goddesses out there, young and old, keep fighting the good fight, and speak up. For every snarky supposition that women are “just doing this for attention or money,” we will answer with the truth, and the truth is that we have been silent, and subjugated, for far too long.

Lastly, to all the men who are foaming at the mouth because they believe some guys have been unjustly accused and punished, it’s called collateral damage. You accept it as a fact of war, and that is when innocent people are actually killed dead. A few men lose their gazillion $ salaries by mistake? That’s the price of building a better society for everyone. As women have been told for centuries, get over it, doll.

 

visiut pam at huffpo

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Joining Forces in Tragedy’s Aftermath

Lysistrata

Years ago, before Sandy Hook, Columbine, Orlando, Virginia and all the others, I would have been devastated by the events of this past week, but truth be told I am becoming inured to acts of extreme violence, and loss. Each time CNN ratings spike, which is either the result of an internationally embarrassing tweet or paper towel toss, a natural disaster or a mass shooting, I feel just a little less pain for the people who are affected.

I am an empath who is beginning to lose her mojo and that can’t be good.

When there is another mass shooting I become sort of paralyzed, unable to look away but equally unable to stay tuned. I find myself in a no man’s land between worlds where bad things happen to good people and bad people have more rights than anyone else. Dozens of innocent people are dead—cut down for no reason at all—and folks on Facebook are calling each other names because they disagree on the sanctity of the Second Amendment as though a glittery unicorn in the sky had written it himself, never mind the 59 people who are dead forever and quite possibly not flying up to the clouds where free beer and potato chips are served 24/7 in a place called heaven.

From where I sit it feels as though we have spun out of control with no hope of restoring order to our lives so we tune in to cable news and shake our heads and maybe watch a video on how to survive a mass shooting. I do not understand how the slightest threat to any type of gun ownership whatsoever foments a nationwide gnashing of teeth and heeling of elected politicians while yet another horrific mass shooting generates nothing but ratings and Facebook wars. No one is taking to the streets. No one is knocking down the doors to their representative’s offices. Millions of women are not marching on State capitals in a show of force that tells elected officials “we will not stand for this a second longer.” What, we’re too busy knitting pink pussy hats?

The saddest thing I’ve seen in the recent past is the massive chasm among women. This “us against them” political bullshit is a divide and conquer tactic as old as the hills and as effective in undermining our collective authority as a nuclear bomb. The men who rule have employed a doctrinal military tactic that allows them to defeat an enemy (female voters) by destroying small portions of our armies rather than engaging our entire military (women in aggregate) at once. So simple. So diabolical.

We’re gonna have a hella time getting along when you’ve been convinced that wearing a “Trump can grab my pussy any time” t-shirt is a good idea, but I am willing to work with you because we really are stronger together and our children are being gunned down in cold blood.

I’m not all rah rah women are better than men, but I recognize certain facts about who we are, namely the people who get pregnant, endure nine months of gestation, give birth to another human being, feed it from our own bodies and would rather die than see harm come to it. How on earth were we bamboozled into acting against our very nature by supporting politicians and laws that allow grave harm—and death and suffering—to come to our offspring? Are we really okay with 59 of our children (or 49 or 33 or 28 or 15 or 14 or or or) being slaughtered for any reason whatsoever?

When I was a very little girl I was obsessed by a book my parents kept hidden high on a bookcase that could only be reached by first clattering on a chair then scaling the shelving like a mountain goat. There were illustrations of naked women in the book—contraband. Y’all know I’m drawn to the forbidden like Anthony Weiner to an iPhone so I quickly taught myself to read. (I am also drawn to exaggeration like a Ferderbar to…an exaggeration.)

The book was Lysistrata, written in 411BC by the Greek author Aristophanes. It is a somewhat comic account of a woman’s extraordinary mission to end the Peloponnesian War by denying men sex. Lysistrata persuades the women of Greece to withhold sexual privileges from their husbands and lovers as a means of forcing the men to negotiate peace—a strategy, however, that enflamed the battle between the sexes and paved the way for American politicians to divide and conquer women voters.

Even then, men realized that women were way too strong a force to take on with conventional warfare. We withheld sex. They caved. Something had to change! So they figured out the divide and conquer thing and we have been subjugated ever since. There is no other possible explanation for pro-Trump pussy apparel.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving became a political behemoth, a more powerful lobby, in fact, than the NRA, through the simple simple simple strategy of unifying women against a common enemy—the death of their offspring. MADD became stronger than Republicans and more powerful than Democrats—combined.

(Before I continue I need to address a false equivalency that often silences people in favor of stronger gun control laws: gun violence in Chicago. People are dying by handguns, yes, but using that as an excuse not to curtail the availability of assault weapons that make it possible to mow down hundreds of people in a few minutes is like saying ice cream is high in calories and fat so we may as well eat deep fried butter served with a side of hollandaise for breakfast every morning. This is another tactic in the ongoing campaign by the gun manufacturer’s PR firm of NRA to shut us the hell up, or at the very least confuse the issue.)

I believe we must think like Lysistrata and the geniuses at MADD, putting the sanctity of our children’s lives before all else. That means not tearing each other apart over any other issues. It means focusing on that which we all believe in with all our hearts. We have to stop letting “them” divide and conquer us as though we are simpletons incapable of thinking for ourselves. Rather than “never Hillary” we ought to focus on “never my child should die in a hail of bullets.”

Next time I see a woman with a pro-Trump pussy grabbing t-shirt I am going to engage her in a respectful, warm and loving way. I’ll ask whether she has children, their ages and how well they do in school. There will be common ground, no doubt. When I meet a woman who believes abortion is murder, I will sit with her and try to find that sweet spot where we naturally both agree that abortion is not a good thing, but that maybe it isn’t as heinous as some other things that we can work together on, like mass shootings.

Women are strong. Even those with whom we adamantly disagree have a formidable backbone specific to the female sex. What might we accomplish if we joined forces?

 

Fare thee well, beautiful Tom. You will be dearly missed.

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visiut pam at huffpo

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Getting Lucky

Young woman crossing her fingers and wishing for good luck

The other day I got into a debate with someone who believes that rich people are smarter than poor people, which is a myth rich people would like to propagate much as I would like to spread the news that writers are all frickin’ geniuses. Despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, the argument goes something like…”you don’t get to be a billionaire if you’re an idiot.”

My boyfriend explained that rich people have to believe they deserve their wealth or poor people wouldn’t deserve poverty. In order to deserve something we need to earn it, so they convince themselves they earned it—even if their wealth was handed to them or stolen from the poor.

Mind boggling, right? I have a boyfriend, which brings me to my point; it’s all about luck. Say you’re in the .0001% wealthwise. Chances are you were born in the United States or a palace. You can’t really argue there was any shrewd business calculus on your part. Likewise, five decades in I found my bookend, the one who makes me happy, my soul mate. Believe me, I have tried everything known to humankind to ferret out Mr. Right including dating (and occasionally marrying) every Mr. Wrong I could get my hands on including a man in California whom a mutual friend dubbed “the most inappropriate man in L.A.” (I can only assume Mary Knox-Sitley meant L.A. proper with its population of 4,000,000 and not Los Angeles County, which would have made the odds 1 in 13,000,000 that I’d snared the most unsuitable mate in the world’s fifth largest economy. I mean, come on!)

After years of dates with Satan, men with eating disorders, mother issues, addictions, predilections, poor taste in music and hairy wens, the man who takes my breath away landed right in my lap. I hadn’t set out to find him. I wasn’t smart about it and I am not the most deserving by a long shot. I did pretty well on my own, truth be told. I liked the quiet. So what gives? Luck, my friends. Pure luck.

In fairness there were some really cool guys along the way, but for whatever reason either the timing was bad: “Will you wait for me until, a) I get out of the joint, b) my divorce is final, c) the drugs kick in?” or there was no chemistry. I wouldn’t say I gave up as much as I deferred the love search for some future time when I’d be even more aged and there’d be even fewer men from which to choose. And then it happened.

Two people in the same place at the same time—literally and figuratively. It was July 4, so the fireworks were more than a cheesy metaphor. He was funny, engaging, and really smart and I noticed him watching me when he didn’t think I was looking. Maybe these sound like normal things to you, but for me…I’m kind of a bull in a china shop when it comes to dating so trust me when I say it was pure luck that I was paying attention on this occasion. The chemistry was palpable; right beneath it, like a strong current in black water, luck was pulling me under.

There is a question I ponder every day: are there things we can do to increase luck?—the basic premise of Feng Shui and Charlotte Nightingale. I’m still in research mode so I do not have a definitive answer, but I have discovered a few strategies along the way.

1. Eyes open.

My grandma used to say you won’t find a penny on the floor if a bird poops on your face. I’m sure it was more lyrical in her native Czech, but what I think she was trying to tell me was that you need to be on the lookout for real treasure, not pie-in-the-sky dreams. What if luck was right there under your nose, for example, but you were too busy obsessing about having eaten a 2lb. Toblerone bar for lunch? (I’m sure in Czech that would also sound prettier, less gluttonesque.)

Put down your phone, book or chocolate bar and look around. Listen. Watch. Worst case scenario you will see some beautiful stuff and you might just find a lucky penny on the floor. On any given day it is also possible that sitting right next to you, inches away, is someone who could take your breath away (in a good way, not as in strangulation as a form of sex play, which leads me to #2).

2. Be specific.

If there is anything I’ve learned it is to be specific. My friend Ashami pointed this out in the wee hours after a big party at my house. As “Barry” skulked down the driveway with a lumpy pillowcase that looked like it might contain candlesticks and a Blu-Ray player, Ashami sipped her wine and said, “You really need to be more specific when you say you want a man.”

It’s not like I recently said ‘please bring me an incredibly sexy artist with a big brain, beautiful hands and a tender heart,” but when I did put it out there that I was open to at least chatting with Mr. Right, I asked the universe and goddesses to stop lobbing Barrys at me. That sort of specificity is the key to the whole operation.

3. Raise your standards.

In the search for a mate, whether we have been accused of being too picky or we have single girlfriends who’ve been labeled such, the reality is that we are not nearly picky enough. Traits and vices that we would never tolerate in a million years from a friend or even a family member somehow become “quirky” or “eccentric” in the host body of a man with a job and a perfunctory knowledge of the English language.

Conventional dating wisdom tells us that we will broaden our horizons if we lower our standards. It may be a mathematical equation, but it’s horseshit. There is nothing lonelier than being with the wrong person even if it is for the right reasons. Seriously. We have one life.

4. Be yourself.

I wasted a lot of time trying to be a version of myself that I thought men would find alluring. The mishaps were legion. I ended up attracting men who were so uninteresting to me that I’d have to sabotage things just to make a clean getaway, and what the hell kind of crap is that when I could have just stayed home and read?

I am not easy. I’m not a bargain. But at this point in my life what you see is what you get. Jeez, I wish I’d have been her years ago, because luck—that indefinable thing that carries to us treasure on a silver platter—only happens when we are our authentic selves, otherwise the universe and goddesses get confused and they send George Clooney to that Amal woman, who judging from everything I have seen has had her share, and more, of all the luck on earth.

Mates of any description do not complete us. Perhaps the thing about luck—really good luck—is that we are the prize, and they are the lucky ones.

 

visiut pam at huffpo

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Loving Me. Loving You.

 

Happy strong sporty woman hugging herself with natural emotional

It’s probably safe to say that most of us aspire to be loving creatures. We spend a lot of time figuring out how to love others, but everything we understand and know about love pretty much begins with how well we love…us. Wow. That’s a tough one for a lot of people, but what can we possibly know about loving someone else if we aren’t intimately familiar with the concept of loving ourselves?

We have stigmatized “loving thyself” with the fear that we will be labeled egomaniacal or narcissistic, but those are traits that describe humans who don’t so much love themselves as hold themselves to a lesser standard than they hold the rest of humanity.

A politician who espouses family values literally gets caught with his pants down in a public toilet in the company of a meth addict transsexual prostitute and he begs our forgiveness. (I’d find it comical if it weren’t so, so ironic that he asks to be pardoned for having sex with a drug dealer/hooker rather than for signing legislation that limits other people’s rights to have sex with whomever they please, marry whomever they love and use whichever bathroom matches their sexual identity.) But I digress.

We end up forgiving the scumbag because…why? He cried on television. We eat an extra piece of cake and can’t forgive ourselves. Sheesh.

As a nation we are on a mission to end bullying in schools and yet we bully ourselves every single day. I was loading groceries into my trunk earlier this week when a woman pulled into the spot beside me, got out of her car, dug around in her bag and then smacked herself, hard, across the forehead. You know me. I had to ask.

“I forgot my grocery list,” she explained, a red welt forming above her nose. “My kids will kill me if I get the wrong cereal.” I automatically despised her children and wanted to take the woman home with me—to pamper her and drink wine with her, but instead I suggested she not be so hard on herself and she tell her brats to get their own damn cereal. “They’re three and five,” she said, retreating into her car as I tried to hug her. I’m not sure how toddlers could kill an adult, but I still disliked them for making a perfectly lovely woman hit herself in the face. “Love yourself!” I shouted as she peeled out of the parking lot. (To self-soothe I gave myself a hug.)

I’ve consulted the pros about self love, you know, Oprah and Deepak, and they say identifying the sources of our inner pain—fear, anxiety, jealousy, stress, abuse, etc. and then learning how to let those things go is the key to truly loving ourselves. Bah. There, I said it. Bah! How about we identify the things that bring us joy and peace and we focus on those?

Do I love myself more when I’m zoomed in on my political anger or when I hug it out with an old friend? I can tell you that stress, anger and anxiety do not make me exactly lovable. In fact, I’ve been told in some circumstances that I actually have an evil face. There’s definitely a time and a place for dealing with our inner issues and learning how to get past them, but in terms of learning to love ourselves to the extent that we can better love others…nothing beats lightness, and joy.

Walking my dogs this morning I stumbled upon a small patch of wildflowers just off the road. When I got closer I saw they were abuzz with great big bumblebees. A little rabbit hopped out of the thicket and into the woods. The clouds were those big, dense white cotton balls that seem to explode off the blueness of the sky. My dogs were smiling. I was overcome with such joy that I wanted to cry.

I stood there, grateful for this moment on this day. I looked inward. I had nothing but love in my heart—love for other people, sure. But I felt good about myself because gratitude does that.

In that moment, had anyone seen me, I promise you they would have found me lovable, and for the rest of today I feel like I could wrap my arms around the whole world.

Maybe it’s too simple. I’m not a psychiatrist or self help guru. Hell, half the time I can’t find my ass with both hands. I am an astute observer however, which is the basis for building fictional characters who seem real. I look at people whom I consider extremely loving and they are always without exception very lovable. They hold their heads high. They take care of themselves. They love themselves. Then they go out into the world…and they love everybody else.

I wanna be that.

Please donate to the ASPCA Hurricane Response fund today. The animules need us!

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