Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Blood in the Streets

    Yesterday, I was scrolling through my news feed and came to the Milwaukee news section. The first story was about a 17 year old boy leading police on a chase, being arrested, and now faces a few felony charges. I immediately felt bad for him. I felt bad because he never had a chance in this world. I felt bad because someone should have been there to guide him through his life, yet in light of his actions, it seems clear no one was there. I felt bad because the way he is, is not entirely his fault. He is only seventeen, the brain has yet to even fully formed, and he unfortunately screwed in a big way. It simultaneously and glaringly reflected my status in this country. Though, and through, my parents hard work, though, and through, my hard work, and my husband's, we have solidified our status a part of the privileged class in America. Most of the people I know, save a handful, reside in this class, despite their inability to see this.

      So, this causes me to confess my confusion as to why so many in this country resonate with such a negative message of the realities of living in 2016 America. I do not feel oppressed, I do not feel suppressed. Am I fearful sometimes? Yes, but overall I look around and there so many great things about being here, I just have a hard time feeling disenfranchised, and for the people I know on Facebook, most of you are pretty lucky as well. You get to have children and not worry about if they will starve to death. You get to travel, skateboard, snowboard, ski, or sail most of your days away. You get to be stay-at-home dads or moms. You get to start and run your own businesses. You get to eat out, or eat in, but you get to eat. You can pretty much say whatever you want, whenever you want. You can watch Game of Thrones, drive your cars thousands of miles, vote, wear whatever your want, and just in general live. For all the crapping on America, or hard feelings about who we are as a country, you have to at least admit, we got it good.

     Take me for example, I get to wake up at 7am and run 3 miles with my dog. I do not have to worry about being kidnapped and gang raped, like women in India or Brazil. I can wear shorts and t-shirt and not worry about breaking some indecency law. I get to travel, a lot. I don't have to have kids if I do not want to. My husband cannot beat me, like they can in Pakistan with their new guidelines/laws on domestic violence there. I get to watch little girls and boys walking to the school near my house every morning, without violent men waiting to kidnap the girls like in Nigeria or kill them like in Afghanistan. I see my young neighbor getting jobs and working like all young men and women want to do, but do not have the opportunity in Spain, Italy, Greece, or many European countries in economic crisis, still. Our beer companies can make beer, unlike those in Venezuela who are dependent on what their governments say can and cannot be produced. I see Verizon workers striking and winning concessions out of it, without committing violence or having violence committed against them, which is often the case in many parts of the world, even in Europe. I see the dangerous weaknesses in Russia and China that threaten world instability, and as a consequence how they treat their citizens and the countries in their region and I am more than grateful we have Canada and Mexico as our neighbors.

     Here is what I do not see in America. White men being oppressed. They still get to walk into a room and not have their authority or knowledge of a topic questioned or second guessed. They still get a career boost when they have kids, not a career penalty like most women. They still get lighter jail sentences when committing crime than their minority counterparts. They do not have their resumes tossed in the trash because their name sounds "too ethnic." They do not continually have the bar of success moved higher and higher out of reach every time the meet it, like women. They do not have to do double the work to win. So, this is why I am confused at the collective temper tantrum.

     For better or worse, we live in a capitalistic society. We have for a long time. We live in republic that consists of fifty states that follow a constitution. It allows us the privileges and freedom to do more than most any other person in any other country. Because of this, things are not perfect. With 300 million people, things will never be perfect. But, we know how bad things can get. We see the people of North Korea starving. We see Putin's opponents being murdered and people who speak out jailed. We see hundreds of refugees drowning in the Mediterranean escaping turmoil. (Biggest thing I have learned this primary season is the public has a gross misunderstanding of what the role of the Secretary of State is, but that is besides the point.) For better or worse our ideals were founded upon the notion free will, personal responsibility, and the right to participate in our communities. No one is taking that away from you, no one is forcing a lifestyle upon you that you cannot change. Stop saying we are oppressed. Stop saying we are suppressed. Stop saying we are "slaves" in some sort of machine. If you do not like it, then work to change it just more than every four years.

     So, why in God's name would we want to "burn everything down?" Getting mad every four years is not going to change anything, but volunteering in your community will. I need to do better at that myself. We create a different country and a different world by making a difference to other people, not being angry. Revolution has such romantic connotations, I think we forget the consequences of past revolutions. The War of 1812, Napoleon Bonaparte, ISIS, Tienanmen Square, the starvation and food shortages in Russia. You fancy a revolution, fine, but remember most pensions, 401K, IRA's and retirement plans depend on Wall Street. Walgreens and CVS own most of the pharmacies, and what are we going to do to the corporations who make the drugs people rely on? Most people cannot pay their mortgage in full if the loan is called in due to economic instability. Getting money out of politics does not require a revolution, it requires a SCOTUS to make nuanced and fair decisions to court cases brought forward and fair interpretations of the constitution. You want to tear down the "moneyed class" fine, but it is always changing and people are always finding ways to make money, that will be a very bloody guillotine, just like in France you are going to have to murder a lot of people. Furthermore, just because people have money it doesn't make them bad, they just have money. You want to stop trade agreements,  fine, all you have to do is stop shopping at Walmart and support your small local business who are not selling the cheap crap made in China, but that will cost you more money. Stop buying smart phones and other electronics. You want corporations to pay their fair share, fine, demand that you congress person address the loopholes in the tax code or work to vote them out of office.

      The ironic thing about all this, the funny thing, is that if there is a conspiracy between the rich and the corporations to disparage and degrade the plebs, they certainly have us where they want us. As Baron Rothschild once said, "The time to buy is when there's blood in the streets." There may not be blood in the streets, but we certainly are hell bent on creating a gaping divide between us citizens. Do you honestly think tearing down our institutions, letting a madman billionaire and demagogue become president, is going to change anything for the better? The way I see it, I am comfortable in my lucky status and I realized I am privileged. I have been granted a lifestyle I could only dream of as kid, I just want others to be able to enjoy the same thing. If you have time, if you have extra food, money to pay your bills, in this world you are privileged. I am working for positive growth and cohesion between everyone. And I do believe that is more noble than flirting with the idea of destroying 200+ years of progress. If someone told you change is easy, fast, or you can get instant gratification, you were lied to and mislead. If you magically think everything will be different because someone promised it, that is an outright lie. The way I see it, we have two choices, work hard to change. Which is what change requires. Or "let it burn to the ground" and dance on its ashes while we watch a man who has defrauded thousands, bully his way through the highest office in our country, while alienating everything our founding fathers stood for.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Boys Seem to Like the Girls Who Laugh at Anything

     A few weeks ago, I wrote a little blip about the difficulties for women sailors, especially on Lake Michigan. It was maybe 3 paragraphs, nothing big. It just mentioned the widely known disparities that women sailing competitively face. I was inspired by the struggles faced by women from team SCA who did the Volvo Ocean Race, and did fairly well, yet still will never be able to achieve or perform at or in the same level as the men in this sport, the pinnacle event, The America's Cup. I was also inspired by my own double daily workouts, after falling down for the thousandth time in a puddle of my own sweat I couldn't help but asking, "What am I doing this for?" And if you see some of the men that sail, you would understand my frustration. So, what am I doing this for??

     That article that I wrote was highly praised by many members in the club, men and women alike (many whom I admire and respect), but also highly dissed by, you guessed it, women. We like to diminish or dismiss experiences of others when we have not had the same ones and that absolutely drives me crazy. When we refuse to ever remotely understand what may or may not be happening outside our own bubbles we are reinforcing our own beliefs about what we think is going on or should be going on and it is a cycle of convenient ignorance. But, that is not the way the world works. A 23 year old man with no experience can pretty much walk onto any sailboat and be picked over me 99% of the time. So what am I doing this for? I am using this sailing metaphor for life in general. Too many women believe that feminism is a bad word. Or that women are totally equal and never face discrimination, despite the fact it is documented in salaries, on corporate boards, and many other places. Or that certain insults are not the product of our male dominated culture, a bitch is a female dog, why is that an insult, I love my female dog. That our rape problem is inflated by false accusations or girls who want attention. Or that women who bring forth instances of domestic abuse are only gold diggers or weak and faulty because they just don't leave. Just a few examples, but my point is, WE ARE STILL NOT EQUAL, WE NEVER HAVE BEEN EQUAL and if you think, because it is not your problem that there is no problem, well when it is your turn it will be a rude awakening.

      I am also saying this in a climate rife with blood-lust hatred for a lady who apparently is the singular person responsible for all ills in the world for the past 30 years, yet ironically is reduced to the sum of all her husbands indiscretions to boot. You can not like a woman that is fine, but to bring to a level of witch hunt that it is at, is the very reason why some other women cry foul (aside from the WaPo polls that mention a majority of the haters are white male and reason to also cry foul). Not to mention the angsty anger to see some one fail so hard and spectacularly it scary for other reasons for me, but I digress. Because all of the sudden I see it around me. I feel the resentment towards women in general by so many. Women people do not know, women people do know, the woman who succeeds is the woman seen as bitch or unlikable and so on and so on. I see how hard some of my friends have to work. I see how big of a struggle it is for women to please people, any people, these days. I feel the asinine childlike behavior of a man having a tantrum because a lady doesn't want a second date, or because someone turned him down for a drink. And I love it, because the first men who are going to get angry with this post are probably exactly what I am talking about.

     So I wanted to write this because the LVACWS (Louis Vuitton Ameica's Cup World Series) event is coming to Chicago next week. It is an event designed to spread awareness of sailing, a rich white mans sport. However, there are no minorities in the event, and no women sailors. How are you going to spread interest when you shut out the NEW MAJORITY of people in this county? In a climate where everyone is fearful that something is being taken away from them, where their ideas of victimization are trumped up (haha yeah that was a pun) we need to be vigilant in making sure that we take what is ours, that we fight for our right to participate FULLY in this country. Where we can be so successful yet so far away from the top prize is indicative that we have a long long way to go. For the women out there who do not believe me, or think I am some ranting lunatic liberal, think about it the next time a man looks at you a little too long or catcalls you. He thinks he is entitled to you and why do you think that is? This is still just a mans world and we are only living it.