La La How The Life Goes On

As the wife of a person who works in the psychology field I have always understood and honored his belief that no one should armchair diagnose any of their friends or family with disorders, conditions or irregularities.  I am certain that this is why our kids will emerge from our parenting as just the regular kind of effed up as opposed to spectacularly monumentally effed up, as many psychologists’ kids may be.

That said, the alarm bells that go off when I watch Donald Trump on the television simply cannot be ignored.  The man very clearly suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  It is important to note that personality disorders are not mental illness per se, but they are conditions that render one less able to function in society in a healthy manner.

Much of the difficulty in covering Donald Trump by the media and understanding him as members of the electorate is the fact that he is not a normal candidate for president. He is not the regular garden-variety type of grandiose person who thinks he can get 60 million people to vote for him–a requirement for a person running for the office.  He is a person deeply deeply handicapped by his personality disorder.  A disorder that renders him 100% unfit for the office and incapable of fulfilling its duties in a way that does not place our republic in danger.

If you feel I may be armchair diagnosing him you are correct, but I also invite you to read the following criteria taken directly from the DSM-V.  If you are not scared you are not paying attention.

NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER

The essential features of a personality disorder are impairments in personality (self and interpersonal) functioning and the presence of pathological personality traits. To diagnose narcissistic personality disorder, the following criteria must be met: A. Significant impairments in personality functioning manifest by: 1. Impairments in self functioning (a or b): a. Identity: Excessive reference to others for self-definition and self-esteem regulation; exaggerated self-appraisal may be inflated or deflated, or vacillate between extremes; emotional regulation mirrors fluctuations in self-esteem. b. Self-direction: Goal-setting is based on gaining approval from others; personal standards are unreasonably high in order to see oneself as exceptional, or too low based on a sense of entitlement; often unaware of own motivations. AND

2. Impairments in interpersonal functioning (a or b): a. Empathy: Impaired ability to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others; excessively attuned to reactions of others, but only if perceived as relevant to self; over- or underestimate of own effect on others. b. Intimacy: Relationships largely superficial and exist to serve self-esteem regulation; mutuality constrained by little genuine interest in others‟ experiences and predominance of a need for personal gain

Pathological personality traits in the following domain: 1. Antagonism, characterized by: a. Grandiosity: Feelings of entitlement, either overt or covert; B. self-centeredness; firmly holding to the belief that one is better than others; condescending toward others. b. Attention seeking: Excessive attempts to attract and be the focus of the attention of others; admiration seeking. C. The impairments in personality functioning and the individual‟s personality trait expression are relatively stable across time and consistent across situations. D. The impairments in personality functioning and the individual‟s personality trait expression are not better understood as normative for the individual‟s developmental stage or socio-cultural environment. E. The impairments in personality functioning and the individual‟s personality trait expression are not solely due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., severe head trauma).

You would not want a person with narcissistic personality disorder to work with you, to take care of your children, or to spend any time in your home with your family.  Their instability and grandiosity would make them dangerous. No one with narcissistic personality disorder should ever be allowed anywhere near the Oval Office of the United States of America, and one candidate appears to spectacularly meet all the criteria.

This is a video that distills in to 6 minutes just a fraction of the sexist and disgusting things said about Hillary Clinton. If you can’t make it through the full video, ask yourself why. Then ask yourself if any woman in political life–regardless of party–deserves this inhuman, juvenile, nasty disgusting vitriol. The world loathes a powerful woman, and will do anything to keep her in her place. No, friends, women are not given our rights. We have to endure evil on this scale to take them.

 

They do exist. Every family has them. The anti-Black Black person. The self-hating Jew. And yes, the anti-woman woman.  I wrote the following post after reading one too many comments from women about how they would never vote for Hillary because she stayed with her husband 20 years ago after he cheated on her. Well, I am not here for women who think they can police other women’s marriages. I am not here for women who think they speak from some higher plane of morality and authority than another woman addressing her own personal family circumstances. I am not here for women who lack the basic humility to recognize that maybe they don’t know everything about another human being just by reading a newspaper. I am not here for women who do not recognize the sovereignty and uniquely personal nature of every other woman’s marriage. I am not here for any of it.

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On July 28, 2016, a woman became the first presidential nominee of a major political party in the United States of America.

Whatever your politics and whatever your opinion of the nominee, this is a historic moment that we should ALL cheer. Anyone who doesn’t see this event for the truly historic and important and consequential sea change that it is needs to crack a book and learn our history.

When the founding fathers (yes, they were all “fathers”) wrote “We The People” they really only had a small group of people in mind: White male Christian landowners. When they spoke of self-evident truths, they were speaking only of the truth for that particular group of men.

Over the years of this democratic experiment known as The United States of America, the people of this nation have worked to expand that little circle of ‘we the people’ to rightfully include us all. It has taken centuries, but little by little we have widened the circle to include poor whites, black people, Native Americans, Jews, multitudes of citizens of multiple ethnicities and faiths–and, yes, women.

Women have had the right to vote in the United States only since 1920. Think about that. A mere 96 years. There are some women alive today who were born under the assumption that they were not smart enough, not emotionally equipped enough, not inherently competent enough to vote. Why would you let a female vote?! Good lord. What’s next? Puppies? Puppy suffrage!

It has been just 9 decades since I–and every woman reading this–would have been considered too dumbass to pick a president.  All that thinking would shrivel our ovaries and give us the vapors. All of our daughters would be taught and would learn from their earliest moments of political consciousness that participating in our democracy as equals was not for them. So let us not even BEGIN to imagine a world wherein we would be considered competent to not only vote for a high office, but to hold it.

This nomination matters whether you like the nominee or not. People who don’t like the nominee want to minimize it (she is NOT the first you know! Victoria Woodhull in 1872! Blah blah. Listen. She wasn’t 35 and therefore was not eligible to run. Her party was not a major party of anything at any time. And it was a political stunt to make a point. So move along with your nonsense nitpicking).

This nomination matters.

It matters to me as a woman who grew up with notions that you could be a “Girl President” but with the tacit understanding that it wasn’t really ever going to happen. I remember t-shirts that actually said, “Girl President” as if “President” were not descriptive enough.

It matters to the generation of women who came before me. The ones on whose shoulders we all stand. The ones who were the “firsts.” The first female microbiologist. The first female big city mayor. The first female astronaut. The first female US Senator. They broke all those barriers at great personal cost to themselves, since it will not surprise you to hear that some of the men in those spheres were not entirely welcoming; and in many cases were openly hostile.

It matters to the spirits of women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Mary Ann Shadd Cary and Alice Paul and Ida B. Wells and Lucy Stone and Sojourner Truth. To the spirits of the men of the movement like Frederick Douglass and Henry Blackwell.

People forget that women were not GIVEN the right to vote. We had to win it. We had to take it. We had to fight for it by any means necessary:

Newly arrested and convicted suffragists had arrived at Occoquan and were in a holding room awaiting further processing. Without warning, Superintendent Whittaker burst into the room, followed by anywhere from fifteen to forty guards. Pandemonium broke out. Whittaker shouted orders to guards to take this prisoner or that prisoner — often identified by name — to the cells. The scene was one of bedlam, intentionally disorienting. Suffragists feared for their lives and the lives of their compatriots. May Nolan, a seventy-three-year-old Floridian with a lame leg that she had to take pains to treat gingerly, was literally dragged off between burly guards, each of whom held an arm, despite her assertions that she would go willingly and despite the pleas of other suffragists to refrain from injuring her leg. Dorothy Day had her arm twisted behind her back and was purposefully slammed down twice over the back of an iron bench. Dora Lewis was thrown into a cell with such force that she was knocked unconscious. For several frantic minutes her companions believed that she was dead. Alice M. Cosu of New Orleans was also thrown forcefully into her cell. Cosu suffered a heart attack and repeated and persistent requests for medical attention for the obviously stricken woman went unanswered by the authorities throughout the long night. Lucy Burns, who had been arrested once again on November 10, shortly after completing her previous sixty-day sentence, was identified by Whittaker as the ringleader for the group. She was manacled to her cell bars, hands above her head, and remained that way until morning. Later, her clothing was removed and she was left with only a blanket.

This was what those women went through to acquire what we all breezily take for granted in 2016. They were beaten and stripped naked. Publicly shamed. Physically harmed. Because they saw themselves–and their daughters and their grand daughters–as rightful claimants to “We The People.”

And so Thursday night’s official candidacy of Hillary Clinton is a compelling and significant moment in this nation’s history. For our daughters, and all the daughters–and sons–that will come after us.  Set partisanship and personal opinions to the side for one brief moment, and recognize this nomination as but one more way in which we are perfecting this great Union.

 

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Responsible travel operators leading change in industry approach to orphanage volunteering

World Children’s Day was June 1st. Like all people with children, I’m a little behind in my organization skills. So we are celebrating it today.

One of the main thrusts of this year’s  WCD is the effort to stop orphanage tourism around the world.  We’ve all seen it. Selfies of twentysomethings with little brown kids smiling. Self-satisfied blog posts by people who have traveled far and paid much money in order to “help” folks in Africa and Asia.

UNICEF and several major international organizations have made it clear that orphanage tourism is not only inadvisable but actively harmful to the children and communities involved. So why are we still talking about it? Because the folks involved in these trips are largely are well-meaning and sincere. So when you come up against big-hearted, well-meaning, decent white people on a mission it is almost impossible to convince them that what they think is Good Works is actually detrimental to the very people they think they are helping. Even if that evidence is coming from UNICEF.

The reasons are pretty straightforward (more details of each point are in the link above):

  1. In some countries, tourism keeps kids in orphanages because they generate revenue.
  2. In most countries, very few of the children are actual orphans as in, “have no living parents.” But they cannot be allowed to visit living relatives for fear of the loss of revenue if discovered.
  3. Children in care are traumatized and vulnerable. Allowing tourists with no expertise in childhood trauma to interact with them is unethical.
  4. Children in care struggle with healthy attachments. Having differing sets of rotating “caring people” in their lives for two weeks at a time, showing affection and then leaving, is deeply damaging to the children long-term.
  5. If particular tourists take a liking to a particular child during their stay, it creates interpersonal conflicts with the other, often older children who were not noticed. This creates conflict within the institution that would not exist without the intervention of westerners.
  6. The presence of unvetted, untrained, uncommitted “volunteers” in the daily lives of children already traumatized and vulnerable is on its face unethical regardless of any “affection” they show the children during their stay.
  7. Research indicates that having unstable, constantly-changing sources of affection is actually WORSE than having minimal affection overall.

If you need further convincing, let’s talk about your kids for a minute. Let’s envision them in their preschool or daycare (the name and management of the child’s location is irrelevant, just as whether the kids in African and Asia are in an “orphanage” or a “community care home” or whatever).

Let’s imagine the preschool or daycare director received money for the school (or themselves) in exchange for allowing, say, Kenyan and Laotian tourists to come sit in the classrooms with your children. They play with them, sing with them, hug them, laugh with them, have them sit on their laps. A couple of the tourists ask to take your son or daughter on a day trip to a local site of interest, alone. The director says yes. While there, the tourists take photos of themselves with your children and post them on their blog. None of the tourists has been background-checked by law-enforcement, nor do any of them have any expertise in  working with preschool children. They are, very simply, tourists who want to come to the USA and help out at soup kitchens and dig some gardens at a preschool. And while they’re here, they get to see what an American preschool and daycare is like, in order to get a sense of how else they could help kids in America.

Please tell me you would not be the first parent to have that director’s head on a damn stick.

Please tell me you would not be the first parent to shut down any argument that “isn’t it better that your kids get hugs from these folks than no hugs at all?”

Please tell me that you would not be the first parent to demand to know how this dehumanization of your children could ever have happened.

THIS IS MY POINT.

If you actually care about the children in African countries or in Asian countries, you will–above all–want for them the same dignity, privacy and security that you want for your own children. If you truly see each of these kids as an individual human soul–just as you see your own children–you will be unable to insert yourself into a situation that removes the protections from them that you demand for your own children. Even if your heart is telling you that you are a good person with good intentions. ESPECIALLY if your heart is telling you that you are a good person with good intentions.

What many of the organizations and individuals working to stop orphan tours have come up against is that old chestnut: Whitesplaining. The white folk involved listen politely and then tell the experts giving them this very expert, well-researched, well-sourced, on-the-ground information about the negative aspects of orphan tours, “But we are different and here’s why.” All the ways in which your research does not apply to me. All the ways in which you don’t understand what it is we do. All the ways in which you are missing the point of our good works. When the only answer should be:

“This is hard to hear, but I’m going to sit with that discomfort. I’m going to consider this information from a universally-respected international organization. I’m going to try to turn off my defense mechanisms so I can truly absorb the information. I’m going to trust that the people and organizations making these recommendations are not doubting my heart and my intentions even while they hold a mirror up to the flaws in my work. And then I’m going to make some changes because I truly do care about children more than I care about my ego or my ‘life’s work.'”

If your tour company still offers these tours, tell them not to. And then find another tour company. Your kids will learn far more about decency and caring for other humans in that one act than they will doling out a thousand hugs to orphans.

Fempower

Posted on: June 8, 2016

Two major topics to discuss today, both of them connected. They are both about the constantly evolving role of women and female power in our society.

First, the first female major party candidate for President of the United States was determined last evening. Whatever your politics, this is good news for our daughters–and sons. Think about it. Think of all the countries in the world–Great Britain, India, Pakistan, Germany–that have had female leaders. Decades ago. And yet, here we are in the great United States of America, just rollin’ around to it in 2016. It’s certainly not that there have been no qualified women lo these 200 and some years of our history. How would that even be statistically possible? That 50% of the country’s population was somehow just not qualified for the office but, you know, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter were? Come on now. It is because the bar has always been higher for women to be seen as capable of the multiple challenges of the job.

She must be tough, but not a Lady Macbeth.

She must be just the right amount of decent-looking. Not too attractive to be considered stupid, but not too unattractive to be considered too ugly for men to look at her face on TV. To be crass, she can be a hot grandma, but she cannot be fuckable.

She must be open to all ideas, but not easily swayed.

She must be smart, but not so smart that she acts like she’s smarter than you.

She must be accomplished, but not so accomplished that you doubt her mothering instincts.

She must be married to a man, but not be wifely.

She must be independent, but not so independent that you wonder if she’s a lesbian.

She must have had the same career as a man, but cannot have committed any of the same errors as a man, as these indicate dishonesty and treachery.

She must dress well, but not so well that she is seen as profligate, and not so cheaply that she is seen as frumpy and dowdy.

AND THIS BRINGS US TO TODAY’S RANT:

Apparently Hillary Clinton wore a $12,000 jacket to talk about inequality! GASP!

Now, quick–how much did Donald Trump’s suit cost yesterday?

The answer is: no one knows because no one cares. He can fly his personal jumbo jet while wearing a $75,000 suit and top hat and shiny black cane and not one reporter would give a single solitary crap about it because….well, why? Because we have never in the history of American politics judged our leaders’ fitness for office based on their outfits, on their fashion choices. “Oh I would have voted for Reagan except for that tie he wore just represented so much ignorance to me.” “I loved JFK’s speech about poverty. I wish he hadn’t worn a jacket with those lapels, though.”

IT DOESN’T HAPPEN

Stop asking why Hillary is wearing a particular piece of clothing and start asking yourself why you care.  If you are honest, you will not like the answer. Because we have been conditioned to judge women and men in politics by different standards. For men, clothing is simply fabric you use to cover your body so you can go do whatever it is you do. For women, clothing is apparently an expression of something, a totem holding some kind of meaning, a secret code we can crack. AHA! She doesn’t care about poor people! She’s wearing an expensive jacket!!

It is ludicrous on its face. And yet we all unthinkingly unexaminedly buy into it. To the detriment of our daughters, granddaughters, and our entire country.

WHICH BRINGS US TO THE NEXT TOPIC: THE STANFORD RAPE

We want to believe that how we treat Hillary Clinton or any woman in power or, really, any woman in society has nothing to do with an unconscious woman being raped behind a dumpster and her attacker getting basically a non-sentence.  But it has EVERYTHING to do with it.

When a woman is judged by different standards than a man, for engaging in the exact same behavior, we have a problem.

Two people go to a party. Two people get drunk. One person passes out. The other person rapes that person while she is unconscious.  The rape victim is questioned about what she wore, what she drank, who she talked to, how she engages in sexual relations with her boyfriend at home, what crimes she has committed in the past. The man who was caught running away when confronted in the act, is given glowing letters of recommendation. Character witnesses up the wazoo. And given 6 months in jail so as not to have a “severe impact” on his life.

This is the result of having one standard for males and one for females. Men commit crimes against women and are protected from consequences so as not to ruin their futures. The women are treated like criminals from the start, with futures already ruined.

When you see a boy in an outfit–any outfit–and think nothing of it to the point that it doesn’t even register with you, and yet you ascribe all kinds of meaning to a girl and her clothing, you are contributing to rape culture. Whether you like it or not.

There is not a girl in the world hoping to get raped. And there is not an outfit in the world she can wear that would justify it. You can decide you think what she’s wearing is not appropriate by whatever standards you hold. But you cannot decide that her outfit contributed to a rape. Unless you believe that women’s apparel has a magical power to turn nice men into criminals, which is not reality-based thinking, and you should see someone about that.

causes

So let’s take this week, where a woman took a crack at a big glass ceiling, and where another woman took back her power and her dignity in the face of unimaginable cruelty (http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/read-the-stanford-rape-victims-letter-to-her-attacker-in-full-w209255 ) and resolve to do better. For our daughters, our granddaughters–and for ourselves. Who knows what greatness lies in the heart of some young girl watching this play out right now? Who knows what she will achieve in the future if we get out of her damn way with all of our sexist nonsense? Who knows what awe-inspiring things are possible for our nation if we can finally and at long last judge all of our citizens equally?

When you know better, you do better.
Let’s do better.

This morning I read the following headline from MSNBC: “Male voters debate if Hillary Enabled Bill Clinton.” Yes, ladies. A man–Tony Dokoupil of MSNBC–talked to a group of male voters in NC about whether Hillary enabled Bill Clinton’s past infidelity.

If you cannot already see why this is OUTRAGEOUSLY SEXIST and totally irrelevant, please allow me to help you along in your understanding. Please put aside whatever your feelings may be about Hillary Rodham Clinton, the candidate, and just think this through as a rational, intelligent, and decent human being.

First: Why are you asking MEN about a woman’s relationship troubles from 20 years ago? A bunch of random men from North Carolina are going to have some kind of sage-like wisdom about whether a person they do not know personally “enabled” the infidelities of a man they do not know personally? Are we really this stupid?

Second: Why are you asking ANYONE about a woman’s relationship troubles from 20 years ago? Really. Please think back to any stupid, mean or hurtful things you may have done 20 years ago. Now please imagine someone asking YOUR WIFE to defend herself about them today, and to assure people that she is not herself responsible. It is nonsensical and moronic.

Third: Why are you asking this question as if it is at all relevant to a woman’s ability to do a job–any job? We have already established through 200+ years of American history that men cheating on their wives are still capable of holding the office of the President. We have a rich and fabulous history of men who couldn’t keep their dicks dry inhabiting the Oval Office. But a woman whose husband cheated on HER? Yeah, we’re gonna need to really vet her suitability for the office.

Fourth: If MSNBC has determined that a couples’ marital issues are relevant to either spouse’s ability to perform a job, when why are we not asking this question of the previous Mrs. Joe Scarborough? If it is indeed relevant to whether one’s spouse can do a job, we must absolutely inquire as to whether Mr. Scarborough’s infidelities and his wife’s “enabling” of those infidelities at all impacts his ability to report on the marital problems of other people. Let us also involve Mr. John King and Ms. Dana Bash over at CNN. Tell us, poppets, what happened to break up your marriage? We must know so that we can determine appropriately whether you are qualified to conduct your professional lives.

If the media really wants to open this door, then I say let’s open it ALL THE WAY. Every man on that NC panel? We’re going to need to know your marital situation. Any troubles at home that might impact your judgment here today? Mika Brzezinski: are the rumors that your married self and Joe S bump uglies now and again true? If not, how can you assure us that they are not true? Can we ask if your husband engages in any behavior that would enable your desire for these trysts with your co-anchor? Does your husband cheat on you? We need to know so we can vet your suitability for the job.  No big deal.

While we are at it, let’s interview Ivana Trump and Marla Maples. Ladies, what on earth did you do to make your husband trade you in for a younger model? Did you enable this behavior in any way? Ivana, you have walked back claims that Donald Trump maritally raped you. Are you doing this to enable his behavior? And Melania: we need to vet your suitability for the First Lady of these United States. You are married to a man who has had two wives before you. Are you certain you will be the last Mrs. Trump? If you are certain, how are you certain? We need to know if you have the judgment in your marriage to make you successful in the White House.

All of these questions are ludicrous because they have absolutely no bearing on a person’s suitability for a job. Asking a woman to defend herself from her husband’s 20-year-past infidelity is total sexism. How do we know? Because you can always spot a sexist trope by the fact that no matter which way to look at it, the woman is at fault:

He cheated on her: Wow, she must not be taking care of things at home for him to go looking elsewhere. She can’t satisfy her man.

He cheated on her and she refused to believe it at first, and attacked the messenger: Wow, she’s so stupid.

Her cheated on her and she believed it right away: Wow, she must have known something was up to just show no trust like that.

He cheated on her and she didn’t leave him: Wow, she’s a stupid enabler.

He cheated on her and she left him: Wow, she did not think about her kids’ best interests.

He cheated on her and she forgave him: She’s so stupid. A stupid enabler. (Unless you are a conservative Christian politician’s wife, in which case staying and forgiving are signs that you are being Christ-like and a good person). No such dispensations for non-right wingers.

Do you get my point? There is no resolution in this scenario that does not put the responsibility for an unfaithful man right back onto the woman. It’s something we have always known about our society, but it is no less disturbing to now see it playing out on the national stage–with the bonus that MEN are debating it.

So whatever you think of Hillary Clinton, whatever your decision to vote or not vote for her, or your decision to like or not like her–just be aware of the sexist, unspoken tropes in our society that inform those decisions. So feel free to not like her or her policies, but if those decisions have anything to do in your mind with her husband’s infidelity twenty years ago? Ask yourself why, and then ask yourself to rise to a higher standard than old school sexism.

 

 

 

 

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