NOBODY LIKES A BULLY: The loneliness of the would be leader of the free world

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How can no one at the G20 want to talk to President Donald Trump?  I tell you, he STILL gets NO RESPECT!  Why bother to try to talk to him.  He doesn’t listen.  He cannot and will not evaluate himself or others.

I would have thought that this picture would have outraged him.  It catches him “down” and not on, not performing for the camera.  Alas, pay no attention to that man there; he is only an “act”, a performance, a con man delivering his schtick; he is empty and without consequence.  No matter how much power he accumulates, he never feels like he is in charge and on top — and he never will.

A leader is someone of substance.  The Donald is all smoke and mirrors.  Inevitably there is no one there.  No positive life force — no moral compass — no integrity and no curiosity and intelligence.  Unless he thinks someone is watching, he is not there.

How could the American electorate be so vulnerable to this con man?

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CAN ONE LEARN TO LOVE THE ARTS?

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For most of my career I was involved in arts education. As a drama educator I taught children creative dramatics; I studied with several leaders in this field, and eventually I helped create a program for young people at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.

Arts advocacy was a part of my life. Conferences and retreats, lobbying federal, state and national politicians for arts funding and speaking at community events about the importance of the arts was part of my life. And, I never questioned the axiom that the arts are important. On the other hand, I never felt that I really converted anyone with talk and graphs and what have you.

Experiencing and appreciating the arts is intrinsic to the human experience — man meets and examines his image. We believe that artistic impulses and creativity are intrinsic, but are they also learned behavior? Do we learn how to listen to music and drama or appreciate a fine painting, or are we just BORN THIS WAY. Nurture or a Nature?

And why is the History of the United States so full of responses to the arts that blow hot and cold — acceptance and rejection. Why is it always a hot potato, a lightning rod of public political opinion?

My life has been a circle of enlightment – obscession – advocacy and now despair for the arts in our lives. Americans are unique in their distrust of the artistic. Most claim it descends from our Puritan heritage — Nothing Frivolous! What is it for? What will it do? Participating in and creating the arts is ephemeral, non- linear,too much fun, certainly not necessary.

For years arts educators have been trying to justify the arts in a public school curiculum by trying to develop and measure the contributions of the arts for children — to quantify what one really gets out of the arts. Of course, this is VERY SUBJECTIVE.

So is there any answer to getting the great unwashed to appreciate, nay even demand the arts in their lives? No one answer, I believe, but many answers.

Children who grow up to go to the symphony tend to be kids who were taken to the symphony by their family and are also kids who learned to play an instrument
People who appreciate the plastic arts usually have some experiences of going to see art in museums and galeries and in making art as they grew up.
Actors came to drama through the written word or through experience with improv and dancers came through movement and yes improvisation.

The key is familiarity. We are more comfortable with what we know. Where we may all possess the impulse to create, the appreciation and the doing is learned behavior. It is like reading. If you were read to and taken to the library; if your children saw you read — they will likely become readers.

So then, arts education is not just k-12; it is multi-generational. It does require an open mind and the ability to understand divergent thinking, but then shouldn’t all education require this?

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The arts are where man meets his image and contemplates his place in the universe. The arts bring us joy and reflection and greatly enhance the quality of life. Oh, if only we could all get to this place! I despair, but then I see a play or hear a piece of music and my heart is lifted and I have hope.

THE PUSSY HATS OF THE WOMEN’S MARCH What the hell is wrong here?

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Aren’t we Cute?

We recently witnessed a movement that is just plain pathetic. Millions of women and a few men have protested Donald Trump’s election with demonstrations whose trademark was the Pink Pussy Hat. HUH?

This failure to take women’s minds seriously, by large numbers of women who seem happy to confirm the most demeaning feminine stereotypes, is truly mind-boggling. The “inventors” nee promoters of this lame piece of apparell call it a “strong visual statement”. You bet. But what is it saying?

Although I realize  that these hats are meant to be ironic, their use as a symbol is reinforcing the same crap about women that has been spouted for millennia — women are other and are defined by their biology and hormones is misguided.  It is another acceptance of the old mansplaining admonition — “Don’t you worry your pretty little head about this, honey. It is just too difficult for you.”

If we want equality, shouldn’t we jetison this kind of thinking? If we want equality why must we turn every real, honest protest into something cute and tied to crafts? So many women who couldn’t make it to any march felt connected because they knited pink pussy hats for the marchers. Really? How about getting these women involved in truly meaningful ways, like voting and putting pressure on legislatures. Feel connected with your brain and your voice, not your knitting.

Of course, I am anti-crafts. Mostly because I have very little skill with my hands, but also because these activities scream “women’s work”. Yes, I know some men knit, but women’s reliance on busy work with their hands has been the hallmark of misplaced power. Women’s work is never done because so much of it is make work and silly stuff.

I like buying decorative items for my home and by body as much as the next woman, but dear god, it doesn’t define me. My intellect and my beliefs are what define me. My voice should be heard as much as any other person.

Then too, the Pussy Hats look like little cats with ears, but also are pink and suggestive of a woman’s labia. Perhaps it is time to drop the vagina as a protest symbol. Women aren’t supposed to be speaking to themselves in these protests. We are Way past raising awareness — or should be. Women are demanding power equal to men not because we have vaginas but because it does not matter that we have vaginas.

This anatomical focus erases women’s experience. Women are a caste within society, not because they are the owners of a particular body part. The vast majority of women do indeed have vaginas, but they aren’t preoccupied by that fact day to day. Vagina possession doesn’t explain why Mary voices an idea in a meeting but the boss listens only when Jim repeats it. When Kate does the dishes again, it isn’t because Bob’s genitalia prevented him from loading the dishwasher. It certainly is not a reason to pay women 80% of what men earn.

Yes, reproduction and child-care-related issues, not to mention sexual assault and domestic abuse, disproportionately affect women, and often involve women’s genitals. But even the women’s issues with some relationship to female anatomy aren’t really about vaginas.

We want to be seen as more than possessing vaginas. Our personhood is equal to all others. Don’t see me as a pussy — Donald don’t grab us by the pussy! It is degrading at the very least.
And yet – across the National Mall a sea of pink pussy hats takes the guts out of a massive and important demonstration.

The tyrany of madison avenue and the obscession with branding and logos no doubt is part of what brought this on. And sorry to say that women after years of prom planning and sorority rush and wedding decor don’t seem to get going on a project unless they know what the decor is. I recall my days in non-profit fundraising where the volunteers would spend countless womanhours working on the centerpieces and neglect the necessary task of the fundraising banquet — selling tickets. No butts in seats = no funds raised. The decor/centerpieces are not the important element of a successful fundraiser.

Please remember the medium is a big part of the message. I don’t think those of us demanding female rights in the 70’s would have thought the Pussy Hats were cute. But then, of course, we had to burn our bras and treat all the guys to a little skin. All this gets attention – but what kind of attention?

Women’s equality is a deadly serious business. Many men today want to reverse the strides made by the women’s movement and take us back to the days of asking our husbands for everything from money to control of our own bodies. They want to own our bodies and aren’t even willing to give us appropriate health care.

Time to get really angry — not time to get cute!

I was delighted to see that the Pussy Hats are marked down at the Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale – yes these symbols are mass produced. Maybe a few others figured out how frivolous a statement a knitted Pussy Hat makes about one-half the population denied equality.

I Certainly Hope So!

WE SHOULD HAVE SEEN IT COMING — Women and the Election of Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s election to President of the United States has many demographic lessons that we need to learn.  But I think many, seemingly liberated women were blindsided by the number of their “sisters” who publicly criticized Trump but knew they would and DID  vote for him.

Women who read Romance novels and the most popular recently – 50 Shades of Gray and The Twilight Series  – BDSM and Vampires – are probably not wanting equality.  Those minimally educated (a Bachelor’s in something but I can’t remember exactly what, or a lot less), sweet, white girls 20’s – 30’s and their Moms who have made scrapbooking a zillion dollar faux creative industry are not about to accept the responsibility for freedom of choice.

They would rather let Daddy or Hubby tell them about those nasty political things.   And worry not, if I need an abortion, I’m sure I can get a quiet D & C from my family Dr.  No need for public programs here.  Besides I love babies and a few more will be fun.

The air heads won this election.  Air head women seem to always win with cleavage and giggles and short cheerleader skirts.  Some really savy women – like the foxes on FOX — manage to use all their assets, brains and subservience to get ahead.

I was raised without a father or even a father figure.  My dad died when I was 5.  I bemoaned this fact and whined about it in therapy for many years.  I thought that if I had had a big strong father who protected me, I would have been free to accomplish everything.  But really what happened was I did not learn to defer to a male authority figure.  Little did I know that never having that mythical safety net, I had learned to soar on my own.  Personal responsibility  equals personal freedom.

Poor Hillary Clinton, a work horse of a politician, a forgiving and loving wife and mother, a serious person who cares about the course of history.  All those girls from high school and college who said she was a nerd and a wonk got her but good!  How dare you not punish Bill for his infidelities!  How dare you call me deplorable (figured it out after looking it up).  Hillary wants to make everyone’s lives better – better health care- better work opportunities – better education – more money through less middle class taxes.  She has many specific ways she wants to do this.  She really is a dedicated public servant.

Trump is a blow-hard and not even a real politician.  He is a philanderer and denigrates women.  He is dishonest about his business dealings.  He’s a bully with major overtones of racism and sexism.  He wants to Make America Great Again.  No specifics.  He just does .  And this seems more real to the populace than all the policies of Clinton.  Pie-in-the-Sky grandiose beats practical and detailed every time.

Women didn’t get the vote in the United States until 1920.  We thought ice would have a female president after almost 100 years.  Guess we were wrong.  We underestimated our own power – AGAIN.  Really, we threw our power away.  AGAIN.

My heart breaks for lost opportunities.  When my daughter asked for a quote to tell her posse of girls she has known since middle school (They seem to think of me as always having something pithy to say.)  I said “Well, since I’m age 70, I guess I won’t mind dying so much if this is what I will miss.”

I still have hopes that I will see real change for women and see real women change.  Throw off the chains of patriarchy and join all humanity in equality and responsibility.  Democracy demands this of all women — of all persons.

The women of ancient Greece had it right. Aristophanes in Lysistrata had insight into the gender wars in 411 BC.  No grabbing of pussy or getting any pussy at all unless you treat us — all of us — with respect.  His play was a comedy; time to get real girls!!