When women marched in Phoenix, the one woman we heard about had gained her 15 minutes of fame because she marched bare breasted. Some observers referred to her as lewd and immoral, suggesting she was asking to be assaulted. Others said we should focus on her heart and soul and not whether her top was plunging. She wasn’t, this group insisted, “asking for it”.

While we can’t know what she was thinking when she walked out her door and joined the march, we can be pretty sure that she was not thinking she wanted to be assaulted. Women don’t want to be assaulted. We can assume, however, that her aim was to attract attention and at that she was successful. That does not mean she was asking to be raped.

Trying to look at this objectively, the first step of influence, of getting attention and eliciting a response, negative or positive, is attracting attention. Animals know, perhaps instinctively, that attracting attention makes them vulnerable, that attracting attention can lead to death or rape. That is why so many have protective coloration. Humans, of course, are more complex. We have bigger brains and more complex behavior and culture. The function of breasts, for humans and other female animals, is to nourish an infant. Here, in the U.S., however, breasts are seen as sexual objects. Bare breasted women inhabit the pages of men’s magazines presumably because men find them enticing. While breasts are not ignored in other, very different types of cultures, the males see breasts in terms of their function – feeding an infant. When I lived with a tribe in a remote part of the Ecuadorian jungle, the women, traditionally, had gone bare breasted. At that time, shortly after outsiders began to enter the area, only older women continued that tradition. Younger women, when asked why they covered themselves, said that they felt uncomfortable -- outsiders stared at their breasts. The local men, as far as I could determine through observation and conversation, did not refer to breasts as sexually tempting. They referred to them as milks. Culture, in other words, seems to have a strong influence on what women do publically and how males interpret what they do and, given opportunity and depending on character, subsequently respond.

A great many women, including fully clad ones like Catholic sisters in habits and women in burkas have been assaulted. What this suggests is that women themselves, not just their breasts attract the attention of males. Women are vulnerable to assault when they are in a powerless position and in the presence of a male who does not exercise self-control. Clearly we are not talking about most men, only some men.

Going bare breasted in public does attract attraction. Doing so may have positive effects -- commentary in the local news and possibly a starring role in a Hollywood film. It is equally likely, however, that showing your breasts -- when they are seen as sexual objects -- can make you vulnerable, attracting the attention of someone you never would want to meet.  Simpler animals can teach us important lessons if we open our minds to learning; attracting attention can be dangerous.                                                                                                                                      



Burning the library

I read this morning, actually I read this a few days ago, but was reminded this morning that:

Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden terms at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden terms are “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

What a reminder this is of the perceived power of words. I don’t think trump wrote these rules as his life seems to have been a pilgrimage involving a search for the three Ps — power, prosperity and
p——.  It also is a reminderer of how politicians play by some of the rules set by their base — perhaps one should say seem to play by those rules. Tell them they got a tax cut — while behind the scenes cracking up and saying but don’t tell them not to spent all $50 of it in one place.

Vulnerable refers to the fact humans are susceptible to being hurt or wounded. We are vulnerable. Every one of us, though we all pretend to be otherwise at certain times in our lives. We are vulnerable to senescence, death, disease, injury, pain, depression, sadness, poverty, hunger, cold. The list could go on forever. How strange it is to try to erase that particular word from our language. The powers that be (short lived one has to hope), of course, don’t want the CDC and one can assume the NIH, and the INS, etc. to refer to vulnerable populations, to the disparities in health and social justice. They want to erase the entire population of refugees who have suffered from depravities created by men who are even more cruel (perhaps) than the ones in power in the US. They want us to forget the poor, sad, depressed, wounded and even those who have been shot and killed by the very guns the NRA pays our politicians to protect.

Entitlement can be read several ways — we are (or once were) entitled to equal protection under the law. We are entitled to equality, which we have never even witnessed. We are (or were) entitled to life (although the NRA, apparently, has more rights to our lives than our most vulnerable have.  Liberty? Well, we are free to suffer, be sad, be hungry, but each day there are more restrictions on our ability to try to criticize — or speak truth to — power. It can mean that people like the trumpettes — trumps kids — are entitled to things we cannot ever even dream of having. I am sure the powers that be like that form of entitlement. What they don’t like are the  entitlements we were promised by our forefather. Those entitlements apparently are now not to be discussed.

Diversity, transgender — those words refer to members of our own world who once were given certain inalienable rights. Rights that now are being taken away from our sisters and brothers — from people we love.

Fetus, of course, is an appeal to the anti abortion crowd. That group of rich Americans who never have known what it is like to struggle to feed, clothe and shelter a child. Who lived in safe neighborhoods and never were terrified if their child wanted to go out to play because of the violence that surrounds their  home. Who never worked three and four jobs to try to make ends meet and still tried to raise a child. Who have never faced a pregnancy when they knew they  did not have the power or strength or resources for another child — and would lose their  jobs if they got pregnant even if they were married.

The last two are attacks on science — attacks aimed at protecting lies they want to protect — lies that claim we can put anything into our water and air and birdies without facing consequences. Lies that claim guns don’t kill and that we are not selling assault weapons to those we should be caring for because of their mental health problems. Lie after lie, now protected because the library at Alexandria was again burned.

Enough is enough. we need honorable and intelligent people in congress. We need to weed out the fools, knaves, liars, cheats, philanders, and greedy — those who are willing to punish the “vulnerable” merely because they are vulnerable. Enough is enough.


Long time ago

The last time I wrote in this blog was a long time ago. I was living in a different place, had a different job, had different concerns, and had more free time. Certainly I was a different me. Where has the muse been for the past five years?  Apparently it was not just a just a room of her own that Virginia Woolf needed, as I have had a room of my own.  However, her writing room was quite nice. One can see the muses peeking in the door. The writing cottage (hum, not just a room, but an entire cottage) is inspiring.


I really did try hard to raise my children to be socially skilled, and in that I was pretty successful. It is sort of a miracle that they are so very successful, as I am not -- my father did not like people around the house, so we never had to learn how to listen to or charm visitors. Anyway, my adult children are much more socially skilled than I and part of their skill lies in the fact that they like people and enjoy being with them. Another part of their skill lies in the fact that they are not selfish or self-centered and they work to let others know they are important. In other words, they let other people talk and they are good listeners. Where I might have failed, however, was in failing to teach some non-skeptical acceptance of pronouncements (i.e., mine). If I say something they think is stupid, they let me know one way or another -- even if (especially if) I am only saying it to try to maneuver their behavior in a certain direction. I also might have created some problems when I gave them adult knowledge at young ages. I had inherited this fascination with knowledge from generations of my ancestors and I passed it on. Some of the things I taught them have proved to be helpful -- mathematics (e.g., algebra, prime numbers), languages, cooking, the Greek myths, plants and animals of the Andes, coast and rainforest, and prehistoric cultures of Ecuador and Colombia. However, sometimes knowledge can be problematic. Their knowledge often did not fit comfortably with widely held practices. I had learned vast amounts of odd bits of knowledge, but as I never talked, never having social skills, no one ever found out (and that applies to the present time). One evening I found my young daughter in the front yard of our Ecuadorian home, kneeling in the moonlight. I asked her what she was doing. She, in what made sense, probably, in the prehistoric Ecuador that we had studied, said she was praying to the god of the moon. That practice/belief was not something, however, that probably went over well in show-and-tell at the Deutsche Schule, where Catholicism and Luteranism were widely accepted -- especially in the 1-4 grades. My only major regret, as she thankfully was not thrown out of the school, is that I did not ask, or else I do not remember, what she was talking to the God of the Moon about, what changes she might have wanted to bring about. Another time she wrote a book on reproduction that was pretty darn graphic. She may have had a bit too much book knowledge in what I now think may have been way too soon, and in a place where such knowledge in a young child would have been a bit shocking. Again, she was never thrown out of that school. When they were born I had no Dr. Spock. I remember coming home from the hospital and thinking, with some desperation, what do I do with this baby? I had never truly even babysat for an infant. Certainly I had never given them a bath (did they need them, I wondered), or had to deal with colic or a baby who never slept (and still does not sleep) or who vomited when she was moved from breast milk to bottle milk. The only book I had was on primate mothers and their babies and from that book I was able to draw lessons (no, not on sex education) on demand feeding, on holding babies much of the time and keeping them near you, on closely monitoring their development. While mothering in humans is or can be culturally complex, there might be some simple lessons to seem to work well in caring for infants. They did learn they were loved, unconditionally. They, in turn, love unconditionally. My daughter, in particular, has always been generous and accepting. She sees people, not in terms of their possessions or SES status, but in terms of who they are in their hearts (yes, I know that is a metaphor). She did notice that they had less than she did and generally from the time she was quite small gave away her toys to try to bring into equal number the relative quantity of possessions.