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Tansy_Gold's Journal
Tansy_Gold's Journal
November 11, 2012

Why I have no pity whatsoever for Mitt Romney. None.

Nor do I have any pity for Ann Romney, their five sons, Paul Ryan, his wife (whatever her name is), or any children they may (or may not) have.

I would like to say I do not wish them ill, but in a way I do. They lost the election and perhaps for some people that's enough karmic justice. It's not enough for me.

The cornerstone of American democracy is the belief that all people are created equal. Jefferson said it, Lincoln repeated it, and the steadily bending arc of justice brings us closer to making that belief a reality.

We know that however equal people may be at the moment of their creation -- whether that moment is defined as conception or birth -- their lives proceed in varying degrees of inequality. Some come into this world surrounded by wealth and power and unlimited opportunities. Others arrive to unending poverty and frustration and disappointment. The difference between someone like me and someone like Mitt Romney is that I believe that disparity is unnatural and wrong and should be alleviated as much as possible, while Mitt and his supporters see inequality as natural and normal and right.

All of their policies, all of their actions are in support not only of the existing inequality but also in expanding it. No matter what they say and no matter how loudly they say that they support equality, their actions speak far louder than their words.

So Mitt Romney has no concept of there being anything wrong with his hosting a victory party only for the wealthy supporters. To him, they are the only people who matter. They are equal to him, and that's the only equality that matters to him.

Anything that would mitigate the disparity between Mitt Romney's elite class and the have-nots is simply not permitted under the administration he would have led. Labor unions that promote fair and living wages, good benefits, a just and equitable sharing of the wealth produced by the workers are simply not acceptable. Collective bargaining interferes with the process of dis-equalizing the distribution of wealth. Universal health care -- not mandated insurance -- again levels the distinction between rich and poor and is just not acceptable. Public education, which has traditionally given even the poorest citizens an "equal" chance to advance, is anathema to the Romney camp.

They use phrases like "trickle down economics" and "job creation" to dupe their followers, but they do it knowing that the phrases are lies. For them, lying is perfectly all right as long as it furthers the objectives of maintaining inequality. Similarly, they preach "family values" while feeling perfectly free not to practice those values themselves. That's because along with double standard of economic inequality comes a double standard of social behavior and responsibility. When one of their own -- Mark Stanford, David Vitter, John Ensign, Arnold Schwarzenegger, John McCain -- falls from grace, there is no crucifixion. There may be complaints and criticism, but the double standard of morality applies right alongside the double standard of economic justice.

And they see absolutely nothing wrong with it. That's why they can't be shamed.

So how is that someone like Mitt Romney manages to collect as many votes as he did? If he has so little regard for people who are not like him, why do those people vote for him?

They vote for him and for other candidates like him, and they support the very policies that contribute to their own oppression, to the diminution of their own hopes and dreams and opportunities, because they are afraid. And more than anything else, they are afraid of change.

Because they have bought into the same belief that the world is and is supposed to be fundamentally unequal, they are afraid that any change will drop them into a less-equal status. Various forms of hope are dangled in front of them, everything from winning the lottery to inheriting a fabulous estate to making a killing in the stock market. None of these forms of hope, however, are actually attainable by their own efforts. They cling desperately to what little they may have and they hope to gain more through luck -- or the grace of their god -- but they do not see hard work and determination and equality of opportunity as viable roads to success.

How do they manage to hold these diametrically opposed notions in their heads at the same time? They do it because they are afraid not to. This is why so often they either become belligerent or enter into profound denial when confronted with facts, and especially when confronted with the fact of their own contradictory beliefs. The right wing mantra is that people should work, not expect hand-outs, but they also promote the belief that the true road to wealth is paved with unearned gold. It can't be both.

That's why I have no pity for Mitt Romney. I am deeply grateful that he lost. I loathe him as I loathe Sarah Palin and George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and Todd Akin and Joe Walsh and all the other right wing fanatics who lie and prey upon other people's fears. They are parasites, they are cancers on the social fabric. They earned their defeat, and I can only hope that they learn something from it. But I have no faith that they will. For it is in their own best interest not to learn, and they will always put their own best interest ahead of anyone else's. No one else, you see, matters.

February 1, 2012

May the goddess bless Barbara Ehrenreich

And before her, Molly Ivins.

Almost a year ago, with the encouragement of a number of friends, I joined my local Curves fitness center. I knew at the time that the founder was anti-choice, but I justified my membership by the many good things the local franchise does to help women in the community. I took out only the minimum membership.

Today, when I went in, there was a huge pink blanket hung on the wall, made by one of the "girls" and being raffled to raise funds for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. I got a really sick feeling in my stomach.

Now, reading this thread, I did a little more research on Curves and I found this:


"Neither Curves International Inc. nor my wife, nor I gave money to Operation Save America or any other radical pro-life group," (Curves Founder CEO Gary) Heavin said in a statement. "The newspaper flat out got it wrong."

The born-again Christian from Waco, Texas, did give many hundreds of thousands of dollars to clinics and centers that offer health care to women while working to dissuade them from terminating unwanted pregnancies. He writes generous checks to centers stressing abstinence-only programs for teens. And he withdrew his funding of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and its Race for the Cure because the foundation supports Planned Parenthood, which he strongly opposes.

"I'm not afraid to tell the truth," Heavin told Today's Christian magazine. "There's nothing healthy about abortion."

I am legally commited to Curves for another month, but that is the end. I will turn my monthly membership into a donation to PP.

You just don't support women part of the way. You support them all the way, or it's the same as not at all.

Tansy Gold
January 21, 2012

I am far from irrational. Cursing does not equate to irrationality.

You have been suggesting throughout your posts that "deviants" who force others, including wives, girlfriends, or even strangers, into having sex ought to be made examples of. Unfortunately, we don't have a justice system in place to handle most of those cases should they be brought to court. And we certainly don't have a prison system large enough to contain all the convicted perps, assuming any would actually be convicted.

Until the 1978 Oregon case of Greta and John Rideout, there was virtually no such legal thing as spousal rape. The cultural and legal understanding was that marriage gave the husband not only exclusive sexual rights to his wife but that he could exercise those rights at any time with or without her expressed consent. Similar to the laws of implied consent that come with a driver's license -- if you're asked to take a blood alcohol test, you can't say you didn't consent, because you've implied your consent when you accept the license -- the marriage license was considered the woman's permanent and irrevocable consent to sex, whenever, however, wherever her husband wanted it. She no longer had ownership of her own body; it belonged to her husband.

I don't know when you were born, Zalatrix, but I was married in 1969. My children were born in 1976 and 1977. I was raised and married in a time and in a culture when spousal sexual rights had the force of law. Because most such laws are set by states rather than the federal government, in the wake of the Rideout case, more states began to pass laws regarding marital rape, and one such debate produced the quote from an outraged California assemblyman, "If we can't rape our wives, who can we rape?" (Variously attributed to British politicians as well; I have the original reference somewhere in my notes but I'm not going to look for it now.) The point is that even into the 1990s, some states still prohibited charges of rape within a marriage.

What's moral and what's reprehensible may not be distinctions under the law, and when the law is on one side, it's pretty damn difficult for the other side to fight back. Not impossible, but still difficult.

The Rideout case ended in acquittal for John because, as one juror said, they didn't know who to believe and therefore there was reasonable doubt. Even with laws in place prohibiting marital rape, how does one prosecute? If it's not forcible rape that leaves bruises or other physical evidence of force (which can be explained away anyway) and there are no witnesses, what jury will convict? How does one present evidence of coercion?

Have you ever read the story of Charlotte and John Fedders? Raised a devout Catholic and trained as a nurse, Charlotte wanted nothing more than to be a devoted wife and mother, raising lots and lots of Catholic children. She married John Fedders, who eventually would become chief enforcement officer with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He made a lot of money and he kept her in a very nice home and put their six boys in Catholic school and belonged to the country club and presented a public face of utmost respectability. But he was violently abusive, and Charlotte, raised to believe the external trappings of success were incompatible with his behavior -- successful men didn't behave like that, only poor trashy folks did -- denied his abuse for years. She had internalized all the propaganda.

Francine Hughes and her husband Mickey might have fit Charlotte's image of trashy people. Mickey was so abusive that Francine killed him by setting fire to the bed he was sleeping in; her account "The Burning Bed" was turned into the TV movie that brought the late Farrah Fawcett an Emmy nomination. How long ago did Francine kill Mickey? 1977. Just about that same time that John Rideout was (allegedly) raping his wife Greta. And not too long after that, the big pop culture event was the rape-followed-by-the-wedding of Luke and Laura on the soap opera General Hospital. Rape morphed into seduction morphed into love. So which was it?

Is it any wonder women like Charlotte Fedders were confused? She knew John was violently abusive. He'd kicked her down a flight of stairs and caused her to miscarry. He'd broken her ribs. Unlike Francine Hughes, Charlotte had resources -- not the least of which was professional training that would have enabled her to earn a living independent of John -- but she was also receiving all these conflicting cultural messages.

Read Susan Douglas' "Where the Girls Are" to get some idea of the mixed messages sent to girls in the 1960s and 1970s. Watch Jean Kilbourne's videos on the media's images of women in teh 70s and 80s and 90s and 2000s. Understand that both men and women, beginning before puberty, are bombarded with these images and messages.

Now I'm going to throw another cultural bombshell into this mix -- the 1972 publication of the blockbuster historical romance novel "The Flame and the Flower" by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. "Gone With the Wind" had had another theatrical release in 1967 and would make its TV debut in 1976; whether that TV release was in response to the by-then explosion of paperback original romance novels, I don't know, but I do know that rape-as-romance had become a cultural phenomenon. Regardless whether you like or loathe them, historical romances of the 1970s were -- and remain -- a major industry and cultural influence, and the debate over whether it's rape or forced seduction or romance or whatever continues.

And what's the most "romantic" scene in "Gone with the Wind"? Why it's when Rhett hauls Scarlett up those stairs and has his wicked way with her against her will and then she's purrin' like a kitten the next morning. Rape as romance.

Of course it's fantasy. We all know it's fantasy. We all know that's not "real" rape. But as Helen Hazen would write in 1983, "I would like to be raped, but I want it to happen to me exactly as it happened to (the heroine) in (a romance novel).” The debate, often heated, continues with the romance-reading and -writing community. And not all the readers of romances or the viewers of soap operas or the fans of "reality" shows are as savvy as those of us here on DU. The vast majority of the population IS influenced by these cultural products. Their mindsets and even their morals are informed by the messages they receive from pop culture.

While all this was going on, in the 1970s and 1980s, laws were changing, to be sure. Rape shield laws went into effect, supposedly preventing a rape victim's sexual past being used to discredit her accusations. Marital rape became a crime. But the culture hadn't changed. The New Bedford gang rape of Cheryl Araujo occurred in 1983. "The Accused," a fictionalized account based on the New Bedford rape, earned Jodie Foster an Oscar in 1988. In 1989, a group of high school atheletes in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, brutally raped a mentally challenged girl with a broomstick, and were defended by locals who accused the girl of being promiscuous.

84% of rapists -- not "potential" rapists but guys who have done the deed -- do not believe what they did was "really" rape. They don't see themselves as rapists, because rapists are deviants. Real rapists are like convicted child molester Richard Hurles, who was probably so brain-damaged by the violent abuse he suffered at the hands of his father that he didn't really have much of a clue what he was doing was wrong. Not long after his release on parole he sexually assaulted and murdered Kay Blanton, librarian of the Buckeye, Arizona, Public Library. Hurles is a "deviant." Ted Bundy was a "deviant." The men and boys in Cleveland, Texas who gang raped an 11-year-old girl in 2010 were not, in the opinion of many residents of the small, poor Texas town, deviants; instead, they blamed the girl, for dressing too provocatively and looking older than she really was. "Our Guys" in Glen Ridge, NJ, were not "deviants."

We all know it's wrong to drink and drive. We know there are laws against drunk driving, driving under the infuence, driving while impaired. Many of us know the severe penalties for being caught; an acquaintance of mine is currently facing about $12,000 in fines, court costs, impound fees, and lawyer's fees because of DUI. He's not an alcoholic, with a physical inability to control his consumption. He just thought that since the bar was only about a mile from his home, he could drive that short a distance without an accident. Well, he didn't have an accident, but he was driving so slow he caught the attention of a patrolling police officer. The point is, however, that popular culture encourages drinking. The various warnings to drink responsibly are not as pleasure-inducing as the commercials with the skimpily clad girls.

Which is precisely why so many anti-rape campaigns have failed in the past. They aren't as sexy -- pardon the really bad pun -- as a rape-as-romance novel or Clark Gable carrying a kicking and screaming Vivien Leigh up the staircase or Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan or whoever the latest pop twit is sprawled undie-less in the paparazzi's camera lens. Women and women's sexuality becomes a joke, and the women become dehumanized.

So the MyStrength project targets young couples, but it doesn't say anything about casual hook-ups or dating before commitment. It doesn't address the pervasive culture that's already in place. There are no PSAs during the NFL play-offs that say "NO means NO." (We will, however, get commercials from Randall Terry about the evils of abortion, and we all know that the anti-abortion is also anti-woman, and it defends the rights of rapists to own and control the bodies of their victims, while denying the rights of the victims to owenrship and control of their bodies.) Just as the passage of civil rights legislation in the 1950s and 1960s hasn't done way with bigotry and prejudice and de facto segregation, anti-rape legislation and projects have not addressed the culture. It's still securely in place, and vociferously defended by those who have a vested interest in it.

Men who pressure their wives or girlfriends into having sex don't think they're doing anything wrong. She doesn't feel good, she has a head ache, the kids wore her out, her job sucks, so what? All he wants is a little lovin' and she's his wife so he nags and touches and she shoves his hand away and he puts it right back and he's insistent and after all she's his wife and. . . . most men don't consider that rape. Persuasion maybe, or persistence, but not rape.

Not all men, of course. Some read the signals and are respectful enough and don't even try. But others have internalized the popular culture. Like the guy in my AJS 305 class, they figure they're entitled. They're just taking what belongs to them, no big deal. She doesn't have to enjoy it if she doesn't want to, but he spent money on her after all, and what's a woman for if not. . . .

So how do we go about changing the culture? First of all, by admitting that it exists, that it's very powerful, and that it is ABOUT power. Understand that every time there's a commercial or a magazine ad that shows a woman being victimized, it sends a message. Don't be silent when you see it -- start a dialogue. Afraid you'll be laughed at? Is that the worst that can happen? Is it more important that you NOT be laughed at than that you make an effort to change the message being sent to men and women about sexual and bodily integrity?

Start by recognizing that ANYONE can be a rapist. Just because he's gay or he's got a good job or he comes from nice people and went to a good school -- none of those qualities prevents him from also being a guy who thinks he's entitled to sex on demand and is capable of coercing or pressuring his partner into delivering.

Start by stopping with blaming the victim. Regardless what she wore or how much she drank or who she was with or what she did before with him or with other guys, the guy chose to assault her against her wishes or without her consent.

Start by stopping with equating rape to deviant behavior. Understand that non-consensual sex is culturally, if not overtly, condoned and encouraged. Learn to look for and be aware of examples of this.

Start by examining your own behavior. Even if you insist you never have and never would commit rape, do you do other things that support a rape culture? Do you laugh at lokes that demean women? Do you evaluate women foremost on their physical attributes? Do you summarily dismiss women's assessments of their situations because your experience is different?

That's what it's going to take: teaching, and learning, cultural awareness, so that the messages are no longer effective. I never said it would be easy or quick, any more than overcoming racism was accomplished with the Brown decision.

Susan Brownmiller wrote "Against Our Will" in 1975; Susan Faludi's "Backlash" came out in 1991. The greater backlash continues two more decades on. This is a battle that has been going on for a long time. We shouldn't have to be still fighting it, but the problem still exists, and the fight must continue. That it has to continue here, in a forum where we're all supposed to be enlightened and reasonably progressive, is particularly discouraging. But it's better to continue fighting than to give in.

December 17, 2011

Why I'm putting up a holiday tree this year.

The economy is in the toilet. We know that. Many of us also believe that there will be no "saving" of the economy until it is destroyed. Those of us who are old enough to remember the war in Vietnam -- or who have taken the time to learn anything about it -- know that "destroying the village to save it" is just one of many sad artifacts of that disaster.

What's different about the current sentiment, however, is that we who somewhat impatiently await the collapse of the economy know that there is no way to save it in its current incarnation. It must be destroyed, and replaced with something else. We are under no illusions as to the potential consequences, and we speak with no sarcasm.

The last time I put up the tree in the house was 2004, when my husband was still alive. A couple of years ago I put it up in my studio, but there were no presents to go under it and it seemed a bit forlorn on the one hand and mocking on the other. So when the whole holiday season was over, I packed away the ornaments and the lights and took the tree apart and put it back i storage in the shop.

My personal economy has not changed much since then. I've paid off all my debts save the eternal education loan, and my income covers my immediate needs. I manage to save a little bit here and there, usually to have an emergency take a chunk out of what little cushion I've accumulated. But I'm okay for now. For now.

My kids, their spouses, and the two grandsons are on opposite ends of the country, my son's family in Seattle, my daughter's in New Jersey. I will not see them for the holidays. The rest of my family is in the midwest; I will not see them either.

So why put up the tree?

Because I refuse to give up.

Regardless what truth lies behind our celebration myths at the winter solstice, the fact remains that as a species we are able to look backward into the past and forward into the future with an uncanny ability to both understand and ignore the negative prognosis. Those who say -- Hotler! -- I have no hope, I see no future, still go forth each day with a tiny bit of hope that there will be some evidence that the future will be better. Better than what? Who knows? The past? The present?

Does it matter?

The days grow shorter -- here in the northern hemisphere where our most familiar myths originated -- and we can only trust that what we have seen in the past, the recurring cycle of lengthening days and resurrecting life, will continue. We know that one cycle has ended; we trust that a new one will begin.

We've recently had a wedding among our little group, and is there anything more hopeful than a wedding? There have been new babies born, and puppies taken in from the storm (literal and/or figurative), and homes purchased. Even though we know there are horrible things going on out there, even though we wonder if we can afford whatever it is that 2012 and 2013 and 2014, ad infinitum, hold for us, we go on anyway.

So tonight I'm going to put up the tree, not in the studio but in the little "family room" by the window that faces the vacant house next door. It's my toast to The Ancestors who didn't flinch from the cold nights and frozen fields, who learned somehow or other to make plans so they could survive the months when the trees did not bear fruit and the flocks could not find forage. To The Ancestors who passed along their knowledge -- and some of their fears, too -- so that future generations they would never know would find survival maybe just a little bit easier. It's also, this year, my way of thumbing my nose at those whose actions, if not their words, have brought about the catastrophe we see.

I will not let them win.

Fuck you, Wall Street.
Fuck you, Ben Bernanke.
Fuck you, Angelo Mozilo and Joe Cassano and Jon Corzine and Bernie Madoff and Tim Geithner and all the rest of you greedy pigs. (And yes, that includes my personal and much despised acquaintances "W" and "L" to whom money is everything)
Fuck you, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates and Charles and David Koch.
Fuck you, Scott Walker and Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and John Boehner.
Fuck you, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry.
Fuck you, Herman Cain and John McCain and Sarah Palin and Karl Rove.

I will put up my "Made in USA" tree, purchased before the heirs of Sam Walton became so greedy that they lost all memory that they shared this planet with others. I will string lights, some of which are so old they might have been made in the US before so many jobs were shipped to China. I will hang my old ornaments, many of them hand made by myself and friends and family members. And I will buy nothing new, because my tree needs nothing new. I will not consume for the sake of consumption.

But neither will I give up hope. I just flat out refuse.


February 17, 2012

Excuse me? EXCUSE ME?

You think we're all sitting on our fat little asses doing NOTHING? Saying NOTHING?

Did you look at the picture on the front page where the women have been shoved to the background while the men testify as experts?

What do you want us to do that we aren't already doing? Walk into the halls of congress and start shooting people???

Shall I post for your benefit some of the threads over the past several years where DUers have tried to advocate for women only to be shouted down by the defenders of "fathers'" rights, including the right not to pay child support and the right to hold yay or nay power over the woman who wants to abort?

Your post, Mr. Scorpio, is a brazen insult to the many women -- and men -- who have been fighting daily for years and decades.

Tansy Gold, who still fights

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