I never know whether the tiger in my tank causes me to rant and rave inappropriately because I am a self sabotaging whining kvetcher who can’t hold her tongue and control her mouth, or if I am really unleashing the honest stuff about what I am seeing in front of me. You be the judge. Or better yet, DON’T JUDGE! JUST LISTEN! Or in this case, read. Of course, you know damn well, at least those of you (all five of you or whatever) who are “fans” (I use the term loosely) of this site, that this is my M.O. anyway–the whining, kvetching bitch that lets it out. On the other hand, what have we done to women in our culture for God’s sake? If I were a guy complaining about life and the state of affairs: political, personal, cultural, whatever, you would probably call me an advocate or a journalist or something. Or a “whistle blower.” I mean, are we referring to Congressional analyst Mike Lofgren who just appeared on Bill Moyers and wrote a devastating essay about the deep state, which I highly recommend you all read ASAP. (Link is below:) or are we talking about Tiger Woman, who isn’t nerdy or a policy wonk or a numbers cruncher?
A man, a congressional analyst, and admittedly someone who has been, until now, a policy wonk who crunched facts and numbers behind the scenes. An introspective dude who was more than likely not prone to ranting and raving about anything, he carefully investigated and then paced his allegations in a circumspect and rational way so that his credibility would not be tarnished with what we often refer to in women (and men these days as well) as uncontrolled “emotionalism” Whatever that is. Tantamount to Freud accusing women with active and passion-lit libidos as “nymphomaniacs.” Haven’t the female of this species had it up to here with false accusations about our behavior if we don’t act, talk, look and sound like men? I am a feminist of the feminine persuasion–meaning, I got big boobs, I am curvy, I had 3 kids and loved nursing them all, I was barefoot and pregnant for many years and celebrated it; at the same time I went out and conceived kids without fathers–I was an intentional unmarried mother and not ashamed of it either. I do feel badly that my kids did not have another parent (male or female) to step in and help things along, but we had a kind of village around us that included their grandfather and a bunch of other people so it wasn’t completely isolated by any means. Anyway, back to the present. The bottom line is a feminist who adores being a girl. Which brings me to that wonderful Rodgers and Hammerstein song from one of their few collaborations that totally tanked, Flower Drum Song. Here’s the great Nancy Kwan giving me the background theme of my life: (my early life, that is):
Now, let’s face it. Nancy was beautiful and very American. She was irresistible, charming and this song is SO TOTALLY RETRO it’s hilarious! THROWBACK TIME FOR SURE! But there is some kind of wink, wink nudge nudge about it, too, a kind of irony, that although she protests against men whistling at her she secretly likes it just the same. I wonder if all women feel this way–even if the more militant of our feminist bunch would NEVER be caught dead admitting it. Or if you are gay, than having the admiring glance of another woman? We all want to be thought beautiful sexy and viable to someone and I dare any woman on this planet to totally say otherwise. But here was Nancy Kwan, representing an Asian girl who was the hip, modern young generation of Asians facing parents from the old country–in this case their parents from China who immigrated to San Francisco.
To expand on this, Rodgers and Hammerstein did not shy away from racial themes. Hammerstein was, after all, a Jew during times when anti-semitism was a huge issue. These days it’s gone underground, but never fear, when shit hits the fan, all manner of racial crap will float to the surface and I am sure anti-semitism will be part of the sewage. In the meantime, (I am getting to main gist of this post in a minute or two) I face african americans who accuse me of being paternalistic, racist and a privileged white girl with immunity to life’s vicissitudes. That’s how my parents raised me, for sure, that’s what they wanted for me and my sister, but that’s not how my life turned out, and the poverty and suffering I have been through over the course of my years on earth have taught me that the illusion of entitlement does nothing to prepare you for what can happen to a life on earth, nor does it help you at all if you are a rebel against the social structure or the societal expectations and demands, or if, for whatever reasons (I would call it karma) you are simply called out to speak for fairness and against injustice.
No one likes a person like that! But they like you even less if you happen to be a white woman. So if you readers feel that whining about being a poor white women in this day of political correctness is not acceptable, why click off this page! I am not interested in being politically correct–I am interested in being truthful. African Americans in this country are now on a self-righteous bandwagon of injured woundedness that they claim gives them entitlement to hate and feel vindictive and to complain constantly about the unfairness of life. And most of the time I agree with them! We have a terrible history in this country and the racial bias and profiling that is going on now is absolutely inexcusable and reprehensible! That DOES NOT, however, mean that a white person, say a woman of 65, fr’instance, without a male to give her credibility or a corporate job or any job for that matter, without money of her own and zero ownership in the Capitalist ownership fantasy has also not got a right to shout for better conditions! We need better conditions for everybody! This should not be a racial or gender issue, this should be a human issue. The Dalai Lama is forever exhorting people to look at the unity of the human condition; to see this as a humanist challenge, but we are forever separating into factions that war against each other. It just seems to me that if we are looking for human fairness and justice, that ought we not ask the question: aren’t we all on the same side? Or as the Buddhists say, we are all in the same boat. Really.
So I see this as me slipping onto dangerous ground right here. I found myself on that ground after I got lectured last night by a young African American man that the reason I cannot condone suicide as a viable act of protest in a dangerous and volatile world is because I am not black, I have not experienced racial prejudice based on my skin color, I have not been profiled and reviled because of this, I have not come from a history of enslavement and torture and ill-treatment of my people. The discussion came out in the Socialist Alternative group that I am now not a member of. I was only a member for a month anyway but they took my $20 membership fee –non refundable.
We had a “meeting” at an old Union hall, 37 S. Ashland Road in Chicago, which is quite famous for the mural that lines the walls as you walk in. It is home of the United Electrical Workers in Chicago, located on the near West side. The building has fallen into terrible disrepair and looks to be basically coming down piece by piece. As you walk into the cavernous front entrance you get a feeling that whatever happened here was a long time ago and the life and vitality of those movements has gone elsewhere or vanished completely. I think this is sad, but I also see it as a sign of the times. Whether this is the “fault” of the Capitalist “regime” as these young socialists like to refer to it, or it is because we do all of our business online through digital devices, who knows? The young people that I mostly associate with would find this place depressing and I did too. We climbed up numerous stairs to a tiny meeting room where the ceiling was falling down and there were tables and chairs haphazardly placed, filled with debris, garbage, flyers, books and all manner of junk. The impression was of disorganized chaos and low self esteem. That, too, was depressing. Not much can get done in an environment that screams self hatred at you!
I won’t go into the details of the discussion, but there were two older people there who I would have liked to get to know, but I probably will not do so at this time. They are both members of said Union and kept quiet during most of the discussion which was led by the leader who courted me over several weeks once I joined the Socialist Alternative online in a moment and flurry of idealism after watching the video of Kshama Sawant in response to President Obama’s state of the union address. I post it below:
This intelligent and savvy woman got my attention and I impulsively joined the organization with all kinds of ego-driven fantasies about becoming the first woman president of the United States. Yes, I know. Please do not chastise me on this fantasy..we all have our moments. Next thing I knew, the leader of our local Socialist Alternative group, which has about 8 members, started calling me and courting me and even taking me to lunch several times. I was flattered because I am a lonely Buddhist meditator who has the social life of a gnat. However, last evening’s meeting cured me of both my fantasies and my dreams that we can change social events from the outside in. We cannot. As Ghandi said, we must become the change we want to see in the world. Change is essentially, to my mind, an inside job and it involved the understanding that world peace truly does begin within. If individuals on this earth plane are not peaceful inside of themselves, if we carry unresolved baggage and all sorts of unrecognized subliminal fields of chaos, we cannot possibly hope to see anything but that disorder reflected in the outer world! As above so below! As inside, so outside! Simplistic but so true.
I don’t want a bunch of pushy males telling me what I ought to think and then fucking pulling the race or religion card to justify their statements. I may not fit with the socialist trajectory and I am fine with that admission, but I do know I’ve been called to teach and to leadership and I need to find the right venue. This group is not the right venue. Being told that suicide is a valid act of protest pretty much stretches my limits. What if the leader’s son told him that he was planning to off himself as an act of protest? How do you feel about it now, Mr. Socialist Alternative? I liken this to Dylan Farrow, Woody Allen’s molested daughter, asking the Hollywood assholes who sat by and did nothing , how they would feel if it were their child that he molested! When things hit close to home suddenly the M.O. changes.
In addition to all this, the leader, who was an intake social worker for Department of Human Services here in Chicago and, at 60, has a nice fat pension to prove it, sarcastically informed me on the way to the meeting that his job was to deny benefits, food stamps and welfare, to people who came to his little cubicle! How wonderful, say I to myself as I finger my SNAP card in my wallet. Thank God he wasn’t MY social worker or I wouldn’t have the much-needed $180/month food stamps I now use. This didn’t turn me on as I realized the raging hypocrisy one meets in all sorts of life’s venues, socialistic ones included. During the meeting, our leader, who I will name S, made repeated attempts to curb my statements or my ability to comment on other people’s statements, who underhandedly made nasty references about “the ruling class” and “uninformed members” referring to statements I was making to the group. I was soundly put down for my stance on the Ukraine and called a “capitalist” because I want them to have free elections and leave Russian rule, because their stance is that the EU is a Capitalist organization which will enslave them through the capitalist alternative which is just as bad as Putin’s regime. Which may be true, who knows? S lectured me about my simplistic approach by presenting the Dialectic that we see in our world, but I did not invent the Dialectic–it’s part of the human brain to simplify conflict into opposing forces. More on that later. However, in the course of a two-hour evening which felt more like six, S’s technique was basically to muzzle me, curb me and ultimately silence me. I found this sexist, insulting and reprehensible. The two older workers, one a woman with some intelligence and insight, didn’t seem to mind that S spent a great deal of time sneering at me sarcastically during the meeting in order to control my output–(the typical male thing that happens when women stand up to paternal, patriarchal power), because she probably didn’t give a rip. She and I did a bathroom run and I briefly mentioned to her that I thought S was over the top in his surreptitious, half-concealed, subtextual put downs directed at me, she said, “well, just ignore that, he’s very intelligent, you can learn a lot from him.” Yeah right. Like how NOT to show up in this world!
At any rate, off me and 3 men go to the local bar for a beer, (in my case 2 glasses of wine), whereupon one young man informed us he was doing a Masters in the history of religion specializing in Occultism and Wiccan. At the University of Chicago no less! A great big OY on this one! Oh Lord, just my area of expertise–I spent 25 years studying Occult groups and philosophy though ultimately did not stay with them because of the whole black magic thing which really repelled me. I’ve studied Theosophy and ancient religions and Celtic and Druid religion, The Rosicrucians, Madam Blavatsky, G. de Purucker, Annie Besant, Native American beliefs which I still study and incorporate to this day, Judaism, Christianity (20 years, in depth) and Buddhism. In essence, as an autodidact, I am a lifelong student of religion. I tested this guy with a few questions and he hedged and hemmed and hawed and basically played this game of Socratic technique and turned questions back to me. I finally tried to change the subject off of religion (I mean, come on–a largely self-proclaimed atheist group talking religion?) when I realized this young man was a cynic and a very defensive asshole who I really didn’t want to have any conversation with, but I was stuck! There were 4 of us at the table, me the only woman! The other two were engaged in some dialogue about whatever. I told this young man about my 2 years experience teaching at Westwood college. I saw him listening intently with what appeared to be interest. I was hoping we could spark a conversation about education, education reform and other issues related to teaching. Instead he interrupted me mid-sentence and said, declaratively: “Do you always talk at people in conversation?” I guess I wasn’t aware I was talking “at” him but rather sharing experience, but I will concede his relative immaturity and idiocy meant that he felt intimidated by my experience. This had the effect of cold water thrown in my face and I was speechless for a moment–which was exactly what he wanted–in essence, he told me to “shut up.” I actually apologized to him and he got this smug look on face his face and said “thank you for apologizing.” Double Oy.
So, along with S trying to muzzle me during the meeting, this fellow telling me to shut up, and then to top it all the young black man lecturing me about suicide, I began to see a pattern here. If I were willing to be sweet, soft and quiet, you know, the old white-haired ghost that doesn’t know anything, they would’ve loved me! Or if I had been 28 and adorable they probably would have let me talk! But that old caveat, that I talk too much and I interrupt the men and I make declarative statements, and I am too “aggressive..”?Haven’t we heard this all before? Just another sexist ploy to shut the woman up.
I am done with the Socialist Alternative. On the way home in the car I let S really have it. I haven’t yelled like that at a man since I was married 300 years ago! Wow! It felt good! I’m sorry–that is SO un-Buddhist of me! I let him know that the whole evening was a bunch of males piling on with their sexist, ageist crap. I also let him know that suicide is the worst solution to any problem! It’s a long term final solution to a short term problem! Come on! S then said you should have said this in the group and I told him I couldn’t get a word in edgewise between Mr. Religion and Mr. Black who seemed to think that lecturing in a soft tone of voice made them right! Plus Mr. Black (not his name) informed me that unless my ancestors were slaves he wouldn’t listen to anything I had to say! And I kept on repeating over and over that “life is precious” and because of that I also got time is precious and I informed S, who was my ride home, that it was time for me to leave the group.
During the meeting, by the way, S spontaneously told this story about how as a grown man his Welsh mother hit him on the back of his head and it woke him up and made him go take a long walk to process it. I mentioned this in the car on the way home and he exploded and said I didn’t know a damn thing about his mother, and how dare I bring that up because she was mentally ill and a totally crazy women. And I informed him that I had a feeling I understood what she was trying to tell him–like sometimes you need to get hit upside the head to wake up~! He told me he would not go any further with this and would not be working on this issue, to which I replied “you’re right and that’s why I am not going further in working with you.” Who in hell was I to bring this up? he exploded! Because YOU told the story, I said to him, so you are begging for some insight here! Of course he wouldn’t understand intuitive insight if it slapped him in the face. And, as I am nothing if not an intuitive, I kind of did slap him in the face with it. I won’t apologize for that. The whole ride home was one of those explosive scenes that I will probably be thinking about for the rest of my life. My friend asked me later in our deconstruction session, “did he take it?” meaning, did he take the explosion? And I said yes he did! Which leads me to understand two things, 1) that deep down S respected me and understood the truth of what I was saying, though he would never allow himself to admit this, and 2) he liked me. Perhaps it was a romantic thing. But as he is married there was a tiger inside of me nudging me to blow this shit up. I cannot have a thing with a married man at this stage of my spiritual journey. At least it showed that, indeed, there are some interesting intelligent men out there that may find me attractive and I need to attract one that is available and who loves Tiger Woman.
Which all leads to my throwing the brochures and crap on the floor of his ancient red VW van and declaring that I am quitting the group and need to move on.
Afterwards I had a few second thoughts but not many. After all, this was an opportunity to socialize and meet people–am I not a misanthropic curmudgeon complaining about loneliness all the time? But then what kind of socializing is it if you are with people who treat you like a 2nd class citizen? Because you are woman for God’s sake? Because you are over 60 and not sexy and cute? So I asked myself, Honesty or Self Sabotage?
I think a little of both.
THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD