Saturday, July 18, 2015

I don’t give a rip about Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby is all over the news. You can read the transcripts of his court testimony from 2005. You can read that his wife believes the victims willingly took drugs and had sex with her husband, and that she’s made her peace with that. You can read about the petition to take away his presidential medal of freedom, and how it probably won’t happen.You can read a hundred different dissections on how this has killed his career.

You can read about Cosby all day, every day, whether you want to or not, because it’s in your face.

Personally, I’m tired of it. This amalgamation of newsworthy angles on the topic as seen through the lens of entitlement. Cosby this. Cosby that.

Do you know what I want to read about?

The women.

The forty women who have come forward to report that they were raped by Cosby. The god-knows-how-many more who have yet to come forward, or who will take their silence to the grave because they don’t want to be publicly crucified, or who have perhaps already died and will never bear witness. That, I care about.

I want to know how the experience has affected them. And not just in the obvious ways we are all accustomed to hearing from rape victims: the physical and emotional scars, the self-recrimination, the shame, the PTSD.

I want to read about the stuff beneath that. How many years of therapy did it take to reach a point where they could even date again? Did they stop trusting their ability to make good decisions? What might their careers have been if they hadn’t had that kick to their confidence? How did it affect what they taught their children, both explicitly and in the hundred silent ways they modeled a defensive stance against an untrustworthy world?

How did it affect their health ten or twenty years later? Are they experiencing back problems, pelvic pain, depression, anxiety, reflux, migraines, sleep disorders, heart disease, cancer? How many days of work have they missed as a result of all of it? How much money have they lost? How many years have been shaved off their expected life spans?

And beneath that still, on a level they may not even be able to articulate, do they understand that this was not about sex, but about power? That it happened, in part, because their power was intimidating and confronting to a man, who responded by trying to crush it?

And in the years that followed, as they began to straighten out their crimped souls, breathe deeply again, even voice their stories out loud, did they still carry with them a visceral memory of that equation: that their power causes fear, and fear causes retaliation?

How many years did they walk around with their power center closed up tight like a flower bud, because what good is your own power if it slays you? And did they continue on in their lives, allowing themselves to experience just enough of that life-giving energy to take some tentative steps forward, but not enough to attract too much attention?

If they are introspective enough to recognize that they have responded to this violent betrayal by dimming their own light, will they blame themselves and not the catch-22 conditions of a social structure designed to ensure that exact outcome?

Maybe, just maybe, a day will come and one of them will decide, fuck it, I’m going to stand up tall and put all my gifts on display. Let my power rip. Belt out my song even if I’m pilloried for it. Because what good is a life half-lived? Maybe people will rail against her because they value their own fantasy more than they value the pain of an anonymous woman. But by then perhaps she won’t care. She’s high on her own truth.

So yeah, Bill Cosby. I don't care how he’s dealing with this. He is simply one of thousands upon thousands who have chosen to use their power and privilege to harm another in an attempt to fill a void within themselves. He is just another sorry-assed cliché.

But the women? They have some pretty phenomenal stories to tell.

I'm just sitting here, with half the planet, waiting to hear their songs.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

No, I don't need to respect your opinion
Since the landmark SCOTUS vote for marriage equality there have been a lot of emotional exchanges on social media. Some of it has gotten ugly. I've also seen several pleas for tolerance of differing opinions, and specifically for respecting the deeply held religious beliefs of others.

While I’m all for both tolerance and freedom of expression, I found myself bristling at some of these peacemaking requests.

At its heart, it’s because I’m uncomfortable with the underlying premise that this is merely a debate about personal beliefs.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A litter of nursing kittens

Look what I have under my roof at the moment. Pretty adorable, aren't they? Yes, I'm a foster mama again. These kittens are about two weeks old.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Should you think twice before telling your story?

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If you had asked me when I was younger what sort of activity I would find most fulfilling, I would have never said: “Sharing really personal information on the internet, yo.” Even today I’m a bit surprised how quickly my writing edged over into the intimate, and how much satisfaction it provided. Humanoids…we’re so unpredictable.

I’m not alone in this, as there are a number of bloggers who write very openly about their lives. Telling our stories publicly can be a little scary. The world is full of lions and tigers and judgement and internet trolls. Such candor is probably best left for the intrepid and the blissfully naïve. But if your story is about domestic violence, there may be another really good reason to remain quiet: safety.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

All the places I've called home

I grew up in California in a house that sat atop a hill. Tall grass and scrub oak blanketed the surrounding hills. The home buzzed with life. Two kids running hither and yon, a dog and a cat and a bird and various pocket pets that never seemed to stay around for long. The house was alive with joy and energy. The sun shone bright overhead and my heart soaked it all in. I lived there until I was thirteen, at which point my parents divorced. I moved out with my mom and not long afterward, the house on the hill was packed up and sold.

Next was a series of rented apartments that felt like way stations. My mom drifted from place to place, trying on new versions of herself, and I tagged along behind her. This went on until I was on the cusp of adulthood. I learned to hold my breath, to not put down roots. It was a lesson in the impermanence of life.


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