Pencil poised, I lick the tip and wonder, “Why do people lick the tips of pencils?”
As we approach another New Year, this is a time to reflect upon 2017 as we set some sights on 2018.
2017? Ugh. Poisonous. Putrid. Filled with psychic puking almost every morning at the astonishing cruelty and reckless disregard that Drumpf and his minions continually demonstrate toward fellow human beings.
Meanwhile, the cascade of allegations, confessions, and resignations of serial sexual predators? It’s mind-boggling and, while I have a ton of schadenfreude and relief (as in “geez, it’s about time!”) I’m also furious and having to hold myself back from screaming, “What the hell do you think I’ve been talking about all these years?!” Do you think that many of us “libbers” were prodding and probing and shouting and protesting about this crap for our fun and amusement? I’m amazed that I’m still alive from the frustration I’ve had to bear. And I’m not the only one.
One of the things about social revolutions is that you don’t see what the turning points will be. The journey to personal and social liberation is often fraught with hairpin turns, collisions, cliffs and washed out bridges, no matter how many road signs you’ve put up.
I am hopeful that 2018 will usher in a time of impeachment and consequences for He Who Shall Not Be Named — not the JK Rowling one, but the one currently dominating the psyche of our country.
I also am hopeful that our schools and workplaces will have a renewal and renaissance of gender equity. I wish I had the correct attribution for the following piece; I grabbed it off Facebook where it was uncredited. It’s one of the best dialogues I’ve seen regarding unwanted attention. Show it to your boorish friends or relatives who are confused about issues concerning boundaries:
Work or school setting:
Him: This ‘sexual harassment’ BS is fricking ridiculous. What, now I can’t even tell a woman she is pretty without getting crap for it?
Me: Well, we’ve worked together for 2 years, and you’ve never told me I’m pretty.
Him: That’s different because you’re a dude, like me.
Me: Gotta tell ya, that’s a little disappointing because I think you’re pretty.
Him: Cut that crap, bro. You’re creeping me out.
Me: Soooo, me telling you that you’re pretty when you neither asked for nor welcomed comments about your appearance is making you feel uncomfortable. Interesting.
I’m also reflecting on how I may need to make amends with some people regarding unwanted touch. While I teach kids how to deflect unwanted hugs and squeezes, I have delivered a few of my own touches. I have moved in for a hug without asking “May I?” first and given some unrequested shoulder rubs, sometimes remembering to say, “Is this OK?” only after I’d started. My husband has also taken my cues, with making sure he asks before he is physically affectionate with others.
Here’s an example where I stepped over some boundaries, and the recipient of my unwanted touch let me know immediately:
“Thanks for coming tonight,” he said.
“We’ve known each other for decades now,” I said. “Thank you for your love and support, especially in such a huge city.” I reached over and cupped his face with my right hand.
He jumped back as if I’d just hit with him with a bolt of electricity. His hand went up to where I’d touched him.
“What was that? What did you do THAT for?”
I sputtered, “I had an overwhelming burst of affection for you. I’m sorry.” That was that. We don’t feel funny around each other. It was done. Faces are for very intimate contact. He also wasn’t afraid of me nor was I of him. He has a lot of pull in the entertainment industry, but we’ve never had any sexual charge between us.
What I long for — and yes, pray for — in 2018 is a man who will dig as deep as possible into his heart, soul and spirit and speak up for the gender hubris that has run rampant throughout the world. Someone to facilitate forgiving each other at a cultural level. Could it be Louis C.K.? Could it be Al Franken? Who has the rigor and honesty to help us heal? We shall see.
No, I’m not all peppermint, puppies, and Pollyanna yet. I do believe we can come out of this turmoil stronger and better. OK, maybe I’m a little bit of a Pollyanna, who by the way was a very courageous girl!
Happy New Year!
NOTE: This article is an updated and expanded version of my column in the Pasadena Weekly that originally ran on December 28, 2017