The most accessible analogy for the toxicity currently plaguing our nation is an abusive relationship. For the people who spend decades wondering “How did X society let X issue get that bad?” one need look no further than the dynamics of abusive relationships. “Why does so-and-so stay?”
In hindsight, it’s easy to understand. Nobody is outwardly abusive in the beginning. Hitler, Jim Jones, and the rest were not militaristic, overtly violent people during their ascension. Like a charming date, people fall (hard) for the person who meets their needs and makes them feel special. History criticizes those unable to see the subtle ropes that gradually ensnare every aspect of the victim’s life, those who ignore the severity of their situation until those ropes are used to hang them. We profess “Never Again,” and demand to remember exactly how it got this bad in order to ensure it never reoccurs.
And then we forget. Nostalgia filters out the unpleasant and we romanticize “good old days.” Excuses and justifications are made. We forget how different the forest looks when one walks among the trees.
In the early stages, the praise drowns out any voiced concerns. “Quit whining, you’re just sour grapes!” Enthusiasm and reverence, cultivated over months of promised bliss, meet the challenge of any apprehension. “He’ll drain the swamp—you’ll see!” “You just don’t know them the way I do!” The more outsiders express disdain, the more appealing our newfound champion becomes. “We’re going to be great again!” “You don’t understand; they love me!”
Continue reading “Whether exerted over a relationship or a nation, tyranny manifests in remarkably similar ways.”
I am deeply interested in the Civil War. I consume a lot of documentaries and historical books. I portray a Union soldier as a sometime-re-enactor. I have toured six of the national battlefields so far, and one of my ancestors was wounded at Gettysburg (on the third day, my guess during the artillery barrage before Pickett’s Charge). I am interested.
It’s fantastic to find other people to discuss this important and pivotal time in American—and world—history. Stories about heroic bravery, dumb luck and masterful strategy abound; personal details and anecdotes preserved in diaries and letters connect us to the nearly three million people who fought—and the more than 500,000 who died—in the largest bloodbath our nation has ever seen.
So I was surprised as the national conversation emanated from the horrific violence in Virginia—since the white supremacists were in town to preserve a statue of Robert E. Lee, this was a teaching moment about the actual history of most Confederate monuments with national potential. It seemed like people were becoming more interested in discussing the War, and its implications regarding Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Movement, and even Black Lives Matter.
Yet as it turns out, most people apparently don’t care about the actual War, or about how those monuments actually got there.
Continue reading “Another thinkpiece on Rebel Monuments”
If you know me, you know what I do for a living. If you don’t know me: I do outreach and education for the regional rape crisis program.
This time of year is our Superbowl, Oscars, and New Year’s Eve put together. The often-thankless field of victim advocacy has an annual moment to take the spotlight, along with the real reason we all do this job: not for applause, but the survivors and families that we support, and for the paradigm shift we can impress upon the community.
That paradigm shift is important: to prevent sexual assault—actually stop it from happening, not make sure someone else is victimized—society needs to acknowledge the unhealthy norms that provide a foundation that can green-light assaults. Comments like “you can grab ‘em by the pussy” being sidelined as “harmless, locker-room talk” sends a message that, because of the situation or the speaker’s level of fame/authority/POWER, attitudes like that are okay. As I’ve already discussed, behaviors and attitudes are indicative of beliefs and values, and an attitude like that speaks volumes about that person’s values.
Continue reading “Before I start the workweek tomorrow, I gotta set this down somewhere.”
As you might (or might not) have noticed, it’s been a while since my last post. Like everyone else, I have been overwhelmed with the bombardment of breaking news and political explosions, exhausting everyone’s ability to deal with the current political climate with the numerous and egregious violations of the law, human decency, and common sense.
In the meantime, I’ve been doing what’s admittedly not often a priority for me—self-care; devoting time to coping with stress. I think activists and general “helpers” are consistently so busy assisting others that they neglect themselves—at least until they’re exhausted, have a breakdown or get sick. So I’ve gotten better at tapping into what my gut is telling me, and then listening to it. Continue reading “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
If you really are pro-life, then I assume you support everyone’s life—including the lives of black people; the lives of gay men, lesbians, and bisexual people; the life of a Syrian refugee child; the life of a transwoman or transman.
If you truly are pro-life…that means you’re interested in ways to support people through some of the most difficult moments in their lives—whether it was an intended pregnancy with a precipitous medical condition; a non-consensual experience; or despite all efforts to use effective contraception, that little plus sign appeared. These are not moments that happen blithely, as folks in business suits discuss talking points across a conference table. Pregnancies—both intended and unintended—are in the unsanitized realm of life—the messy, sometimes bloody, ooey-gooey part of our existence. And in those moments, people need support and compassion more than ever. Continue reading “My pro-life post”
Full disclosure: this post is both the longest and the most spontaneous I’ve done so far, after an exhilarating stay in the nation’s capitol—both to observe the Inaugural landscape and to attend the Women’s March on Washington. Hopefully that explains the excitable, rambling syntax.
Continue reading “My Week in Washington”
My family is full of strong, successful women. They are teachers, mothers, counselors, translators, researchers, wives, social workers, and change makers. They are brilliant, passionate, stubborn and protective. Growing up amidst their example and stewardship contributed to who I am today.
My maternal grandmother and aunt took my sisters (one younger, one older) and I on a multitude of excursions as children. These trips exposed us to the many possibilities and viewpoints outside of the small town we lived in. When I was around ten years old, we visited Seneca Falls for the first time. Continue reading “Throughout her life, Stanton’s father would say, “I wish you were a boy.””