ME TOO AND ME

by Kenneth Harper Finton

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Like most any white male born on the 40’s and raised in a rural midwestern town, I was raised with racist and chauvinistic people all around me. There were no black people in the old home town. I never had a chance to relate to any other influence until I left the nest and joined the larger nation around me.

Though women were almost sacred to me, it was not long before I was accused of chauvinism as well. Whether or not this destroyed my first marriage is an open question. It did not help. I entered marriage with the idea based on what was about me—that a woman’s role was to cook and do most of the cleaning. Men took care of the outside and women took care of the inside. That’s what my mother and their mothers did. It was that way everywhere for all I knew. There was little experience to be had about any alternative life styles. The TV shows of the time reinforced this mindset.

When you are living alone, you have to do everything. I did some cooking, some sloppy cleaning, and either went to the corner laundry or dropped my clothes at the cleaners. But that did not change the mindset that formed when I was young. My expectations for my marriage were much more traditional than I like to recall.  By myself, I eat in restaurants, sleep in motels or small efficiencies and take my wash to the laundry masters. These were my preferences. Living with others required compromise.

Born male, I could only guess at the female mindset.  I was not at ease with sex and dating for many years. I finally pecked my way out of that smothering egg long after those around me.

Women were elevated to goddess status in many stone-age cultures. Carvings and stoneworks of the Donna reflect the respect some stone-age peoples had for their women. The Abrahamic and Islamic religions did not glorify, but enslaved women as male possessions.  Through most civilized society, women were treated as chattel.

Chivalry supposedly reinstated women as objects of affection that needed protection but cast women in the role of delicate objects, fragile creatures who needed protection. Likely, this applied more to high-bred women of wealth or nobility, than the milkmaid or the tavern servers.

Unlike the generations before me, I came of sexual age after The Pill.  Unlike generations after me, my encounters came before AIDS. A short span in the 60’s and early 70’s turns out to be one of time’s few social reprieves for active sexual freedom. Single young men and women were hungry for sexual pleasure and the deep-rooted desire for stable companionship, but we soon found that people often mix like oil and water. Paradise is sweet and sour.

It does not take men long to realize that the woman is the great decider about physical contact. Those men who respected others also respected their wishes. Some—who had no real respect for themselves or others—tried to force themselves on women.

Most people have no tolerance for sexual predators. Using and abusing power (be it physical or economic) to force sexual favors has been wrong for a long time. Many men in powerful positions felt they had a right to demand sexual favors from subordinates.

Community leader and organizer, Tarana Burke, founded the “ME TOO” movement in 2006 to help sexual harassment victims and survivors to cope.

By late 2017 the movement has taken on social-changing roles as women came out to expose their unwilling experiences with people of power. However, not everyone was on board that ship. Catherine Deneuve, the famous 74-year-old French movie actress, denounced the movement in an open letter in France’s LeMonde. She claimed “legitimate protests against the sexual violence that women are subject to, particularly in their professional lives, had turned into a witch hunt.”

“Rape is a crime” she wrote, “but trying to seduce someone, even persistently or clumsily, is not—nor is men being gentlemanly a macho attack. Men have been punished summarily, forced out of their jobs when all they did was touch someone’s knee or try to steal a kiss.”

Street harassment is a form of sexual harassment that comprises unwanted comments, wolf-whistles, cat-calling, and other actions by strangers in public areas, according to Google.  And to think, just a few years back that was the common practice of hard-hatted males on break when a pretty woman walked by.

So what are men to do now? Ask if she’s comfortable. Phrase your words with more care. Think about sexist jokes before you relate them and you will likely not repeat them.

“Whether we know it or not, whether we allow ourselves to admit it or not, every man has a list of times that he has violated a woman’s boundaries. Men are raised in a society that teaches boys that they are entitled to have access to women’s bodies. You may not be drugging women’s drinks in a nightclub, you may not be stalking sex workers in a van, but you have probably pressured someone sexually more than once in your life. The game teaches men to assume that women want what we want. The game teaches women that they are supposed to want what men want. Men benefit from this, women do not, but the game is rigged to hurt everyone. The only way to end that cycle is to reject the game itself.”   -Indigo Nai on Facebook, 10/17/17

WHAT TRUMP DOES NOT KNOW

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When Trump led the birther movement, he quickly learned how easy it was to gain a following from some of the most anti-intellectual and ignorant folks in the America. Unless he was truly fathered by an orangutan, as Bill Maher suggested, he also knew that what he was advocating was quite removed from the truth. More likely, he wanted to destroy Obama because of his race, as he had learned from his father about discrimination and prejudice and keeping the uppity Africans in their place.

Armed with the knowledge that Americans could be led and misled with the flimsiest of facts, he sailed that pirate ship to the presidency. Bully tactics, common to both authoritarian and insecure personalities, became his staple for knowing our his competition—”Little Marco”, “Lying Ted”, “Low Energy” George, “Crazy” Ben—all were impaled and fell before Trump’s vitriolic utterances.

He addressed ‘hot button’ issues like immigration, the danger of foreign terrorists, a woman’s right to choose her own life and destiny, gun control, black violence, and Mexican culpability for what he liked to call a disastrous American economy. Blacks lived in an inner city graveyard. Towns decimated from the loss of manufacturing jobs were living without hope and only he could add dignity to their undignified lives. He knew all this and, in his tiny heart, he thrived on it.

Not many educated people took Trump seriously. He was the clownish buffoon, the Lenny Bruce of the political world who mouthed his disjointed thoughts into something that occasionally resembled coherency. His orangish skin with white eye sockets was a strange new figure reminiscent of Batman’s Joker. His head, topped by a cultured comb-over of straw-like hair, begged us to question the nature of its reality.

He began his line of campaign promises with a pledge to build a wall between Mexico and the United States that would be paid for by Mexico. He would deport any Mexican illegally resident in the US. Some Mexicans, he mused, might be good people, but Mexico sent the criminals and the rapists to the United States to work the fields, drive the nails, mow the grass, plow the snow, build the pipelines, and make the beds.

He announced that he would ban Muslims from entering the United States. He would not accept immigrants from war-torn Mideast countries. He would be the Law and Order candidate and, most telling of all, he was the only one that would fix an America that was on a fast downward spiral into poverty and oblivion.

How could anyone take these policies seriously? Not even the opposing candidates questioned the legitimacy or possibility of these false promises. That most of his solutions were unconstitutional was not even considered. Hilary Clinton was, after all, ready to break the glass ceiling once and for all—until competition showed up in the urban scarecrow figure of Bernie Sanders. Bernie has a twenty-minute memorized speech that he delivered over and over, speaking about how the one-percent ruled the world, how Wall Street and the banks have ruined the economy while enriching themselves. He wanted health care for everyone as an American right, free college for the masses and called his program a political revolution.

The free college and Revolution grabbed the younger generation by the seat of the pant. All young people want a revolution. The older generation had lived through the revolution of the 70’s and had learned that revolutionaries are either destroyed of assimilated into the system. They never had a better answer that the imperfect system that we have now. By working inside, they found, they could profoundly change some things. The distribution of wealth was closely held by the well established rich. It seemed that nature itself had no qualms about severe inequality and chaos. One kid would eventually have most of the marbles.

Hillary Clinton, Trump realized, was not necessarily fated to be the ordained leader of the free world. If Bernie and a few minor party candidates could divide the vote, Trump could sail upstream with the wind at his back. All he needed was a string of bologna, some white bread with enough Russian dressing to make a palatable sandwich and he could force feed it down the throats of this who still refused to believe in him.

November 8, 2016, in the early hours of the evening, the world gasped as they learned that the United States had elected Clara Belle the Clown leader of the free world.

Trump’s bold-faced lies work for him now as much as they worked for him as a candidate. He consistently misleads the people. He will rationalize most anything.

No matter that there is no proof of voter fraud, millions of people voted illegally according to the new American Führer.

There are so many lies from his mouth, it is hard to remember them all. Instead of making America great, America is frightened that the country they have loved is about to become an alt-right wasteland. Trump’s cloddish footprints will soon be found all over the social landscape that we have worked so hard to create and protect all of our lives.

There is little doubt that Trump is the most unethical conman ever elected to the presidency. There is no doubt that his election was a huge error in judgment by some of the American people. They will learn to regret it as time progresses.

Americans have been politically divided for years, but the divide that separates us now are far more serious than any time since the Civil War. We live in dog time. Every day seems to be a month and every week a year. Liberties are being breached because no one had addressed the long term effects of such radically racist policies.

Courts are disrespected as the Executive Branch seeks to control all the government. Millions protest and march in the streets worldwide. The world is much less secure with Trump in power. This insecurity will surely erupt into violence in the future. Pent up emotions, like temperatures, can only be controlled so long before they come to a boil.

So far, demonstrations have been peaceful. People have listened to the words of John Lennon, who told us, “When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you—pull your beard, flick your face—to make you fight! Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humor.”

Trump has failed to consider is the indomitable spirit of the majority or Americans. He has also underestimated the power if the courts to protect our democracy. If he thought could stack the deck with his power players and ride his whirlwind to world domination, he thought wrong.

Much is wrong with society, but it is our society, not his. We reserve the right to build is as we see fit. We will iron out the wrinkles in our social fabric. We will make technology work for all of us, not the wealthy few.

The golden age of civilization is still ahead of us, not behind us.

We will persist.

We will resist.

We will win.

GERMANWINGS FLIGHT 9525

By Kenneth Harper Finton ©2015

An imaginary trip into the mind of Andreas Lubitz

   A French helicopter departs for the site where Germanwings Flight 9525 crashed.                  CREDITPHOTOGRAPH BY MUSTAFA YALCIN/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY

A French helicopter departs for the site where Germanwings Flight 9525 crashed.              CREDITPHOTOGRAPH BY MUSTAFA YALCIN/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY

Tired of living, spurned in loving, deficit in compassion,

Andreas Lubitz and his crippled amygdala

Donned his smart uniform and climbed aboard the plane.

A pretty stewardess smiled at him,

Bid him a good morning as he passed.

She smelled of a musky perfume

That reminded him of the sex he often craved with her.

He found sex to be an animalistic and ludicrous practice.

Love had always been a dream that faded away to sorrow.

He returned to her a faceless smile without meaning.

He took his place in the cockpit beside Patrick, his pilot.

It was less that two hours to Dusseldorf from Barcelona.

Patrick was loquacious, almost collegiate in manner.

As they bantered back and forth, Patrick’s banal conversation

Bored Andreas to death. He could only fake a smile for reply.

Andreas thought about how he hated God for giving him life.

An aching desire for release from the prison of time

Had overcome him. A dull ache of depression swept over him

As he remembered all the hideous assaults he had endured.

It was as though he wore glasses that saw only

The evil of time and hid away the pleasant moments.

When Patrick left the cabin, Andreas pushed the button

To lock the door so that he would not have to bear him any longer.

Alone in the cabin, with only the sky in his eyes and the engine noise

In his ears, Andreas was at last alone with himself.

He hated his aloneness. “Everyone is suffering in their meaningless

Lives just like I am,” he thought. The future brings nothing

But more disappointment, times filled with melancholy,

Nights filled with helpless thoughts, days filled with foolish actions

That try to mitigate the absurdity of living a desperately miserable existence.

Dog eats dog, life eats life, panicked schools of fish swirling

In circles as the sharks attack the outer layers of their being.

The images consumed him. The irrelevance of his very being

And all those around him felt like the beating drum of a hated heartbeat.

Mushroom clouds raining death, pits with decapitated bodies killed

By fools who thought themselves righteous appeared in the gray sky

When he adjusted the course of the plane to fly at one hundred feet.

“It will soon be over,” he thought to himself. “I am finally on control.”

He heard a frantic knocking on the door as Patrick tried to gain the cabin

His gut tensed, his breath came hard and fast. He could hear

The hysterical screams of the passengers behind him.

No sympathy for their plight crossed Andreas mind.

“They are all going to die anyway,” he thought.

“Today is as good a day to die as any other. Today is better.

It will save them from through suffering their ignorant lives.”

Adrenaline rushed through Andreas veins as the mountain

Loomed before him. He felt like a soldier entering battle.

“It is a good day to die,” the voices around him exclaimed.

He remembered the stewardess with the sexy perfume

Who greeted him when he stepped onto the plane.

Her voice was among those screaming behind him.

“I will not fuck her,” he told himself. “She will not tempt

Anyone to fuck her now. I can make sure of that.”

There was power in the thought; power had always escaped him.

The remembered scent of her perfume hung in his nostrils.

His own breath came hard and deep as he thought about

Having sex with her. Death, he thought, would be like conception,

One timeless contracting orgasm would begin the journey

To another useless, meaningless and painful life.

Another contraction would snap the miserable body away from experience

And into the vast nothingness of the universe.

He could picture himself letting go after the shock of impact.

It would be his final orgasm, his final statement, his final action.