Posts Tagged ‘Scary’
When someone is desperate, they go to extremes. It’s a psychological survival tactic. Like when someone first hears a cancer diagnosis, and they pray to God, promising they’ll do anything if only the cancer would go away.
In both the individual and society, desperation is driven by fear. And fear and low self esteem make up the root system of discrimination. There are millions of Americans who were already fearful enough in their lives to have become discriminatory of gender, race and sexual orientation; and now those fears have been sharpened into a knife of hatred by our vulnerable economy.
If what someone has been relying on to feel better about themselves is a belief that they’re better than women, African Americans and homosexuals, what does that person do when their world turns upside down and an African American becomes their President? And women continue to want control over their reproductive rights? And gays want to live without bias?
Their desperation is driven outward into society.
When Republican leaders incite further fear in communities with these beliefs systems by inaccurately labeling Obama as totalitarian, as recently occurred for example with Rep. Nunes, they take great risks.
Consider the dynamic of the Weimar Republic. When people feel as though they are lesser, they crave a sense of belonging and leadership — at almost any cost. All they want is relief from whatever they feel is causing their oppression, and if they’re offered a sense of belonging in hatred and racism by leaders, their fear is legitimized and gains momentum.
When this happens, moderates must step in to help more rational heads prevail. They must offer leadership that’s driven by a desire to transform hate into a more productive force for both the individual and society.
Those who govern can promote healing or hate. It’s the psychological difference between pouring water or gasoline on a fire, and sometimes, these psychological fires become sociopolitical ones capable of extinguishing moderation.
Moderates: take care not to be complicit in having your party, as you once knew it, pulled out from under you. The hatred you’re helping foment won’t have an expiration date. It will be capable of lasting far beyond your short-term political use of it, and you may end up with bigger tea stains on the fabric of your country than you’re prepared for.
This is not for you if you’re one of those people who thinks about the upcoming holidays with your family and considers how very lucky you are to have each other.
This is for the people who think of the holidays with their families and consider opiates.
Just thinking about stories from my practice over the years, or from the women in my study, or my friends lives, they combine to form a stark landscape. No wonder so many of us find it hard to survive in it. There’s a lot of bad stuff out there behind the sheen of holiday joy and togetherness: physical, sexual and emotional abuse, cruelty, betrayal, neglect, humiliation, manipulation, undermining, withholding…
Many of us spend a good portion of our lives trying to effect the change we long for in our families, hoping that one day things will click and healthy love will be conveyed. And sometimes, it happens. But if we’ve gotten to the point where, despite our efforts, it feels like year after year we’re pouring our hope into a colander, those are feelings we need to respect.
The loss involved in unfastening ourselves from the fantasy of the family we may never have can be intense. But it may be worth it if we look over our lives to date. Step back and evaluate.
If we’ve tried over time to find resolution to whatever the tension is and our family won’t collaborate with us in getting there, or if our suffering consistently outweighs moments of harmony, we may want to detach either temporarily or permanently.
One of the most painful parts of feeling emotionally apart from our families is the sense of being alone in the world, especially during the holiday season when it seems like everyone else is caught up in the celebration of it all. But I can offer this assurance: you’re not alone. There’s a community of millions of others who feel similarly, whether they show it or choose to hide it.
If the healing we need can’t come from inside our families, then it’s more hopeful to put our time and energy into cultivating relationships elsewhere.
So if your fantasy of your family can’t be realized, create a new one for yourself. Fantasize about the kind of people you’d love to spend holiday time with, then try to build it out and actualize it. Bring new people into your life and deepen any existing relationships you want to. Contribute to the intimacies you choose rather than the ones you were born into.
Take love where you find it, love those who earn it, and build a family of friends you’d be happy to have pass you the gravy.
So let’s say it’s a random weekday morning and you’re getting ready for your day while the morning news is on. Your ears perk up when you hear a story on the “Top Ten Companies” to work for if you’re a mother or pregnant; and you think to yourself, “This is good news — how far we’ve come.”
You may think you’re awake, but not awake enough.
The realities lurking behind the myth that we live in a post-feminist society are exposed by historian Barbara Berg with eloquence, fine research and heartfelt passion in her new book, Sexism in America: Alive, Well, and Ruining Our Future.
Sexism exists in obvious forms, but she highlights how it also thrives underground. Taking the example above, for working women considering maternity leave, sexism stays alive in the subtext. Women are still being fired for getting pregnant, and getting demoted when they return from maternity leave.
“…Employees know they’re viewed as not serious enough if they take advantage of these policies” states one executive recruiter, a stance Berg backs up with personal stories of women who were demoted or lost their jobs after taking the leave they were guaranteed by their employers. “All over the country women report similar scenarios, and many of the offenders were among the thirty companies routinely designated by Working Mother magazine as the country’s “Best Companies to Work For.’”
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The statistics and stories of reproductive rights and health care are a chilling embarrassment to our country. I can’t get the story of Regina McKnight out of my head:
“In May 2001 [in South Carolina], as McKnight grieved over the stillborn death of her third daughter, Mercedes, I’m sure she didn’t imagine she’d end up in prison. But she was soon put on trial for the death of her baby. After deliberating for fifteen minutes the jury reached a verdict. McKnight, a homeless, seasonal tobacco-farm worker with a tenth-grade education [in classes for the mentally impaired] and no criminal record, addicted to drugs after her mother was run over by a truck and killed, became the first woman in America convicted of murder for using cocaine while pregnant. She was sentenced to twenty years imprisonment, reduced to twelve.”
Despite outcries of support for Ms. McKnight from highly regarded medical, public health and reproductive health professionals and organizations, the Supreme Court refused to review the case.
How can this exist in a post-feminist society, Berg asks?
Although she examines affluent and middle class women and girls, Sexism in America is especially admirable for her attention to the populations that truly need their voices amplified: the working poor; the unemployed poor; the completely marginalized women in prison; and, the most innocent of all, impoverished children on our own soil.
Her analysis covers the years under Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II as well as the beginning of the Obama administration. She tracks the effective organizing power of the extreme Right and explores post 9/11 fear and its effect on how we view gender roles. Violence against women and popular culture’s portrayals of women (which overlap in ways more gruesome than you might imagine) and many other topics — some regarding what our girls are exposed to — are brought into focus as they relate to the future for women and girls. And in her conclusion, she offers pages of resources and suggestions for women who want to be a part of this national dialogue toward equal rights, ranging from running for office to receiving email petition alerts.
Like Backlash, Sexism in America will galvanize us, but it’s an easier read and will appeal to more women because Berg writes with an ease that makes you feel as if you’re engaged in a discussion with her. I almost felt the presence of other women while reading her — as if I were part of a larger group, all of us dropping our jaws together.
It’s a tribute to her that in spite of all the madness she reveals I didn’t feel defeated. I felt energized. And eager to be a part of this third wave of feminism.