a silent child plays
with the dust in the sunbeams
he smiles when they swirl
a silent child plays
a silent child plays
with the dust in the sunbeams
he smiles when they swirl
Days in a classroom
Fifth graders learning music
Her other children
She loves two daughters
Playing with her grandchildren
Dancing the tango
Tending others’ needs
She meets each day with laughter
Such a sweet spirit
She is like music
A beautiful experience
I can hear her now
A soldier’s wedding
Barely and almost nineteen
Christmas Eve married
So much time apart
Military standard time
God and Country first
She had our baby
He was our only miracle
He amazes me
First came Germany
Then came a year in Vietnam
I could not give more
We made a new life
Success moved us to Texas
It was not enough
After sixteen years
Something was not right with me
Then we fell apart
Her anger still lives
Remarriage not withstanding
We both love our son
I still remember
All she sacrificed for us
She deserves applause
This is her birthday
Her cake holds many candles
I still wish her well
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” is a popular reference to William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. The truth is, names matter, a lot. That is why so many books scour the values and meanings of various names and relate their historical background. Tradition says, choose an established, powerful name so your child will grow up powerful, “living up to his name.” Lately, many mothers ignore tradition and create unconventional, unique names for their babies.
Contradictory articles abound on the effect baby-naming has on children as they grow and become adults. In America, simple, familiar European names are easy to like. Difficult, unusual names are harder to like. That is the situation, no matter how much one resents the bias. Immigrants from Asia, Scandinavia, the Balkans, and Eastern Europe understand this and choose names that do not get in the way of social or vocational success.
The current controversy seems to orbit “African-sounding” names. Cries of racism go up when anyone struggles with the unfamiliar, unusual, multi-syllabic names they create. The juxtaposition of these special names to common surnames confuses people. Nonetheless, baby names that are unique in spoken configuration and spelling are a modern trend among American mothers. The truth is, such names can encumber a child growing up, and an adult seeking acceptance and equal opportunities in American society.
Rather than cover the same ground as countless authors, let us “cut to the chase” with an idea that may satisfy both society and community – Hybrid names. By hybrid, I mean a first and a middle name that can make things work for children and adults in both worlds. One name for American society, (Tom, Rob, Dale, Doug, and Wayne, for example), pronounced and spelled in the conventional way. Another name for the community, whatever the ethnic or racial background dictates or allows.
The order of names is not important; the presentation of names is vital. Suppose you name your child Theodore Vladimir Trotsky. At home, you call him Vlad, on a job interview he uses Ted. T. Vladimir Trotsky and Theodore V. Trotsky are both valid names without handicap in either sphere.
Parents should think about their child’s future when they assign names. Consider making your child’s life easier in American society.
(BTW: If your name hinders you, a legal name change is a few hundred dollars away.)
The rules of sex are both formal and informal for men and women, in America.
Boys and girls learn about love and sex in the climate of their youth. They learn and practice the rules and taboos of their “tribe.” When I was a boy, men were macho. My dad was strong, facile, and strict. Movies were John Wayne, Micky Spillane, and Gone with the Wind. Just after World War II, society’s standards for men were macho, and aggressive; standards for women were demure, cosmetic, social accessories, fiercely-devout housewives, ardent lovers, and stalwart, protectors of children.
Men pursued sexual contact, despite protests from a woman (e.g. Gone with the Wind). “Wolf Whistles” were some crude men’s idea of how to get women’s attention. Boys had a mandate to “get girls” (e.g. American Graffiti). We had no idea how, but we could not let it be known we were kiss-less virgins. Dates were events with timorous, sexual fumbles. Men “scored” with women. They used baseball as a metaphor. First base was kissing; second base was touching breasts; you can guess third base and home run – and strike out. Virginity was for boys to lose, and girls to keep; that was the battle of the sexes.
Boys’ bathrooms or gym locker rooms were the venues for lame boasts of conquest, and face-saving lies. Every boy had a story to tell that would lift his score on the invisible scoreboard of manliness. The desperate would name local, popular boy-legends; girls with “reputations.”
Anyone who watches the series “Mad Men,” sees the power structure, and vulnerability men and women accepted and took for granted. Everyone tacitly agreed that powerful men can press themselves on women. Today, we call them “predators.”
Women did not want these advances then, either. They just learned to ignore or deal with it, and moved on. It was job survival for a woman in the workplace to tactfully divert the advances of the men she worked with.
Then came the late 60’s,70’s, and 80’s; confusing and defining times for both sexes. Young, unmarried women were “liberated.” We had a mix of traditional and uninhibited values. It was a second “suffrage.” Some men and women connected in “adulterous” liaisons. Others lived dual lives, with a traditional family, and a sexual second. Some had “open” marriages that allowed sex with non-spouses.
This historic, buffet of choices causes conflict today. The recent pillory and massacre of powerful men based on accusations of sexual harassment and unwanted sexual advances is a cultural sea change. The information age is giving women a platform, permission, and encouragement to revolt against the subjugating, sexual power men have held over subordinate women forever.
This is a confusing time for men who like women. Men are on notice to be “appropriate” with all women. Are platonic friendships between men and women possible now? What is “appropriate?”
Men want women to like them, but many are clumsy and clueless; women are different, subjective, fickle, ephemeral “mysteries” men cannot figure out; therefore, attractive curiosities. Who will teach men how to be around women? Where is the manual? What parts of the way they grew up do they discard? Straight men are in peril if they describe, notice, appreciate, comment, or have facial expressions in response to a woman’s appearance or attractiveness. That surely limits the range of single men’s overtures to a potential mate. (e.g. “Hi, I noticed you from across the library, in the non- fiction section, I do not know anything about non-fiction, could you help me? Could I bribe you with a coffee?” Or, “Aren’t you the lady from my bank? I always wondered what being a teller is like. Would you have time to help me understand? I’ll buy the coffee. What do you like?”) Still pretty lame, but completely appropriate.
Women spend hours each day to prepare and present themselves to “others.” Cosmetics, hair style, nail polish, clothes, whitened teeth, shoes, and body-shape are endemic elements of fashion and style in our culture. Women often compliment or disparage other women for their presentation; that is not harassment, but it can be “shaming.” Women take compliments from gay men as, well, compliments, because they figure sex is not their motivation.
When straight men compliment women, without sexual intentions, women might still accuse them of sexual aggression. Absent comments, some women might feel ignored, or unattractive, but what are men to do? Confused and threatened men can retreat into a “man’s world,” which is a safe, sane, and familiar cave.
“Fahrenheit 451 – the temperature at which book paper catches fire, and burns…”.
In Ray Bradbury’s prescient 1953 novel, the government made the past illegal. Guy Montag is a “fireman” employed to burn the possessions of those who read outlawed books. They even had book-sniffing robots to find homes with hidden books.
When Guy becomes despondent over the meaning of his work, his fire chief explains that, “over the course of several decades, people embraced new media (in this case, film, and television), sports, and a quickening pace of life. Books were ruthlessly abridged or degraded to accommodate a short attention span, while minority groups protested over the controversial, outdated content perceived to be found in literature (yet comic books, trade papers, and sex magazines were allowed to stay, as those fed into the population’s want for mindless entertainment).” People would watch the “parlor walls” (large televisions) with visiting friends instead of conversation.
We are now in the throes of a virtual Fahrenheit 451. The need for burning books has become moot with the advent of ubiquitous, mesmerizing “screens.” Evidence:
What is next? Will we remove the Civil War from our libraries? Will museums take down every work of art with elements of that part of our nation’s history? Will schools bury the history of slavery and the people responsible?
When will we hold accountable the Africans who sold tens of millions of other African as slaves to the entire world? https://goo.gl/EXnyGT
Were they not even more responsible for the misery of those slaves and their progeny?
Ignoring or censoring history will neither change the past, nor the consequences of what happened. It will leave us less aware of the truth; a type of cultural dementia. We must resist becoming a world of virtual Fahrenheit 451.
As bad as domestic violence can be, false accusations are ruinous, and non-recourse punishment by our injustice system.
The law did not address domestic violence seriously, until recent decades. Then state legislatures passed current domestic abuse laws in fits of passion without thinking of potential abuse by false accusation. Now, vengeful women use these laws as weapons in child custody, and divorce cases, as well as for just plain spite. There is no defense.
The police are required to come and arrest the accused and take him to jail, even if the accuser recants on the spot. Then, the D.A. charges the accused, even if the accuser continues to recant, (the mean women pile on other wild accusations and get restraining orders.).
Meanwhile, the meter is running on legal bills, and in custody situations, the father cannot see his kids.
If he is found not guilty, he is still out thousands of dollars, may have lost his job, and his reputation. On top of that, he has zero chance of filing charges against the accuser; they will not prosecute for fear that such charges”might discourage real victims from coming forth.”
My son-in-law is going through this right now. The accuser claimed he bent her finger, hurt her ribs, and hit her. She had no signs of damage, did not go to a doctor, and waited 10 days, until he was in back surgery, to call the police. He was arrested, charged, and subject to a 90-day restraining order, which kept him from seeing his 18-month-old son. His employer suspended him pending the trial (next February). Legal fees are over $5,000 so far.
Then, she added more far-fetched accusations: he tore her clothes off, chased her around the apartment, pulled out and administered a rape kit to test if she had cheated on him, then produced a polygraph machine and tested her for lying. (She never mentioned the baby at all.) Since then, she has thought up even more charges; and the D.A. just keeps on adding one ridiculous item after another. Oh, did I mention she is crazy?
He is not alone, by a long shot. Look online for stories of false accusation. Sure, most of the time the charges have substance. But in this case, I am sure this woman used these accusations to punish him and keep him from his son.
The only way to change this travesty, is to encourage/threaten your elected officials. If there is clearly no obvious harm to the woman, AND she recants, and admits she did it out of spite/anger, the allegation should be investigated, not ruining the man’s life.
The accused should be treated as innocent until proven otherwise. Until balance and due process are restored, men can always be guilty until proven innocent, and even then they lose.
I wonder if anyone is clear about what these various “my body is this form, but I feel like another form” discussions yield? In our society, a body with a penis is male, and a body with a vagina is female. That is a physical, sexual distinction. This distinction is important to procreation, on a purely biological basis. Females have the capacity to bring a fertilized egg, to embryo, through gestation, to live birth of a new person. Males do not. This is bisexual reproduction, without dispute. Early humans could not alter this law of nature. The fact that our world now has 7 billion people, is testament to this: vive la différence! (I know that physiology can be unclear in up to 1.7 percent of the world’s population, according to the UN, but let’s let the outliers lie out there.)
Then we have society. Sex is physical, gender is cultural, based on the expected roles and behaviors of men and women. Most of these expectations have evolved from physical traits and expanded family traditions. To act like a man was to think, speak, and act in ways that the alpha male did. Little boys worked at being like their father or big brother. Likewise, to act like a woman was to conform to the ways of other women, take cues from their mother and other female models.
Yet, humans have gone through amazing, changing models for men and women. Three centuries ago men wore fancy silk and satin clothes, high heels, wigs, and makeup. They moved and spoke in ways modern Americans would associate with women. We have also seen the division of labor of the past shift mightily. The roles and responsibilities of men and women are more alike than ever.
We inherited our intricate social structure and laws from humans who managed to survive and procreate. In any culture, to deviate from those complex behaviors was to jar the stability of, and threaten the survival of a family/community. Failure to conform to the spoken and unspoken rules of society was an invitation to punishment.
Homosexuality did not bear the fruit of children, which was a threat to the future of the community. Religions proclaim that it is a duty to God for people be fruitful, and forbid non-fruitful behaviors. Some religions even promoted polygamy to increase the number of children added to their flock. Being “non-fruitful” by having sex without the possibility of children was a sin. Such sins were often punishable by shaming, shunning, physical punishment, death, or exile. No one questioned the wisdom of the “scriptures.”
When societies expanded and advanced to the point that extinction was not as great a fear, people felt safer to allow themselves to be “non-fruitful.” Homosexuality was tolerated along with other “sins,” and “debauchery.”
Only recently, has America made homosexuality legal and sanctioned homosexual marriages.
But here is where I get confused: what exactly is “transgender?” At first, I thought it meant a homosexual who took action to physically gain the attributes of the opposite sex. Sounds painful and expensive to me; and not all men make pretty women.
But now I hear that transgender can mean that a person “identifies” as another sex without the physical transformation. I was surprised that Bruce/Kaitlin Jenner “identifies” as a woman, has gained breasts, grown long hair, bought a wardrobe of women’s clothing, but retains male genitalia. You think, maybe, he “identifies” as both male and female?
I am also hearing about people who call themselves transgender who do nothing physical, just “identify.” Boys who “identify” as girls, but are still physically boys, want to go to the girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms. Homosexuals have always used the bathrooms of their physical sex. What is different with transgenders who are physically boys or girls? For me, as long as the difference in preference or identity is not represented by your body, I say, your body determines which school or public facilities to use.