The stranger in front of you

The guy in front of me at the drive-thru paid for my fast food meal and passed along a little note about the idea coming from some radio station (Star 93.3)

And apparently I’m supposed to be grateful and inspired. But I live in Trump/Republican country (upwards of 75% of voters vote Republican), so it’s safe to assume there’s a significant chance that if this Christian stranger votes, he or she votes for slashing public welfare programs and endorses views like “people need to take responsibility”.

I CAN pay for my poisonous garbage food. As Andy Samberg sings in “Threw It on the Ground”: ““Man, what’d I look like? A charity case?”
I took it and threw it on the ground
I don’t need your hand-outs
I’m an adult
Please, you can’t buy me hotdog man

So, in summary, I feel like have been used by some self-righteous jackass Christian who feels better about themselves by making me a charity case. I’m not buying into that religious nonsense about helping out other people who have enough money to afford cars by buying $10 worth of food. There are so many people who need so many different kinds of help, but you’d have to have a relationship and listen to actually help them with what they need. That’s the kind of help people do appreciate.

You know, this shit doesn’t happen in California. No weirdo has bought my food for me at In-N-Out.

I still ate it, because I am not wasteful. But really just because I didn’t remember “Threw It on the Ground” until halfway through my meal.

Are These Essential Human Relationships?

Today, I was surprised to hear talk that held out to its logical conclusion as presented meant poor people should not procreate. Should not is different from have not, but even in America there has been cases of women undergoing forced sterilizations. The systematic control of reproduction is called eugenics.

So they say poor people shouldn’t have the experience of having children. In some countries, people are so poor they can’t afford marriage: the ceremonies, legal registration, bridal price or family gifts, much less separate housing and again, the children.

Are these essential relationships? Humans are made to connect. Perhaps we don’t need to be mothers or father or spouses or partners.  But nevertheless we need connection.  For my part, it grieves me to tears to think of poverty keeping families from forming.  It’s perhaps not essential but often the most meaningful aspect of living.  It’s certain there is a biological imperative to procreate.

Understanding that so much of our life is the circumstances we were born into and luck or chance, is it right that “the least of these” are absolutely judged or possibly prevented from having the love that forming a family creates?

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The Modern War on Women 1

There is definitely a cultural trend of war on women … Conservatives needing harsh rules to make themselves feel they are on the right side of righteous instead of developing real character to engage with a painful world.

Which is why I love Nico Lang’s article, “Trampire:” Why the Public Slut Shaming of Kristen Stewart Matters for Young Women:

“I might not be concerned for K-Stew, but I am concerned for all the young women today who are tuned into this scandal, ones who are learning that it’s not okay to screw up, ever. Chris Brown can publicly beat the hell out of his girlfriend but still be played on the radio and win Grammys. However, if you ever cheat on your boyfriend, your life is over and no one will ever want to be associated with you. Almost no one will blame the much-older guy you cheated with, and it might actually make him more famous and help his career. Few will care that he was your boss and in a position of authority or that he may have have taken advantage of your youth and relative inexperience. Everything is your fault, and your life will be threatened over it. If you are a trampire, you will be publicly staked for it, even though cheater Ashton Kutcher recently emerged relatively unscathed by the media. No one asked for him to be fired from Two and a Half Men.”

“I might not be concerned for K-Stew, but I am concerned for my younger stepsister who has pictures of Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson on her walls, who idolizes and worships them, and who might grow up to hate Kristen Stewart for reasons she doesn’t understand. I’m worried she will be taught that it’s not okay to mess up, learn from it and apologize, because no one wants your apology, just your suffering on camera. I’m worried that she’ll think its okay to harass and threaten women for their indiscretions, even if men get off scot-free. I’m worried she will think this culture of bullying, slut-shaming and rhetorical violence against women is the norm, because you get a t-shirt for it. I’m worried she will learn to internalize the shame brought on far too many women today, for having sexualities, for not being perfect, for not fitting into a box. I’m worried she’ll believe men like Todd Akin, Paul Ryan and Mike Huckabee are right.”

Interestingly, women self-report higher rates of infidelity now than in the past – while still being much lower than men’s self-reported rates.  Why I find this interesting is one would assume any reasonably intelligent person would think some change should begin with men, where the larger problem exists-and that by correcting men’s undesirable sexual behavior, women would be likewise encouraged to abstain or remain faithful.  Maybe a reasonable person wold think men shouldn’t be encouraged to fuck every woman they see, glorify rape as normal sexual behavior without negative consequences, and practice aggression as a badge of male honor.

But then again, any reasonable person would guess these issues aren’t about abortion, pre-marital sex, birth control, or rape.  We aren’t discussing sex-we are discussing gender and how women are used as objects for displaced anger, violence, and pain.

It’s ugly.  And it is exactly the nature of the modern war against women.

-The Modern War on Women-

The Names of Love

I was thinking of the difficulty of racism but wanted to watch a movie instead of think so I used my roommate’s Netflix subscription.  And there were movies about immigrants in America, multiracial couples, and such, but I didn’t want to think was the whole point so I picked a French movie named Le nom des gens or in English, “The Names of Love”.

The blurb about the movie didn’t reveal the rather complicated racial and cultural dynamics it contained, but perhaps I should have guessed a movie about a woman who sleeps with men to change their politics would address immigration, race, and the modern Western world’s diversity.

The movie ends with a very deep line: “Who will see our child as a foreigner?”  A French couple named their son Chang.

The Ides of March

The Ides of March is a movie about a governor running for the democratic nomination.  And the sordid world of politics that help propel him forward into the public’s good opinion.  And about the idealistic youth of politics being eaten up by a corrupt, older generation.

The official synopsis is “An idealistic staffer for a new presidential candidate gets a crash course on dirty politics during his stint on the campaign trail.”  –IMDB

It is even set in Ohio.  You can see locations in Cincinnati.

But the interesting point of this story for me is the women.  There aren’t many women in American politics.

This movie has a flirting, sarcastic, ruthless journalist named Ida.  She plays friend or extortionist depending on the mood to try to get a quote to put in the next day’s paper.  She isn’t glamorous.  Ida is smart.  She is not young.  Rather, Ida is a journalism professional and a jaded American woman.

And then you have the wife of the governor.  She is supportive.  She has a vested interest in her husband’s success.  She is not young but a partner in her husband’s ambitions.  She lays her head on his shoulder.  She makes social arrangements.  She listens and questions the next political move.  She is almost like a necessary piece of jewelry, although to see her role as limited to merely as ornamentation would be naive.

Then there is Molly, an intern.  Molly was twenty years old.  Her father is in charge of the DNC.  The senior manager of the governor’s campaign got her the internship and he has known her since she was small.  Molly sleeps with the idealistic junior campaign manager.  But Molly is already pregnant and she can’t afford an abortion.  The father is the governor seeking the presidential nomination.

So the idealistic junior campaign manager makes it possible for her to have an abortion quickly, without a word to anyone else.  But  in between dropping her off at the Oakley women’s clinic and his promise to pick her up, the idealist staffer is fired.  As he scrambles around, trying to salvage his career, Molly waits at a coffee shop, eventually takes a taxi to her room, and listens to another staff member tell her about the day’s dramatic upheaval.  Now she knows her “protector” intends to turn her into the next day’s headlines in his quest to squash the governor who betrayed him.

Molly dies from an overdose of alcohol and pills.

After her funeral, idealistic staffer uses this to secure his career, becoming the senior campaign manager.  Molly is replaced by a new, young female intern bringing in coffee.  She is named Jill Morris.

And these are the women of the movie.

I thought it was interesting that Molly was very unprotected, although she had connections to so many powerful men in politics.  Her choices in many ways were taken away from her.  She was used and thrown away.  Her last words in the film are “I’m not going away!”  But these are heard by the idealist staffer on his cell phone, after she has already passed on.  It is almost ironic, and seems slightly sinister in light of how her body was found collapsed on her room’s floor, which a suited man exited just before the idealist staffer enters and hears from a hotel employee that she is already gone.

Molly dislikes her father (for unknown reasons), is used sexually by the governor, is bedded and then handled by the idealist staffer (what was attraction quickly becomes dehumanizing insensitivity and aloofness), and is never even shown to talk to the first senior campaign manager who has apparently known her all her life.  The father gives a moving speech at her funeral and given his political position it might be more dramatic than sincere.  In fact, hardly any of the male characters in the film seem to look to Molly’s character beyond what they can get out of her.

After the idealist staffer learns Molly’s secret, his demeanor totally changes.  When Molly begs him not make a call on her phone to find out who called her (which he does, prompted by playful jealousy), he doesn’t listen.  And when he knows, he immediately drills her for information.  She is no longer a twenty year old woman, but a potential train crash for his candidate.  The next day, ideal staffer writes a note for her to read, rather than talk directly to her, then shreds the note in front of her, and meets her a stairway to give her money to pay for the abortion he tells her to have immediately.  He takes her to the abortion clinic, and drops her off.  Molly looks devastated to be left on her own, but idealist staffer’s response is to use physical affection before leaving-a kiss on the forehead.  This is the first time we see idealist staffer use affection since he discovered her secret.  He uses it to push her towards the politically-expedient solution.  However, when idealistic staffer is fired, then he completes forgets about Molly.  She is left waiting and finally has to find her own way back to the hotel.

The treatment of Molly by the men in the film seems so brutal and harsh.  But it seems very unsurprising when humans become less important than causes, lusts, or props.  Molly was a young woman who wasn’t protected by any of the older men around her.