Thursday, August 17, 2017

Like many of you, I'm still sifting through my emotions over what happened this weekend in Virginia. I am angry and sad and confused and lost. Looking for some sort of hope to latch onto, I posted on Facebook that the driver of the car was arrested and denied bail and that one of the "protesters" lost his job. I know my friends are sad and I wanted to offer something encouraging. I've seen others do the same, especially during our TN session of congress. There were posts about hate bill and health care bills that were killed or voted against. It helped us to feel like we were making a difference.

What I didn't expect at all, and what completely blindsided me, was for a member of the burlesque community to call me out on it. What the fuck?? I can't offer some sliver of hope?? She is a woman of color and insisted that I was spreading dangerous rhetoric, that my intention and attitude was wrong. So, immediately, I was defensive. I was told to do some research. And it all totally confused me. I've read books, I've watched films, I've been to and participated in discussions with women of color. Last year I attended a BLM vigil and studied up on how I should behave to be supportive while letting it be about black people and not white allies. I thought, what else can I do??

In my anger and frustration, I allowed the incident to escalate. My friends stepped in to try to defend me. My white ally friends chastised me, at least in my eyes at the time. I thought why even try when nothing I do is good enough??

For two days I felt a rock in my stomach. I questioned why I felt so bad and so angry if I hadn't done anything wrong. I reread comments and posts. On the second day I apologized for half of what I said. I sent a message to the woman who had called me out, trying to explain my viewpoint, my history, how I cared. And I apologized. I thought, okay, that should do it. Because I'm a good person. I do care. If someone can't see that, what else can I do?

And the rock remained in the pit of my stomach. Something was still bothering me. There was a shame I couldn't get past and I couldn't figure out where it was coming from.

Last night I watched this video. I watched a black woman scream from terror and disbelief and emotional pain and distress. I saw a black man insisting that they didn't want that group in their town, in his town, in his home. I saw waves of white people filled with hate, claiming they were fulfilling their rightful part of history.

And I got it. And fuck, it hurt.

Posting that bills are voted down is not equivalent to trying to find anything good from this past weekend. Hey, one KKK was arrested. Yippee!!! Hey, look how all of those white men can push against a line of police and nothing happens to them!! Look how those men are allowed to carry torches and firearms and how our fucking president excuses it all. Gee, that's progress.

No, I was wrong. I didn't want to be. But this wasn't the time to rally and talk about  how things are going to get better. Not when, right now, they are getting so much worse. People of color are truly terrified by what is happening. Because it isn't new. It never has been for them. And now we have a "leader" who all but endorses it. I try to understand, but I can't really fathom what it feels like to walk through life being hated by such a large group of one's own country.

I don't know how this will end. I know how I want it to end. I thought we were better than all of this. I didn't really think we would elect a misogynistic, racist, completely ignorant buffoon for a president. But we did. I didn't think KKK and neo-Nazi groups would organize. Or militarize themselves. But they have. I keep thinking it will stop. This nightmare will end. But it doesn't. I think, okay, we've reached the tipping point. And another wave hits us.

I don't have any answers. I think I have suggestions, but at this point, I'm not even sure about that. But here they are, for whatever they're worth.

White people - don't include POC in your frustrations. They're not here to make you feel better. They don't have to explain their history. Talk to your white friends. Tell them how you feel sad that you try and you feel misunderstood and then try again. It's okay to be angry, we're all angry. But be appropriately angry.

White friends - be patient with each other. Daily conversations of racism haven't been a regular daily activity for a lot of us. I lived in a town for 22 years where I literally went MONTHS without seeing a black person. There were hispanics and latinos, but it was much less diverse than Nashville. If someone isn't getting it, it's helpful to offer different reasoning rather than getting defensive yourself. And if you're not capable of that in the moment, if you don't have the mental or emotional energy, save it for later. We need each other and we need understanding. Am I full of shit on that one? I could be. Like I said, I don't know anymore.

If you have an interaction that leaves you feeling less than okay, explore that feeling. Dig down. Your gut and your heart know what's off, so listen to them. Be humble.

I want to say that hate won't win, but damn. It's got a really fucking good lead right now.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Death of Dating

Last night I had drinks with someone I met online. At first I appreciated that he wanted to skip the formalities and small talk and meet right away. He seemed to have a sense of humor. I think the road to hell should now be paved with seems.

To start, he was 20 minutes late. But, Nashville traffic being what it is, I went with it. He sent an odd message about panhandlers, thinking he was making a joke. It was off-putting but I hoped I just misunderstood it.

He has a dog. We had a nice conversation about dogs and how great they are. It's charming when a man really loves his dog.

And then it went downhill. I specifically have a comment in my profile to not contact me if you voted for Trump. I foolishly expect that this will be respected. When he asked me if I don't like Trump, he said he could tell because of "all the woman stuff." Um... woman stuff??

He then proceeded to tell me a 30-minute story about how his wife left  him. For a black man. When you say, "I'm not racist but..." and then follow that with a terribly insulting imitation of a black man, then yes. Yes, you are a racist. A big one. I don't blame the woman for leaving.

Because he kept insisting he wasn't racist, I pressed him on his vote. He didn't want to answer, which made his choice obvious. What's worse is that he voted on a single issue. Gun rights. His collection of 20 guns was more important than women's health or right to choose, more important than the environment or the economy or foreign relations. I asked if the protection of his second amendment right was worth what happened in Virginia. If it was worth a woman dying for. He didn't have an answer.

Now I'm left with feeling like I can't trust anyone. That there isn't someone who can be just basically respectful and kind. So I think I'm done. I'm definitely done wasting my time on men who completely disregard my feelings as a person, let alone as a woman.

I have dogs. I have a daughter and a best friend. I have a business and a hobby that I love. It's a good life. I'm okay with it being a single life. Right now it's better than the alternative.

Monday, August 07, 2017

How It All Makes Sense Now

Like many of us, my world seemed to fall apart November 9th. After I spent a few days being deeply depressed, I decided to take action. I took all the action and went to all of the things and I got really involved. I wanted to Be Effective and Make a Difference and Have My Voice Heard. I protested, I joined groups, I went to meetings, I signed up for nearly anything that was put in front of me. I wanted to find the one thing that would be My Purpose.

And then I was overwhelmed. I couldn't focus on one thing because I was trying to do everything. I was close to burnout. The other goals I made for myself this year seemed less important and I was spread too thinly everywhere.

This last week I went to National Training for Pure Romance. Thursday night I was sitting in Aronoff Center in Cincinnati for opening session. Pure Romance will be celebrating 25 years of business in 2018 and, during the opening video, our founder Patty Brisben reflected on the beginnings and on the changes she has seen in the business and what it was like starting out. Her husband left her and their children because he wanted a wife who was more successful. (And all I can think is, "How you like me NOW?") She was broke. She was scared. She got involved in a business where she was shunned by mothers and other women. And she kept going. She kept going and she now heads a $200 million empire.

That piece was inspiration in itself, but she continued. She said how thankful she is that, as consultants, we are changing the lives of women every day. We empower them. We teach them about sexual health. We encourage them to do all of the things that our current administration is against. She got emotional and I did too.

Because it hit me. I am exactly where I need to be to Make a Difference. I don't necessarily need to protest, although I'm sure I will at times. I don't have to sign up for every single event involved with my political party. I can just focus on the parties I have with women. The conversations I have with them. The education I provide that so many hundreds of them have been lacking. We talk about consent and communicating what we want and how to get it. If women can do that in the bedroom, which is one of the hardest places to use one's voice, then they can learn to do it outside the bedroom too. They speak up not just for themselves, but for other women as well. I can affect change one conversation, one sale, one party at a time. This is it!!!

When we hear about women's health, we often think of abortion or breast cancer, but it's much more than that. One of my teammates went to a class on menopause. Yucky topic, I know. It doesn't feel good. Hot flashes aren't comfortable. While some women look forward to it, others feel like they're less womanly. There is a gamut of emotions and physical symptoms and very little research being done or treatments being offered, considering how complicated this transition can be. The Patty Brisben Foundation is the only one of its kind to focus on this issue, as well as cancer treatment and its effects and research on these and other reproductive issues.

What I need and what I want has been in front of me this whole time. It's usually that simple, isn't it? If we just open our eyes. I went to classes about leadership, sponsoring, common sexual problems, sexual health information, motivation, time management, money management, and a future leader training. And yet this was the biggest lesson that I learned. It's so freeing to now have this direction and this focus.

If this is something that you want to do, I can help you with that. I'd be overjoyed to welcome you into this community where I have gained so much. I'm going to do all that I can to give that back.

If there is no part of you that wants to use your voice this way, I understand completely. Like Patty said, it isn't easy with so many naysayers. However, I still encourage you to Do Something. We have a long way to go to undo a lot of the damage that has been done and we need each other out there in may other areas and forums. I can direct you to those areas as well. Just please be involved because it's too important not to be.
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