Good Furor – NYROB

Now-former NYROB editor Ian Buruma pledged to practice democracy after replacing longtime editor Robert Silvers, whom Buruma criticized for being monarchical.  Yet, Buruma forgot that democracy includes women (which includes our sensibilities).  So, by the way, does monarchy. And when you pledge to practice democracy and then accept self-pity for sexual assaulters and harassers, it should not include sniveling self-pity.  All editors should set an open and inclusive tone.  Stopping women, men, or children from practicing anything in public by sexually harassing or assaulting them (and then later whining about getting caught) hinders their ability to write, publish, earn a living, and provide for their family, does it not?  The self-pity of admitted harassers is offensive. Full stop. In the United States, publishing has always been a privileged white man’s profession.  Hopefully the current furor means this can and will diminish or even end — at least in this important and significant publication.

Real Rape

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I have to admit I had not heard of rape epistemology, though I read Susan Estrich’s book Real Rape — as you can imagine, right away, or should I say the moment I knew about it and it was published — as I and another person in my nuclear family had it happen to us.  (This is their story to tell).  Witnessing the aftermath being washed away is almost more horrific when it happens to someone else than when it happens to you.

That said, I witnessed before I experienced — aftermath only — as for this person I was not ashamed but outraged — or at least enough to watch . . . I remember feeling powerless, and being afraid.  Given the absence of clothing (i.e. pants), I figured it was a gang — so my only comfort years and years later was that mine was not.  We, who were awake, were all agog.

Now, decades upon decades later — I was a child, a minor, therefore was I agog or we were encouraged — to do this was to do the “right” (i.e. wrong) thing.

Rape epistemology — as I sat there in a friendly audience of most, not all, who accepted the premises — is just remembering: Rape jurisprudence means that it was the men — fathers, sons, brothers, uncles — who were to blame.

We lived in a household with no brother, uncle, son, let alone father — had no one to ask, therefore my nuclear-family member and I simply did the right thing — not report it so as not to bring shame to THE family — THE big family or the extended nuclear family.

What I can now see — and this echoes one of my mother’s favorite expressions — is that curiosity kills cats, and we knew better than to ask — only do the right thing.  In this case, the right thing for the family was to swallow it all, if you were a witness, or had gained this terrifying experience.  How is this different than honor killing — this took me years and years to face — and then neotribalism said it all.

My mother made sure that we remained silent — and all did the right thing.  I had an early lesson learned that I would not need for 5ish years, as my situation took that long.  I was no longer a minor, nor was s/he/they.#

3 Observations by One of ‘Those’ Women of a Certain Age

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1. Really? Peter Baker and Carl Hulse think I’m a woman of a certain age.  O.K., this can include men.  No doubt.  The subtext of the phrasing, however, does not.  (After all, Ray Romano was in a show called “Men of a Certain Age.”) 2. Not an “echo” — but a reverberation from a rape-culture stereo.  Anita Hill was only one of many. We women — “those of a certain age” — got that back in the day (i.e. 1991 — neoliberalism).  It’s a reverberation, given how many times we’ve heard the phrase echo and it turns out to be hollow.  Where is #MeTooism, legislatively, anyway? 3.  Triangulating those women of a certain age with rape (no need to make a joke about date rape here) means we all got/get that rape is only one thing — violence — and is punishable by civil and criminal law, not either/or. It doesn’t matter if it’s an echo or a reverberation; what we do know is will it be a trigger for any kind of real reform?

Rape Culture, Rape Daddy, Congress COULD Legislate and Amend IF Congress Preferred Zero Tolerance!

I woke with a start after only four hours. I had been listening to a podcast late at night, when the name of my own #MeToo surfaced.  I had also seen a map of the town this week where he came from (it’s small enough that I’m sure I could track him down. Being a smart neocon, I bet he’s probably successful. Who knows? I don’t have the strength to look it up, yet).

I lived through Anita Hill’s debacle. Do we have to go through it again? I lived through Christine Blasey Ford’s nightmare. I too could not face what I knew, what every woman my age knew: that reporting leads to escalation, and escalation leads to the victim — boy, girl, woman, man — and you’re thrown out. I told about it only to intimate figures in my life — husband, boyfriends, children who came of age.

On Saturday I couldn’t look at the press. My husband, Fred, an editor who knows politics, had spared me the news of nominee Brett Kavanagh’s rape (which at that point was still an anonymous accusation) until after work on Friday. (Fred says: “I waited to tell Ruth because I knew it would disturb her, especially in view of her history, and would distract her from her work.”)

Now the question was whether it would derail his nomination. I knew the news that was released on Friday would be played out by Monday, with three possibilities in the “blame the victim” rape culture in which we live:

  1. The information that came to light will be dismissed, and the rapist will be put on the Supreme Court. This seemed the most likely outcome on Saturday, when the story was not on the front page above the fold of theNew York Times.
  1. The vulnerable hero will bravely come forward and will be roundly belittled and dismissed. (This is the nightmare that all persons who have been raped fear the most.)
  1. The vulnerable hero will bravely face the nation, as Anita Hill did. She will be put on trial in the court of public opinion, and her loved ones, colleagues, and most of all she herself will have to field all the horrific comments, death threats, etc., for doing the right thing, the brave thing, that very few victims of rape can do.

It’s no excuse that “men think with their dicks” or “boys will be boys” or any other outrageous statement that a content, complicit man will say, think, or do.

How can Christine Blasey be so brave, is all I need to know. Plus two other things:

We cannot shield children from allegations that their fathers are rapists, and witnesses will testify no matter how many decades old — then it’s time for them to step back to resign for “family” reasons.  (Think of your children, Brett).

Congress could institute real, national changes in laws to protect women now. Recess for Mid-terms, or no.

Enough is enough. #MeToo should now flip into #Enough. Meanwhile, Congress — Democrats and Republicans — should amend (ERA) and legislate. After all, it had to make lynching a federal crime though murder has and had always been illegal and a state and local crime.

Liar Pence’s VEEP Liar Test

Lie_detector_test.jpgVice President, Pence – Please.  I’m losing patience.  Let’s get it over with.  Out of 253 articles today, you and your willingness (along with your staff’s) to sit happily in this chair wins. You prevailed.

Hey you could be our VEEP preview.  Who said the dog wags the tail?  And how is this woman alone in a room with a “man?!*”

#TFA.  Thanks Omarosa!!  I “get-it” — the 25th Amendment, and Trump’s fear of fear or fear of his Cabinet’s fear gives me hope.  #hashtag Trump’s hopeful future #THF.

Of course this means Paul will be President when you fail.  Or some Speaker.  Hmm… this is even more hopeful.  The new Speaker will be President.   First Trump, then Pence, then — not Paul or Nancy — but . . .

Who said the Democrats needed to wait to 2020 to get there?

Better Dead than Red, or Better Red than Dead?

One of my colleagues, now long retired, put it this way.  Frankly, I can’t remember who said what — who gets the credit.  Or who gets the blame, depending, of course, on your perspective.  Anyway, the question is this: Why do Republicans own red?

When I was a U.S. congressional page for the Republicans, they wore red.  Red neckties and red party dresses abounded.  Later, when I switched sides, I began to relate more to my friends from the other side of the aisle. This wasn’t hard, since Tip O’Neill was the speaker of the House when I was a page, and the Republican party was so small (circa 1977–78) that my friends were pages borrowed from the other side:  Southern Democrats, Blue Dog Democrats, bold Democrats, or just plain curious Democrats coming from the closest city to red that we had: San Francisco. The Republicans, in other words, did not have enough leg power, or person power, to run all their errands.  So, back in the day, the Democrats were gentlemen* and would help them out — at least at the level of running errands to the House floor.

Getting back to the conversation at hand, I didn’t turn blue for long.  The Democrats, I quickly learned at Claremont Men’s College, were not as, but almost as ______  (fill in the blank) boring in the absence of agents of change as the Republicans.  In a two-party system, they were Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

So, I moved left.  Moving left after college meant leaving the country. Going abroad, I ended up in the one country that could be counted back then as dissident, or had a dissident history — the former Yugoslavia.

Here we all embraced the red.  Indeed, one of my going-away gifts was a basket of red stuff — red nail varnish, lipstick, etc. — and the biggest movie that spring, when I got to decide if I wanted my diploma to read Claremont Men’s College or Claremont McKenna College, was Reds, by Warren Beatty.

Back then, red was the color of communists — and I never quite put it together why it was also the color of Republicans.

Anyway, listening to Max Boot on a Forum podcast got me thinking: Now we do know — not why they, but at least he, wears red.  And this got a laugh out of me.

It made me think: “Better dead than red” made sense to my relatives and I decided to resist my relatives with “Better red than dead.”  But today’s Republicans are so anti-intellectual that you might say: “Better-read? Then dead.”  Whose color is it anyway?  Or are we all seeing red, knowing that some say or dance around it that our president is committing treason.

 

——————–

* I say gentlemanly because the House was a gentlemen’s club.  We were taught that the number-one reason a woman sat in the House was because her husband had died in a plane crash.  I still have yet to check the veracity of that statement.

 

** you guess

Post Trump Stress Disorder — 11/9; not 9/11

unnamed We are all suffering from some form of Trump-induced PTSD. Emergency-room visits were up the day after 11/9, as a creative-writing friend of mine pointed out this perverse inversion of 9/11 after the presidential election of 2016.  I have friends and colleagues in all disciplines — Spanish literature, comparative political thought, literary theory, interdisciplinary pedagogy taught in Dutch and international English, let alone American politics, law and society, American political development (APD), and American (or better yet, comparative) political thought (APT & CPT). We would all laugh at the buffoon if he were not so scary. When you’re terrified, you can only titter.

So, what now? I, for one, am going back in both time and thought. Like many of my friends, I have to put my head into history for a time.  My sabbatical is being spent writing about American tribalism, which references merging APT/APD and CPT, though there is no CPD, since APD is CPD.  Huh?  Really, what I’m doing is streamlining inter- and intradisciplinary research on comparative political thought and politics and history broadly cast over eras and epochs.  How do you get to comparisons that are global, given our now-embarrassing global American empire?  Easy: We must go abroad and note the other perspectives, even if we don’t put them in more than our footnotes or register the comparisons with European Union nations, particularly the Netherlands.

The Dutch, after all, had more legitimacy and authority in the colonies that became the United States over 150 years later. Dutch-Anglo, not Anglo-Dutch, thought is more persuasive when you think of the founding canon in American political thought. It’s just that the English, in 1661, knocked those pesky merchants’ republican ideas out of enlightenment and post-enlightenment Anglo-American political thought. The Dutch not only predated the English, but also the English, Scottish and French Enlightenments.

This is all academese, I know, that will be explained later. For now, I must explore the history of the texts, Baruch Spinoza and heretical thought. Indeed, I saw the first book in Heretical Thought — Assembly, by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri — in a radical bookshop, or boekhandel, near Spinoza’s likeness where he lived in Amsterdam.  My college-age son and I are not the only fans of Assembly.  According to Rebecca Goldstein, it took 200 years before any scholar could comfortably cite his heretical thought.

Comparing history of thought or schools of thought — not just heretical thought or Dutch-Anglo-American political thought, where Hugo Grotius is possibly more important than William Blackstone — could be considered heresy — or not.* There are many academic and public historians, from Joyce Goodfriend to Russell Shorto, who show how the British rewrote American colonial political thought.  

* The references here, I admit, are academic and yet not obscure if you follow the train of hyperlinks or references to the plethora of different or multiple schools of thought and political traditions.