COMPLICIT

Turns out I was heartbroken when Clarence Thomas was appointed to the Supreme Court; though I’m just feeling it in 2018.

I don’t even remember–Was he conservative or liberal?

What was most relevant was that he was a he, and she a she.

Disposable.

I always thought it was her that I disdained or the whole sordid ordeal. A decade later during labor, I cringed when my midwife pulled out a cold coke can to place on my lower back.

I never allowed myself the time or space to sort out the complexity of my feelings during the Thomas hearings, if in fact I was equipped to do so.

Newly married, teaching sixth-grade social studies, I was immersed in a beach town where girls were raised to be desirable and boys to be desiring and our bodies up for grabs, leers, comments–the hoots & hollers from passing cars serving as our A+ report card for coming of age in just the right way.

“I can’t believe how big your tits are,” a colleague said, outside the principal’s office after we’d seen each other on the beach the day before. (He was one of the nice guys.)

One of the not so nice guys was talking to our sixth-grade students–the 11-year-old boys–about my ass. (Some of the girls confided this to me.)

Before teaching, I managed a restaurant where from time to time, I reported to the Head Chef’s office. Above his desk hung a woman’s spread, updated monthly, facing us both as we talked about menus and staff. The same view welcomed or rather unwelcomed me at the car repair shop or when using the bathroom at say, my aunt and uncle’s house.

Which is to say, what was Anita Hill thinking?

She must have lived in a different world to speak about such things in public.

I can barely listen to that hearing. Every few moments I have to hit pause. My skin crawls now with the audacity.

Of men.

…How another good guy, Joe Biden, put Clarence Thomas dirty words in her mouth for all to see and hear so that it was she who we found distasteful instead of him.

Isn’t it always that way.

(See, Elizabeth Bruenig’s piece: “She Reported Her Rape. Her Hometown Turned Against Her.”)

But “distasteful” misses the mark, doesn’t it? As does sordid or gross or crude; which a man’s personal habits or interests may be; but when shared with others, unwelcomed, or exposed in the workplace like my colleagues, or like Keillor, Franken and Lauer, is something more than discomfort.

It is the perpetuation of a man’s world where women, if not invisible, should remember their place. And other women should help keep them there. Like I did when those 11-year old girls complained about the teacher who was talking about my ass, by shaking my head and doing… Nothing.

“You have a husband and sons, don’t you?” writes a Facebook follower on my wall. “Aren’t you worried that some woman could bring them down with a lie?”

Somehow it’s still about the men.

When I listen to Anita Hill now, I no longer hear a dirty woman. I hear a warrior.

I didn’t have your back Anita Hill.

I have yours, Professor Ford.

Mothers Day Nightmares

On Mothers Day night, with both sons at home, I wake to the sound of my youngest vomiting in the toilet, and I realize that I have had a nightmare. “A dream about the Patriarchy,” my husband offers in the dark.

In the dream, it is daylight, and there is this charismatic man who I find attractive and then threatening as I watch Him weave his way through homes & classrooms & workplaces, alternatingly charming then murderous. Slitting throats, dividing families, orphaning children.

Each time I get wise to Him, I sense the great vulnerability of going against such cunning, and something else–I see how willing others are to oblige this power and destruction in blindness; and so I become absorbed with protecting myself whenever He appears, until I see Him follow a family into the loft over the Great Room, and doesn’t He kill the young father and then the mother, as their child toddles unprotected toward the open railing.

Terrified, I dash past a bureau and a hutch and sweep the child up into my arms, where she becomes an infant, and with little time to spare, I dangle her through the bars of the railing thinking I could drop her to safety if only someone would appear in the Great Room below.

And then I see him! My father! But although he hears my calls, he cannot see the child, even though I direct his attention toward her again and again.

I consider dropping the infant to the floor, but just then my youngest son enters the room, and seeing the dangling child, puts out his arms to catch Her.

And with that, the Patriarchy disappears.

Minister to me


To borrow an expression from my religious friends–

This tune “ministered to me” this morning.

Without needing to know why.

And it was a sweet surprise.

I’d never heard this song before.

It was the first one to play when I unplugged from the news and asked Alexa to stream me some Krishna Das.

I  asked her to play it again and again.

It opens with a freaky kind of sound, throat singers, I suppose.
An intuitive once told me that I had been one. Famous.
I suppose I was a guy then too.

I was attached to Krishna Das once.
Literally.
For a few moments when I was assisting Robert Thurman at Kripalu.

Neither of them noticed that this petite silver-haired woman with a head set in her hands was wired to their long embrace and conversation.

Finally, I tucked the receiver under Bob’s elbow and slipped away to the floor while these two socked feet giants communed.