Dropping the F-Bomb: Where Fox News Makes Feminism A Vulgar Thing & Rape Is A-Okay

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Mostly this blog is for writing-, cooking-, and gardening-centric posts (not necessarily in that order).  However, today I must share something a bit more political in nature. But it shakes my core values, so I will cope with it much as I do everything else. You get my writing. My story. And inevitably, those themes that run through it all are present.

As a veteran and as a woman, I can’t even begin to tell you the vileness and personal attack I felt when I saw this video (not to mention the choice words that flew from my mouth following it). Normally, I don’t watch Fox News (is it any wonder?), so I was led to this clip by a friend who clearly knew it would boil my blood and spark a written response.

Here take a peek and then come back and let’s have a chat:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/13/fox-news-liz-trotta-rape_n_1274018.html?ref=media

Like attracts like. I have learned that while on this planet more than four decades. Many of you reading this blog will probably feel the same that I do; however, I know there are some that read it that may be thinking that Fox News Correspondent Liz Trotta has some legitimate points. So let me just clear up that incongruent thinking now.

First, let me first address the “statistics” that Liz Trotta was spewing along with her hatred of her own gender. There is one fact that she misses completely when referring to a statistic released by the Department of Defense (it really irks me when journalists say that the Pentagon released something – the Pentagon is a building, not an agency, organization or individual). It says that since 2006, there has been a 64 percent increase in incidents of sexual assault. What she either doesn’t mention in order to spew her hatred towards female military service members, is that in 2006, there was a refocused effort within the DoD to provide a better process for reporting sexual assault, as well as providing better oversight and better trained leaders. In essence, old stories about how sexual assaults may have been discounted or horribly swept under the proverbial rug became outdated. Also, the increase in female populations (a clear 15 percent compared to the barely 9 percent when I served) across most spectrums of the military can create an environment where a woman has same-sex allies within her command to receive support from and during such an awful affair. The situation, like I witnessed in my career, where there is just one woman among many men in a theatre of operation, is less and less. I would argue, then, with Trotta that you don’t have an increase, but rather a situation where the truth is coming out more often.

When she says that “these people are in close contact…” Yes. This is true. But, our armed forces are a professional force. Is she presuming that other professions where close working conditions apply – say police or doctors or lawyers – or insert your choice here – shouldn’t also mix sexes when performing a job? That close contact – that, oh, you know, depending on one another for survival – is also what makes the military community like family. That’s why when crimes are committed on its members by its members, it’s so heinous. But, it doesn’t mean that this close contact allows for ACCEPTABLE rape. There is no situation where rape is allowable, acceptable and legal, which is what Trotta says here. Her statements contend its high-stress situation rape is to be expected and that women are stupid for thinking their comrades professional. Such hate for her own gender! It must be tough waking up every day with the knowledge that depending on where you put yourself you are expected to be raped and that somehow is HER fault and not the fault of the rapist. I could say other very snarky things here, but will refrain.

However, she doesn’t stop there. She says that FEMINISTS (talk about an f-bomb) have some how bamboozled Congress in funding the Department of Defense into actually funding this program that aims to prevent, if not eliminate sexual assault in the Armed Forces. Because, you know, that’s a bad thing. Did you know that victim advocates and sexual-response coordinators are a bad thing? Yeah, I didn’t either.

The kicker? Her statement which I still cannot wrap my brain about: “…for women in the military who are being raped too much.”

Yes, she said:  “too much.”

Jon Stewart and his team stole my thunder in that Trotta seems to imply that women should, again, EXPECT to be raped and that the feminists are just pressuring people to report things when it reaches a certain number. Really? This from one of the first female reporters to cover Viet Nam? The irony is not lost on me, but apparently it’s lost on Trotta.

Her laugh and “nice try” comment to the other broadcaster comes off as defensive and just down right bumbling. We’re not to protect the people who are charged with the defense of our country? (Yes, yes, the validity of “defense” with the wars were in right now is another conversation.) This kind of attitude is what leads to lack of care of our Veterans when they are done with their service. It is that kind of attitude that contends that our Veterans never go through anything horrible during their service – that war is somehow a big party they signed up for – and they should just suck it up and drive on, drink a can a man and get on with the plan. In essence, serve us and then we’ll forget you.

Well forget you, Trotta and the inhumane train you road in on.

Columbia should really revoke her journalism degree. If there was a degree given to people for “becoming human,” that should get revoked for her as well — if she ever had it to begin with, that is.

What Trotta and others like her would like to see is to turn back the clock, because it’s easier if the warriors are only warriors and never are victims. But, that rarely happens – no matter what the sex. Being a warrior means either doing the wounding or being wounded. Whenever there is an injury, there requires healing. That it is somehow acceptable by Trotta that our sons do that, but not our daughters is befuddling. Those damn feminists – showing us where our logic fails!

However, finally, no matter the ramblings of a woman who has forgotten her own gender and life experiences for perhaps the gain of a conservative dollar, women are making strides in equality within the structure of the traditional Patriarchal culture of the military. Trotta needs to get over it and keep her nineteenth-century values in the past. . We’ve grown as a culture. We recognize the humanity in us all. That takes investment: education, funding, training and lots and lots of energy. Lastly, I say, good on those within the DoD for continuing to attempt to make our Armed Forces a community of equality.

Free-Range Fiction: Tackling the Unlikable Protagonist

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Once again I’m being lazy as far as idea creativity goes and leaning on the fabulous Chuck Wendig and his weekly challenge to the writers who follow his blog. It deals with the unlikable protagonist. This story below is the beginning of a work-in-progress, SLIDE. Likely will be a novella because I don’t think it will have enough steam to be a novel-length project. Believe it or not, most of the story deals with Miranda Dabrowski. Here is the introduction. Let me know how you like it, as always.

SLIDE


“I didn’t kill your sister,” the woman, who before she was tied up, had sported perfect hair. “I didn’t have anything to do with it,” she wiggled against her bindings.

Watching the captive in the chair, a tall, slender, dark haired woman with big Hollywood sunglasses and a scarf where the lower half of her face should be spoke, “You are an accomplice. For your crimes, you will be punished.”

The tied-up woman began to cry as the dark-haired one produced a knife. She took two steps towards her captive and stopped. Her cheeks – the only part truly visible on her face – slackened and she tilted her head and considered the being in front of her. Tears shuddered down the young woman’s face and she continued to struggle against the clothesline that held her. Black sunglasses hung above here a long moment, the knife lightly reflecting the weak light in the basement.

“You have to know that for which you are responsible,” the dark-haired one spoke from beneath the silken gray scarf. “Stop your crying and let me tell you a little bedtime story.” The woman turned, high heels clicking on cement, and returned to a work bench behind her and set the knife down and perched herself on a wooden stool.

The captive quieted but her eyes kept darting around. Was there a door left or right? It was too dark. All she could really see were shadows on either side. The two dangling lights only illuminated where she was tied up and the area where the work bench was. Everything else was dark.

The knife was set down on the work bench where a circular saw sat. The sunglasses were removed, gently placed down. The black hair was brushed back to reveal the gray scarf had a slight sheen to it and a couple of spot where perhaps the captor’s sweat had been soaked by the delicate fabric.  She crossed her legs and revealed deep burgundy leather shoes in the tight charcoal wool skirt.

She took a deep breath, “Once upon a time, my sister was alive. As were her three children — beautiful imps they were. Ate my heart alive every time I saw them. My sister, as I explained was killed by the man you are fucking. Her distress and screams I hear almost nonstop. I hear the voices of her children, who are also dead because of his whorish, addictive ways. Killing him, however, is too good for him. You, on the other hand, need to be punished.”

“I didn’t do anything,” the girl sobbed. “Really, I didn’t know. I’m sorry.”

“And you should be,” the rage rocketed from the dark-haired woman, launching her off the stool and putting her once again right in front of the captive, crying woman.

“But I didn’t mean to,” the prisoner sobbed, head forward.

“I don’t want to hear your excuses,” and the words were followed by a slap that burned red into the pale skin.

Syrupy strains of snot and tears coagulated into the captive’s lap. She waited for the knife. For her own blood to join the snot and tears. Instead, she heard the departing shot of high-heels on wooden steps. A door slammed. She looked up. It was darker still. There was the thump of music above. Besides the dark and the rumbling bass beat, she was utterly alone. And soon to be dead.

 

 

“Miranda,” the detective sighed, “I told you, there is nothing more we can do. There’s not enough evidence.”

“You’re not looking hard enough,” a growl came through the phone. “He is guilty. We both know it. Now do your job and find the fucking bloody glove or something.” The line went quiet.

Detective Peter Brandt scratched at his chin, his mind wandering around his paperwork covered desk. Miranda Dabrowski hadn’t called him in two weeks. A personal record for her since the woman’s sister and children had died. The coroner on the scene had said something in the initial investigation which left the door open for speculation and a flurry of questions. But he didn’t have time for this bullshit with Dabrowski. He had a missing woman. Not just any missing persons case either. This was the niece of the university chancellor.

“Detective?” one of the dispatchers was at his desk. Brandt looked up. “You might want to take a look at this. I couldn’t get the caller through to you because you were on the other line.”

Brandt took the message. It was from sister of the missing woman. The dispatcher had circled the name Leviticus Feeny in the note section of the pink slip. Brandt sat back in his chair and sighed.

“She said her sister was dating that man,” the dispatcher explained more. “She’d like a call back.”

“Will do,” Brandt said and picked up the phone. As the dispatcher walked away, he put the phone back down. Maybe he was going to have to deal with Dabrowski’s bullshit, since the name was the same name as her brother-in-law, who she swore murdered her sister and niece and nephew. He shook his head. This day just took a weird turn.

He decided to call Dabrowski first. She didn’t answer. He grabbed the trusty hat he bought on his trip to Australia — his one and only vacation in 20 years — and headed out to Dabrowski’s home.

Will the Arts of My Generation Denote the Greatness of It?

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“…the greatness of any society can be measured in its support of and investment in the arts.”

My husband often says this, mostly when I’m bemoaning the lack of money coming in for my literary endeavors. He’s unsure if this was organic or if he heard it somewhere.  I did some internet and library browsing and found quotes by President John F. Kennedy.  Allow me the luxury to spam you with all the promoting of the arts as central to our lives and culture that Kennedy purported about the arts (because I think we need a reminder):

“If more politicians knew poetry, and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a little better place in which to live.” Address at Harvard University, June 14, 1956

President John F. Kennedy spoke often of the importance of the Arts.

“There is a connection, hard to explain logically but easy to feel, between achievement in public life and progress in the arts. The age of Pericles was also the age of Phidias. The age of Lorenzo de Medici was also the age of Leonardo da Vinci. The age Elizabeth also the age of Shakespeare. And the New Frontier for which I campaign in public life, can also be a New Frontier for American art.” (Response to letter sent by Miss Theodate Johnson, Publisher of Musical America to the two presidential candidates requesting their views on music in relation to the Federal Government and domestic world affairs. Answer from then Senator John Kennedy was dated September 13, 1960.)

“…I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.” Closed-circuit television broadcast on behalf of the National Cultural Center from the National Guard Armory in Washington, D.C., November 29, 1962

“To further the appreciation of culture among all the people, to increase respect for the creative individual, to widen participation by all the processes and fulfillments of art – this is one of the fascinating challenges of these days.” Magazine article “The Arts in America” printed in the December 8, 1962 issue of Look. (This was part of a special adaptation of Creative America The Ridge Press, Inc., 1962.)

“Too often in the past, we have thought of the artist as an idler and dilettante and of the lover of arts as somehow sissy and effete. We have done both an injustice. The life of the artist is, in relation to his work, stern and lonely. He has labored hard, often amid deprivation, to perfect his skill. He has turned aside from quick success in order to strip his vision of everything secondary or cheapening. His working life is marked by intense application and intense discipline.” “The Arts in America,” 1962 article by John F. Kennedy

“We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.” Amherst College, 10/26/63

“I look forward to an America which will not be afraid of grace and beauty…an America which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft.” Remarks at Amherst College, 1963

“In serving his vision of the truth, the artist best serves his nation.” Remarks at Amherst College, 1963

“It may be different elsewhere. But democratic society- in it, the highest duty of the writer, the composer, the artist is to remain true to himself and to let the chips fall where they may.” Amherst College, 10/26/63

“The life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction, in the life of a nation, is very close to the center of a nation’s purpose…and is a test of the quality of a nation’s civilization.” Statement prepared for Creative America, 1963 (Inscribed at the Kennedy Center for the performing Arts)

Beyond that there was nothing I could find in researching that came close to what my beloved had uttered. Yet, knowing him the way I do, it’s likely his own brilliant mind.

Regardless of its origin, the phrase got me thinking about how our society will be judged 100 years from now and beyond. Is our society more arts-focused than it was 100 years ago? 200 years ago?

Norman Rockwell's color study of Southern Justice

I look back much like Kennedy did and see that when we made great strides as a society, our arts were in the forefront. I remember as a young girl seeing the Norman Rockwell paintings that were his interpretation of the civil rights movement. They were powerful images for a young person in a racially divided city of Detroit. The paintings helped fuel what I believe was a core value of justice that seemed natural and organic, as if it was coded in my DNA. I remember looking at his atmospheric study of Southern Justice – I think I was at my great grandparents’ house and found this old magazine. Regardless, it was powerful.

During the same time frame there was the anti-war demonstrators; the music that goes hand in hand with that and of course the literature. For music there was The Byrds, The Doors, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Bob Dylan, and Barry McGuire. Hell, the first protest song I can remember from my youth: Peter, Paul and Mary – although Dylan wrote their famous “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

Protest Music At Its Finest

The climate was also reflected in literature. You see it in Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s work. She wrote in OUTLAW WOMAN:  “At night on Sunset Boulevard, cars were always cruising bumper-to-bumper, blasting Dylan, The Beatles, the Stones, or The Doors…young freaks clogged the sidewalks, a mass of hair, painted bodies jingling Tibetan bells.  They were gentle people, but the cops hated the anarchy of the music and the freedom.” (This passage makes me think that maybe things haven’t changed all that much.)

Don’t forget some of the greatest American writers like William Burroughs, Joyce Carol Oates, and Raymond Carver hauntingly illustrated the divide and violence intrinsic in American life at all levels of society during that time, too. Oppression, Feminism, and Love in the modern era. I could go on and on about our late 50s, 60s and early 70s generation of artists, especially the writers.

Nevertheless, the arts got people involved. As Jerry Rubin (yes of the infamous Yippie movement guy) wrote, “Once they got attracted by the action, they discovered the issues.”

Then things get quiet as far as music and literature as a force for change once the “The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades” 1980s hits. Maybe I’m too close to it to recognize stuff. I mean for literature this was the time for the Nobel Prize-winner Alice Walker and Toni Morrison (also a  Nobel Prize winner), Amy Tan, Rita Mae Brown and N. Scott Momaday. But not all of them were really main stream (Morrison the exception as she of Hollywood options). Protest music of the 80s and 90s? Wham and Pearl Jam? Not hardly (with apologies to the beloved Eddie Vedder et al). Did this stuff actually get people to do things? Maybe. Maybe it’s still processing and fermenting in our consciousness.

Who are the Dylan’s and Ortiz’s of our generation? Who is the Carver or Rockwell of our generation? What will peoples of the future say about what we did in 2012? Will they say that we spent more on corporate bail outs as opposed to art?

But then again I look at the protests in Tunisia, Egypt and all over the Arabic world. There is the #Occupy movement. We have war veterans returning to create protest art. I think of Coffee Strongnear me here in Washington. Regardless, this is all bootstrap art. These are not easily lucrative projects.

Occupy The Streets - A collective art consciousness?

Is it now that the arts will come out of protest as oppose to inspire it? But who will be their benefactors? The sponsors? Who are the supporters so that the artist can toil and do what they do to document life as it is or should be?

I will be considering this for some time. I find no definitive conclusion after all this rumination. All I can say is I hope that when my generation (supposed generation x) is long and gone, they will say that we valued our artists and their work. That we were the beginning of the measurement of greatness because we knew the value of art. We knew art was life. Our human life. And that is sacred.

 

Inkster (Writing Superhero) Dispatch: A First Signing Engagement Invitation

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I had to pull out my special blinky light-sonic screwdriver pen and my Inkster hat and persona to get this one on the blog. Pulling out all the superhero tactics from the tool box was necessary since I’ve been hard at work editing. Honestly, this is a welcomed break from the destruction I’ve wrecked on my manuscript.

At Second Glance may be ordered on Amazon or via the Gay City web site.

However there is some good news to share. I will be having my first public reading, along with some very other talented authors and editors on Feb. 19th at 2 p.m. at the University of Washington Bookstore (aka University Bookstore) in Seattle. I will be reading a short excerpt from EDOM THE TREASURE KEEPER, as it appears in At Second Glance, The 4thAnthology from Gay City.

I invite all of you to attend and to bring your ten closest friends. There is even *gasp* a book signing afterwards. That also will be my first ever. I may have to get a special green blinky sharpie for signing. I’ll have to lure folks to the unknown woman among better-known local writing celebs, after all. What do you think?

Until then I’ll be pondering not only what part of the story to read, as well as what to wear. All suggestions from those in the know are appreciated.

Regardless of wardrobe and signing pen selection, I hope to see many of you there rooting for me and sending me positive energy so I don’t trip on my words or worse [insert awful performance anxiety issue here].

 

p.s. This is my 50th post for my blog. I think I might need at least 50 comments to make it that much more special.

Starving Artist Fed by Universe

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I’m pouting right now. Pouting and listening to Tori Amos on repeat. A literary life is not putting food in my belly or going to keep my lights on. And I’m pulling a first-class fit about doing anything but writing.  I put gas in my car with the last bit of writing money I’ve made this month. With no billable hours or stories purchased recently or coming up in the foreseeable future, I’m not sure when the next check will come in. Why gas? So I can play taxi cab driver for my children. Yes, the children. That’s why there’s so much angst over no work. My children didn’t choose this starving-artist existence. Although, my family could have objected to me leaving the proverbial rat race; but, they didn’t. They all said they supported my dreams. Without that support I couldn’t even have come this far. But right now it feels very much like an obscene phone call of a failure. All heavy breathing, no climax.

I’m trying; however, to focus on the positive. For instance, there have been high spots this week, too. A story that came out of no where and is some of the most intense writing I’ve done in a long time poured forth from me this week. I blame the financial suffering and the threat to the muse that a gerbil-wheel cubicle is in my future again very soon. Also, an unnamed benefactor sent me an Amazon Gift Card after I posted on my facebook (you may pause here and go friend me) to purchase David Madden’s “Revising Fiction:  A Handbook for Writers.” I used to own the book, lent it out many moons ago to whom I forget, and it was not returned. I ordered it and it arrived uber fast (Thank you Powell’s Books). Other indescribable, yet positive things happened as well, like:  I spent a wonderful brisk morning on the banks of the river practicing Yoga with my canine companion, QimYuki, by my side, and reached my toes for the first time in many years (this is a huge accomplishment for someone with degenerative spine disease and two back surgeries already under my vertebrae).

Then someone turned me on to the blog Unicorns for Socialism. Alexandra Franzen’s post “Money Amplifies Your Art,” hit me hard. I so believe in these sentiments. Many will think – including my spouse who is under great pressure right now because the scales of income-producing are tipped unjustly on his shoulders right now – that these sentiments won’t pay the mortgage. The power however is in the faith that these beliefs are true. That pouring tenfold into my art will produce the compensation I need for my family and me to survive.

That unexpected story I wrote yesterday is powerful and moving – so much so I had to step away from it last night for a little while because it was so emotional. I say this not to be cocky and boastful; but, because when you’ve written something you instinctively know is empowering and shakes your being – you just do. Powerful and Moving are two other themes that appeared this week, just when I needed it as well. Also as Mr. Vastano puts it, having a day job is just a trade. It doesn’t have to define or be the only thing I (or you) do. I don’t’ know yet if circumstances will make me have to bar tend, wait tables, or do other myriad of non-artistic endeavors. Regardless, it comes down to balance. Life has moments where there is sheer elation and others where all you can do is pout and mope. The key is to spend as much time in between them so Unicorns, Dead Rock Stars, and reaching the sun in salutation while maintaining your ground at your toes, is all doable.

What message did the universe send you this week?