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.