Saturday, November 12, 2011

JoePa and the Bad Old Boys Club

Every so often the media gets its hands on some juicy, outrageous, and titillating news, worthy of shutting out all other news.  This week, the focus is on Penn State, the raping, pimping, violating of young boys, by a man, a few men, and a timeline that is more than a little distressing. 

Without getting too sanctimonious, I have a few questions and comments.  It seems to me, that for all the questioning and public rhetoric and outcries over Joe Paterno’s firing, does it not seem a bit odd that he is now questioning whether he should have done more, and in the absence of hindsight, he admits he did not do enough.  My question is about the timing.  If you are sorry only after the results of a Grand Jury are admitted to the public, does that really mean a great deal?  Well, not to me, but what the hey- he wasn’t apologizing to me.  As for the fans and zealous "friends" that show their support by turning over vans, well with friends like that, I suppose you can believe that you are allowed to do anything (in Sandusky’s case), or do a whole lot of nothing (in Paterno’s case). 

The public swarming, or murmuration-type frenzy that occurs is disturbing to me.  With bits and pieces of information, the public, time and time again, swarms to the aide of some seemingly “innocent” bystander.  Are we that starved to be part of a group that we can’t take a little bit of time to truly understand a situation?  Do we not have enough meaning in our lives to step back and determine, calmly, that there are some large gaping holes in the information that we so readily react to? 

There were no swarms to aide the children that were victimized.  This seems to be the time that the public bows their heads, and determines they don’t know all the facts, or there isn’t anything they can do to help or stop.  This is the time that victims get victimized twice.  First, during the horrific acts of sexual violation, and next by the witnesses that look the other way or worse, cast aspersions. 

Penn State’s stance to actively decide that Sandusky was not allowed to bring boys on campus any longer is criminal.  This stance however, is not shocking or uncommon.  It seems to be the fabric of bureaucracy.   A well-established bylaw of the Good Old Boys Club.  The Catholic Church being notorious for moving known pedophile priests to different locations, rather than taking a direct stance and enforcing policy for the intolerance of pedophiles, rapists and criminals in their ranks, is not alone in this practice.  School districts quietly relocate offenders, or require “resignations” rather than directly and legally upholding policy for harassment and sexual misconduct.   A variation on policy response seems also at play, "Not In My Backyard" or "Not on My Watch".  Basically, the concepts appears to be: You can do it, just don't do it near me.

I wonder, if bureaucratic systems were to denounce the criminals in their ranks, is it possible that the public would feel comforted, and trusting of the leadership?  Are the bureaucracies so afraid of the public response that they feel it better to continue to hide, and bury and partake in criminal activity to avoid possibly losing public support?  Sadly, the public response seems to be “act first, think later” while the bureaucracies response seems to be “think of all the loopholes and respond after, and only if, the public reacts, by sacrificially throwing a few of their members under the bus or toward the rallying public in an attempt to, what, look as though they were caught with their pants down?

Of course there are other factors to ponder here as well.  Fortunately, I don’t recall any large thrill-seeking mob supporting any of Warren Jeffs’ friends or colleagues. Jeffs, is the Mormon sect leader who “married” twelve sixteen-year-old girls and twelve additional girls under the age of fifteen.   When we call Jeffs a husband, it is not quite as distressing as a rapist, or a pedophile. Minimal public outcry here, but no one rallying to help the perpetrators.  Why not?  Because it didn’t interfere with football season?  It was related to someone’s religious viewpoints that we don’t entirely understand or feel is our business to weigh in on?  Is it because they were girls, and girls are expected to get married and have sex with their "husbands" any old way? 

The policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” may have been lifted from the military ranks in regards to the sexual orientation of gay service people, but it seems the nation has a long way to go regarding viewpoints, beliefs and understanding of sexual behavior that encompasses all.  Don’t ask, don’t tell was alive and thriving in the boardrooms and locker rooms of Penn State.   This version of don’t ask, don’t tell is in place to protect the boy’s club from having to be accountable.  Don’t ask, because I don’t need to tell you.  Don’t ask, because I can do whatever I want.  Don’t ask, because you might not like what I am doing, but I don’t plan on stopping.   It is alive and prospering in many other sectors right now.  

We need to take a hard, close look at the sexual victimization of our youth, boys and girls equally. We need to have a clear understanding of “consent” and how that may fluctuate based upon age, role, and authority of the “consenting” participants.   We need to speak up against violent, abhorrent sexual crimes even when it interferes with game season.  We need to close shop on the boy’s club mentality that pervasively interferes with access to basic human rights for all.  We may even need to provide sexual education that is comprehensive and maybe we can throw in some course work on human rights and accountability.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Super Power and Passive Resistance at Play

Action figures are sooooo dumb!  I mean really!  I really don’t like playing with them, and there is a certain young man that I like a great deal who invites me to play whenever I stop by to visit his Mom.  He believes I am visiting him and she’s just getting in the way of our fun, the way moms do,  you know, get in the way of F-U-N.  He is a really good action figure player.   I can go through the motions and kind of pretend close enough to convincingly that I get invited back to play.  He’s so good to me when we play that he even let’s me choose the action figures that I want on my team when we begin to “play”.  

There’s a few odd realities that I have noticed in this “play”.  First, if you are the visiting playmate, you don’t get to really make any decisions.  You and your team will ultimately “lose” or die or have to get stuck or trapped or blocked from any real victory.  Your twirls and kicks and weapons are not ever as good, they are defective or back fire and kill your whole team.  The home-team advantage permits the home team guy to have the massive plastic fort and all the good hiding spots or the chance to, oops! forget to put the talking, mechanical, remote control transformer action figure into the mix of action figures you got to choose from.  

So before long, I find myself realizing I have to just pretend I am excited or tell my pint-sized friend “I have ….. a headache tonight”?  OK,  are you getting this?  Action hero play figures seem to be training camp for things to come.  Can’t we do something about this?  I mean really, am I honestly supposed to just sit/lie there and pretend I will enjoy any of this?  It’s so passive!    What would happen if I started really kicking things up?  I try, I start to state that I have some new power and….  “No, No. No, Ginger, that’s not the way you play!”  (Groooooaaaannnnnnn  The story of my life, never playing the right way!)  It just seems to me this play is all covered in gender role development in the most glaringly inequitable of ways. 

I can’t help but feel like women – mothers can make some great inroads into the male psyche by slightly adjusting the action figure play dynamic.  I try to change the rules.  I try to make the decisions.  I even try to be the one with the best equipment.  Only to find out the guy here and elsewhere, have the bigger, better, more powerful tools time and time again.  The unfair advantage.  What can be tweaked and slightly altered in this play?  What would permit me to level the playing field and have a shot at victory, if even, a long-shot? My direct approach got the smack down, this carries through for me in other interactions as well.  The direct approach is typically not so charming and sought after.

I try to tell my friend, his mother, my observations without causing her to get really freaked out.   “So, do you see the correlations between action figure play and gender roles … the bedroom?”   I don’t know how successful I was, there was a noticeable stiffening, but I have been invited back and now I am being asked, upon entry by another young man that I like a great deal, the younger brother,   “Gin-juhhhh, you wanna see my toys?” He heads up to his room and I am expected to follow.   I am expected to passively admire and adore.    I do, for him and his brother.  But am I sending the wrong message?  Do I need to feign or express, truly, I really don’t like….action figures and transformers, and all those other curious, shiny pieces that fit together and make noises and shoot sparks.   OK,  I guess I really do like them but I want to play with them a little deeper.  I want the action figures to dialogue, and solve problems, and pick up the kids on time, while they rule the world.  I want to win sometimes and come out on top and occasionally make the home team a little cautious or thoughtful and maybe on their toes because “Gin-juhhh’s in the house!” 

I should probably start playing with someone my own size.  Maybe I should don a cape and mask and see how that works with my dating adventures.  High wasted leotards and tights?  Grrrrrrrrrrwwwwlllll.   Hisssssssssss.   Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  Why is the only girl super hero with any appeal a cat?  Because cats are indirect?