I Have to Say It

Originally posted Saturday, January 13, 2007:

Before I even write this, I will ask your forgiveness and understanding. Something’s bothering me and I need to talk about it. This post will most likely wind and meander more than my normal postings. I thought about writing it out, then editing, but then I run the risk of not only editing, but rationalizing and justifying and I don’t want to do that. I apologize if I lose you, change my train of thought abruptly, but there are no leeches at my house, and I have only this blog to bleed out these feelings within me. My caveat aside, I will begin:

When I was little, there was only one thing I really wanted to be: grown up. I never really enjoyed being a child, and always felt at the mercy of forces that I didn’t trust: adults. They were constantly telling me to do something: go to bed, eat this, don’t eat that. And while their advice and commands were benign and for my own good, I chaffed against it. I’ve never liked people telling me what to do, and as an adult, I figured no one would. I would command my own destiny.

I ached for the moment I would leave school behind, walk away from the jocks and the nerds, the preppies and skaters. I wanted to be in the world, where I didn’t see the same, tired, labeled people.

Now, a lot of religions teach the concept of reincarnation. You live, you die, you come back and try again to learn new lessons, not to repeat old lessons. Hindu culture says you die and are reborn, so does the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Even Christianity teaches rebirth, only they say you don’t have to leave this body to become a new creature in the world.

I became an adult, and I learned a valuable lesson (at least for me): reincarnation occurs constantly in this life. The jocks are still there. Sure, they’re not wearing athletic gear, and now he’s your co-worker and not just the kid in class, but he’s still there. The teacher that tormented you has been re-born as your boss. Different skin, sex, hair, name, but still has the same attitude, and she can still push those buttons and make you hyperventilate like she did when you were six.

I’ve found my bully. I found him years ago, and though I do my best to avoid him, he still creeps into my life. Only, he’s not a boy anymore. He’s grown and morphed. These days, he calls himself Media. Media. I hate him now, as I hated him then. He hasn’t changed. He’s still there, telling me that I’m not good enough. I’m not pretty enough, smart enough. I don’t do enough, I do too much. I never get a moment’s peace with him around.

He taunts and teases me, tells me that what I believe isn’t important. Media. Who is he to decide what I should believe? What issues I should stand behind and support? And do you know when he’s most insidious? When he’s defining what I should be as a woman.

Media comes along with his Prada shoes and Gucci watch, shows me pictures of beautiful, glamorous women and says, “Be like that.” But if I try, then he criticizes me. My dress is too short, my hair too flat. I show cleavage and suddenly I’m a whore. But wait? Wasn’t he the one showing me pictures of a woman revealing far more cleavage? Why is she sexy and I slutty?

Why does Media go on about “maternal instinct,” but say nothing of “paternal instinct?” Why does he teach me that once I reach 40, my desirability will drop? I can’t keep up with him and the numbers. When I was 10, the age to be was 20. But when I reached 20, he said that I was too young to hold opinions, to know my mind. He said it with the people he showed on his television: young men and women for whom a thought in their brain would die of loneliness. No matter my age, I’m not good enough.

He has business sections where he encourages companies to enforce dress codes. No breasts, no tank tops, no bare legs. Huh? Stupid media. Why should I go out and buy expensive pantyhose, whose only purpose is to make my legs look bare? What’s wrong with my breasts? Who decided that cleavage wasn’t office attire? Is he saying that men are so stupid that they can’t hold a conversation with a woman wearing a slightly unbuttoned blouse? Is he saying that women are so weak and useless that we have to rely on our bodies to get ahead in life?

Of course not, he says. I misunderstand, but I don’t feel like I misunderstand. I feel like I’m being bullied, like my worth is being taken out of my control and put in the hands of someone incapable of holding it.

I understand Media’s right to exist, and I don’t believe that Media should believe everything that I believe. And I won’t say that Media’s beliefs are unfair, because life is unfair, that’s what makes it life. But this is where it gets dicey. Logic and critical thinking kick in, telling me that since I know that Media is a bully, why get upset? Why not understand the beast? True. But you know what? Mean is still mean. And the way that Media plays with women is mean, downright cruel.

I’m tired of the bullying, I’m tired of the hypocrisy. If Media wants to beat me up because I’m not tall enough, thin enough, whatever enough, fine, but Media doesn’t do that. Media pretends that it’s my friend, plays at supporting me, my dreams and my interests, but then, just when I feel comfortable, it smashes me back into my place: some where left of the kitchen stove and just out of reach of my shoes.

And what can I do? Ignore him, sure. Walk by it with my bodyguards of self-love and self-esteem, but somedays, Media goes too far. He really does.

It is my opinion that Monica Lewinsky making headlines for getting her Masters, is one of those times. I don’t mind that she got her degree, I don’t mind that it was reported that she got her degree. Anyone who’s gone through University and survived a Master’s program deserves to get their name in print.

What I mind is the surprise of journalists (Media’s occasional lackeys) that Monica was smart enough to get a degree. One journalist said that she felt Lewinsky getting a degree was akin to finding that the rules of physics no longer existed. Excuse me? EXCUSE ME?!

I can’t remember what Monica’s post in the White House was, I believe it was an aid of some sort. I do remember, however, that her job was highly coveted and extraordinairely difficult to get. Competitive. Hard work. Of course she’s a smart woman. Point of fact, I’d like to see some of these so called impartial journalists try to get her job – hell, I’d like to see them get into the Master’s program that Monica was in.

This isn’t impartial reporting. This is what it always was, and sadly, always will be. These articles are a warning to women. Your sexual misdeeds will never be forgotten. Sure, we’ll let you become doctors, lawyers, heck if you want to play politician, we’ll let you do that to – so long as you never wear anything but closed-toe shoes. But don’t you dare believe you can be sexual beings, don’t for a moment think that a rash decision made in the heat of passion and love will be forgiven.

Anyone know where Clinton is now? On a speech circuit. You know which one? The theme is about uplifting people, reaching across to be better people and empowering yourselves. Clinton. An adulterer, seducer and no one questions his ability to lead or lend advice. And why should they? Does a person’s choice in matters of the heart and loins really matter when the issues are global? Are his actions the business of anyone besides him, his wife and their daughter?

Yet, Clinton goes about his business, making his speeches and being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for his efforts. Monica gets headlined with “Stupid but Smart.” Nice. You know what Kissinger said? “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.” You know why he said it? Because it’s true.

To quote Richard Cohen :
“She is a branded woman, not an adulterer but something even worse — a girl toy, a trivial thing, a punch line. Yet she did what so many women at that age would do. She seduced (or so she thought) an older man. She fantasized that he would leave his wife for her. Here was her crime: She was a girl besotted. It happens even to Republicans.
But she is now a woman with a master’s degree from a prestigious school and is going to be 34 come July. Her clock ticks, her life ebbs. Where is the man for her? Where is the guy brave enough, strong enough, admirable enough to take her as his wife, to suffer the slings and arrows of her outrageous fortune — to say to the world (for it would be the entire world) that he loves this woman who will always be an asterisk in American history. I hope there is such a guy out there. It would be nice. It would be fair.
It would be nice, too, and fair, also, if Lewinsky were treated by the media as it would treat a man. What’s astounding is the level of sexism applied to her, as if the wave of the women’s movement broke over a new generation of journalists and not a drop fell on any of them. Where, pray tell, is the man who is remembered just for sex? Where is the guy who is the constant joke for something he did in his sexually wanton youth? Maybe here and there some preacher, but in those cases the real subject matter is not sex but hypocrisy. Other than those, no names come to mind.This is the year 2007, brand new and full of promise. It would be nice if my colleagues in the media would resolve to treat Monica Lewinsky as a lady, to think of her as they would themselves, to remember their own youth and the things they did and to understand that from this day forward anyone who takes a cheap shot at Lewinsky has a moral and professional obligation to look in the mirror. To proceed otherwise is to miss the joke entirely. No longer is it Monica Lewinsky. It is now the people who write about her.”

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