Kids These Days, I Might Have Given Seamus a Concussion and White Male Cluelessness

First, the cat…After 13 years together, I really don’t mind if Cami takes long trips to see her family and she doesn’t care if I do the same. It’s not that I don’t miss her, but I appreciate having several days of uninterrupted space. I know she feels the exact same way; that’s fine. But there is one thing I do mind: having to feed Seamus when he demands breakfast at 5 am, give or take, day in, day out.

He’s spoiled fucking rotten, I get that, but he’s not changing so I give in because he won’t let me sleep otherwise.  Sometimes I go back to bed, sometimes not. A week of this qualifies as a sleep disorder. The four-legged alarm clock has a variety of methods that range from knocking glasses of water off the night table to gently tapping his paw on my cheek. Last Monday morning, day ten, he tried to get me up by rubbing his face into mine, but I must have been really knocked out because I lurched up and his head smashed into my jaw. I think I fed him, went back to sleep and then kind of forgot about it but a day later I noticed my jaw was swollen and sore, and I remembered. Then I became concerned that our midair, middle of the night collision might have jiggled his walnut-sized brain and given him a concussion. One of his eyes was a little closed for a couple of days, like Bill Hader, but his voracious appetite was intact so let’s get to more pressing matters….

See what I mean about the Bill Hader eye?

Men mansplaining about sexism...Being that it’s March, officially Women’s History Month, I’m going to come out and say what a lot of people I know are thinking. When it comes to discussions about racism and sexism in the United States, white men really need to, in the words of Archie Bunker, stifle themselves.

Yes, that means you Mark Meadows, David Brooks and the person I had a ‘discussion’ with a week ago about the lack of women he’s employed at his place of business and the misogynistic behavior of some of his friends. To be fair, I’ve met a lot of white men who get this, but I’m astonished by how many do not. The gentleman I just mentioned is actually one of the more evolved white males (outside of vineyard work the wine industry is overwhelmingly white) I’ve come across in my field yet when I challenged him, he interrupted and lectured me for a solid five minutes. I found out yesterday from a mutual friend that he felt attacked, interesting because, as said, he did most of the talking. Many other women say that when they’ve called men out for their sexism, they too have been turned into the perpetrator with the poor guy becoming the victim. Why is it that men cannot handle hearing the truth from women about their and other men’s lack of awareness, even if it comes in straight forward language and with a no bullshit tone? When it comes to discrimination there is no need to mince words.

Trashing other men who’ve been busted for sexual harassment doesn’t make men allies. You know what would make a statement? I wish one man I know professionally would take stock of the ways in which he’s not only benefited from but also perpetuated white male privilege, listen to those who’ve been hurt by it, and just say, “Yes, I have a lot to learn. Where do we begin?” And stop defending your buddies who’ve done shitty things. While sexual harassment should be called out, so should not hiring or promoting women, bullying and spreading pernicious lies about women who’ve called them on their shit, and the myriad of other ways that misogyny pervades our society. When we start to see men getting this, I and others would be more open to including them in the conversation, so long as they are willing to step back and listen. 

On to David Brooks. Talk about clueless. Here’s what DB had to say the other day.“The left offers the idea of Social Justice. The left tells stories of oppression. The story of America is the story of class, racial and gender oppression. The mission now is to rise up and destroy the systems of oppression. This, too, is an electric idea. The problem with today’s left-wing and right-wing ideas is that they are both based on a scarcity mind-set. They are based upon us/them, friend/enemy, politics is war, life is conflict. They are both based on the fantasy that the other half of America can be conquered, and when it disappears, we can get everything we want.”

Ok, let’s stop there. Today’s left wants equity, and those who are privileged are going to have to give some things up, but that doesn’t mean they will become the new oppressed. The left believes that rectifying income inequality is a win-win for everyone, including those who currently benefit from white male privilege. His simplification and misunderstanding of the left’s position leaves me to think he is not really hearing those who have been most oppressed by white supremacy and the patriarchy. I get some of his concerns; unchallenged dogmatism can have ugly consequences no matter where it’s coming from. Yet the center he champions is really just a rehashing of the status quo, which has not served women and people of color well.

Furthermore, Brooks begins this column by saying, “Ideas drive history. But not just any ideas, magnetic ideas. Ideas so charismatic that people devote their lives to them.” And yet he fails to mention one such idea that allowed the United States to prosper: slavery/white supremacy. He talks about “four affections that bind our society,” through the rose tinted glasses of a white man who has benefited from a system of “moderation.” When it comes to “our love for our children,” childcare and education are mandatory parts of the conversation. When he says, “We are bound to our society by our work,” there should be an asterisk for *glass ceiling. He cites our “affection for place,” yet many Americans can barely afford to live in their communities. His final platitude, that “we are bound by our shared love of humanity” can hardly be said about the bigots who helped put Trump in the White House, roughly 25% of the electorate. Many of us value these things but don’t look upon them as affections as they are rife with conflicting messages and fertile ground for hidden agendas.

Moving along, instead of talking about Mark Meadows, I’d rather just point y’ll to this op-ed which praises Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as well as Jackie Spier and Katie Hill, who asked substantive questions during Michael Cohen’s testimony to Congress on Wednesday. Forget about the Republicans on the committee, I expected nothing but the heinous complicity they displayed. Except for Elijah Cummings, I felt that most of the other Democrats asked a lot of pointless questions and wasted a bunch of time. But not AOC, Jackie Spier, Katie Hill or Rashida Tlaib.

Which brings me to Kids These Days. Every so often I get a craving for an oat milk mushroom latte from Fox & Lion, just to get my morning going. Yesterday, I decided to treat myself and often, when they’re not too busy, I’ll get to chatting with Xan, the owner. I don’t remember why this came up, maybe because I’ve been reading about women over 50, and how we are the happiest demographic in the country, but we started talking a bit about the change in mindset that happens to many when they reach the mid-century mark. Some of my friends have embraced the grumpy old man or woman identity. I also see others rapidly turning into cognitive retirees, not feeling they have that much more to contribute to the world. But many, and I put myself in this group, have a whole new lease on life, one that is informed by five decades of living. Since Xan is a few years shy of the big birthday, I mentioned one thing that has really made me feel energized and good about aging: the promise of the future. 

If we think about climate change and the spread of authoritarian governments and right-wing regimes throughout the world, it might be tempting to say, “Fuck it, we’re doomed.” Yet when I hear about the Oakland school children who confronted the patronizing dinosaur that is Diane Feinstein, I’m encouraged. From Parkland to the Sunrise Movement, American youths are taking the future into their own hands. 

People my age and older need to realize that younger generations are not the enemy and we should stop hating on Millennials. Sure, I’ve come across entitled, lazy 20 and 30 somethings but no doubt Baby Boomers had their words for Gen X. Every generation has its share of bottom feeders and superheroes. What I think might make today’s kids different is that they are painfully aware of how much of their world and future has been screwed up by us elders and they’re not willing to wait their turn to assume power. Good for them. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez isn’t old enough to run for Senate let alone President, but she’s caused more waves than anyone in the Democratic Party over the last year. History may evolve in incremental steps, but people need to blaze the trail, and we all stand to benefit from youthful impatience. 

So yeah, that’s it. Is anyone else getting tired of all this rain?