Friday, February 24, 2012

Occupy Virginia

[Let me just start by saying there is language that may not be appropriate for congress persons, clergy, the faint of heart and anyone that refers to their privates as the “nether-regions”, or any odd assorted strange and otherwise non-anatomical nomenclature.  I will also add for clarification and personalization, my given name being Virginia, it has on occasion been misunderstood to be that other word for “down there”.  In the not too distant past I had an odd exchange with a young server at a local restaurant.  When presenting my credit card to pay for dinner out with friends, the young and mortified server was not able to utter my name because he was certain it was some sort of sin, a horrible joke that I would have such a name, or he might have been overcome with fear at the the possibility of saying that other word rather than my name.   Just as well, I have never been called Virginia for any good reason.]

99% of women use contraception.  1% don’t?  I just can’t help myself…..

Women, it might be time to set up camp.  Somewhere.  Somehow.  Maybe on Wall Street, or Easy Street.  Occupy Vaginas? Well, maybe not.  Maybe we need to fight the insertion of probes and predominantly male fundamentalist viewpoints into those vaginas.  Maybe we could go all out wild and try to stop permitting government occupation of our vaginas once and for all.

But let’s just have a little fun here.  A little tongue in cheek good humor is what’s needed, dontcha think?

Let’s just pretend for a moment that women are NOT all powerful and threatening to the extent that we somehow need to pretend that the insertion of a penis is not involved with conception. 
And then…
Let’s pretend the unwanted pregnancy that may result in the decision to have an abortion, that might lead to the insertion of the vaginal probe did not occur as a result of contact with a male-owned penis.  
And then…
Let’s pretend that forcing the all powerful woman to look closely at the fetus that she is aborting will cure all of the other societal ills that make it ever so slightly inconvenient or entirely life-changing to have a baby under any and all circumstances.  This probe idea will take all women down a peg or two.  Surely we must be collectively forgetting our place in the world.  Surely this probe idea will help us to remember where we belong.

The fact that this conversation is seriously being considered is sadly surreal, deeply disturbing and outrageously discriminatory.  How did we get here?  How can 51% of any given population be so blatantly marginalized?  Not withstanding which side of the abortion issue you place yourself, this issue is more to do with women’s rights and freedoms than religious rhetoric and fundamentalist viewpoints. It has more to do with contraception than abortion, and the reality that women do not have easy and/or affordable access to contraception based upon where they work and who provides their health insurance. Giving women access to insurance benefits that cover female related health care should not be any different than giving men access to male related health care.  (The fact that Viagra is covered says a great deal about this issue.  Perhaps Viagra could be laced with contraception to kill two birds with one stone. Except, the majority of women that are of child bearing age are not hanging out with the Viagra popping dudes.)  So, Viagra is covered and contraception is not. And this makes sense because?

I’ll go out on another limb here.  A fragile, delicate, limb that surely won’t support my weight, my head-strong disposition, or my feminine fancy, but let me go there just the same.  Just for kicks, let’s say we women go along with this vaginal probe idea.  I would like to propose that the vaginal probe be retro-fitted with paternity-identifying software.  The male half of the unwanted conception could be identified and located and brought in. He might also benefit from seeing the miracle of life that is being terminated.  Maybe he could be photographed and appear on tv or better yet tumbled, tweeted, texted and poked. Oh, I mean give consent.  Maybe instead, he can be given the opportunity to bring in a surrogate womb.  Surely most abortions are carried out by women against the wishes of men, right?  Men should certainly be given the chance to keep and raise their babies.  Forcing women to be vaginally probed, or stoned in the street, or shamed into keeping the baby, won’t allow men to keep all those babies that are being aborted and isn’t this really what those men in power are fighting for?  The right to raise and care for all those babies they have helped conceive?

Oh, wait, that’s not what the men in power want, is it?  Can it be?  Women and children statistically speaking, make up a disproportionate  amount of people living in poverty.   What with all that child support they are getting, or taking from those poor men, how is it that the women and children are so disproportionately trapped in poverty?  Maybe we need a different probe for that answer.   We already know women are 29% more likely to be poor than men.  Throw in single women raising children compared to single men raising children and the statistic jumps to 68%. Oh, those super powerful women probably want it that way.  They are probably trying to prove how much better they are. Or maybe we should consider how those single mothers in poverty were dressed when they were left with their children, tried to get jobs, or housing, or were offered salaries that are 77% of male salaries, (lower yet, the more educated you are).  Surely they must have been dressed provocatively basically asking to be treated unfairly.   Maybe those single mothers in poverty would also benefit from annual vaginal probes.  That will show them!  If we want to insert sperm-filled penises into our vaginas, then we ought to have probes inserted into us by the government as well. 

As this debate continues, and the government carefully attempts to “pull out” without impregnating outdated, discriminatory and pervasively harmful bills into law we might want to take a closer look at why the Republican Party wants government involvement in this specific part of health care but by and large are opposed to government involvement in health care.  We also need to understand why the Democratic Party is vaguely opposed but afraid to take a clear and firm stand on this and other civil rights related issues.   We may as well start to look at developing gender-related party lines.  Perhaps then women might begin to be represented fairly.  But no need to do anything extreme, or intrusive.    Apparently there is some backing down on the issue, there was some “confusion”.  Hey, it could happen.  Maybe they thought they were signing a bill about virginal probes or Virginia Pride or keeping government out of big business while keeping it in the bedroom of every individual.    

Is that what the slogan Virginia is For Lovers was all about?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Tattered Remnants: Photo Essay

Tattered Remnants of Our Dark History 

No Rug to Sweep It Under: Slave Shack

Photos taken on the grounds of Laura, A Creole Plantation, St. James Parish, Vacherie, LA  July 2011 by Ginger Long Glynn

The idea of visiting, or touring a plantation is not one that ever appealed to me, yet when I visited my son in New Orleans in the summer of 2011, it became a consideration and then, a reality.  After seeing the oil-riddled beaches along Mississippi and Alabama, a self-guided swamp tour, and a few trips, but not enough, to Café du Monde, the French Quarter, the Marigny and the Garden District, the plantation tour became a planned destination of some interest.  I did, however, continue to approach this visit half-heartedly.  For me, plantations symbolize slavery, not the wealth of the genteel, or the funding source of all things southern hospitality.  I couldn’t help feeling it would be like visiting the homes of some officers in the Third Reich with the intent to admire their taste.  I tried to find comfort somehow, and perhaps logic, or rationality in remembering the history of the wealth behind the great estates along the Hudson.  I have greatly enjoyed visiting the Hudson Valley estates.  These fortunes of course, were built on the backs of immigrants and the underclasses.  Wealth for a few comes at a great cost to many.  
I carefully chose Laura Plantation, a plantation run by 4 generations of Creole women.  As I drove along the Mississippi, my eldest son read about the history of the plantation. He shared that there was a “slave cabin” on the grounds.  It was clear as we got closer, there were “slave cabins” all along River Road, some inhabited, others abandoned.  As I pointed these out, we grew quiet. We passed several mansions that were in disrepair and a few that had recently been renovated, soon to be added to the growing plantation tour route.  

The Laura Plantation was fascinating.  It was surrounded by tropical plants and vibrant flowers. It seemed more of a Caribbean inspired mansion, than it's Antebellum counterparts.  I wanted to believe that it was somehow softer to slavery because women had managed and controlled it.  Laura Locoul-Gore was the great granddaughter of Guillaume DuParc, a French naval veteran of the American Revolution.  DuParc, commissioned the land from Thomas Jefferson, as a reward for serving the country, and for his new loyalty to the nation.  He died three years after the home was constructed, leaving his wife to manage the plantation. He started with seven slaves. When his wife could no longer run it, she appointed her youngest daughter to have control.   She was believed to be the most capable, not because they did not have male heirs. In the 1830's Elisabeth DuParc purchased 30 teenage girl slaves with the intention of having them impregnated.  (It was as difficult to write that last statement as it is to think about it.  Industrialized rape, is what it conjures.) During the 1850’s the DuParc Plantation inhabited 175 slaves for the production of sugar. The slave cabin that was photographed, was built in 1840.  It was at one time, among  65 cabins built on the land. The cabins were inhabited on the grounds of the plantation until 1977.  

The ancient west-African tales, Compair Lapin, better known as "Br'er Rabbit" were recorded in this cabin by Alcee Fortier, a neighbor of Laura Lacoul.  Fortier later became the Dean of Foreign Languages at Tulane University and the president of the American Folklore Society.  He published Louisiana Folktales.  A year later his friend and colleague, Joel Chandler Harris, published Tales of Uncle Remus.  (I would prefer to be writing that Alcee Fortier helped set the slaves free, but I realize my idealistic, hopeful mind-set has difficulty fully comprehending the harsh and cruel realities of humanity.)

What I saw, and could not look away from, were the muted tones reflected in the walls and floors of the rooms, which inspired the photographs.  The natural light washed upon the paint-faded wood-grain of the walls.  Contrasting pastels evoked beauty and tenderness, sorrow and grief, a gentle reminder of our nations darkened history.  The tattered remnants of the gingham curtain, or perhaps makeshift door, remain on the door frame providing the threadbare fabric of a regions history.  

The broom in the corner of the room, one of the last remaining artifacts of life here seems to convey pride and functionality.  The bareness and starkness, in  contrast with the main house, made it difficult to ignore.  There was no rug to sweep it under, to tidy, or present a less harsh version of what it meant to be owned by another.  And still there is beauty and pride emanating from these now almost bare walls and floors.

The idea of “the jumping broom” was brought to my attention in relation to the broom depicted, and the slave cabin.  “Jumping the broom” is a wedding tradition originating from West Africa, meant to signify the entrance into a new life.  The newly married couple joins hands and jumps over the broom,  "sweeping away" former, single lives.  Sweeping away enslaved lives, the broom remains.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Enjoyable Me.

I am starting to enjoy me, when I am not questioning and second-guessing that same me.  The me that gets impassioned, or annoyed or angered, the unenjoyable me.  I might be getting closer to becoming more enjoyable to others on a more sustainable, consistent and regular basis.  And not just the self-chosen, hand-picked others, which are really more of the, mutually determined select few that "get me" right out of the gate.  There might be a total of 8 of this the any given time......or maybe across a life span or two.   That number might actually be somewhat inflated.  Of those eight, there are possibly/probably 3 that often need a mutual friend to translate or be back-pedaled away from a cryptic conversation or some supposed slight, or so I imagine, and occasionally have witnessed or have stumbled through or into. 
I have been known to get really impassioned about certain topics.  Taboo and unenjoyable topics like gender inequality, or religion, or politics.  You know, those topics that you are taught not to raise in polite conversation.  So, I don’t get to participate in polite conversations, much. A bit of self-sabotage, if you will, I blow it by getting impassioned about those very anointed impolite topics.  I could participate, it’s just that I can’t seem to not get impassioned about some of those other topics. And people for the most part like to be polite, more so than passionate.  I unfortunately, or fortunately, can’t seem to ignore the glaring gender inequalities, or ignore the misuse of religion far from it’s intended use of providing hope and goodness.  Well that’s my understanding of the use for it anyway.  I have a difficult time, not snickering or snarkily adding commentary about politics, especially when “values” are promulgated upon the hungry partisans and disregarded or blatantly un-adhered to in broad daylight by the very promulgat rs, or politicos spouting about the evils of say, birth control and/or sexual encounters of one sort or another.

It works like this; when troubling topics come up, I have a hard time smiling pretty and swallowing hard.   Big things mostly.  I’m not a great avenger of all things unjust.  I don’t self-righteously seek out wrong in an effort to make it “right”.  I don’t have a God-complex.  I have enough work to do, thank you very much.  I’m not up for that job and I don't want those hours.  I also have this great deal of Jesus-learning about being humble, or at least not front and center.  I really don’t seek stuff out.  I definitely know enough not to go looking for trouble.  If I could I would  avoid it at all costs.  

But throw it in my face?  Honestly?  I am probably going to react.   I have definitely reacted to a couple of things over the past few years.  These reactions have been swirling around me in what appears to be an effort to apprise me of some new world order, or maybe just a flukey coincidence as I keep on trucking forward, on the way to nirvana.    

React I have.  If anyone wants the details send a request in the comment section or a self-addressed stamped envelop with loads of cold hard cash and I might share some gory details, but it’s highly doubtful.  I like to keep things private and unless you are in that 5-8 grouping mentioned above, you aren’t really interested in my reactions or troubles for any honorable reasons.
The swirling around piece that I am certain has been a message from wherever Universe messages come from, has me thinking.  It does seem to be time to evaluate and reflect upon my responses to the world and those around me.  I am thinking that becoming even more enjoyable to others, may require  a little more letting go and a lot more joy and elation.  I have access to “Notes from the Universe” or TUT, or some interesting web-generated data-base that is manned by Mike Dooley and all things New Age and remarkably profitable. I am interested in becoming a better person after all and this site has helped me with the letting go.  Now that I am no longer holding on to just so much unenjoyment, it is a lot easier to grasp joy and elation.

If you click this link  and register and sign up or give them your cell-phone number and 3 bank account numbers you can hear from the Universe too.  Well, not really, it's free.   It even uses your name, like a letter from Santa for adults.  It goes something like this;  Hey, Ginger, everything that is happening today will make you a happy, successful wunderkind. Enjoy the day.  With love and cartwheels from the Universe.  It gets me looking closer at the good things that are happening, and that gives me less time to look at the not so good.  I might even try to do a cartwheel, well probably not really, but maybe a high kick or two.  

The mantra at is “Thoughts become things, choose wisely.”  Admittedly, I have had some unpleasant thoughts about some people and I can’t say exactly for sure if they have become those thoughts permanently, or they started out that way.  Leave it to suffice, the thoughts fit and these are not thoughts I want to have regularly or want to be around.  I may want to proceed with caution and only choose thoughtful thoughts to think about people I like and leave the Universe to attend to or annoy the others.  Back to all the swirling around nirvana-prompting activities.  The swirling seems to be informing me that I could, maybe, try to smile a little bit through the B.S. of others less fortunate, or less intact, or less kind than I.  I also think the swirling might be letting me know that there are times that anger is an appropriate response and I am permitted use of that particular emotion on occasion.   The swirling, or the Universe, was even good enough to uncover an emotion chart in some such conflict resolution guide that actually placed anger dead center between annoyed, frustrated, rage, and, I can’t recall the worst, or top ranking maddening behavior.  It might have frightened me, being so much bigger than anger and all.  I was quite pleased with the finding. I have been considering bringing the emotion chart to validate my clearly even-tempered, middle of the road, or at least, middle-charted reactive behavior to a few upcoming events. I can use a pointer to highlight how fair to middling I am in the scheme of things

Tonight while checking out a few things from the local grocery store, the cashier rolled her eyes and snarled when I reached for a paper bag to begin bagging.  This cashier was a seasoned adult, not a 16 year old with eyes rolling on auto-pilot.  She had started, and was free to continue, bagging in plastic.  She seemed really put off by my action.  I didn’t excitedly stop her, or attempt to promulgate the necessity of saving the planet with paper bags instead of plastic.  

It’s not something I am impassioned about. I typically “bag”, I prefer paper.  I use them for collecting my own recycled papers, everyone else is free to manage as they please.  I didn’t need to defend or explain.  I just smiled.  I continued smiling and bagging.  Smiling and bagging.  My son watched.  Eyes going back and forth between the darkened eyes of the cashier and the smiling eyes of his mother.  He nervously snickered.   We giggled on the way out to the car while I gently shrugged my  shoulders.  This was not an event that called for annoyance, frustration, anger, rage, or what?  murder?   

We have choices.  Smiles and bags, paper or plastic.  Enjoyable me.  The cashier won’t push my list of people that "get me" up to nine, but I remain hopeful and happier and I am more often enjoyable of late. I just might reach nine before the end of the month.  Cartwheels and highkicks.  Smiles and bags.