What's Her Problem?

Getting mad does more good than getting depressed or feeling helpless.

Getting mad does more good than getting depressed or feeling helpless.

Here’s another timely book. Add it to your list. Righteous tenacity is needed, and it requires our being Good and Mad, the title of Rebecca Traister’s just released book, subtitled The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger. Rebecca had a conversation with Amanda Marcotte, who writes for Salon, though I saw this in Reader Supported News. Traister took on Orrin Hatch, the Republican Senator from Utah, who when women shouted at him as he got on the elevator, after the Kavanaugh vote, he brushed them away with a wave.

“Grow up,” he said—and I personally felt like grabbing him in a headlock, and taking him down, all the way to the basement.

For Traister his most infuriating phrase was: “We shouldn’t have to put up with this.”

He said this to fellow Senators when a woman who demonstrated at the Affordable Care Act vote, shouted that she would die if they canceled the ACA. He called her a loudmouth. He preferred she die quietly.

Traister observed, “Now, he said the exact same thing three weeks later talking to reporters in the senate building about these accusations being made against his Supreme Court candidate, and he said, ‘We shouldn't have to put up with this.’ That sums it up for me.”

That's it. That's stripped of its window dressing. We, the men in power. Me, Orrin Hatch — who has had the same goddamn seat on the Senate Judiciary committee since 1991 when I treated Anita Hill like shit — we shouldn't have to put up with challenges to our power. We shouldn’t have to put up with repercussions. We shouldn't have to put up with consequences, or with anybody interfering with our ability to exert authority over this nation.”

That mindset runs loose now, unchecked in three houses of government: Power should come easily to those entitled to power. That was the message.

Power belongs not to the sick and the scared, not to the traumatized, not to the female in any shape—by any name, in any condition but bent over, or on her back. No, LOCK HER UP—whether Hillary or Diane as in Feinstein, or Christine Ford, or Anita Hill, or ….Wait!

Lorena Bobbit?!! Put down that knife! What are you doing here? Don’t look at her face, John Wayne! Those snakes! Holy Medusa!

News You May Have Missed - September 2018

portishead1/Getty Images

portishead1/Getty Images

Workforce #ScrewedNews

Why Can’t People with Full Time Jobs Make it Anymore?
The first of a series of articles that explore the challenges of the full time worker in America.

'I Work 3 Jobs And Donate Blood Plasma to Pay the Bills.' This Is What It’s Like to Be a Teacher in America
Power stories from teachers across the United States. It’s worse than you think.

Americans Want to Believe Jobs Are the Solution to Poverty. They’re Not.
This in depth look at one single mother’s attempt to make ends meet. Definitely worth the read. “We need a new language for talking about poverty. “Nobody who works should be poor,” we say. That’s not good enough. Nobody in America should be poor, period.”

Economy +

We Might Be Heading for a Crash as Bad as 1929
Have we learned from the lessons of 1929 and 2008? Perhaps not…

Women +

On Labor Day, a celebration of ‘Rosies,’ the women who kept the factories churning during WWII
Talk about strong and admirable women. Read this article for a history lesson and celebration of the women who kept things going during WWII.

Brett Kavanaugh and America’s ‘Himpathy’ Reckoning
Learn about Himpathy or “the inappropriate and disproportionate sympathy powerful men often enjoy in cases of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, homicide and other misogynistic behavior.” Sound familiar?

Listening to the Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh Hearing

Editor’s note: When a woman sent us this piece, longer than we usually publish, we knew we had to bring you her brave words. So many have stories!

After listening to both testimonies for the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, like many I ended the day feeling cognitive dissonance fracturing my mind and jangling my nerves. Two completely different possible truths. One was delivered humbly, with strength, but also trepidation: in a one-piece bathing suit she had practiced her dives. The other was delivered forcefully with anger, indignation, and bitter upset: he lifted weights, played football, and drank beers with the guys. The two narratives spoke volumes about the effects of patriarchy. Each voice could be credible, depending on one’s construct of reality, of what’s right and what’s wrong … of what is really going on here.

I took a long walk down my dirt road.

I thought about my sex education as a young woman growing up in the ‘70s, just a few years earlier than Blasey Ford, in a small town. I got a booklet from my mom, but learned the details on the playground, like many of us did. One boy in elementary school told me, as I sat casually, legs sprawled: “Close your legs; the war is over.” I had no idea what he meant. I am not sure he did either. I felt terribly embarrassed and did not feel confident to ever sit with my legs sprawled again.

As I progressed into middle school, some girls already having sex, I learned from peers, TV, movies, and jokes told by adults:

  • Girls with big boobs got male attention. I developed quite late, not until the very end of high school. Strike one.

  • Girls who had sex were desirable, popular, and got the cutest boyfriends. They dated the sports stars. I held out until I was 17. Strike two.

  • “Boys will be boys.” Whatever boys did or desired should get preference. Home run.

The last, most damaging message was: If you teased a boy—if you flirted, made out, or put yourself in close proximity unsupervised by adults—and you got the boy excited, he had every right to do whatever he wished, because … you asked for it. It was your fault. Especially if you were drinking. Because guys, well, they have this “uncontrollable” physical reaction. It was cruel, once arousing them, not to follow through. Girls who teased were chided with the phrase “blue balls.”

I am not sure if these messages were pervasive, then, for all girls my age, in all towns, and all schools, but these were planted in my adolescent psyche, and, I suspect, in the minds of most of my peers.

Fast-forward to my senior year. When I finally went “all the way,” it felt like a badge of honor. I was in the club! Not long after this dubiously victorious moment, I went out with my friends on Halloween. Somehow over the course of the night, in three cars, we got separated. We were hanging out near our high school, thirty minutes away from home, and decided to meet at this party a classmate told us about. Driving alone for some reason, I found my way to the party at a house out in the middle of nowhere on a back road. I waited in my car in the driveway, but my friends never showed up. Not wanting the night to be a total loss and miffed at my girlfriends, I put on my witch hat and cape and went inside. It was packed and loud music was playing. I did not know a soul.

Turns out many there were a bit older and from a motorcycle gang. I didn’t drink anything, or talk to many people. I didn’t stay long. But I remember two encounters: a short, thin woman, wearing a leather biker hat, took a swig from a bottle of wine as she told me she’d just taken two valiums. Then she confided she was pregnant. I remember feeling panicked. Oh my god! I must have looked out of place and startled. The owner of the house, a stocky guy with medium-length blond hair, came over and for the rest of the short time I was there, he was nice to me. I don’t remember why, or what he did, just that he was nice.

Fast-forward to some evening in some month following this party. I visited this guy. I don’t remember how it was arranged, or why. I don’t remember exactly when—not what day, what week, or even what month. I know it was my senior year. I know it was cold out. I know this because he was fixing his furnace, which wasn’t working. That’s what he did for a living. He fixed furnaces. I don’t remember how I got there, or how I got home. I suppose I drove. Who else would drive me way up to this house out in the boondocks? I have no recollection of where it was; I could not ever find it today.

I suppose this was a stupid thing to do. But he had been nice. Perhaps I wanted a boyfriend. Perhaps I hoped for love. Perhaps I wanted to be cool. Perhaps I was simply looking for a diversion. Our senior class was tiny and here was someone new, outside our small circle. I don’t remember what we did after he fixed the furnace. We might have eaten a little dinner, listened to music. I don’t think I had more than a beer, maybe two. If I had any.

What I do remember is this:

A narrow, dirty-white couch in the middle of an otherwise sparse living room. Making out on this couch with this blond-haired guy I barely knew. Saying, “Stop” when he wanted to keep going past making out. His look of disgust. I remember telling him it was my time of the month, hoping to dissuade him with a decent excuse. It did not stop him. He asked me how many days was I into my cycle. I said, “near the end.” I was shocked when he pushed forward, saying, “no big deal.”

I don’t remember if I said stop again. I might have just gone along with him, because, well, boys will be boys. He was stocky; I didn’t know him very well. I had aroused him, so it was my duty to deliver. I remember my humiliation when he removed my monthly protection and dangled it in the air, almost mocking me. I don’t remember the act itself. I think it was rather quick and business-like. I remember a sick feeling when we were done. Something wasn’t right. But I didn’t know what. And I remember the month of terror after, hoping I wouldn’t become pregnant. Luckily I did not.

I might have told a friend or two. Otherwise I filed this incident away as one of the dumb things I did as a teen. It was my fault. I filed it away initially as evidence that those early messages were true. But one was not true: I was not cool or desirable to have put myself in such a position. I filed away a sense of my powerlessness as a young woman, as a woman of any age. My “Stop” did not matter. Not to him. Not to our culture. I had no name for this until I was in my early 30s—date rape.

The snarky, hateful comments about Blasey Ford on social media run the gamut, but one refrain, even chanted by the President, ridicules her spotty memory of her trauma: How can she not remember how she got there and back? Why can’t she remember how much she drank? When it was? Where it was? Why she went in the first place?

Walking down my dirt road, thinking back on my own trauma, I realized I was missing all the same puzzle pieces. Yet, like Blasey Ford, the moment of violation was crystal clear some 36 years later. I have a similar residual trauma from the incident, though it has manifested in me differently than hers.

But Blasey Ford has at least one memory I don’t have. She remembers his name.


What a Week!

What a Week!

The Senate Judiciary Committee members forget about their female “assistant” and also common decency.

We're having a Cartoon Contest!

EconoGirlfriends, want to win a FREE copy of Screwnomics? Enter our Cartoon Contest!

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The Scene: Jess, a single mom, aspiring graphic designer & working waitress, has received a notice from MegaBank that she’s been approved for another credit card! Is she amused, horrified, offended? Imagine what she might think & send it to us! You might just win! In any case, have fun!

How to Enter:
1. Dream up your caption. Don’t worry about the length.

2. Use our contact form to send us your submission. Put “CONTEST” in as the subject line, and your punch line as your message.

DEADLINE: Tuesday, October 9th.
The submissions, including the winning ‘toon, will be posted on Sunday, October 14.

Prizes:
The first 5 people to submit will win a signed copy of Screwnomics.
The winner will recieve a signed copy of Screwnomics AND a signed print of their cartoon!

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Screwnomics Cartoon Contest Blank October 2018

Happy ‘Tooning!

Women Collaborate While Power Colludes

“For as long as I can remember I’ve felt compelled to be of service to my community. It is a lifetime commitment rooted in a family tradition of public service. As I’ve watched the problems caused by a lack of effective, honest government grow,  I’ve decided to be part of the solution and I am now running for the Michigan State Senate.” (www.rosemarybayer.com)

“For as long as I can remember I’ve felt compelled to be of service to my community. It is a lifetime commitment rooted in a family tradition of public service. As I’ve watched the problems caused by a lack of effective, honest government grow, I’ve decided to be part of the solution and I am now running for the Michigan State Senate.” (www.rosemarybayer.com)

Mid-week THIS week, I could use some good news, couldn’t you? Assume the worst for those Republican Senators on the US Judiciary Committee, who refuse the usual protocol when an allegation against any judicial nomination raises its ugly head.  Let them pretend to be fair, in an even worse way than Senators pretended to be fair about Anita Hill 27 years ago. That time, they at least investigated.

American women (and the men who love us) will see the testimony, and hear the questions set against the background of the Georgetown Prep School yearbook, and they will vote in November, and increasingly they will run for office and win elections.

How do I know that? Michigan, the home state I write about in Screwnomics, played a pivotal role in 2016. But now a record number of women from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds have won primaries in state and national elections there—and promise to be community-minded problem-solvers.

Rashida Tlaib speaks to staff, supporters and the press after the Associated Press called Tlaib's race in her favor at one of Tlaib's field offices in Northwest Detroit on Aug. 7, 2018.   (Photo: Cameron Pollack, Detroit Free Press)

Rashida Tlaib speaks to staff, supporters and the press after the Associated Press called Tlaib's race in her favor at one of Tlaib's field offices in Northwest Detroit on Aug. 7, 2018. (Photo: Cameron Pollack, Detroit Free Press)

Kathleen Gray at The Detroit Free Press writes a long article about the phenomenon, because only a long article would cover it all. Shannon Garrett of Holland, who co-founded VoteRunLead, is training women to run for office—172 of them from Michigan.  She says: “The reason we’re at this point in politics is because we’ve had the same people serving in political seats since the dawn of democracy, and that’s mostly white men. And the politics has become less about policy and more about power.”

Candidates from diverse genders, race, and income level promise better problem-solving, Garrett says, “Because if you have the same group of people looking at the problem, they’re going to come up with the same ways of solving these problems.”

Ms. Garrett is much nicer than I am, so I am going to point out that “the same group of people,” is not just mostly white males, but also mostly rich white males. Forty-percent of Congressional members are millionaires. Those who aren’t, depend on funds from “the donor class,” who are their billionaire friends, operating a profitable elections industry.

Maybe it’s a co-incidence, but I’ve noticed Congressional health insurance and retirement benefits are outrageously better than yours and mine. Michigan state Rep. Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills), who could be in line to become Michigan’s first female Speaker of the House, told The Detroit Free Press: “When we have more balance in gender, we have better and more ways to communicate. And in general, you hear about women being really strong at collaboration….”

We surely could use some productive collaboration to counter the fakery of collusion, pretending fairness to protect an unchecked power.

—Rickey Gard Diamond

FYI:  (Rosemary Bayer, whom I’ve never met, is the cousin of my son-in-law, who sent me news of her surprise Senate race. He’s very proud of her!)