I was happy to write about Saturday night’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner when Time magazine asked me to. Read it here.
Here’s a joke I posted on twitter yesterday, and while a lot of people liked it (got it), it also made a lot of people angry:
Crap! My friend and I just got arrested and thrown out of Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles because we were waiting for another friend and hadn’t yet bought anything. Thanks Starbucks!
I don’t explain the jokes. If they miss, they miss and I move on. It’s never been that big a deal. This is. For the angry tweeters who think I’m no different than Trump eating a taco bowl and proclaiming he loves the Mexican people, they don’t know me. These are the times we live in; we hold on to anger and outrage in this unjust, frightening, and dangerous climate, though it will beat you if you don’t choose your enemies better. For the guy who tweeted, “I can’t wait to hear her insincere apology”, this isn’t that, sincere or insincere. Making people upset or angry is the opposite of my mission statement of making people think and laugh. A great comic taught me, “Never complain, never explain”. He’s right. Twitter will find something new to be angry about today and go after that. I could just shut up and wait. But, my work has been comedy, both written and performed, all my life. If I missed the mark, for me it’s important to look at. And I want to honor the kinder hearted but wary souls who tweeted things like, “Can you explain this joke to me?” “Bleh.” “Nope.” “Wow. I find you incredibly funny. Have for many years and still do. Even taking my personal history and ethnicity out of the equation, I don’t see how this is funny.”
So, if I had done this joke from the stage, no one there would have suddenly decided I was the devil, because anyone coming to see me would have already known me, my work, my politics. If they didn’t, a ninety minute show would have made it clear. I looked carefully at the “Likes” it got on twitter. They came from people who already followed me, who “knew” me, who got where I was going and where I was coming from. I couldn’t find one publicly declared “MAGA” supporter, confederate flag avatar, or proudly declared racist among them. Then I looked at the people who tweeted “What the fuck is wrong with you?”, “#banforlife”, “mad racist shit”, and the usual go-to, the always popular and brilliant “political” argument: “has been”, “has been trying to be relevant”. Most of these people had never followed me, didn’t know me or my work, just saw retweets attached to angry attacks. Which means that for them the joke had no original context, and context is everything. If I heard Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer say “Some women say Harvey Weinstein called them up and sexually abused them. What’s the matter? Bitch can’t hang up a phone?” I’d be enraged. But when Chappelle said it in his special, I laughed hard. Context, it’s Dave Chappelle. I know he’s not hateful. A different woman could have thought: “Who the hell are you to comment on what a woman goes through? You will NEVER be raped or sexually assaulted by a boss. You don’t have the right to make ANY jokes about ANY women, ever. Especially when your jokes blame the victims. #mansplaining #MalePrivilege.” But I didn’t. Because despite the national hyper-sensitivity over cultural appropriation and who gets to comment on which group’s reality, I believe everyone should be allowed to think and speak about everyone in the search for truth and enlightenment. Especially comics.
What was the joke trying to say? My reaction to two young black men (I haven’t seen their names printed anywhere) getting arrested at Starbucks was as it should be; revulsion, anger. What went through my head as I watched the news report of the incident was, “Where does this idiot think two black men DO ‘belong’, Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles”? Because yes, fried chicken IS the haggard cliché that makes the point that this was a racist action. If a Starbucks employee had called the police because two Hasidic jews were waiting for their friend to arrive before ordering, and wanted to use the bathroom, I would have written, “Where does this idiot think these guys should be hanging out? At a bank?” The old stereotype is exactly what makes the point; that this action was unwoke and ridiculous.
From twitter: Replying to @ElayneBoosler
“Racial profiling and false arrest is ‘hilarious’ when you flip it and center it on folks who will never have this experience.”
But that was the point, using the obvious to magnify the culture; that white people don’t go through this, that this does not happen to us, that it should not happen to anybody, that enough is enough.
Sexual abuse is the worst. For women like me, who’ve spent a lifetime striving to be excellent at something, a close second is having the door of your profession slammed in your face, to the point where you can’t make a living, can’t move up, can’t work at the very thing you sacrificed all to master. When that happens, there is nowhere to go, no place to complain, no one to help. When those with a boot on your neck enjoy unquestioned support, you are just left for dead. And it appears to be all your fault.
There are many self-hating Jewish men in show business. Or maybe they just hated their mothers so much, they must grind assertive Jewish women under their feet. They don’t have to be Jewish, there are men who just hate women (shocking!)
In the early ’90s I had a meeting at Castle Rock Entertainment, to pitch a show about a female sports columnist facing obstacles being a woman in sports. I was on the road fifty weeks a year, I saw sexism first hand every day. At that time there were no women working in sports broadcasting, sports writing, no female voice of a team, none doing field interviews, no female voice of authority in sports. This is how bad sexism in sports was at that time: HBO was to receive a large check for “Comic Relief” during half time at a basketball game in Louisiana; a nice public relations move for all involved. Paul Rodriguez was to receive the check, but the weather was so bad, very few flights could get in or out. Paul was stranded. Chris Albrecht at HBO, knowing I was on the road and might be able to make it, tracked me down and asked me to fill in. Happy to. What a great arena, what a great crowd, what a great day. Except for one problem; they would not give me the check. The only thing they repeated over and over in their southern accents was this: “No women in the booth”. They would not make the presentation. By phone, Chris was appalled. I was appalled, everyone outside the booth was appalled. Real men often ride to the rescue, and who just happened to be present (and stopped the heart of this lifelong baseball fan?) Only the gentleman who made “The Catch” in the 1969 World Series, Ron Swoboda. You never know who’s a fan. Mr. Swoboda first apologized to me (he had nothing to do with any of it. He just apologized as a human being.) He then went into that booth and read those shit kickers the riot act, letting them know exactly who I was, forcing them to hand over the check, which was for charity for fuck’s sake. The point is, I knew how much sexism there was out there. This is what the Castle Rock executive turned my project down with: “Sexism is over.”
“No, it isn’t.”
“Well dear, perception is reality, and my perception is that sexism is gone, so that’s the reality.”
I’ll never forget that sentence. When I got home my agent called to tell me the exec called her and railed that it was the worst meeting he ever had, having someone dare to argue with him. He went on and on, how dare I?
Which leads us to Franken. I kept quiet because I care about keeping Democrats in congress, and who cares about my past woes, really. But the cat is already out of the bag. These women coming forward about him need to be supported, and perhaps a broader picture will help them. His and my paths crossed many times over the decades in the world of comedy; he was always dismissive. Fine. Not the first nor the last. We happened to be the only guests booked on 1993’s New Year’s Day CNN Crossfire show. They booked two comics because Michael Kinsley and John Sununu wanted a lighthearted, entertaining New Year’s Day show. While I was silly and politically funny, Franken was serious and ponderous. Great. We gotta be us, right? At the commercial break, Franken said, with all the condescension he could muster, “Hey. Nice jokes.”
“I thought they asked us here to be entertaining.”
Cut to 2003. By then I was known for my political material. I was a favorite guest on “Politically Incorrect”, appearing in the hot seat thirty- two times, when no one else wanted to go up against tough Republicans. (The gun show pitting me against Gordon Liddy, Charlton Heston, and Ted Nugent, was excerpted the following night on Entertainment Tonight.) I had moderated the Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate on C-SPAN for NOW. I had campaigned with Governor Gray Davis, Al Gore, Hillary Clinton. I did the White House Press Correspondent’s Dinner for Bill Clinton’s first year, I also did the Ford’s Theater Gala, entertaining the President and congress again. I guested on local news for election returns for hours. I did the series of Larry King’s post debate shows, speaking for the Democrats (and clashing with Republican Ben Stein, who said to my husband in the men’s room afterwards, not knowing he was my husband, “I hate Jewish women”). I alone hosted election night on the mall in Tennessee at Al Gore’s request, as the results trickled in. Six hours of ups and downs during that election mess, in the rain, when many of the Hollywood celebs abandoned ship (they literally left and refused to appear when Gore was behind in the count. Cool, I confiscated their goody bags, which were awesome), and I was left to fill hours and hours in front of thousands of people, as Gore lost his home state! I was a political comedian, walking that fine line of current events, and still being funny. So of course when the radio station “Air America” was being birthed, my name came up.
My managers and I had great meetings with John Sinton, who was putting the “liberal radio station” together. Finally, something to go up against conservative talk radio. I was perfect for it and I couldn’t wait. I cleared my calendar for one solid year, committing to the show despite the large cut in pay for me. Negotiations were almost done, when suddenly the “Air America” people went silent. No one would respond to us, or tell us why they stopped negotiating. All we knew was it was all going ahead without me, and I was left with no live work for a year. Crushed.
We finally found out, that in order to get Al Franken to be an on- air host, which they desperately wanted, “Air America” had to give him an ownership piece of the network. And let him make the on-air hiring decisions. Ah. “Air America” failed because it was heavy, preachy, ponderous, and had zero humor, lightness, or entertainment value. It took Stephanie Miller to finally successfully brilliantly host a liberal radio show. Nice jokes.
Karma’s the bitch you mistook for us.
P.S. Sexual abuse is, of course, the worst. We all know that. But keeping women from working is part of the same power play of keeping women down, out, marginalized, and broken. I would never want an innocent person found guilty of anything. Franken’s not a child molester. If he’s innocent I certainly don’t want him to lose his seat. I want him to keep it and sponsor legislation that helps women, and others.
“She was asking for it.”
“What was she doing there?”
“What did she think was going to happen?”
I get it, sometimes it looks bad. But you cannot know the innocence and hope in the hearts of not –very- experienced- in- the- real- world young women wanting to succeed, who believe in goodness.
When I was starting out in 1973, as I’ve said before, we didn’t have a term for “sexual harassment”, we just called it “going to work”. That’s the way it was. I worked as a hostess in what was then the New York Improv in Hell’s Kitchen. In those days, before the big comedy boom, it was just a dive, often almost empty when the weather was bad.
I started to discover comedy that related to me, something I had never before imagined. The young comedians working there, mostly male, were lifetime comedy fans. I was new to the idea, and they kindly turned me on to Lenny Bruce, Lord Buckley, and all the great comedy album kings. A comedian there at the time, Bob Shaw, and I would take the train to his Brooklyn apartment in Carroll Gardens, and laugh into pillows while our bodies almost broke open, having to keep it down while his wife slept, so she could go to work early in the morning and support his dream, as did many of the comics’ wives/girlfriends at the time. I remember us almost bleeding out to Firesign Theater. Such a treat, and then when the sun came up and his wife woke up for her job, we’d all get café con leche. She went off to work and I took the train back to my apartment to sleep until work that night.
Celebrities often dropped into the club, sometimes famous comics came in and went onstage. For several nights, David Frye had come in and performed. I was a twenty -year -old, raised by the Taliban in Brooklyn. I left high school at sixteen because why even pretend? I was just accidentally discovering comedy, but recognized Frye from the Ed Sullivan Show from when I was a child. He was one of the premier impressionists in the country, his take on Nixon putting him squarely on the comedy map. This was exciting for all of us aspiring comics. Sometimes we all went to the Brasserie together if someone with more money than we had invited us. It was a fun, lively, midtown late night spot, always filled with interesting night birds and good cheesy eggs and toast.
Before I became the Improv’s hostess, Danny Aiello, the actor, had the doorman job for several years. I took over, but he still hung out there a lot and we became friends. One night around two a.m., when I was about to leave, Danny said David Frye wanted to take us to the Brasserie. I was always the last comic out, being the hostess/hostage, so no one was really around to go, except Danny and I. Danny assured me we’d have fun, and I loved going there, not to mention being a little star struck. We went and we ate and we did have fun. Then Danny took me aside, and told me Frye had lots of never-before-seen comedy tapes (etchings?) that were historical, hilarious, amazing, and rare. He suggested we all go up to Frye’s place and watch. Remember, most of us worked all night and slept all day; three a.m. was the perfect time for a social engagement in our world. I just had to make sure: “Danny, you’re going to stay and hang out too, right?”
So okay. We enter one of those grand, large, pre-war apartment buildings. We go up in the dark wooded elevator. Frye opens the door on a large, dim, clearly moneyed home. I turn to Danny again, “You’re staying, right?”
“Honey of course!”
And with that he pushes me in and runs out into the elevator and disappears. Frye heads straight to the door and locks it. He’s coming at me and though he was short and older, he was also stocky and scary. I needed to get to the door he was blocking and get out, just so I could hunt down my good friend Danny and kill him. He comes at me, grabs me and pulls me down on the couch, holding me firmly on his lap. “No!!!”
“Well just sit here until I come.”
And I push off and make it to the door and get out.
Can you imagine if I had been raped and tried to convince anyone I was not “asking for it”? I’m in this guy’s apartment alone at four a.m., I don’t know him, I thought I was going to watch comedy tapes. Yeah, right. So that’s how these things go, we really think good people are going to help us.
By the way, if every woman had a dollar for every time a horrible guy said, “Just (something) until I come”, we’d own the world. In the early days of my working at the club, I was couch surfing, no actual place to live yet. I always made it very clear I needed a couch or floor to sleep on, and I was not coming over to have sex. Most everyone was decent and honorable; the bartenders, the wait staff, the comics. One guy who became a successful Hollywood writer, Marty Nadler, had other ideas. I sat down on his couch and to my surprise he sat down right next to me. “You can’t stay here for free.”
“But you understood..”
And with that he humped my knee until he came in his pants. Four a.m. on a subway to nowhere or wait until it was over, those were my choices. Then he wordlessly went into his bedroom.
And so here’s the worst of it. Of course the sex part is horrible, but just as bad, these guys then keep you from getting work. I have no doubt that to protect themselves from you possibly shaming them, and wanting to keep you out of their sphere after shaming themselves, they preemptively paint you as a nut, a liar, a whatever, and you are never given a chance to read for a part, or become a successful part of whatever business they are a highly esteemed member of; your profession. That is the glass ceiling, covered in jism. That is some of how and why women are kept down. I have a million of ‘em #metoo, but for another time.
Today, Michael Vick released a letter to the city of Atlanta announcing his retirement from football. It’s a very well written piece about how sorry he was/is to have inflicted so much past hurt – on himself. As happened during his public statements upon his return to football, he never mentions remorse or regret for nor takes any responsibility for eight years of animal torture and murder. He regrets only his own “suffering”. In reading the tens of thousands of reactions on twitter to his piece, you see the enormous opportunity he missed today. Because he is such a good writer, he could have truly, finally, educated those of his fans who don’t have a clue (and don’t know why they should care) about dog fighting and animal abuse; a sick, criminal part of our society that makes the whole of our society more dangerous, violent and abusive toward its weaker members.
TWEET: “Michael Vick would’ve shattered the NFL record book had he not been thrown in jail for being a black man.”
That tweet diminishes every lynching, every true miscarriage of justice against blacks, every unarmed black person shot and killed by police, with its “cry wolf” ignorance.
TWEET: “Why are people still on that with Michael Vick? Y’all act like he did what he did and got away with it. No, he went to jail for 2.5 years”
Actually, he served eighteen months, (two off-seasons), and not one minute of time for his eight years of animal abuse, torture that went beyond imagination. He plea bargained a “not guilty” to that, and pled to bankrolling a gambling conspiracy. I’m an animal rescuer, so I believe in second (and third, fourth, and fifth) chances. But Michael Vick never served time for nor took responsibility for his crimes.
TWEET: “white people kill deers and hang they head up on the ceiling but michael vick cant kill a couple punk ass dogs. eat a dick”
From Michael Vick’s Letter Today: “I was sorry — sorrier than I could ever express — for what I had done. I knew the millions of dollars that I had lost, and the value to my reputation that I had lost, and every day was a reminder of the freedom that I had lost. I knew all of that.”
There’s a lot of that in Vick’s letter, the disappointment of what he had done to himself, the disappointment of not playing football, of possibly not ever getting a contract to play again, against all that he had lost. Leaving out remorse, regret, or apology for what he did to animals, and the fact that they matter and it matters, is what leads to tweets like the one above.
First of all #ShopTalk, a “mistake” is hitting a dog with your car. Eight years of promoting illegal and sickening dog fighting for profit at Vick’s own Bad Newz kennels, where Vick himself electrocuted, drowned, and smashed losing dogs to the ground over and over in order to kill them isn’t a “mistake”. Neither you, Vick, nor many of his fans call it what it was; torture, murder, mutilation, so let’s start there. You know, you don’t have to be a dog lover to be appalled. Dogs are intelligent, sentient beings who feel fear, pain, terror. They are smart enough and emotional enough to be invaluable in search and rescue, to lead the blind, save soldiers’ lives, make independence possible for wheelchair users, or deaf, or autistic people. Their existence makes the world kinder and more humane. This wasn’t Richard Pryor shooting a car. In every interview I have read or seen, Vick repeats his contention that “no one ever told him dogfighting was wrong”, that others “should have told” him, etc. He was a grown man making millions and living a life which offered access to everything, but he “didn’t know”?
TWEET: “If I could go back in time and change anything. I’d go back and tell Michael Vick’s cousins to take the charge for him.”
And you wonder why many people don’t forgive Vick? When you minimize the horror of your crimes by omitting them, you get this tweet, instead of something like, “If I could go back in time I’d make Michael Vick not torture animals”. It’s not bad that it happened, it’s bad that he got caught.
America loves to forgive, we are great at resurrection. We always welcome back the fallen star as long as the star not only pays his/her debt, but, and this is the key, takes responsibility. Muhammed Ali, extolling Islam, was convicted of draft evasion in his boxing prime, given a five year sentence, a $10,000 fine, stripped of his title. Nearly 60,000 Americans were killed and 150,000 wounded in Viet Nam. Whites died alongside blacks. Every family of every one of those soldiers had every reason not to forgive Ali. So why is he one of all of America’s most enduring, beloved heroes? He manned up. He paid his debt. He took responsibility. He never once felt sorry for himself. In fact, the way he glorified himself, with charm, humor, bravado, actually glorified his fans.
Scores of people tweeted this today:
TWEET: “Catch me boolin wit my dawgs just like Michael Vick”
TWEET: “When I get a dog, Imma train it Michael Vick style”
TWEET: “My bunny bites her cage one more time I’m gonna be the next Michael Vick.”
TWEET: “… Falcons fans were burning Michael Vick jerseys over some dogs?”
All this animal cruelty bravado, because Vick’s fans weren’t made to get it.
TWEET: “Dog fighting aside, we will never have another Michael Vick.”
And dead women aside, we’ll never have another Jack the Ripper.
TWEET: “Michael Vick & his friends did a horrific thing paid his time and spent rest of life apologizing & helping that’s his legacy PRINT THAT.”
I would if it were true. Here’s what is true. For a sad $50,000 “donation”, the Humane Society of the United States immediately cooperated with Michael Vick and his publicist to rehabilitate his image. The $50,000 was a drop in the bucket to the HSUS, but the press Vick was getting allowed the HSUS to maximize the relationship financially, as well as ride his huge publicity coattails. The Humane Society of the United States started collecting money from the public to help and care for the “Vick dogs”, which they actually never had. After that, without ever having had the dogs, they claimed the dogs “could not be rehabilitated” and recommended they be euthanized. While the Humane Society of the United States kept the money they collected for the dogs, Best Friends Animal Society stepped in. They cleaned up Vick’s mess, along with the public who eventually adopted these incredible, loving dogs. Best friends used the always limited rescue resources of time and money to treat, help, heal, love, and re-home almost 100% of the Vick dogs. Vick made millions after his release thanks to the HSUS, and the HSUS continues to profit off his name.
Meanwhile, while Vick celebrates and profits, true animal rescue organizations continue to struggle under the weight of what Michael Vick wrought. Year after year, we do what we can to clean up the pitbull mess in America: backyard breeders breeding millions of pitbulls for fighting, most ending up in overcrowded shelters, millions being killed, millions more being bailed out at our own expense. Law enforcement saw an uptick in pitbull fighting after all the Vick publicity. He never addressed what he did, and his fans wanted to be like him.
Today was a true missed opportunity. 133 touchdowns and 22,464 yards don’t make you a hero, they make you good at football. Being a man who says to guys who want to be tough, cruelty is not the way, but kindness, love and compassion are, is a hero.
Top (happy) photo of JohnGarcia-Meryl-vicktorydog courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society
Today is the “March for Life”, against all freedoms that give a woman domain over her own body. They are marching for what they call “The Pre-born”. The Christian, self righteous, pro-life marchers are here to make a point; “every life is sacred, every life should be born, every life matters”. We Pro-Choicers agree. Every life is sacred, every life matters. Where we disagree is, we march for the already born, and the women who can care for, love, and want a newborn. Our end game is not simply to provide the church with more bodies. We actually, actually CARE about babies; babies being wanted, babies being born into love and joy, babies who will be supported and raised and taught and cared for, and loved, for their whole lives. We give birth for the long haul. The Catholic Church will take care of you til the day you’re born.
Are the world’s (and America’s) children all so warm and safe and provided for that we must again steal a woman’s rights regarding her personal being, in order to refill our orphanages and make children available for those childless couples who promise to love and protect, not abuse and exploit them? The answer is no. The orphanages remain full as always. These already born children have no love, mentoring, promise of a bright future. They’re just numbers. They inspire just self satisfied marching.
There are 400,000 children in the US Foster Care system. 100,000 of those are available for adoption right now, and waiting. Hey, why not swing over there on your way home today?
In 2014, more than 22,000 young people aged out of foster care without permanent families. Research has shown that those who leave care without being linked to adoptive families have a higher likelihood than youth in the general population to experience homelessness, unemployment and incarceration as adults (AFCARS). Row row row your boat, “pro-lifers”.
In 2014, 1,546 children died from abuse and neglect, and 71 percent of these children were younger than 3 years old. More than 44 percent of children who die from abuse and neglect every year are under a year old (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). And just wait until the Affordable Care Act is gone. I know the “pro-lifers” will step in and take these orphaned children to doctors when they are sick.
Here’s a message I just received on facebook. Name not important. I don’t know why she sent this to me, I don’t know her. And she clearly, clearly does not know me.
I am not a “disgrace to women” because I don’t support the women’s march. I do not feel I am a “second class citizen” because I am a woman. I do not feel my voice is “not heard” because I am a woman. I do not feel I am not provided opportunities in this life or in America because I am a woman. I do not feel that I “don’t have control of my body or choices” because I am a woman. I do not feel like I am ” not respected or undermined” because I am a woman. I AM a woman. I can make my own choices. I can speak and be heard. I can VOTE. I can work if I want. I control my body. I can defend myself. I can defend my family. There is nothing stopping me to do anything in this world but MYSELF. I do not blame my circumstances or problems on anything other than my own choices or even that sometimes in life, we don’t always get what we want. I take responsibility for myself. I am a mother, a daughter, a wife, a sister, a friend. I am not held back in life but only by the walls I choose to not go over which is a personal choice. Quit blaming. Take responsibility. If you want to speak, do so. But do not expect for me, a woman, to take you seriously wearing a pink va-jay-jay hat on your head and screaming profanities and bashing men. If you have beliefs, and speak to me in a kind matter, I will listen. But do not expect for me to change my beliefs to suit yours. Respect goes both ways. If you want to impress me, especially in regards to women, then speak on the real injustices and tragedies that affect women in foreign countries that do not that the opportunity or means to have their voices heard. Saudi Arabia, women can’t drive, no rights and must always be covered. China and India, infantcide of baby girls. Afghanistan, unequal education rights. Democratic Republic of Congo, where rapes are brutal and women are left to die, or HIV infected and left to care for children alone. Mali, where women can not escape the torture of genital mutilation. Pakistan, in tribal areas where women are gang raped to pay for men’s crime. Guatemala, the impoverished female underclass of Guatemala faces domestic violence, rape and the second-highest rate of HIV/AIDS after sub-Saharan Africa. An epidemic of gruesome unsolved murders has left hundreds of women dead, some of their bodies left with hate messages. And that’s just a few examples. So when women get together in AMERICA and whine they don’t have equal rights and march in their clean clothes, after eating a hearty breakfast, and it’s like a vacation away that they have paid for to get there… This WOMAN does not support it.”
Wow, I never use this term because I rarely encounter it, but finally, a dictionary definition of “White Privilege”. Here, it’s actually “Rich White Privilege”. How wonderful you are so secure standing in your own Bruno Maglis that you cannot even see past to women who aren’t you. My friends and I indeed remember the coat hanger desperate abortions of the ’60’s and ’70’s, the horrible conditions for poor women seeking medical help without much money even after Roe V Wade became law. We remember there were no such things as “rape kits”, and the first questions asked by police if you were brave enough to try to report rape was, “What were you wearing? What were you doing there? Are you sure this wasn’t just a fight with your boyfriend?” If you got as far as a courtroom and on the stand, the other side could reduce you to a sexually promiscuous whore who was asking for it. These things changed because women fought and marched.
Even though Roe v Wade is still the law of the land, over 30 states now make abortion impossible, so again you need to be rich to travel, wait out the waiting periods (though not for a gun), and hope your husband (or your stepfather who impregnated you, or your mother’s boyfriend who impregnated you) doesn’t try to stop you. In many states, you will need their written permission to terminate. Good luck getting that, as it would then implicate them in your molestation. Some states have “paternal rights” laws, meaning your rapist has visitation rights to your child for eighteen years, if you carry the rapists’ child to term and keep it. By the way, public taxpayer money has never been used for abortions, and so-called “Christian” companies like Hobby Lobby can refuse to pay for birth control in their employees’ health care plans. Yet all cover the cost of Viagra. Planned Parenthood is the primary care center for millions of women in America. They use no taxpayer money for abortions. Nevertheless, your new vice president, Mike Pence, cut their funding in 2011, causing the worst HIV outbreak in Indiana state history. It also caused breast cancer rates to skyrocket as women lost their affordable access to cancer screening. His number one goal in office now is to completely shut them down, as he has tried with six previous bills.
You’ve clearly never tried to make your way up the ladder of what was thought to be only a “man’s profession”. Even now, our female athletes, even when better than our men’s soccer team, are woefully behind in salary and winning purses. Women, not for lack of trying, hard work and competency, are in very few boardrooms of major companies. Women in the US still make less than men for the same work, a travesty when you consider how many women are the breadwinners for their families. White women make 80 cents to the dollar earned by white males. African-American women are paid 60 cents for every dollar white men earn, while Hispanic women make only 55 cents. Title IX, signed into law in 1972 to give female students access to sports and equal opportunity in schools, barely survived the GOP grand effort to repeal it under President Obama. Without it, there would have been no Olympic Gold in 2016 for Women’s Gymnastics; no Simone Biles, Laurie Hernandez, Aly Raisman. It survived because women rallied and actively held our representatives to task.
So we march. We march because the republicans now rule the house, senate and executive branch. We march to let them know we are here, we are watching, we are not going backwards and we are active. We will drown you in phone calls, emails, articles, petitions and most importantly, WE WILL VOTE YOU OUT. You work for us. You do not rule us. You will not set us back to when we had to “let boys win”. You have won your last, we are here now and we are watching you. We are committed and we are angry. A sexual predator, who bragged about it, is the president of the United States, not Saudi Arabia and not Guatemala. He, and his supporters, are creating a very dangerous climate for women. This comes at a time when our rights to control our own bodies are one vote away from being overturned. When health insurance for women and families is being overturned and will leave us out in the cold. We have a vice president who actually coined the term “forcible rape”. “Forcible” rape. As opposed to.. the 1950’s courtroom version? While you whined about a fake war on Christmas we suffered under an actual War on Women. And we know what’s coming, from the tiny- minded, petty, self-serving, ignorant, narcissistic, archaic, hubristic, hateful, homophobic, mysogynistic boys club up on lobbyists hill. We know and we are ready. Be afraid, be very afraid.
Now let me ask you a question, dear letter writer: (and when you say you “can vote”, you know it’s because women marched, were beaten, arrested, taunted, jailed, for DECADES, to get you that right, right?) You mention your concern for women brutalized, and more deserving of a march, in countries like Mali, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, China, Afghanistan, Africa. In how many of those countries in which you voiced extreme concern for women have you marched, advocated, helped, supported, or done anything for women or people in need? The new republican playbook is “false equivalency”, trying to throw the spotlight off the real issues affecting us by pointing out something shiny!!! elsewhere!!! Look!!! They treat women badly ten thousand miles away, so why are you protesting in America??!! That game doesn’t work here. It’s a specious argument at best and an ignorant one at worst. “Hey, people in South Africa don’t have clean water, so why are you protesting about Flint, huh?? Huh??” The Huckabee talking points are wearing thin, thin enough to be totally transparent.
Women yesterday weren’t “blaming” or “whining”. We were marching. Marching IS taking responsibility. We are responsible for our freedoms and our rights, and we are going to make sure we keep them. I am happy you have a wonderful life. I am happy my generation’s marching and fighting gave you the right to be anything you wanted, even oblivious if that’s your choice. If everyone else who had a wonderful life didn’t care about anybody else’s life, we’d never have gotten the vote. Continued carefree success to you.
Everyone is writing the most glowing, loving and funny tributes to the now late, dear Florence Henderson. It’s what she inspired; love, fun, joy, and admiration. Florence was truly a “gamer”, a “good sport”, and she proved that a woman could be sexy and alluring at eighty two years old. Here is my most fun memory of us together:
In the nineteen seventies, one day Florence Henderson and I were two of several guests on the “Mike Douglas Show”. She was a gorgeous, petite woman, and was so encouraging to a new comic; me. At the end of the show, they had us all come out, sit on bar stools, and sing a closing number together. Being a silly comic, I spread my arms wide for the last note. With that, my pinkie went up Florence’s nose, and I knocked her backward off the bar stool. Needless to say, the mortification was unbearable to me. I thought I was done for. The show ended, Florence got up laughing hysterically. Not only wasn’t she upset, she spent the next half hour reassuring ME. And then we went our separate ways, after I apologized for sixteen hours.
Several years later, I was to entertain at an industry event, and I knew Florence was going to be there. I hadn’t seen her in a few years, and I kept hoping against hope that she wouldn’t remember what had happened. Suddenly, there she was. Florence Henderson: beautiful, dressed to kill, perfect, stunning, gorgeous, regal, surrounded by beautiful people. She saw me, she came toward me, and in front of all her admirers, stuck her own pinkie up her nose and, laughing heartily, said to me, “Remember? Remember? Hahahahahah!!” While everyone around her stood there gaping, we laughed until we cried. And that became our greeting every time we saw each other for the rest of her life.
May this wonderful human being, who spent her life making the lives of others better, who understood the insecurity and the humanity in all of us and who strove to honor it, who always saw the positive, now rest in peace.
So young millennial women “aren’t excited by” Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, and may not vote? Well here’s real excitement: standing on a dark street corner with a red carnation pinned on so the stranger driving the car can find you. He will then blindfold you and take you to a butcher of a “doctor” to end your accidental pregnancy, if you have enough cash. If you don’t die on the table, you will probably develop an infection a few hours later, or hemorrhage and have to go to a hospital where you “will be punished in some way”, for having an abortion. Most likely, you will never have children due to the negligent damage done to you, which you can do nothing about because you broke the law. Don’t believe me? Here:
Trump: “You go back to a position like they had where they would perhaps go to illegal places. But you have to ban it. There has to be some form of punishment.” Then forced by handlers to deflect in order to get elected, Trump re-calculated: “The doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman.” (Make America great again. No thanks.)
The Supreme Court is already only one vote away from repealing Roe v Wade, and if a Republican gets elected and appoints the next Supreme Court judge, make no mistake, Roe v Wade, and your freedom to control your own body, will be overturned. You can’t imagine that, can you? And you don’t believe that it really was and will again be that bad, do you? Because you grew up so entitled, so lucky, so free to enjoy everything we older women fought and yes, died for. And you can’t imagine it could ever be any other way. Well, it can be and it will be. How you doing? Excited yet?
Maybe you think you’ll just take the “Morning After Pill” and have no worries. Do you know how many years it took us, and Planned Parenthood, and every women’s group, and the politics and lawsuits, to even get RU486 to market in America? It was available to women in France in 1987, then the UK, Sweden, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Spain, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and finally, finally! as a prescription drug, with age and consent restrictions, in the U.S. in the year 2000. Thirteen years after French women could safely control their own bodies in the privacy of their own homes, American women were still fighting to legally swallow a pill with a glass of water in their own kitchens. Think that pill can’t go away instantly once the anti-woman, anti-choice, anti sex education (figure that one out, anti-choice and anti sex education. Why don’t they just sell cars without brakes?) republicans get in power? Here are five drugs that used to be legal which are now illegal: Cocaine, LSD, MDMA, Meth, and Heroin. Exciting, isn’t it?
The U.S. Olympic Women’s Gymnastics Team kicked ass in Brazil this year, didn’t they? Do you know what that was directly attributable to? Title IX, a law that prohibits sex discrimination in any educational program or activity receiving any type of federal financial aid. It was passed in 1972. It opened the floodgates for women in sports and education. Do you know who has tried recently to repeal Title IX? Your Republican congress. You think women fighting for your rights isn’t exciting? It’s stupefying.
Hillary Clinton fought through the wars of discrimination waged against smart, professional women at a time when it truly was a war. We all had to be ten times better than any man to get any job. She was a warrior, and she did it all. We had nowhere to run, nowhere to complain, nobody to sue. We put on our big-girl panties and fought our way through. You don’t use the word “feminist” any more? I do. I am a feminist. My definition is: equality for all. I want everybody to be happy. But not at the expense of anybody else. A true feminist is a humanist. So I am happy we made it possible for you to be free to do anything you want; post pictures of your dinners on Instagram, count your “likes”, do whatever makes you happy, but I would ask one thing in return. Vote for Hillary Clinton on November 8th.
A twenty-year-old woman said to me the other day, “I don’t like either one”. I said, “What’s your problem with Hillary?” She replied, “The emails”. I said, “What about the emails?” She said, “You know, the emails”. I said “No. I don’t know. What about the emails?” All she could say was “The emails”. The empty talking point, the fake emergency, had been burned into her brain by endless repetition by our diseased media. I asked her, “Did anything go wrong because of the emails? Were we attacked? Were government secrets given to the enemy? Was there one ‘classified’ email that caused America even one problem in its dealings around the world or at home?” Of course not.
When a creature like Donald Trump is so flawed, with a new scandal every day; bankrupting yet another small business that expected to be paid for its work for him, faking having a NYC charity, then illegally misusing the donated money, when he talks of women like garbage to be sexually abused, when he leaves wife after wife and makes them sign draconian contracts to get divorce settlements, when he makes full use of all of America’s services to its citizens yet pays not one penny of tax to support them, when he is the first candidate in half a century to hide his tax returns, and on, and on, and on, the problem is this: There is so much shit on his plate, it just keeps rolling on through. But by him, and his party, simply saying “Emails” for a year and a half, that’s what sticks. If we could have just chosen only one of Trump’s egregious actions, and repeated it for a year and a half, the election might have been a referendum on, say: child rape vs emails, or fake charity scamming vs emails, or fake university fleecing of the poor vs emails, or tax evasion vs emails, or molesting women vs emails, or five bankruptcies vs emails, or lying about re-opening obsolete coal mines vs emails, or having absolutely no policy plans whatsoever vs emails, or claiming to support paid maternity leave when none of his companies has paid maternity leave, vs emails, or bringing manufacturing to America again when all of his, and his family’s products, are made overseas, vs emails, or overturning women’s rights vs emails, or reversing gains made by the LGBT community vs emails, or voter suppression in black and latino areas vs emails, or running fake ads telling Americans they can vote for Hillary by text, thus making them think they actually voted when they didn’t, vs emails, or lying every time he opens his mouth vs emails. But we can’t, because he is so steeped in shit there is no one talking point we can stick to long enough before the next heinous revelation comes to light.
Hillary Clinton, and every great woman I know, came up in a patriarchal, male-ruled society. They didn’t do rape kits because they didn’t believe us when we said we were raped. They didn’t respect us. They didn’t want to work with us and they didn’t want to pay us. And we made them. Because we didn’t give up and we knew we had the right to happy fulfilling lives and were willing to work for that. Pundits telling Hillary to “smile more” during the debates were the echo of every construction worker taunting female passersby, “Hey baby! Ya can’t give me a smile, sweetie??” A replica of every sexist boss and customer saying, “How ’bout a little smile, honey?” Why didn’t anybody tell that miserable male face in the debates to “smile more”? He didn’t smile at all, and he could have used it. All of this diversion nonsense about Hillary “not being likable” is a wink and a nod to the old sexism game. Who ever, ever, mentioned a male presidential candidate being likable as a thing. Donald Trump is a seventy year old throwback to steaks and cigars and broads, grabbing the waitress’ ass while smirking with his buddies drinking scotch, saying “I could get her”. He’s a bully and a failure of the worst kind; the kind who takes his off the top and leaves the little guy holding the bag, to go under. He’s a “white males first and best” kind of spoiled rich boy, taking credit for success where not only isn’t there true success, only a numbers game he can manipulate to come out on top on paper, but if there was, the credit goes not to him, but to all the small companies he used and destroyed, all the laws he twisted to serve his own grasping purpose. He’s small, he’s mean. He’s against all the people who think differently than he does, who want a better life but didn’t have a rich father, who weren’t born here but made their way here to give their children what his father gave him; a leg up, an in, a chance, and fourteen million dollars.
You still don’t see a difference? You “don’t like either one of them”? You weren’t outraged by Trump’s disrespectful treatment of Hillary during the debates? She came out classy and beautiful, prepared (oh right, that’s a negative. Explain that to me, will you?) She explained her policies, her plans, with intelligence. She treated him with respect. He couldn’t speak in full sentences, he had no answers, no policies, so he attacked her for ninety minutes at a time. That didn’t enrage you? Then you need better boyfriends. For years I’ve supported WRRAP, which is in essence the “underground railroad” for poor women needing abortions in one of the ten states that have already banned abortion completely, or one of the forty one states that make it almost impossible. But I’m done fighting the fight. Why should I help any more? I can’t get pregnant, and you can’t even be bothered to vote, yawn yawn. We’ve given you all this; freedom and choices and opportunity and the whole world, and sometimes we didn’t smile and weren’t likable doing it. Too bad. But you need to protect and cherish it now, and make your futures even better. You need to vote for Hillary Clinton on November 8th, for a million and one great reasons, and for the future of America and the world. Not because she is a woman. Because she is a great, brilliant, capable woman, and the best man for the job.