Friday, March 23, 2012

The Islamicization of the American Woman

The future of American women if the crack-brained fundamentalist state legislators have their way? Bet on it.              (Wiki Commons photo)

I refused to get serious with a Roman Catholic boy I dated in my late teens because I didn’t want to die in childbirth.

Together, we had seen the movie The Cardinal. In that movie, the Cardinal’s sister becomes pregnant with an unsavoury character and carries the foetus to term. However, it was early days in modern obstetricsthe 1920s or so, I seem to recalland the Cardinal is called on by the doctor to make a decision: Only the mother or the baby can be saved, but not both. Naturally, the Cardinal chose to save the baby.

I got cold chills, removed my date’s arm from around my shoulders, and determined never, ever to marry a Roman Catholic man. Frankly, I didn’t want to die if I experienced a difficult birth and a similar decision had to be made.

By now, some readers are saying, “How selfish. A mother should want to die for her baby.” Possibly, or possibly not. Looked at logically, if the mother dies, then who is to raise the child? We no longer have extended families living under one roof; there is no longer always room for one more.  Nor did it make sense to me to end the life of an adult woman who was fully conscious rather than the life of a not-born baby who may or may not be fully conscious, and whose soulfor those who believe in suchwould reasonably be taken back by god and given a more viable body to manifest within. We are not our bodies; we are souls that take physical form. (There’s a ton of theology, mainstream and other, on the subject which I won’t revisit here, but it informs my personal belief system.)
I have never been pregnant. So no, I don’t know what I would actually do. I suspect, if the choice were mine, I would give up my life for my child. I’ve long  known that if it came to a situation in which one of two people had to die and I was the elder, I would choose to die to allow the younger continued life. Or at least, I think I would. None of us can know until faced with such decisions. I do know I have gone to great lengths to protect and nurture children in my care for one reason or another (relatives’ children, kids I taught to ride horses), going out on a limb at times to buck the system and get for them what they needed.  So perhaps my beliefs would hold firm under extreme duress. As I said, none of us can know absolutely what we would do.

Motherhood foregone
But there’s this to consider: I would have been a good mother. I am well-educated, I doas notedfiercely protect the rights of children in my purview and nurture those who come my way. I learned this from my own mother, who was a sort of reluctant mother in fact, preferring the business world. But she nurtured me and my brother, demanded all the excellence we were capable of, fought for our rights, protected us, and died in a most courageous manner far too young. But I never became a mother. I was the first generation to have The Pill available from the onset of menses, so I really had a choice previous generations had not had. 


My first husband was Jewish, but he was more a secular than observant Jew. So there was little chance he would make a Cardinal-style decision if it came to that. Still, he is a man. So we divorced, mainly because he badly wanted children and I refused to bear any. When I married him, it was a scant three years after I saw that frightful movie. It ruled my sexual life; it ruined my relationships.

My second husband was Presbyterian, a Type A careerist who didn’t care to have children. Whew!  Double whew! Because, as good as he was at his job, I think he would have been a horrible father. 

I didn’t marry my current and final husband until after the biological clock had run its course. He had grown children, so his need for family had long been satisfied, and I was off the hook.

But now my husband’s youngest has had a child, and is about to have a second. Her little girl is the cutest, dearest, sweetest, smartest thing I’ve ever seen. I worry about vaccinations doing her harm. I worry about her young life getting derailed from all it can experience of good, as have the lives of two of her aunts, badly. (You see, my mothering instinct is there…but something interfered with it.) But it won’t happen; my stepdaughter is a good mother, and her husband is a good father. It will be OK. But still, I fret.

So what, then, derailed my willingness to be a mother? The Cardinal. Nothing else. It was the spectre of having my body subjected to the crack-brained concepts of men who had no business deciding where to have dinner, never mind what happens to my bodythe one that is animated by my sovereign soul and which is mine, and no one else’sto operate as I see fit that did it.

Do I think my first husband would have decided in favour of the child over the mother? I don’t know. I doubt if he knows.  But we are actually still friends and he did have two children with his second wife. They are successful humans; he did well.

The second husband probably would have said to croak both of us. And no, we are not friends.

The third? There is no doubt in my mind that, as hard as it would have been for him, he would have chosen the motherwhether me or his late first wifeover a child in a life-or-death decision situation. I say that although he is of a family chockfull of Episcopal (Church of England) clergy, high-church men (and they are all men) who are more Anglo-Catholic in reality. But I will never have need to find out. I can tell you, though, that if he were in charge of his beloved daughter’s life as the Cardinal was of his beloved sister’s, he would choose his daughter. I have no doubt of that.


I didn’t have children because it scared me to death. I didn’t want any manany manin charge of whether I lived or died if it came to that. And, as it happens, childbirth has been troublesome for my mother’s line, so I had reason to believe there might have to be a decision. I spent my childbearing years in a blessed environment of The Pill and, in my twenties, Roe v. Wade. So I really was fairly safe from the depredations of unmanly decisions by unmanly men. But that movie? It chilled me to the marrow and beyond.

And now we’re back to that stage and worse. Menignorant and useless and vicious and unethical and selfish weak menhave opened war against women’s bodies. I wonder how many women will, consciously or not, make the decision I did and refuse utterly to get pregnant, lest they be violated in essential ways by the aforementioned men. 

The Islamicization of American women
Rape victims will be victimized twice; perhaps it will come to women refusing to leave their house without a male escort they trust, like women in Afghanistan do. If a woman in America is raped in future, she will have to carry the baby to term, giving a gift to the man who violated her by casting more of his foul genetic material into the gene pool of humanity, and probably being ostracizedor worseas so many Muslim rape victims are now. Maybe this is the way western civilization is going to be Islamicized; women will become not the Biblical helpmeet of early western civilization, nor the equal partner of a small part of the late 20th century, but a useful but rarely respected beast meant to carry the gene pools of the aforementioned men on into another generation of fools.


For a truly chilling roundup of what's going on in state legislatures as throwback men attempt to wrest control of women's bodies--and thereby the gene pool for generations to come--read this.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Killing Off the Muse

Apollo and the Muses on Mount Helion (Parnassus) by Claude Lorraine (Wiki Commons)

I used to be a writer. I spent hours, days, weeks writing. Mainly, it was workaday journalism. But once in a while, I got to do something lyrical, something I actually cared about. And, while I did have to make some significant effort to sell my work―not having access to a good ole boy network or the ivied handshakes of an educational career at Harvard or the Seven Sisters―it wasn’t that bad. Write a letter to an editor explaining the work one wanted to do, wait for a reply, and be happy or sad. Either way, go on to the next letter so that, if the fates allowed, one would have a relatively continuous string of assignments for which one would eventually be paid.

That was then. This is now. And now, it seems to me, is the time for all good writers of retirement age to, in fact, go into retirement.

If I have to spend one more day murdering my muse―and it’s a wonder the poor little thing has hung on this long―I might as well kill myself. I don’t want to Twitter. I don’t even really want to Facebook, not except to say hello to actual friends. I don’t want to have to collect 5,000 FB friends; how could I possibly even respond to 5,000 FB friends? But I most especially don’t want to buy/download/learn/use programs that force ever more of the remnants that cling to my once-robust, if not necessarily laudatory, muse into the public view by automating the prattle Twitterholics seem to lap up with more alacrity than I lap a tangy glass of Hendrick’s gin these days.

On Twitter and on Hub Pages and on Suite101―all vehicles meant to entice readers to my work for pennies a pop―these poor shreds of my thoughts, feelings, and knowledge sit. They await the next disgruntled millennial taking a whack at them, the next curmudgeonly old fart spitting  through clacking dentures on them, the next member of the middle-range great unwashed heaving a sigh, venturing the comment that they don’t care for such elitist crap as books, and shoving off down the pub for another evening of dendrite murder.

Hemingway drank even though he lived in a world that was still real. He could booze and write. He could go fishing and write. He could talk to people in real time (remember when ALL time was real?) and write.  He could even hunt and kill wild animals and write.

I like Hemingway, but possibly only because he was one of the few decent choices for my thesis in Modern American Literature, so I know more about him than most people do. I abhorred his hunting. And I found his staccato writing style not quite to my taste always.  Plus, there was a certain emptiness exuded by all his work, as if he could not quite grasp what the world, even his own relatively plain vanilla world, was all about. Nor can any of us. But his world rang emptier than most, I always thought.


I have decorated my world the way I write; there are a lot of bits, sometimes all heaped up on one another, sometimes standing apart, but always bound up in the end through conventions of rhetoric or fabric or a bit of cornstarch or flour, depending on whether it’s the writing, the household or the cooking that needs to come to some sort of reasonable and understandable conclusion. It isn’t neat. But sometimes it is pretty in the end.

Sometimes, now for instance, I can see through the entire mess. I can know that I don’t know what I know. I can’t count on anyone, even myself.  And there is nothing for it but a nap, or flinging myself out the back door naked and screaming at the cows peaceably munching grass and looking after the calves they have birthed there the past few evenings.

I probably won’t do either one. I know nothing but writing. In the old days, I knew publishing, too. I knew that a writer with 14 books on her resume, all published by one of today’s Big Six, would at least get a look by an agent. Not these days. Not a nibble, even from an agent who is a friend of my retired agent. I haven’t killed anyone, which is pretty much what super agent Richard Curtis told me ten years ago, when the death of the writer’s life was first underway in earnest, and I had called him to pick his brain. He was very courteous about that, also being a friend of my retired agent.

Perhaps, though, that’s my ace in the hole. “But Richard,” I might exclaim, “I have killed someone. Her name, at one time, was Laura Harrison McBride (although she assumed others for various writerly purposes) and she harbored a muse. The muse was clever, not particularly classic in her approach to writing or creating or life, but she could turn a phrase. And I killed her. I deprived her of air by crushing her under the weight of the Digital World. I ripped her heart out by making her into a self-obsessed searcher for cyber-based fame. I flayed her alive, stripping the verbal meat from her bones to tantalize slavering hordes of readers whose main literary diet consisted of graphic novelizations of fourth-rate films.”

Maybe that’s the book I should write, a book about how the incessant, constant shoving of self-promotion into all our faces―but most of all, into the relatively tender faces of arts and crafts workers―is killing the joy and beauty in our world. How pandering to the lowest common denominator of readers―and a dozen years after No Child Left Behind taught kids to memorize disparate factoids rather than think, that’s pretty darn low―has sent the muse into early onset dementia with not even a palliative drug in sight, never mind a cure.

These days, even the quiet sadness of a James MacNeill Whistler vacating lodgings after going bankrupt―19th century art galleries that represented him having not done right by him AGAIN―would be bandied about the cheap cyberpress to milk it of its value. Not for Whistler, but for the purveyors of cheap cyberpress rags or those to whom he owed money.

Whistler would have been twice trashed. As are we all, now, every day. We are trashed, having to pander to a public ever more jaded and unable to see truth because of glitter or because they have developed a taste for sleaze and a tolerance for lies. Or, if they suspect the truth, running from it because they fear they might have to pay attention to a needful thing for longer than a soundbite. Or they might have to feel something, from disappointment that they have failed to reform the world to joy that a small animal was saved from the grim reaper.

But all that is digression. Here is the crux; if you are an artist of any sort―writer, painter, photographer, musician, other―and were not fortunate nor wise enough to secure your place above the fray before about 1997, nor young enough to have known nothing better than the blitz-promo tactics of the cyber age, then you are finished.

Face it.

Take a job cleaning ashtrays at airports, which at least is honorable work. It would beat being a Twitter whore for a dollar a day from a group of other Twitter whores hoping that their twaddle is better than yours, and that the bagman known as Google Adsense will bless them with a few miniscule droppings in their Paypal account...and not in yours.