Of boys and girls (good and rotten) and climbing trees.

tree

Quote by Pete Wentz, Fall Out Boy

I have seen this meme posted a bunch in the last week and I finally decided to say something. I understand what they are going for: if you are a “good” girl don’t worry if boys are not interested in you. The right one will do the hard work it takes to climb to the top of the tree for a “good” apple, I mean girl. How many ways are there to dislike this meme?  I think this meme sells both young women and young men short. It feels over simplistic and trite. It feeds into the notion that some girls are “good” and some are “rotten”, some are valuable and some are not. Their goodness to rottenness is presumably determined by how high on the tree a boy (boys are neither good nor rotten you should note just brave or not brave enough) In this meme a girl’s value or goodness is confirmed by the fact that most boys are too intimidated by her “goodness”, but the right, brave boy will risk everything to “climb the tree” to get her. (Whatever that means)

What a pile of horseshit.

So girls in this analogy are objects to be taken, rewards for bravery and either “good” and worth pursuing or “rotten and easy” rather than complex individuals who have worth and value whether or not they have made all the right choices. Interestingly the “rotten” girls are referred to as “easy”. Easy is often used to imply that a girl is sexually promiscuous i.e. damaged goods. Certainly not worth climbing a tree for. What about boys who are easy? Are they rotten or are they just doing what boys do? **eye roll**

[I find it fascinating that he chose to imply that the girls place themselves in one camp or the other by virtue of their choices and actions. And that those actions determine whether they are good apples or rotten apples. But in reality he is the one either placing girls at the top of the tree (the Madonnas) or on the ground (the whores) based on whether or not the boys will risk getting hurt and climbing the tree for them. The Madonna/Whore complex is a thing btw. It is when a man can no longer see a woman as a whole person. She is rather completely classified by her sexual status. In this rubric women are one or the other, either the non-sexual feminine ideal (the Madonna) or the oversexualized sensual woman (the whore). The man in this instance cannot love the whore because he finds her morally lacking even though he wants to sleep with her and he cannot be sexually attracted to the Madonna, because that would turn her into the whore. Thus, girls are no longer seen as complex whole persons but rather they are defined by how they are perceived by men. In sexual politics, this way of classifying women as either Madonnas or whores limits women’s sexual expression, offering two mutually exclusive ways to form their sexual identity. This is totally unhealthy for both men and women and when we teach it as a sanitized morality play to boys and girls we do them a huge and damaging disservice.]

Funny, he says the “good” girls just need to be patient and wait for a brave boy who is willing to climb the tree to the top for them. Forget about whether or not the girls they have judged as being “rotten” and “easy” are actually awesome too. Or whether or not the ones they have judged as “good” and worthy are actually either. “Good” girls he says should wait for a boy to give them validation and approval. Thanks, but no thanks. Instead, perhaps we should teach ALL the girls that they are not some boy’s prize for being brave and not slumming it with a “rotten” girl. They are not an object to be possessed. Their value is not determined by whether boys think they are “good” or “rotten” but rather on the fact that they bear the image of God him/herself. Perhaps we should teach the girls not to compare themselves to each other and judge one another. Perhaps we should teach the girls to love themselves and each other.

It matters little what decisions the boy in this story has made. He is neither good nor rotten in this story. He is either afraid of being hurt (And who can blame him “good” girls are SO much work. One must be brave. One must climb to the very top of the tree!) or he is super brave. That “good” girl should be so grateful that he was willing to work so hard to pick her from the tree. But perhaps the biggest problem with the boys in this little morality play is that they are all judgmental, narrow-minded little jerks who alone get to decide which girls are worthy and which girls are easy. Thank God not all men are like this.

The Yoke and If I Had a Hammer

A couple months ago I was approached by Fr. Larry Woodsmall about writing an article for his online quarterly publication called The Yoke.

The Yoke’s self-proclaimed mission is to:

1. proclaim good news to the poor.
2. proclaim freedom for the prisoners
3. recovery of sight for the blind,
4. set the oppressed free,
5. to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

As members of the YOKE, a trans-denominational organization, we are fortunate to worship with a variety of groups. One Sunday may be spent at a rural Conservative Mennonite church, the next at a Baptist church, then attend a Roman Catholic mass, a Lutheran service, Quaker meeting house, visit our Pentecostal friends, or conduct our own worship on Church Street in Iowa City.

We believe in one church, which is the body of Christ. But we also believe that “salt must maintain it’s saltiness” for each limb and organ to function as it is destined by the Father. We must recognize our commonality in Christ, while having the grace to not condemn for our human differences and failings.

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After getting to know Larry and reading about their vision for this publication, I agreed to contribute to the Spring 2015 issue. Here is an excerpt from my article, If I Had a Hammer:

A practical way we can tear down our dividing lines is by spending time with people who are different than we are in some way. When we spend time living life together, learning about each other and listening to each other’s stories, we discover all the things that connect us. We must lay aside our judgments and learn to love one another, forgive one another, and begin to realize that none of us has it all together. We are all connected and the sooner we realize that the better off we will all be.

I would be honored if you would slide on over to The Yoke and check out my article there. 

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 48,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 18 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Euthanasia: Life and Death in Ohio -or- Why is my grandmother shown less mercy than my pet?

FullSizeRender (3)That lady on the left is my beautiful, strong, independent, tough and loving Grandma, Doris Morr (the handsome guy on the right is my Grandpa but that is a story for another day). Once upon a time she was quite a force to be reckoned with. She took joy in the small things: homegrown vegetables, a good game of cards with friends, family gatherings and cookies for breakfast! She was amazing and generous and taught me a lot about life and living well. It was a priviledge to know her and to be loved by her.

So it pains me to tell you my lovelies, that as we sit here chatting, my Grandmother is slowly dying in hospice. Let’s be honest, she has been slowly dying for several years now. And my question to you is, how is this the humane or right thing to do? And please, don’t give me some platitude about playing God. We crossed that bridge a long freaking time ago when we started performing surgery and taking antibiotics. I mean, we transplant organs, install defibrillators on airplanes, and a million other things. Hell, we even purify our water, pasteurize our milk, and use refrigeration in our efforts to cheat death. Sorry, we decided to cheat death a long time ago. Why the hell do we have such a hard time cheating life just a little bit?

More to the point, why am I allowed to end the suffering of my beloved pet but not my much, much, MUCH more beloved Grandmother? Why must she continue to suffer when no one I know would make their pet suffer even half as much for a few days? My Grandmother has been suffering for years. And even as I sit here waiting on the news that she has passed, I am praying that it will come sooner rather than later. Honestly, I will find her death a not so merciful relief.  In the dictionary we define mercy as, “compassion shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to harm.” In her case, (and millions of others) rather than show compassion we have opted to continue doing her harm, day after day, month after month and year after year. Think about it, we think it is okay to stop giving her all medications besides those for pain. We think it is okay to stop giving her food and water. We will give her enough pain meds to keep her out of pain and in la-la land but not enough to end her pain for good. We will allow her to; nay, we will make sure she dies a slow (hopefully pain free) death, after having helped her to continue living for years in a miserable state. Why?

Why do we continue to deceive ourselves into thinking anyone wants to or needs to live this way? What kind of twisted logic must we use? Where is our humanity?

Listen, I do not and will not lay the blame for this on anyone; not the doctors, not the nurses, not hospice, not lawmakers, and certainly not the family. After all, no one besides the patient suffers like the family does in these situations. What I will do, however, is call on all of us to embrace mercy, compassion, and empathy. Put yourself in the shoes of my beloved Grandma, Doris Morr. Is that how you want to go out? Slowly starving to death after spending years in a nursing home unable to care for your own basic needs? I ask you again, is that how you want to go out? I sure as hell don’t. It is too late for my grandma, but for the love of she and all of our loved ones and even ourselves, can we please change the system? The one we have now sucks.

Why can’t Ferguson look more like my driveway?

bballWhy can’t the world of young men look less like Ferguson and more like the basketball game in my driveway? At this moment, my son who is as European American white as you can get is currently playing basketball with his friends: His black friends; His Hispanic friends; His Arabic friends; His white friends; Or as he likes to call them, “his friends”. There is no judgment on our makeshift court about your family, your culture or your looks. “Do you ball?” Is the only question that matters. No one is in any danger here except of maybe skinning a knee. This. What is happening in my driveway right now gives me hope for the future. Hope for Dr. King’s future where the streets of any city in the United States are as safe for any one of these boys as my driveway is today. Sadly this is far from what is true for most of the boys who are out there, on my driveway…right now. These beautiful boys do not possess the privilege my son does because he happened to be born a white man. They cannot feel as safe as he does walking down the streets of their own community. They are not afforded the same benefit of the doubt my son gets simply because of the skin that covers his bones. Many of the parents of these young men have already had to have “the talk” with them, and not the one about sex; the one about how to navigate the world as a man of color. This breaks my heart. These are good boys. They are every bit as deserving of safety as my son. But the world is not the same place for them as it is for my son. My friends, THIS. SHOULD. NOT. BE. Let’s do something to change it. We must if dare to call ourselves human.

Bruce Springsteen and the Veterans Day Shuffle

As you probably know this week marked the 96th observance of Veterans Day here in the United States. It was a day set aside by then President Wilson who said,

To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…

In more recent years “Armistice Day” was changed to Veterans Day, a day set aside to celebrate the service of all U.S. military veterans. This year HBO, Starbucks and Chase sponsored a concert on the National Mall to commemorate the occasion called The Concert for Valor. There were 10 acts scheduled to perform from various genres, including (the very american) Bruce Springsteen (incidentally, my husband’s all time favorite).

During his set, Bruce, accompanied by John Fogerty himself, Dave Grohl and Zac Brown sang the Fogerty classic, Fortunate Son, a well known Vietnam era song.  Do you hear that? It is the sound of all conservative hell breaking loose. Of course all the outraged conservatives took to the interwebz and the airwaves to begin accusing The Boss of being disrespectful, unpatriotic and downright anti-american. Which. Of course. Is nonsense. John Fogerty probably said it best when asked about the song choice.

“Years ago, an ultraconservative administration tried to paint anyone who questioned its policies as ‘un-American,'” he continues. “That same administration shamefully ignored and mistreated the soldiers returning from Vietnam. As a man who was drafted and served his country during those times, I have ultimate respect for the men and women who protect us today and demand that they receive the respect that they deserve.”

Unamerican? You don’t say. Sounds familiar.

In case you are unfamiliar with the pro-soldier, anti-war hymn, here are the lyrics:

Some folks are born made to wave the flag
Ooh, they’re red, white and blue
And when the band plays “Hail to the Chief”
Oh, they point the cannon at you, Lord

It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no Senator’s son
It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no fortunate one, no

Some folks are born silver spoon in hand
Lord, don’t they help themselves, oh
But when the tax men come to the door
Lord, the house look a like a rummage sale, yes

It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no millionaire’s son, no, no
It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no fortunate one, no

Yeah, some folks inherit star spangled eyes
Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord
And when you ask them, “How much should we give?”
Oh, they only answer, more, more, more, oh

It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no military son
It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no fortunate one

Shockingly, Bruce hardly caught any slack for singing Born in the USA which expresses essentially the same sentiment. In the words of Greil Marcus

Born in the U.S.A.” is about the refusal of the country to treat Vietnam veterans as something more than nonunion workers in an enterprise conducted off the books. It is about the debt the country owes to those who suffered the violation of the principles on which the country was founded, and by which it was justified itself ever since.” Given that the takehome message of the Concert for Valor was to not forget our veterans after they get back from combat — celebrity emcees spent much of their speeches pointing viewers to foundations aimed at employing and aiding vets here at home — “Born in the U.S.A.” is a perfect fit for the theme.

Now, this is where the fun actually begins ladies and gentlemen. These same ultraconservative government folks who are the first to decry songs like these decry them because they are the people the songs are about. Let’s have a little look see and find out the many times Republican lawmakers have stood squarely in opposition to the best interests of veterans. Some examples:

S.1982- Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014. The $21 billion legislation was supposed to improve health, education and other benefits for veterans. Instead, it failed to get the 60 votes needed to stop a threatened filibuster. That same month, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimated that “close to 200,000 veterans are among the 2 million unemployed workers who’ve lost access to federal jobless benefits since Congress allowed Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) to expire at the end of last year.

H.R. 466-Wounded Veteran Job Security Act: A bill that would have prevented employers from terminating veterans who were getting treatment for injuries suffered while fighting for our country.

H.R. 1168-Veterans Retraining Act: Would have helped veterans find jobs and provide training for them while they sought employment.  

H.R. 1171-Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Reauthorization: Would have helped homeless vets get back on their feet by providing temporary training for employment and programs to help them get off the streets.

H.R. 1172: No fancy name, would have just put a section on the VA website of schools currently offering scholarships for veterans.

H.R. 1293-Disabled Veterans Home Improvement and Structural Alteration Grant Increase Act of 2009: Would have helped those overcoming injuries sustained while fighting for our country improve their living conditions.

H.R. 1803-Veterans Business  Center Act: This would have set up centers veterans could have visited that would have helped them better plan our future employment and business opportunities.

H.R. 2352-Job Creation Through Entrepreneurship Act: A combination of other bills killed in Congress by Republicans—that was once again killed by Republicans in Congress. –

Honestly, I think Bruce hit the nail on the head with his song choice for Veterans Day. It seems to me that it is the Republicans who like to play the Veterans day shuffle. In the imortal words of the patriots Springsteen and Fogerty, “

Yeah, some folks inherit star spangled eyes.
Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord.
And when you ask them, “How much should we give?”
Oh, they only answer, more, more, more, oh