A Vagina Walks Down the Street

“Hello friends,” said the walking vagina out loud, strutting as you do when drenched by a storm cloud. 

“But that’s not possible,” they say, dismayed by the boldness of her claims.

“Oh god,” she said with sarcasm and delight to all who stood and stared. “Look! Run! It’s a walking Labia Majora!” With her lips skewed to the side, and a smile as she toasts with her Susan, never Tom, Collins, she says.  

“Yes, that’s me. In my glory and brains, taking a walk, raw from labor pain.”

“Run children, run,” they say, “how dare she show her true, unveiled self! We will slay this walking bitch today.” 

The vagina, with a target on her back, just walked on her way, whistling a toon that only she can sustain, admiring her friend, Collins’ refrain of the profane.  

“The pompous! The unreal! The destruction of all!” They yelled. “At lease cover your Bombay, your entrée, or people will have a field day!”  

“Yoga pants to the rescue?” The Vagina spoke up, with an ironic smile on her face. “But you forbade those, calling them the gravy train, a hurricane of sugarcane shaking and activating your renal veins!”

“My renals are just fine, thank you very much!” They said. “But you, and your Collins, you two with your dangerous horseplay, your tempting doomsday!” They cried with Fox News while sucking on their propaganda sugar cane.  “Now, moving target,” they called the Vagina, “go away, hit the hay, you’re a slut like every divorceé.” 

“Doomsday and slut?” the Vagina replied, “As you cover up your intended reign, forcing Ukraine with your disdain for right brain logic.  Embracing, rather, ad campaigns. I am a labium of truth, but you see only the mark of Cain in my menstrual stain, and you grab me for capital gain.”

“And gain we will!” They cried with pitchforks and PR men in their wake. “You, withered lips, a chosen scapegoat,” they laughed as they walled all exits from the streets. “We are your Fannie Mae, your Judgment Day, your chauvinistic Hemingway all waiting to put you on layaway.”

“And I shall bleed,” the walking Vagina said as she spilled the last bit of her Susan Collins between her lips, savoring the strength therein. “I shall bleed a terrible river of red bane, poisoned by your own water, your own food chain, leaving the earth a barren terrain.”

“And it is there,” the Vagina continued unmoved by the pitchforks and the threats, “it is there that you shall cry in vain as your water, your children, your earth withers and drains. All from your own doing and greed. You will be choking on your own bane.”

And so, the Vagina kept walking down the street, ready to face all walls and ceilings in her pinkness and her accused profane, missing the days of McCain, who at least seemed somewhat sane. “Maybe,” she thought, glistening in the now moonlight getting ready to jump the ill-created wall, “it’s time for a new type of senate campaign.” 

Adventures in Supermarkets: Lessons in communication

Conversations heard at the grocery story. I love when I overhear conversations – I am often surprised by their content, seeing how we are all in a public place!

Act 1:

A guy and girl were walking. I think they were boyfriend and girlfriend, or at least testing the waters. She was talking about her dog and he replied as follows:

Just so you know, any conversation about pets and animals is not going to be met with any reciprocal joy.”

I am not giving this relationship very long. I also caught up with them in the frozen food section, and she was talking this time about something she wanted him to understand.

“And I just want you to know ….” He interrupts: “Ok, what is it you want me to know now?”

Yep, I am not thinking this potential hook will last long. Empathy is key to conversations and actions. Connection bids, where you are sharing a story about your pet or setting boundaries, should be accepted rather than blocked. These two need to play the improv “Yes, and” game.

Act 2:

On the same trip, I was accosted by a passive aggressive, angry shopper. Granted, my cart was a bit out toward the middle of the isle, my bad. It was at an angle with the handles toward the center of the isle and the cart bumper toward the window. This was also in the refrigerator section.

This last event on my daily shopping task reminded me of our problems in the US today. In general, we don’t know how to talk to each other. We make a lot of assumptions about why people do what they do, and most of the time, these assumptions are incorrect. They are based on our own personal biases.

For myself, I was under the weather that day, functioning in a fog and so was not as aware as I should have been about where my cart was stationed. It happens to us all. In my fog, a woman literally rammed my cart as if she was giving the cart a derby hip check. The cart then rickashaed off the glass in the frozen food section and almost hit me. She then looked at me with a smirk and said “oh, excuse me!” Then rolled her eyes. I apologized for leaving my cart in a bad area and she turned and left. I was left there thinking: WTF?

This woman had a young child with her and I thought, wow … example much?

Now it is hard to know why she behaved as she did. Maybe she was in a bad mood, but we must all check our behavior when we interact with others. What I worrie about is the example her child witnessed. This child, whether hers or not, just recited information that says acting aggressively toward another is ok, as long as you can get away with it. We offer this example a lot in our world today, espically online. Empathy, folks. Talk to someone and find out what is going on rather than assuming or raming them in the store.

I have to go shopping again today. Could be informative!

Let’s Not Repeat “Rule-of-Law” Atrocities

Let’s Not Repeat “Rule-of-Law” Atrocities

We are witnessing history repeating itself with Jeff Sessions’ citation of Romans 13, and Trumps “zero tolerance” policy on separating immigrant children from their family. I would like to remind us all how unholy unions of spiritual and secular rule-of-law reasoning used to support inhuman and wayward laws wreak havoc on us all.

magdalene_asylum_at_wooloowin_brisbane_1937

Magdalene Asylum at Wooloowin, Brisbane, 1937[1], John Oxley…

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Let’s Not Repeat “Rule-of-Law” Atrocities

We are witnessing history repeating itself with Jeff Sessions’ citation of Romans 13, and Trumps “zero tolerance” policy on separating immigrant children from their family. I would like to remind us all how unholy unions of spiritual and secular rule-of-law reasoning used to support inhuman and wayward laws wreak havoc on us all.

magdalene_asylum_at_wooloowin_brisbane_1937
Magdalene Asylum at Wooloowin, Brisbane, 1937[1], John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, 1937
For a good portion of the modern era, Ireland locked away so-called undesirable “fallen women” into Magdalene Laundries under the guise of religious and state “rule-of-law” philosophy designed to protect against contaminating Ireland’s moral and economic purity. A “zero tolerance” policy was established against any woman held in suspicion: single mothers, prostitutes, women who were considered too pretty, and the list goes on. For single mothers and those who became pregnant out of wedlock, their children were forcibly taken from them and adopted out of the country without their permission, while she endured slave labor for the rest of her life in a laundry. Names were changed, and families were moved around making it impossible to reunite.

Here in the United States, we are creating the conditions for a similar long-term, and wide-reaching historical disaster with the current administration’s illegal immigration policy, promoting the separation of children from their family. This policy is further supported by a rhetoric of how those illegally crossing into the US could be “murderers and thieves.” This narrow xenophobic and nationalistic discourse framed within “rule-of-law” logic will damage our nation’s core humanistic values and ruin the lives of thousands.

beys_afroyim_with_son
Beys Afroyim (1893-1984), subject of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court citizenship law case Afroyim v. Rusk, with his infant son Amos. Taken in a park in New York City in 1947. Original photo is now at the Austrian National Library.

Both Sarah Huckabee (secular argument) and Jeff Sessions (religious reasoning) cite the “rule of law” in this human rights catastrophe as justification for terrorizing families that illegally enter this country, while, ironically enough, the US exits the UN Human Rights Council. Sessions, while promoting a questionable marriage between state and religious law, proclaims: “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.” This rule-of-law argument has been used to justify discriminatory and inhumane laws since the beginning of recorded history, defending slavery, mass executions and the attempted eradication of large, marginalized groups of society.

“Rule-of-law” arguments are what we in communication studies call narrowly framed master arguments designed to blind our sight from other evidence. Like Creon in Sophocles’ Tragic play the “Antigone,” we develop tunnel vision blinding us to the human element impacted by the rule-of-law. In the “Antigone,” Creon decrees that his nephew Polyneices cannot be buried as he brought a war to Thebes. During his campaign, Polyneices is killed, and Antigone wishes to bury her brother according to spiritual traditions of the time. Creon decrees against this act. Antigone, however, finds herself called by greater laws, unwritten spiritual and humanitarian laws, which puts kindness first. She breaks Creon’s order and is sentenced, without a jury of her peers, to be buried alive, justified by the “rule-of-law” edict.

The “Antigone” has been used as a protest play since it’s creation in 441 BC, adapted continually to speak for misguided applications of “rule-of-law” designed to protect inhuman laws, including legislation that promoted over a hundred years of Magdalene Laundries atrocities.

Trump and Lady Liberty
Sableman, Paul. (Feb. 4, 2017). “Trump and Lady Liberty.” Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0). Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pasa/32651533221/

Unholy unions of spiritual and secular rule-of-law reasoning destroy the foundations on society. As humans, we have a higher calling, one that views all of humanity, worthy of consideration over poorly written laws. The poor, the illegal immigrant, women, children, those from other nations and religions are all worthy of humane concern. We must rise above this repetition of history, embracing a better way, a road not wrought by human right abuses.

As a scholar of the Magdalene Laundries, I receive mail every year from children looking for their birth mothers. The pain and anguish these now grown children live with are profound and devastating. Since the Irish state at the time did not require convents and religious laundries to keep records on the “inmates,” and as inmate names were often changed, the chances of reuniting are slim to naught. Today we have an opportunity as a nation to do better, and we must or we all risk being buried alive by ill-begotten laws designed to destroy.

________

Dr. Rebecca Lea McCarthy is a communication’s instructor for South Seattle College and the author of “Origins of the Magdalene Laundries: An Analytical History.”

The “Golden Rule” is not so Golden; it’s Time for New Guidelines

The “Golden Rule” is not so Golden; it’s Time for New Guidelines

Rockwell's Gold Rule, The Saturday Evening Post, April 1, 1961

Rockwell's Gold Rule, The Saturday Evening Post, April 1, 1961

Rockwell’s Gold Rule, The Saturday Evening Post, April 1, 1961

More and more, I find myself cringing when I hear friends and colleagues promote the virtues of the Golden Rule or the rule of thumb. A popular ethical ideal, this rule tells that a guide to being ethical is that we should treat people the way we want to be treated; “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” or “do nothing…

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The “Golden Rule” is not so Golden; it’s Time for New Guidelines

Rockwell's Gold Rule, The Saturday Evening Post, April 1, 1961
Rockwell’s Gold Rule, The Saturday Evening Post, April 1, 1961

More and more, I find myself cringing when I hear friends and colleagues promote the virtues of the Golden Rule or the rule of thumb. A popular ethical ideal, this rule tells that a guide to being ethical is that we should treat people the way we want to be treated; “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” or “do nothing to others you don’t want to be done to yourself.” The notion is this, limit the harm you may cause to others. Indeed, Google’s old motto, for they have now done away with it, “don’t be evil,” is a reflection of the Golden Rule.

But why talk about the Golden Rule? Isn’t is it old fashion and out of date in practice? This is what philosopher Bill Puka suggests, in his article on “The Golden Rule” for the Encyclopedia of Philosophy; “we must acknowledge that the gold rule is no longer taken seriously in practice or even aspiration, but merely paid lip service.” I must disagree, most folks I know use the Golden Rule as their main barometer for action. It may not be seriously promoted in the upper echelon of education, but most of my students, colleagues, and friends, when asked how they make decisions about how to act, explain how they live their life by the Golden rule. For most of society, it seems a simple, no-nonsense way of being and guide for action.

As a simple philosophy of behavior, the Golden Rule has been around for a very long time, has been celebrated by almost all cultures historically (Western and Eastern philosophy), and it has two primary functions, one problematic and the other helpful. Let’s start with the useful aspect of The Golden Rule.

The Golden Rule asks us to get out of our skin and to consider how someone else may wish to be treated or not treated. As humans, we have a hard time stepping out of our skin. Our emotions, genes, neurological make-up, cultural sensibility, all of these things tend to re-enforce a focus on “self” rather than an understanding of others. And, if you happen to live in communities influenced by individualism, such as the US, Australia or England, it is even harder to step out of your skin to view others. “Me” cultures focus so much on self; the assumption often made is: I feel this way, so others must feel this way too! This assumption is wrong. It assumes (ASS out of U and ME) a Universal value system, which tends to fall flat in most practical situations. However, as a rule, this so-called Rule of Thumb does beg us to think of others, which is the first step toward empathic communication.

However, it is not enough. To assume that people want to be treated the same way I want to be treated, this is what we call an attribution error; we incorrectly attribute the reason for action, motivation, and needs.

Let me give you an example, first, a situation from my point of view. I am driving down the road, and some butthead almost runs me off and into a ditch:

“Oh, Shit,” I say as I struggle to not get in an accident and stay on the road. “What was he thinking? Can’t he see there are other people on the road? We all had to get a license to drive, did he forget the same rules I was given?? Damn, Dude! If I were that driver, even if I were in a hurry, I would take a chill pill and get myself together!”

Now, let’s look at the same situation from the other driver’s point of view. He is speeding down the highway, the same road I was on. He has a child lying in the back of his car, something I cannot see. His thoughts might be:

“I have got to get to the hospital now! Hold on baby, we are almost there; Daddy loves you! Oh god, that woman is in my way. Move! Move!!! Oh god, I can’t get around her! There’s an opening!” He sees the woman yelling in her car and at him. “I am sorry, lady, but I have to get to the hospital now!”

"Alnomuc, or, The golden rule, with twenty-four engravings" Year: 1837 (1830s) Authors: Amory, John H
“Alnomuc, or, The golden rule, with twenty-four engravings” Year: 1837 (1830s) Authors: Amory, John H

It is impossible for me to know what is going on with the other driver, just as it is impossible for the other driver to know what is going on with me. I have limited information about the situation. Indeed, all either of us has to go on are our assumptions, biases, and personal experiences, all of which are failing in this case.

The Golden Rule fails in practice because we really can never tell instinctively or otherwise how someone wants to be treated, or why they do what they do; what their motivation for action happens to be.

Attribution errors are the cause of most negative conflicts in life, miscommunication, and other missteps in life. Because the Gold Rule inherently relies on the attribution error (people act and want to be treated the same way I like to be treated), it is not golden. This is especially true in a global community, made up of many cultures holding varying values. So, what do we do? And how does any of this apply to my life, my community, or my professional and private life?

We inform, question, investigate, and then act. One reason the Golden Rule seems so awesome is that it asks little of us! We have a rule, and all we have to do is to look at ourselves and then decide how to act. How convenient is that?! However, as comfortable as it is, it is not helpful. Rather than creating an attribution error because of built-in assumptions of the work, it is time to proactive rather than simplistically reactive. Let me give you another example from a personal situation.

The other day, I had my tooth extracted. It was not a good dentist appointment. I was shot up with Novocain, and then it turned out that my insurance said I did not exist. So, the procedure was stopped, while the office worked things out. It took over an hour. We got back to it, but I had to be shot-up again. Then the extraction went south. My tooth did not want to leave me, you know, separation anxiety. The experience was more than painful, and I was left exhausted, in a great deal of pain, and emotionally spent. My partner walked me home, and then we went back to work. In pain, I wondered why he was not helping me! “My own husband! He doesn’t care; why is he not soothing me?”

Bernard d'Agesci (1757-1828), La justice, musée de Niort. Holds scales in one hand and in the other hand a book with "Dieu, la Loi, et le Roi" on one page and the Golden rule on the other page.
Bernard d’Agesci (1757-1828), La justice, musée de Niort. Holds scales in one hand and in the other hand a book with “Dieu, la Loi, et le Roi” on one page and the Golden rule on the other page.

From my husband’s point of view, I was in pain, but I was okay. I got up, made myself small things to eat and drink, replied to students, and did other small tasks. Clearly, I was fine. But by the time night came, I was worse and frustrated with him. He, in turn, was not sure what to do for me or if I needed him to do anything for me. “Why,” I wondered, “did he not know the ‘playbook’ for taking care of his wife when she was in pain and emotionally spent?”

Why? Because I never gave him a “playbook” or any instructions on how he could help me. I made a fundamental attribution error in my assumption that he would just know what to do. The next morning, I sent him an email with a playbook: “this is what your wife needs when she is down and out. Please send me your playbook so I can take care of you when you need it.”

What a crazy thought?! Tell the people around you what you need. Likewise, ASK the people around you what they need and why they do what they do. Probing questions immediately take power away from assumptions and other attribution errors:

“I don’t understand why you are doing it this way, can you explain?” “Are you ok? What can I do for you?” “When you send emails to more than one person, please address names on the emails so I can better know when and if you are talking to me, or the other person on the email.” “Emily, I could use your help. I am sorry, I was getting angry at the fact that you were not helping with this office project, but then I realized you did not know I needed help! So, I am asking.”

In the end, using probing questions and other forms of empathic communication can save us the grief that often comes along with a problematic application of the Golden Rule as well as attribution errors. If we start to understand how people need, think, feel and act for different reasons that we do, we can begin to create better-living, working, and communing situations for us all.

 

Younique Foundation: A Haven

The Younique Foundation, offering havens of healing for those sexually assaulted in childhood.

It has been a while since I have posted. I maintain blogs and write for other sites, making it difficult to find time to write for my own.  Alas, Irony. Image belongs to the Younique Foundation. However, I wanted to write about the Younique Foundation and their work at the Haven Retreat for woman traumatized by childhood sexual abuse.  If you have visited this site before, you know that I am…

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Nurturing Empathy in the US: Thank you, Karl Becker

Nurturing Empathy in the US: Thank you, Karl Becker

Karl Becker. Picture credit: ABC News

Karl Becker. Picture credit: ABC News

Karl Becker, the last questioner at last night’s debate, reminded us (I hope) that what we are missing in today’s world, not only in our politics is empathy. If you did not see the debate, he is the one who asked Clinton and Trump to state just one thing they liked about each other. There was no empathy on that debate stage, maybe the occasional stab at…

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Nurturing Empathy in the US: Thank you, Karl Becker

Karl Becker. Picture credit: ABC News
Karl Becker. Picture credit: ABC News

Karl Becker, the last questioner at last night’s debate, reminded us (I hope) that what we are missing in today’s world, not only in our politics is empathy. If you did not see the debate, he is the one who asked Clinton and Trump to state just one thing they liked about each other.

There was no empathy on that debate stage, maybe the occasional stab at sympathy, but no empathy.

Trump and Clinton, Second presidential debate. ABC News is the author of the image.
Trump and Clinton, Second presidential debate. ABC News is the author of the image.
 
The world we are living in is missing an empathetic understanding of each other and our environment – nature-, and unless we start to seriously recapture our ability to empathize, we will be lost. That is what I absolutely have come to understand.
 
This hit home when I was in Ireland, where I experienced more empathy and kindness for each other and our environment. There was almost no homeless, no graffiti or trash is thrown about. People were courteous and helpful to each other, including strangers. If you smiled at someone on the street, they smiled back and the drivers … OMG … amazingly courteous. We were biking on some roads that allowed for 100 km (62 miles per hour) and these folks gave us room to ride, even when there was no shoulder. We were not honked at, cussed at, yelled at or made to feel like we did not belong. Sharing the road was a given. I experienced, time and again, courtesy and Empathy.
 
In Ireland, statue in Tralee
In Ireland, statue in Tralee

When I came back from Ireland, I felt lost and ashamed. How could we treat each other like this? Treat our living environment like a trash heap? Like others, I have become a bit callous because it is so hard to live opened up emotionally when I see and experience our world where “me, me, me, mine, and I” is all we promote. A daily experience where we tell each other what to do (because our way is right and your way is wrong), and we do not respect each others autonomy or cultural differences, and where we have NO respect for our environment. I have such anxiety that I simply want to move out to the country where I do not have to be inflicted with the continuous lack of common kindness, courtesy, the lack of empathy we encourage in our world.

 
We must change. We must, must, must change and Becker’s final question asks those who would lead us to better embody empathy. We need examples of what this means for our children, and our children’s children. We cannot give them a clean and well-ordered world, but we can give them an understanding of how humans, through empathy and care for each other, can fix our world because this is the first step and the most important step. 

Conquering Self Fears and Momma Mia

Conquering Self Fears and Momma Mia

IMG_6098

IMG_6098

Mamma Mia at Diamond Head Theatre, Honolulu, HI: July 15 – August 14, 2016

A personal odyssey to combat fear and return to what I love:

Today, I am feeling less than 100%.  I made myself sick because of the stress and pressure I placed on myself the last few weeks. Auditioning for Musicals just scares the crap out of me, and I did two last week. I have not done a musical since I was around…

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Yes! Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!