Wednesday, February 27, 2008

And Another Thing: The Hillary Thing

By Carole Taylor

I just thought I’d weigh in on this Hillary thing. This Obama thing. My weighing in will amount to about the tilt of a snowflake in hell, but the owner of this site nags me gently to submit something. (“Submit!!!”she says. “But I don’t KNOW anything!” I say. She used to be in the Army. It’s a dominance thing.)
[Editor's Note: As a former Staff Sergeant and a vet of Blood for Oil Gulf War One, do you honestly think we WANT to be political pawns? Now drop, give us 20 and buy a hybrid as soon as you can afford one! Thanks, dear!]

So here. This is at last what I know.

I know I’m a middle aged (well, more than middle aged) white woman. A lesbian, by all evidence. And probably not all that white, but I haven’t had the DNA thing done yet. I will, though. I’d like to know. I think each person ought to know for good and all who their foremothers were. And so here is another thing I know. Obama is a black man. But he is also a white man. If he’s half black, and half white, he and we can as easily say he’s a white man as a black man. Yes? No? Maybe?

I KNOW we need a black person as the president of this country. I know. The arguments are many. Chief among them hinges on the very obvious fact that slavery was a horrible, horrible thing, and Obama would heal the country. (Slavery’s not over, you know. It still goes on, even in this country, but certainly all over the world. Still.) But if that’s the argument for Obama, that it’s time—and that’s the most frequent argument I hear, that it’s time —- then let me make the same argument for Hillary. It’s time.

Women have been the property of men, white and black and every other color, since possessions have been written down in ledgers or in law books or in hearts. Women are still owned by men in most parts of the world. Only in the last 150 years or so have we not been owned by a father, a husband or a son in the United States. By law. Love doesn’t count when the law says otherwise. Love doesn’t last an instant when the law says otherwise. Recall, if you will, all those stories about how white slave owners really loved their black slaves. Right. Recall, if you will, our own experiences with the power of law over love. So if it’s about healing the scars that slavery caused, let’s start with the oldest slaves ever. Let’s go back 5,000 years or more.

And the other thing I know is that votes are rarely, if ever, cast because of facts.

You may consider issues and policies and promises, but all those things bring about a gut reaction, if you consider them at all. Elections in this country are all about feelings. Hardly anyone but wonks like me even looks at the issues with a critical eye. Nearly everyone votes on gut reaction alone. My gut tells me that all politicians lie. But my gut also tells me that the lies that Democrats tell are ones I can live with. Republicans lie and steal your money for their rich friends, and they con vast numbers of people into voting against their own economic self-interest by lying about Iraq, and lying about gay people, lying about poor people, lying about wars and rumors of war, fear and rumors of fear, let me count the ways. No, don’t.

Let me not count the ways. I’ve already counted them, and since you’re reading this, so have you. So I’ll vote for Obama if he’s the nominee, and I’ll try to convert as many rednecks as I can grab hold of.

But I hope and pray that Ohio and Texas and Vermont and Rhode Island give Hillary her due, give her back her lead. It’s her turn, damn it. It’s her time. If it’s not now, it’s never. Never for my generation, and never for me. She probably didn’t grow up as much a slave of gender politics as I did, because she went to a college that had no men in it to muddy the water. And she wasn’t raised in the South like I was, where gender politics IS the water.

But she stands for a whole generation, the generation that finally said I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore. Women younger than 40, even 50, can’t remember that there were no rights till our generation just went damnation and took them. So I’m taking this thing personally.

Obama may be the nicest man on earth, but he’s still a man, and a young man, and he has plenty of time. I don’t. Hillary doesn’t. And the plain fact is that if Obama were a black WOMAN, or a white woman, or half and half, with the same resume, the same pedigree, the same oratory skills, Ms. Obama would not be in the race at all. You know that, as well as I do.

So this IS about gender. More than it is about race. No one would have given Ms. Obama a second glance. And yes, Hillary might not have been given a glance either had it not been for Bill. But Hillary, along with Bill’s talent, GOT Bill to where they both landed. Even he credits her with his successes. She knows her stuff. She can do the job. She has the resume. She has the grit. She’s had every scrap of paper she ever touched for the past 30 years scrutinized by Ken Starr or somebody just like him, and she survived. She can DO this. Islamofascists, my ass. Hillary has survived the Republican Reich Wing, for God’s sake.

But I’ll bite my tongue and love Obama if he’s the choice. I already had my say at the Tennessee primary, and even took my 93-year-old mother and talked her into a vote for Hillary, too, though she’s always claimed to be a Republican. My mother loves me, and usually does what I ask her to do when it’s really important. And at heart, my mother is a feminist. She just won’t say so out loud, because she’s a good and tested Southern woman. But my mother laid claim to her membership in the company of women, quietly, when as her only experience with a computer in her entire life, she touched Hillary’s name.

I hope she gets to touch Hillary’s name one more time. I hope my mother gets to live long enough to see one of her own sworn in as president of this country. But they’d better hurry. It had better be now. It’s time.

Carole Taylor holds a masters degree and most of a doctorate, which she used as a university administrator for much too long by all accounts. She has been a commercial artist, a journalist, a grants writer, a house cleaner and a Renaissance woman. She also wrote a fantastic must-read novel, called
"A Third Story".
You can email her here.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

And Another Thing: Man Haters, Huh?

By Carole Taylor

Here's a book that hasn't been but should be written: Tedious Questions Straight People Ask. And on the top of the list in the lesbian section is this one: Why do lesbians hate men? This is such a perennial favorite that it's reached permanent FAQ status. I've always found this to be a mental leap across a rather vast chasm: to assume that because a woman loves one particular woman that she therefore hates all men. Or because she loves as many women as will fit into her schedule that she hates all men.

Both straight women and straight men assume this to be true, though, or they wouldn't ask the question so consistently. I'm not sure if they assume the corollary, that gay men hate all women, but I don't hear this voiced as much. My last cursory review of history and the local headlines argue that those straight males who hate women are doing an adequate job of it without requiring recruits from the ranks of the gay boys. Although, given some of the clothes gay fashion designers expect women to wear, you'd think the charge would be leveled against them more often, but it's not. I LUV spike heels, but some of those dress designs are just purely whacked up side the head with an UGly stick. But I digress.

Lesbians hate men, according to conventional wisdom, and it's a much more horrible situation than men of any stripe hating women. Maybe this wisdom has it that men hating women, and actually acting on it in much more tangible ways, is just the way the world is, and enduring it is expected.

But apparently, since this is such a commonly asked question, straight males and not a few straight women seem really concerned that our hating men, even in a relatively passive way with no war or rape to back it up, is somehow a significant issue. That our hating men, if in fact we do, will somehow chip away at the underpinnings of all of society. That loving one woman apiece (ok, then...twenty apiece) takes away such a significant amount of needed support that the structure will collapse. Either each lesbian out there is a lot more powerful than we've been led to believe, or the structure itself is in need of a new design and more substantial bricks and mortar. Perhaps, come to think of it, both conclusions are true.

But speaking just as one lone soul out here, I personally don't hate all men. I don't even hate one or two of them, really, if I look at the definition of the word strictly. No particular man has done enough (yet) for me truly and literally to hate him. Dislike, yes. Distrust, yes. But not hate. That takes up too much time and energy. I like quite a few of them, and love several more, just not in the sexual sense. Am I required by some sort of straight agenda (now there's a thought) to actually love them all, and in all ways, in order not to threaten any ego? Wouldn't that be sort of counter-productive for straight women to expect this of me, thereby increasing the competition pool? Why would straight women care if we all really did hate men? Looks like they'd be happy we've moved to another part of the state. But many (shall we venture to say most?) straight men, though, want all options left open. Just in case they happen to be attracted to a lesbian, they want to think it's an available option to convince her to reciprocate. Since there are apparently not enough straight women to go around.

Very few, if any, lesbians in my personal survey have ever said they hated men. Most of them have at least a brother or a father that they like. Or a coworker or even an old boyfriend and not a few best gay boyfriends. As far as I've been able to determine, most lesbians don't really hate men as a class. So what exactly is the main difference, other than sexual behavior, between how straight women relate to men and how lesbians relate to men? This has puzzled me for some years, and I finally came to a personal conclusion about it. It comes down to how we sort things.

Straight women are taught and really do seem to believe in their hearts that all men (ALL men) are decent folk and worthy of trust and possible love. Straight women discard the BAD ones, one at a time, as each man screws up. But the rest of mankind is still out there untested, and unmet, and each of those until tested is still a potentially nice guy. Straight women seem to reject men only on the basis of each *bad* one having actually proven to the individual woman that he specifically is not worth her time. And even these events evoke sadness and feelings of loss and the nagging thought that the love of a good woman could have saved the man somehow, had he just listened to reason. Maybe his mother was mean to him....

Lesbians, on the other hand, harbor a sneaking suspicion, a basic distrust, of all men on sight, and we let the GOOD ones in one at a time as each man individually proves himself to be worthy of our time. This doesn't translate that we hate them. It translates that we are withholding final judgement. We want proof. But apparently just the fact that we question the worth of any of them at any point has them reeling from the blow. And instead of men looking at their own behavior to see why it might be necessary for some women to doubt the intrinsic value of a particular man, or men in general, they go on the offensive and demand to know why WE act the way WE do. It's called in the military a diversionary tactic. The point of the question is to take the spotlight off the man and his motives and put it on any woman who might not find him "sponge worthy", as Elaine on Seinfeld would say.

But this is just a theory, folks. Your mileage may vary. And if you're a lesbian who likes all men on sight and thinks there is basic good in all mankind, go for it. It doesn't mean you might be a latent straight person. Although it might mean you qualify for sainthood, so get your applications in early--I understand that Pat Robertson still thinks the end is near and he will be closing out these positions soon. I also hear that most saints have to be straight, too, so you might want to be careful how you answer some of the questions on that form.

Booga booga . . .

~~Carole Taylor

P.S. If you agree with the points I've made here, by all means e-mail me. If you don't agree, please get your own column, or send your comments to the publisher. I get enough insulting stuff from strangers as it is. :)

Carole Taylor holds a masters degree and most of a doctorate, which she used as a university administrator for much too long by all accounts. She has been a commercial artist, a journalist, a grants writer, a house cleaner and a Renaissance woman. She also wrote a fantastic must-read novel, called
"A Third Story".
You can email her here.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Amazon Trail: Lesbian Nomad

By Lee Lynch

I've always heard that women are good at making a home. Of course, some women, like the whole femme world, are better at it than others, like the whole butch world. Certainly, I have seen gay male homes that could make the most domestic of femmes weep with envy.

It's also been a longstanding notion that Virgos, which I am, are house goddesses. We're supposed to love setting up households and keeping them all neat and tidy. Well this lesbian Virgo is not true to type. My homes look more like combination offices/libraries/animal rescue centers/thrift stores than any homemaker's dream. What no one ever told me was how many times I'd be making homes. It's apparently my karma to do it over and over, in my current life, until I get it right.

So here I go again, gathering boxes, jettisoning accumulated treasures-turned-detritus, and renting one of those lesbian wonder rigs called U-hauls. At first, packing up my books for the umpteenth time, I felt sad, sad, sad. Would I always be rootless? My sort-of-step-daughter said it might be my fate: the universe wants me to live in lots of places so I can tell readers about them. Well, if that's the case, why doesn't the silly universe enrich me and make it easy for me to move to my next assignment?

But no, if it's my karma, I need to earn my way out of this itinerant state. My poor sweetheart, one day she was living a nice, calm life, and then she went and got involved with me. She's on line or on the phone half her life right now, researching R.V. and truck rentals and gluing me back together after I run myself ragged packing, working, looking at houses and taking care of a nightmare of details. In fact, the first thing I did after learning how soon I'd be leaving was to run my little car into a ditch.

The good part of running into the ditch was providing entertainment for a tiny community through which I was driving. While I was trapped in my car every driver on this country road stopped to help. When three burly guys couldn't pop me out, I called AAA. After the motor club rep got every piece of information imaginable out of me, including my great-grandmother's father's middle name and other relevant facts, warned me what they won't cover, and determined that I needed no emergency vehicles, he alerted the sheriff's office, which was already dealing with another car that had fallen into a ditch. The sheriff contacted the local fire and rescue agency which, apparently having a slow day, sent out five flashing, wailing emergency trucks, including a big red fire truck and an ambulance.

The very nice guy who owned the driveway I had blocked told me this was the most exciting thing that had happened since he moved there a year earlier. He also kept repeating that I didn't need to go to a body shop, somebody could bend my fender back in with his knee. As soon as I was pulled out of the ditch he went right over and did just that, saving me at least $500. When I drove away, the little crowd of guys that had assembled smiled and gave me thumbs up.

Now my only problem is figuring out where I'm going and how to pack and make all the arrangements in a few weeks. That's three weeks minus a five-day trip to a writing event in California. Maybe AAA would send help.

Since Northwest real estate is still beyond my means, the plan is to combine forces with my sweetheart, who lives about as far from me as you can get in the U.S. without being offshore. Our first choice was for her to move to the Northwest as soon as she got a job. That's not likely to happen in the next three weeks.

So the menagerie and I are going her way. She's calling it a hiatus, a 2-year honeymoon for us, rather than the invasion of her neat, efficiently organized condo that it is. She plans to make it fun when she and her very own west coast woo-woo crunchy granola butchy girlfriend arrives in her quiet suburban neighborhood. Except for the barely significant fact that we'll be working to afford to move to a larger house, and eventually back to the west coast, we are going to treat this as a long vacation.

Except – today I went to get a haircut. The guy in the waiting area overheard me talking about moving out of state. "I'm moving out of my rental," he said and assured me the landlord accepted his menagerie. "It's meant to be!" cried the haircutter.

So again I don't have any idea where we'll end up. Wherever, we'll celebrate what we've got together by making a home. We can send down roots as deep as my ditch. I'll write my heart out about wherever we live and I'll never rent a U-Haul again.

Copyright Lee Lynch 2008

Lee Lynch is the writer of more than a dozen dyke books, among them "Sweet Creek", as well as book reviews, articles, feature stories and a syndicated column. You can read more about Lee here . You can check out her Lee's Myspace page . And visit Lee's Tripod homepage .

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