“God Bless Texas”

For the past couple of days, I have written about the looming issue of teen rape allegations that have been leveled against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh by Dr. Christine Basley Ford.

It has roiled emotions in me that as a 65-year-old woman you wouldn’t think would still be so tender.

But I have always been a deeply reflective person, admittedly with a bit of the drama queen thrown in.  Hopefully it makes what I write a little more worth reading than it might otherwise be.

I just read a “Washington Post” article by a writer named Elizabeth Bruenig that I wish I could lay claim to – except she deserves every accolade she receives for having written it so beautifully.

It is the story of a teen rape that occurred in her high school and how justice was never obtained by the victim, even though she reported it in a timely manner.

But mostly it is about the cruelties of high school and small, insular communities and how people come angrily together in their denial to harm a victim even more.

And it is how the gentlest, most vulnerable among us are easy prey for hunters who can kill us with harmful acts and deadly lies as easily as if they shot us.

This story took me back to my own teen years and school experiences. As it takes place in Texas, it also makes me wonder about what one of my nieces may have experienced that has led her to a life outcome I desperately didn’t want for her.

Some things I know.  But a great deal I am sure I – or maybe anyone – know nothing about.

She doesn’t know how much I still love her and ache for her to turn her life around.  She doesn’t know this because we don’t speak any more.

That is on me.  Because there comes a point when you have held out your hand to help someone, and they continually slap it away, you just stop.  There comes a time when they do something that – while you can forgive it – you can’t stand by and quietly observe it any more.

Because maybe what they did hits a little too close to a raw childhood nerve that never heals. Even when you are 65-years-old.

Ours is a family dominated by a matriarch who was never my mother, not in a daily sense, as she didn’t raise me.

But her imprint was stamped on me at birth and repeatedly pointed out to me by the parents who did raise me, my grandfather and his second wife. Down to a “sneer” I didn’t know I possessed and a physical resemblance I am constantly told of by my sisters.

As I came to know her as an adult, we searched out the similarities in each other, from the exact same outfits hanging in our closets to our shared love of reading and doing crosswords.

Although I don’t think she graduated high school, as she was 16 when I was born, she was a smart cookie, my mother.

I am a smart cookie too. Except we both had terrible taste in men. In fact, except for my youngest sister, none of us has had much luck on that score.

It’s generational, it seems, touching my niece’s life in very dramatic ways.

Which is a round about way of getting back to the main issue. How, in a society supposedly as advanced as is our own, are women still prey and men the hunters?

What are the biological and psychological imperatives that drive that dynamic so that it cannot be educated out of us? Even at the “highest “ levels of our society?

If we are, indeed, created in God’s image, what does that make God? Why ever would the angels envy us, as my Catholic religion teaches, we creatures with one foot in the material and the other in the spiritual world?

No, I am not blaming God for our fallen choices.  Just for knowing in advance that we would make them. And knowing that his dying on the Cross to expiate their sin wouldn’t make living any less painful for us all.

I have always questioned what purgatory really means, if it really exists.  Perhaps this is it: knowing some of us are prey, and others hunters.

And screaming #MeToo doesn’t seem to change it very much at all.



Death in A Newsroom

Yesterday’s story about the deaths of five journalists for the Annapolis “Capital Gazette” made anger tear through me like the bullets that claimed their lives.

I am angry at the gunman, angry about yet another senseless mass shooting and angry that we have a President so dismissive about the enshrined Constitutional protections of a free press that he dares to call it “the enemy of the people.”

If the media is the people’s enemy, why in their wisdom did the Founding Fathers consider it one of the first things in need of protection?

Perhaps because they envisioned a day when someone would repress it in ways beyond the excessive taxation of newsprint itself.

I got my start in journalism in a newsroom probably very similar to that of the “Capital Gazette.”

Then called “The Five Cities Times-Press-Recorder,” (TPR for short), I started my reporting days there via a college internship program that turned into a full-time employment opportunity.

Though we only published twice per week, we did our best to provide the same comprehensive coverage as the county daily. This meant putting in 80 hour weeks that began on Monday and ended at noon on Friday after that week’s last edition was “put out.”

It meant scrambling all day to write features on agriculture, education and Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant only to spend the evenings attending harbor commission, city council and boards of education meetings.  Then I would leave some of those meetings at midnight to have to be back at 6 am on a Wednesday or Friday morning to write stories that had to be turned in by 9 am for a noon publication.

I often did this with my then toddler son in tow, sleeping nestled in blankets under my desk as I typed away until it was time to wake him, feed him, drive him to day care and return to the story waiting in my IBM Selectric for its final touches.

Had I been in that routine in today’s media environment, my son could have been a victim to this senseless violence.

Newsrooms, you see, are places of intimacy where colleagues quickly become families as well as competitors for stories once called “above the fold.”

In few other workplaces could I, as a single parent, combine my responsibilities of motherhood and reporter.

I remember the people and their names to this day: Mary, who would go on to become my roommate and remains a dear friend, an “aunt” figure to my son; Jerry, whose acerbic wit and critical eye on my stories made me improve my reporting of them; John, the diligent editor who made my copy better (and infinitely shorter); Rosemary, our social pages editor and Tom, who filled two pages of sports each edition; Dick, the publisher and owner of a small town California paper with a national news story I was responsible for covering in his own backyard.

And God help you if you got scooped on that story by the county daily or the national press.  This was “our story” in our “territory,” not theirs.

Every time Trump refers to the “dishonest” media, I want to scream because his is the true dishonesty – taking a broad brush that paints an inaccurate label over an entire industry of people who work insufferably hard for pay that is often not commensurate with the hours, education and dedication required to do the job.

Meanwhile those community papers that struggle to hold on in the digital era are fewer and fewer in existence.  Something has been leeched from our sense of community as a result.

The last thing they need is to be caught in the cross hairs of Trump’s dishonest rhetoric because he can’t stand the fact Jeff Bezos has more money and owns “The Washington Post,” or that Jeff Zucker at CNN doesn’t show Trump enough fealty for putting in a good word at his hiring.

Because that is the source of Trump’s true ire at a press he simultaneously castigates and secretly courts because he covets its praise.

Trump’s neediness for adulation will be the death not only of these journalists, but of our nation as well.

For as Thomas Jefferson so simply said, “The only security of all is in a free press.”


Give Back The Kids

Everyone is asking when the children of asylum seekers will be returned to them.

My guess is that those that are will be returned very, very slowly.

And given what I am guessing was a deliberate lack of advanced reunification planning on the Trump Administration’s part, I am betting that very few may ever see their parents again.

You see I think that WAS the plan – to make the loss of the children a permanent thing so as to make the idea of coming to the United States as unappealing as staying in Central America to face the violence threatened and perpetrated by the MS-13 gangs that Trump loves to frighten all of us with as well.

Donald Trump intended to hold on to these children – not just as a bargaining chip for a vanity wall – but as a tool to keep people of color from thinking of entering this country.  Ever.

Lose your child to MS-13 or to the U.S. government.  Either is a Sophie’s choice.

Given the current political climate, it is astonishing they still want to come here in the first place.  How horrible must their lives really be that they would – three years after Trump’s escalator descent – still choose to come to a place where the President’s favorite pastime is hearing his rabid base scream “Build the Wall!”

Yes, we need an established border that defines our sovereignty.

But what we need more badly is solid immigration policy that deals with the undocumented who have lived law-abiding lives here for decades and have adult children who have only known the U.S. as their home since they were as tiny as the toddler featured on the cover of next week’s “Time” magazine cover.

We have paid to educate those young adults called Dreamers.  They have attended school with our children, played soccer in our fields, sat beside us at Church services.  They deserve a clear path to citizenship and their families deserve to know they will not be deported.

Call it amnesty if you want. But kicking them out of the country will not bring back a coal miner’s job in West Virginia.  It will hurt our economy in ways Mick Mulvaney hasn’t yet penciled out.

Then we need to integrate our foreign and immigration policies so they work in mutually advantageous ways, including continuing to set the example of a nation based on laws that are defined by their justice, fairness and equality of application.  We could start by practicing on our own citizens.

I don’t pretend to know how to do all these things and have them make the scales balance equally.  Perhaps no one does.

But I do know how to start – give the children back, as quickly as possible.


Can We Talk About Guns Now?

Since the Parkland shooting I have not blogged, though I have spoken out on Twitter.

But I haven’t written about this 18th school shooting since January because I don’t know what argument there is left to give to stop this madness.

If the death of 14 students and three school staff isn’t an argument in and of itself, what is?

If the fact that it’s the 18th time we’ve had a school shooting since the start of this year alone, what is?

If the fact that the GOP refuses to say the word “gun” in any way and accepts un-totaled millions in campaign contributions from the NRA ($30 million to Trump alone), then what argument can be made to outweigh those vast sums?

Apparently none.

It doesn’t matter that the weapon used was first created by the Nazis at the end of World War II with the specific intent to kill as many Allied Forces as quickly as possible.

It doesn’t matter that the Russians mass-produced their Kalashnikov version to such a degree the excess ended up in the hands of the N. Vietnamese and was a prime reason in our inability to gain traction in an intractable war.

It doesn’t matter that then Secretary of Defense McNamara ordered up our own version (the M16) and that despite having this weapon of mass destruction and its siblings, we are still mired in intractable war in Afghanistan, spreading into Africa.

It doesn’t matter that unless they are on the battlefield, soldiers only carry this weapon in training and that it is otherwise kept in gun lockers on military bases.

It doesn’t matter that this weapon is meant to blow bodies apart, not just stop an attacker.

It doesn’t matter because somehow the NRA has put a spell on the minds of its members that is so dark, no reasoning can overcome it.

It doesn’t matter that common sense background checks, sensible restrictions on those who should not have guns, reasonable licensing and required training do no more to impinge on the right to bear arms than they do the right to drive a car.

It. Just. Doesn’t. Matter.

Because the death of our children does not make the “agenda” of people like Marco Rubio, a sometime more moral arbiter in his party.  Oh, he alleged he may be willing to make semi-automatic weapons “less lethal” to lead to less loss of life.

I wish he had been asked at CNN’s Parkland Town Hall which among the 17 victims he would have then chosen to live.  He wasn’t.

But if raising the age to buy this weapon of war from 18 to 21 isn’t acceptable to the NRA, you can bet your bottom dollar restricting magazine capacity won’t be, either. (Let’s not even dare to mention banning a weapon that has no business in civilian hands.)

Its opposition would be less money from NRA coffers for any GOP and supportive Democratic politicians who dared talk about gun control and the fact that the “right to life” should be more cherished than gun ownership

It. Just. Doesn’t. Matter.

And that is profoundly depressing to me.  That the safety of our children to attend school and not have to worry about more than pop quizzes, who sat by whom at lunch and whether the football team will make the playoffs…

Just. Doesn’t. Matter.

Not to Marco Rubio ( at least, it doesn’t matter enough to him). Not to Congress.  Not to the President. Not to the NRA.  Not to the country.

So why should I write about Parkland when…

It. Just. Won’t. Matter.


The Gun Death of Innocence

I had planned to come home from Mass tonight and write about the incredible joy I felt at the honor of helping distribute ashes for Ash Wednesday tonight.

As it turns out, I was in such a rush to get to Mass, I had forgotten to turn off my TV. I knew there had been a school shooting in Florida, but I had seen a news scroll that had shown one dead.

At 9 pm, by the time I talked to friends after a long and crowded service and got some food to bring home for a late dinner, I walked in to hear there were 17 dead in the 18th school shooting  in the U.S. since the start of 2018 alone.

And my joy disappeared. All I could think of was the little babies and toddlers whose foreheads I had marked with the Sign of the Cross this evening. I don’t know any of their names ( we have a large, bi-lingual Church).  But I pray for all of them that they do not grow up to experience as teens what those students did today in Florida.

I saw so much innocence tonight at Church. And as the I-phone clips of the shooting and the interviews of the teachers, students and parents unfold across my TV screen,  I see the death of innocence too.

We can ask God “why.” But we also already know the answer. We love our guns too much. We value our privilege to own one far greater than we value human life. Our political machine loves the moneyed-oil of the NRA more than it cares about those victimized in our gun-obsessed society.

Bullets mean more than souls.

It is time for our elected officials, for gun fans, for all of us to ask – who in our society really needs semi-automatic and automatic rifles to protect their homes, to hunt animals in the woods? Just because we can have them, should we?

Why are we so afraid of thorough and complete background checks for the privilege of gun ownership if we have nothing to hide?  Why is it so inconvenient to wait a week or two to take possession of a weapon for that background check to be complete? I have waited longer to get a doctor’s appointment!

Why do we require people to take driving classes for the privilege of being on our streets, but not to carry a gun in public spaces?

Why do we allow people to carry those guns in a concealed manner so we don’t even know they have them?

We know these questions and we already know the sane answers to them.

Yet we let the insanity continue.

The real question is why we continue the insanity.





Mary’s Heart at Christmas

I wish just once in my life someone I loved cared about what I really thought; how I really felt emotionally about something. It has never been my luck.

Last night my son was given a Christmas present I would not have bought him in a million years. Expressing a desire to have something and the reality of possessing it are two different things.

It is not good enough that his friends have one. Just as it is not good enough he started smoking when he was a teen just because his friends did it. This was the same kid that came unglued at ten when he saw me puff off a friend’s cigarette and made me vow never to smoke again. I cared about what he thought, and I haven’t touched a cigarette since.

It is not good enough that he is a 40-year-old man who could have purchased this gift for himself. Left to his own devices, I doubt he ever would.

My son is a particular, deliberate person. He would never be foolish. That doesn’t mean someone else wouldn’t.  It doesn’t make this gift less deadly.

Never have I heard him express a desire to own this gift, though my daughter-in-law mentioned to me he had said something in passing.

He doesn’t need my permission to have it.  The person who gave it to him didn’t need my permission to give it to him.  But it would have been nice if for either a moment either had considered how I felt about it.

You see, no matter how old he grows, I am always his mother.  I am the one who carried him for 9 months in my womb. I am the one who still remembers what it felt like to hold him, to rock him, how he smelled, how sweetly he looked asleep in my arms.

I am the one who agonized for every hurt he has endured in life, wondering if I did the right things raising him pretty much alone.  Wishing I could take all his pain upon myself so he didn’t have to feel it.  The one who has had to stand mute and allow him as an adult to make his choices and live with the consequences, because that is what you do for your children when they become adults – let them be one.

But this is something I have to make my feelings known about, it matters that much to me.  As a Catholic, I try so hard to follow Mary in discipleship.  I understand that includes living with a pierced heart if anything bad were to ever happen to my son.  And hers was pierced seven times over with a sword.

But I don’t know if I can model her mercy and grace if anything were to happen to my son as a result of this gift. It might be beyond me to have forgiveness for it.

Heaven help me.  Jesus, I trust in you.







Yes –“Die Hard” is a Christmas Movie

With all the things going on in Washington this week – Senate voting on the Paul Ryan Postcard Tax Plan; a fight over who is heading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Michael Flynn’s attorneys notifying Donald Trump’s that they are no longer on the same team; Harry and Meghan getting engaged; (not to mention bringing Ringo into the Roy Moore controversy) – it turns out the most tweeted about topic this morning was:  is “Die Hard” truly a Christmas movie?

My answer to @TheRickWilson (paraphrased here) was: well, yeah!

In fact, I am going to say this may be the most quintessential depiction of a U.S. Christmas, perhaps even nudging out “A Christmas Story” for that honor.

First, the hero of the story, NYPD Detective John McClane, is living every Snowbird’s Christmas dream:  going somewhere warm for the holiday.  In McClane’s case, it is to Los Angeles for a tense reconciliation with his family, who has decamped there so his wife, Holly, can pursue her corporate dreams.

See, already this movie is about retirees, palm trees, a broken family, women in the workplace and Hollywood.  How much more Americans at Christmas can it get?

Plenty.  Holly – in feminist representation using her last name Gennero – is working for a multinational corporation called Nakatomi.  Now mind you, this is a nearly 30 year-old movie dealing with trade issues Trump loves to rail about today.  How au currant as well.  Not only does this Japanese company own a primo location in L.A., it also has a state of the art, computer controlled vault holding $640 million in corporate bearer bonds.  So now we know how the trade deficit got started.

Anyway, McClane is invited to the ubiquitous company Christmas party; you know, the one we’ve all been to where someone has a little too much to drink, some hanky-panky takes place (all consensual, of course) and the most obnoxious guy in the office thinks he is the hottest property there.  And McClane gets there in a private limo, the driver of which waits on him down in the garage, listening to hip hop and tending a giant Teddy Bear (see – Teddy Bears are for Christmas and Valentine’s only, everyone knows that!)

Enter the bad guys, bearing enough military hardware to capture a school yard or a small town held by ISIS, take your pick.  Now you have a Christmas movie perfectly plotted for the NRA and military buffs.

For those who love their John Wayne movies, in this Christmas movie, our John goes solo Green Barefoot Beret with a handgun and a T-shirt that – over the course of the movie – will never be Clorox clean again.  I believe this is a Christmas nod to all the mothers who have tried in vain to get the grass stains out of the football uniforms, soccer jerseys, tennis whites, etc.

Again, this movie is so prescient of our times.  The leader of the bad guys turns out to be German – in other words, Trump’s vision of Angela Merkel as leader of the free world and NATO.  Unlike Trump, Hans Gruber is a master negotiator of all sorts of transactions during this movie:  bathroom breaks, couches for pregnant women about to deliver, the quick demise of the Nakatomi Chairman.  McClane, who was watching, gives his position away (sorry, I don’t think John Wayne ever did that, Bruce-it’s more like a Roy Rogers move). Then, McClane is chased by Tony, the Viking blond brother of Karl, a maniac played by ballet star Alexander Godunov because, I guess, Baryshnikov was busy starring in “The Nutcracker” back in old snowy New York.  Remember, this is a CHRISTMAS movie.

Anyway, McClane kills Tony and sends him down the elevator dressed in a Santa Hat and wrapped in Christmas packing tape…ho, ho, ho this movie has presents delivered down a shaft!  Not quite a chimney, but close enough for our purposes.  The plot twist – the C-4 and detonators Hans brought with him to add fireworks to the party have been captured by McClane.

Meanwhile, in side stories, we have a Twinkie loving cop with a pregnant wife who gets called to respond to “shots fired” at the Nakatomi building.  There is also a ruthless reporter (imagine either Anderson Cooper or Tucker Carlson, depending on whether you are conservative or liberal) trying to get “the story” going on at Nakatomi by any means necessary, despite the fact that his editors think it may be “fake news.”

Whew.  This is really a Christmas movie for our times, isn’t it?  It’s even got the FBI in it!  Of course, they end up going down in flames – hopefully our present day agents will have a better fate when the Mueller investigation runs its course.

Where was I?  Okay, obnoxious guy who thinks he is a genius negotiator gets killed by Hans when he can’t convince McClane to hand over the C-4 and detonators (see, a Christmas movie both Antifa and Neo Nazis can love!)  Hans and McClane face off, with Hans trying to pretend he is an escaped hostage.

In the spirit of Christmas giving, McClane gives Hans a gun which Hans uses to try to shoot McClane except – whoops, it has no bullets!  You know, like the toys you give the kids and forget to buy batteries to go with them.

McClane figures out Hans is going to kill the hostages by taking them to the roof and exploding it, giving the impression the bad guys have died when in fact Hans expects them to escape with the bearer bonds they finally have gotten hold of.  Meanwhile, Hans has made his way back down to the party to watch the TV news and learns that Holly is – gasp – a McClane, not a Gennero at all!  See, feminism only gets you so far, and then they figure out you’re married after all – and that makes you vulnerable all of a sudden and easy to use as cover against the cop husband holding a machine gun.

McClane – who in the interim has managed to kill Karl, or so he thinks – gives up the machine gun but has cleverly Christmas taped a gun between his shoulders.  That one present you didn’t know you needed but were so glad to get.

He shoots the remaining bad guys, including Hans, who starts to fall out a window but grabs Holly by her Christmas bonus Rolex, threatening to take her with him, until McClane unlocks the clasp and Hans falls flailing through the air with Holly’s watch.  Women never get paid what they are worth.

So, all seems to be saved. Holly and John have patched things up when Karl comes charging out of the building to kill McClane but is instead shot by our Twinkie loving cop because who doesn’t want one of those in their Christmas stocking in case of emergency?  Holly reclaims her last name in a nod to those women who take their husband’s names as their own and punches the bad reporter in the nose – something I keep expecting Sarah Huckabee Sanders to do any day now. (P.S. Notice how Sarah kept her old name and took a new one?  Maybe Holly should have thought of that.)

So there you have it – the quintessential movie that has presents for everyone.  How can it not be called a Christmas movie?

Ralphie and his bunny suit just don’t compare.



The 12th Commandment Is…

I am Re-upping this blog post in wake of the calls for Senator Al Franken to resign today, December 6, 2017:

It doesn’t pay to have political heroes, I’ve decided.

At least not the living kind.  And definitely not one who is a male of the species.  But then again, there are women who do seemingly use their sexuality to get what they want from some men with political power (Louise Linton, opera gloves, leather skirt, hands all over the money, cough cough).  They aren’t my heroes, either.

My heart dropped when I heard the news about Senator Al Franken (D-MN) today.  I have read his book, “Giant of the Senate,” and was delighted with his combination of whip smart humor and razor sharp intelligence boxed up in what seemed like a Mid-western morality.  He has been my hero during the Senate Judiciary hearings, asking pointed, direct and pertinent questions about the Russian interference in the 2016 election and what role may have been played by the Trump campaign.

Now I find out he’s just another guy hyped up on testosterone.

Yes, his apology was more sincerely stated than others currently standing in his shoes. (What’s that, Roy Moore?  Thou shalt not apologize is the 11th Commandment?  Does that mean it doesn’t count?)

But wouldn’t it be refreshing if men quit apologizing for sexually harassing women because they simply – quit.

Here’s a hint – if what you are doing while women are present is at all work related, don’t go there.  Laugh at Mother Pence all you like – he is at least a man who knows what his temptations may be and uses his wife’s presence to shield him from either directly or indirectly giving the impression he has hands and eyes for anyone but her.

But then again, all you have to do is look at the way Barack and Michelle Obama look at one another, and you know how deep their love is.  Besides, she would hit him in the head with a frying pan if he messed around, and he knows it.  Love you girl.  You are fierce.

Yes, our political class is a disappointment, for a lot of reasons.  But then, they always have been.  It is just the American way to sanitize and glorify our Founding Fathers and Honest Abe, Teddy R, FDR, JFK and Bobby.  Yes, GOP, Ronnie too.

We all know Thomas Jefferson had children with Sally Hemings and was not always a gentle owner of slaves.  But, he did give us the Declaration of Independence and was a truly brilliant man. So we pretend the first part never happened and never bother to fully read the second beyond knowing it guarantees our right to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Or you at least had that guarantee if at the time it was written you were a white, male property owner, preferably with ancestry that could be traced to the Mayflower.

Still, maybe Jefferson should have put a footnote in the Declaration for the guys in Congress and elsewhere on just what “happiness” entails.

It is not getting what you want, when you want it, on demand or by force.

Second hint to you guys out there:  “‘No’ is a complete sentence.”  There is no equivocation, qualification or amplification needed.  It’s just “no.”

But don’t worry.  For every guy with a little bit of cash, there is a version of Louise Linton for you too.  You just might have to hear “no” for a while until you find her.  And no matter what they told you in junior high gym class, you won’t die from your, er, you know – unless you took Viagra beforehand and it is now four hours later.  Then, get thee to an emergency room.

I know this is sounding very tongue in cheek, irreverent and maybe a little bit mean (sorry, Louise Linton – but you make yourself such an easy target).

But none of it is funny.  None of it is laughable.  In fact, it’s hard not to cry over it and let go with my flood of #MeToo tales.  We women all have them.

And that’s what’s truly wrong in our society.  That there isn’t a woman out there who hasn’t been through this at some point in her life.  Probably even Louise Linton.

For some, it comes at far too young an age.  For others, it goes beyond sexual taunts and suggestions and turns into improper physical contact, physical violence, rape and even homicide.

It’s not that enough men aren’t sympathetic to the problem.  They are.  Even some of the ones who are part of the problem, like Al Franken.

He is willing to be accountable.  That’s a step in the right direction.

But we won’t have solved the problem until a woman can go to work to earn her paycheck without fear or prejudice based on the fact that she is – a woman.

The Good Old Boys Club needs a 12th Commandment.  Simply put – Thou shalt not…


What Is Sexual Harassment

Any of the following unwanted behavior may constitute sexual harassment:

  • leering
  • wolf whistles
  • discussion of one’s partner’s sexual inadequacies
  • sexual innuendo
  • comments about women’s bodies
  • ‘accidentally’ brushing sexual parts of the body
  • lewd & threatening letters
  • tales of sexual exploitation
  • graphic descriptions of pornography
  • pressure for dates
  • sexually explicit gestures
  • unwelcome touching and hugging
  • sexual sneak attacks, (e.g., grabbing breasts or buttocks )
  • sabotaging women’s work
  • sexist and insulting graffiti
  • demanding, “Hey, baby, give me a smile”
  • inappropriate invitations (e.g., hot tub)
  • sexist jokes and cartoons
  • hostile put-downs of women
  • exaggerated, mocking ‘courtesy’
  • public humiliation
  • obscene phone calls
  • displaying pornography in the workplace
  • insisting that workers wear revealing clothes
  • inappropriate gifts (ex. lingerie)
  • hooting, sucking, lip-smacking, & animal noises
  • pressing or rubbing up against the victim
  • sexual assault
  • soliciting sexual services
  • stalking
  • leaning over , invading a person’s space
  • indecent exposure

Compiled by Martha Langelan in Back Off! How To Confront And Stop Sexual Harassment and Harassers

From “The Feminist Majority” Web Site



Small Hands, Jesus’ Thirst, Oceans of Love

What do you blog about when the day has been a blur?  What color and shape does that even take?

Actually, colors and shapes have been a daily delight since I downloaded the app “Colorify.”  I have become as addicted to it as I was to adult coloring books and Prismacolor pencils last year.

For the first time in his life, my son actually got a coloring book page from me at Christmas last year.  I remember fondly the things he used to color for my delight, and I still have the picture he did of me when he was five.  It said, “My Mommy is beautiful.”  He got the hair color wrong – hope he wasn’t talking about a different Mommy.  Still, I treasure it and the collage of his hand prints he also made that year.  When I look at his rangy 6’2” frame now, it is hard to believe his hands were ever that small.

Small hands have been on my mind a lot today.  No, not Donald Trump’s, but – well – enough said.

No, I have been thinking about children a lot today.  About the infant grandson of a prayer group friend in hospital now because he has the same congenital heart defect that Jimmy Kimmel’s son was born with.  I prayed the St. Michael prayer chaplet for him as soon as I heard the news.  I don’t know if it was the right one to choose or not, but if this child is in a battle for his life, I want an Archangel warrior and his battalions fighting on his side.

I also spent some time this morning brooding over the lives of the children lost in Texas on Sunday.  Such a senseless act of violence.  Whom did it serve?  What does so much hate and pain bring to this world, and how much beauty and potential does it destroy?  I have no answers – just the question.

My bible study led me to wonder if Jesus also asked the same from the Cross.  I am just now grasping how much greater than His physical Passion was the pain of His soul and the heartache He felt bearing all the burden of our sin upon Him, including that of this past Sunday.  There seems to be no end to the sin.  Does that mean there is no end to His suffering until our final end?

The book we are studying right now is about “Consoling the Heart of Jesus.”  He longs for us to do so by turning to Him and answering what St. Teresa of Calcutta said was His cry of “I Thirst.”  He longs for souls who seek His Divine Mercy, but not enough do.  He has graces He yearns to pass out, but not enough takers.  So, paradoxically, He is both happy in Heaven but still aching with pain for more people to reach out to Him and accept His infinite ocean of love.

My prayer for the people of that Church in Texas this Sunday was that in those final moments, through the sheer panic and fear they must have felt, they were reaching out to Him, and He was holding their hands, ready to take them home to live with Him in glory.

I pray they reached out to Him for His healing mercy and grace, and that He happily gave it in abundance and that, in that moment, neither He nor they thirsted at all.


When Cain Slew Abel

How can we be both one of the most democratically, technologically and economically advanced nations on the planet and at the same time be one of its most violent as compared to other societies with our advantages?

It is as though the evil of Cain’s heart has never progressed from the time he picked up the rock and slew Abel.  We are still that hate filled as a society.

We didn’t need another 26 dead people in Texas yesterday as proof of this.  We have had plenty of it this past year, including Las Vegas.

As yet I haven’t read the papers this morning to try to contextualize why this occurred, if authorities even know yet.  Last night I watched some of the breaking news of this story but after a relatively peaceful day, just didn’t want to dwell on more tragedy, so I turned it off.

But these situations involving semi-automatic rifles are becoming more and more prevalent and more and more deadly all the time.  They impact not just places like Las Vegas with its neon and glitter, but sleepy little churches in small Texas towns.  They touch us all, gun owners and non-gun owners alike.

I have yet to have anyone give me an answer as to why any citizen should be able to own a weapon capable of mowing down dozens of people in a matter of minutes, other than the bold assertion “it is my right.”

It is “my right” to say anything I please, yet I try to choose my words carefully because I know they have a power of their own.

These guns are meant to be killing machines and nothing more.  Just be honest and say so.  And then ask yourself why you just “have” to have one, if you are one of the people who do.

Again, I don’t live in fantasy land. The Second Amendment has been interpreted in such a way that everyone feels they are empowered by government to own a weapon.  So I know guns will not be going away from our civic life.

But why any reasonable person thinks they need more of them, that they need to be more powerful, have more of anything to them – well, that’s just falling for the same slick sales, gimmicky advertising of any consumer product, even if the NRA does wrap it all up in the flag and wave it proudly around.  No, the liberals are not trying to take away your guns, no matter what the NRA tells you.

But we who are moderate in view want moderate gun policies that offer some measure of control over who does and does not have access to weaponry that only the military or the police should own.  And in the case of the police, they wouldn’t need to own it if the citizenry were not so easily able to get their hands on it in the first place.

It is time for a conversion of hearts that examines deeply why we feel so threatened by life – or such a need to have power over others – that we allow such weapons to exist in regular society.  It is an existential threat.  Period.

Yes, someone can drive a truck into a crowd as an act of terror and it is just as deadly.  But cars exist for reasons other than as a killing machine.

Semi-automatic weapons and the attachments that make them fully automatic exist for no other reason than death.

And therein lies the difference.