Ginger’s Soapbox: Flags

Confederate_Rebel_Flag.svg

If you display the Swastika or any of the flags of the Third Reich in Germany today, you face a prison term of three years. Six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust under Nazi leadership.  It’s not a history the country wants to remember.

Four million African natives were enslaved in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries.  The appalling practice of slavery ended with the American Civil War, and a symbol of the South is the Confederate flag.

Let’s not forget that the Confederates were, by today’s definition, terrorists.  They staged an insurrection against the federal government.  Those who want to make the Confederates seem not so terrible say the conflict was about state’s rights.  That technically is true.  But the primary reason was the southern states wanted to maintain the right to enslave other human beings. The other reasons the states wanted to maintain their rights are long forgotten.

Descendants of Confederate military veterans say the flag is a symbol of their heritage.  Do they think we are stupid? Have you seen these people?  They aren’t historians or even genealogy buffs.  They are racists.  If the descendants of the Confederates were truly interested in preserving their history, they wouldn’t have permitted their flag to become a symbol of racism and white supremacy.

As a former journalist, I usually support the right to free expression.  But when it is something that has become so divisive to our nation and society, there should be limits.

It’s time to burn the Confederate flag once and for all.

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Ginger’s Soapbox: Marriage

ringsKudos to the U.S. Supreme Court for getting it right:  people who love one another and want to enter into a marital commitment should be allowed to do so.  I’ve actually been surprised at some who have expressed dismay with this decision.  People who have often presented themselves as loving, tolerant and accepting have shown that they certainly are not.

The government got into the marriage business a long time ago.  I understand the argument that the government shouldn’t be involved.  Perhaps it wouldn’t be necessary if couples could end marriages without needing a judge to make decisions for them.

The opposition to same-sex marriage is generally attributed to religious views.  It’s important to remember that the court shouldn’t legislate religious views.  But those who are opposed to same sex marriage want the court to endorse their views.

Marriage is a civil arrangement.  It’s a legal contract.  For the more spiritual, it’s also a way of committing to their faith through a romantic and familial union.  That’s wonderful for those who make that choice.  I wouldn’t try to take that away from those couples.

It troubles me that the most religious are the most opposed to same sex unions.  One would think that those with great faith would be the most tolerant, loving and accepting of others.  Apparently that attitude applies only to those whose views and lifestyles are akin to theirs.

The majority decision said it best:  No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

There are lots of arguments against same-sex marriage.  None make much sense.  Some surround the issue of procreation. Those who think marriage is only about having children are shortchanging themselves.

Proponents of same-sex marriage cross religious, cultural and political boundaries.  I know a conservative Republican who wants his gay son to be able to marry the person he loves, a conservative Jewish man (also a Republican) who is married to a man, and a devout Pentecostal (a former Republican) who has been out of the closet more than decade.  I won’t even go into the Biblical references to same-sex couples.

The bottom line is this:  as someone who has been married twice and who is currently in a long-term relationship but chooses not to be married, I admire those who want to make the commitment to marriage so badly that they fought a decades-long court battle to win the right to marry the one they love.

Let’s be loving, accepting and tolerant of our friends, relatives and neighbors who want their commitment to be recognized as just as important as everyone else’s.

Ginger’s Soapbox: Caitlyn Jenner

CaitlynRegardless of what you think about transgender individuals, you have to acknowledge that Caitlyn Jenner is one courageous chick.  She gave up a life as a famous male athlete to become a woman at age 65 and pose for the cover of Vanity Fair.  It takes a real woman to do that.

Yes, Caitlyn is a real woman.  She once was a man who won many awards as an athlete.  Because she is now a woman doesn’t mean that Bruce Jenner was any less of a man.  Any attempts to denigrate his athletic prowess should be stifled.

So many of the stories and comments about Jenner are disturbing.  Most disturbing is what it reveals about society’s views of women.  Hello, it is 2015.  Why is it so appalling that a man would want to be a woman?  No one made such a fuss when Chastity Bono – daughter of Sonny and Cher – became a man.  Is it because being male is superior to being female?  Can we identify with the desire to be a man, but not with the need to be a woman?

Daily Show commentator Jon Stewart nailed it when he said, “Caitlyn, when you were a man, we could talk about your athleticism, your business acumen. But now you’re a woman, which means your looks are really the only thing we care about.”

Sadly, Stewart was dead-on when he said: “Caitlyn Jenner, congratulations. Welcome to being a woman in America.”

I didn’t choose to be born female, but I’m glad I was.  I’ve always supported equality between the sexes and worked hard to overcome stereotypes that hold women back.  This story demonstrates we have a long way to go, but we are lucky to have a high-profile advocate join the team.

Ginger’s Soapbox: Poaching Dentist

palmerWhen I’m accused of being a bleeding heart liberal, I plead guilty as charged.  Those watching my Facebook page or Twitter feed lately probably think I’m an anti-hunting radical.  I’ve been appalled by the story of Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who killed Cecil, a protected lion, while on a $55,000 hunting safari in Zimbabwe.  My boyfriend isn’t a liberal – he is actually a (gulp) Republican – and he thinks the guy is a piece of shit.

Believe it or not, I’m not against hunting.  I actually have some locally-harvested venison in my freezer at the moment.  I have friends who hunt deer for food and to help keep the population under control.  While I feed the deer that wander into my back yard and would never permit someone to kill them, I understand that moderate hunting is a necessary evil.  I’m not all that fond of venison – not enough fat – but a couple of times a year it’s an interesting dinner.

Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist, isn’t just some guy who likes to eat game.  He’s a wealthy dude – he could pay more than $50,000 to kill a lion in Africa – who likes to kill animals so that he can say he did it and take home a trophy.

There has been extensive debate online regarding whether he is a sociopath or a psychopath.  I’ve weighed in on some of those debates.

That’s because I think people who have to kill animals for fun are sick.  Yes, I know some of them.  Trophy hunters are on my Facebook friends list.  That doesn’t mean we are close pals, and it doesn’t mean they are psychologically stable.

If any of them were to engage me in a conversation on the subject, I would suggest they sit down with a therapist and discuss their need to kill animals for enjoyment.  I see photos of dead giraffes and zebras and wonder, “What the hell is wrong with these people?”

I have love and empathy for people with mental health disorders.  None of us are immune from such diseases.  But when we discuss Walter Palmer, we aren’t talking about a guy with depression or bi-polar disorder.  We aren’t even talking about a real hunter.  He didn’t go out into the wilderness and track down a wild animal and kill it.  He paid an obscene amount of money to “guides” who baited a beloved lion out of a PROTECTED habitat so that he could kill it at night via “spotlighting.”  Something that is illegal in the U.S. for deer hunting, by the way.

That’s not hunting.  That’s like opening the zoo gate and shooting the animals when they wander out.

That guy is a sicko.  He has some strange need to kill majestic, wonderful animals.  The media have dug into his background and revealed that he pled guilty to a federal charge of poaching a bear, and that he was also disciplined by the dental board for sexually harassing a female employee.

Predators are predators.  Walter Palmer is a predator.  It’s ironic that he killed – for fun and sport – a beautiful animal just for the sake of killing.

Anyone who thinks that is emotionally healthy should book an appointment with a psychologist forthwith.

Introducing Ginger’s Soapbox.

soap boxWhile I promise not to offer excessive commentary on current events, there have been a few news stories lately that I have felt compelled to write about.   Instead of inundating my readers with daily posts, I will try to space them out so that I can alienate as many people as possible on a weekly basis.  Welcome to Soapbox Wednesday.

Five news events have been significant recently:  Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn, the Supreme Court overturning state bans on same-sex marriage, new interest in the significance of the Confederate battle flag following tragedy in South Carolina, the Affordable Care Act standing up to Supreme Court scrutiny, and a Minnesota dentist/trophy hunter who allegedly killed a beloved lion lured away from a protected habitat.

Although these topics are inherently different, there are common themes that tie them together: tolerance, acceptance and love.

Occasionally, I will continue to ruminate on various current events.  I am drawn to those that highlight tolerance, acceptance and love – or those that expose a lack of those qualities.

Reflections on Father’s Day

Dad and me in our house in Bergoo, WV.  I was about 5 years old.
Dad and me in our house in Bergoo, WV. I was about 5 years old.

On the occasion of Father’s Day, I’m taking a break from my usual upbeat or sickenly sentimental blog posts for some reflections on Fatherhood.  When it comes to my thoughts on Fatherhood, I forfeited my feminist card many years ago.  Fathers get a bad rap all the way around.  As a woman, I truly believe that we won’t be equal in the workplace and elsewhere until we permit men to have equal parenting responsibility.  I also believe that men aren’t equal parents, not because they don’t want the responsibility, but because mothers won’t permit them to be.  Those women are shortchanging their children at the expense of their own identity.  That is sad.

Those who know me well know that I had a close relationship with my father.  Not so much with my mother.  I grew up in a traditional family of the time — Dad worked.  Mom stayed home and took care of my sister and me.  She was a housewife, which wasn’t so unusual in the 1960s and 1970s.  Today, my sister has the same lifestyle — except she’s a stay-at-home-mom, not a housewife.  Honestly, the role is different today than it was 40 years ago.  More on that in a future post.

I idolized my dad.  He was kind, soft-spoken and loving.  He was very wise.  He liked to read.  He was curious.  An electrician by training, he read up on everything from fly fishing to bird watching.

What many don’t know is that my dad was raised by a single father to five boys.  His mother — my grandfather’s second wife (his first died in the flu pandemic of 1918) — died when my dad and his twin brother, Gene, were nine years old.  My dad and his four brothers were raised by his father, albeit not really well.  He was raised mostly by people in the community, his friends’ parents, and his older brothers and their wives.  He was a bachelor until the ripe  age of 32, which was old for a single man in 1961 when he married my mom, who was a spinster at 23.

And what few people know is that he died in 1990 of a massive heart attack while he was talking on the telephone with me.  I still cry when I think of it.  I still miss him, dream of him.  And I wonder how my life would be different if he were still around.

My mom, who was only three years older than I am now when Dad died — eventually remarried.  My stepdad was a great guy, an educator and hobby farmer.  His wife had passed away after a long battle with cancer.  When I looked back through old photos, I realized it was he who handed me my diploma when I graduated from high school.  Like Dad, he was wise and quiet.  Unassuming.

My dad’s last words to me were, “how are the floors coming?” I was living in an apartment that was the first floor of a circa 1800s mansion.  My roommate and I had made a deal with the landlord to refinish the hardwood floors in exchange for lower rent.

Some shrinks say that people typically choose partners that are most like their primary caregiver parent.  I have to say that is true for me.  Most of my romantic partners are more like my mom than my dad.  Only one stands out as being like my dad — both physically and personality-wise:  tall, thin, blue eyes, brown hair, square jaw, unassuming, quiet, intellectual, goofy sense of humor. I blame his similarities to my dad for the reason I kept going back to him, despite the fact I should not have done so.  I’ve learned my lesson.

But I’ve always chosen men who are good fathers with strong family ties.  Perhaps it’s because I didn’t have strong family tie of my own..  After my dad died, my sister and I drifted away.  We both maintain an arms-length relationship with our mom.  Those who are closest to us know why.

My ex-husband and I spent the better part of our 13-year marriage fighting for custody of his son, lobbying for changes in West Virginia’s child custody laws (which we achieved) and counseling other disenfranchised parents who were cut out of their children’s lives for no reason.

My current partner was a single father, gaining custody of his toddler twins at a time when fathers didn’t get custody of their children.  His kids are adults now, He did a terrific job raising them, with a lot of help from his parents, sisters, and his second wife.

My former stepson is a wonderful young man now.  I marvel at how he has developed as his own person — despite his parents and step-parents — since I met him when he was three years old.  Now 21, he lives in a major city, attends a prestigious university, and asserted himself against the influence of both parents in a manner that I uphold and admire.  I can’t take complete credit for his greatness, but I like to think I contributed to his upbringing and shaped him to be himself, despite opposing forces that might disagree. We stay in touch, and I consider him my son.  I’m deeply proud of him and admire him for being courageous enough to assert himself at a young age.  He has a terrific shot at being happy.

I was childless by choice.  Honestly, it never occurred to me to have children.  My father imparted the implication that intelligent, successful women don’t give birth.  My mother seemed so very unhappy with motherhood it made the institution very unappealing (my sister, however, is blissful as a full-time mom to her kids, so it wasn’t an attitude universally applied).  I greatly enjoyed my role as Stepmom, which is a lot like being an aunt or grandmother.  You get the glory without the responsibility.  I wish I were closer to my own niece and nephew, who are delightful, if challenging, and adorable children.

My current partner’s children are adults who are very different despite being fraternal twins.  They were largely raised by a stepmother who is no longer part of their lives.  They don’t need a parental stepmother’s relationship with me.  I appreciate each of them for the individuals they are, and contribute by offering my own observations regarding their parental needs to their father.  The daughter is beautiful, successful and independent.  The son is a sensitive free spirit (more like me), who doesn’t seem to care that he isn’t living up to his parents’ expectations.  I like that.

Sometimes I think that the only man who ever truly loved me was my father.  Intellectually, I know this isn’t true.  I know my partner loves me.  I know my former partners loved me, too.

But nothing will ever be the same as a father’s love.  And that’s a good thing.

To all of the fathers in the world — especially those who have been disenfranchised from their childrens’ lives for no reason– I wish you much more than Happy Father’s Day.  I wish you a very happy life, and an amazing relationship with your offspring.

Isn’t it ironic? Or is it?

©wine-searcher.com
©wine-searcher.com

The name of this blog is Killing Spiders because its original intent was to focus on content of interest to single women over 40.  Single women, I mused, have to kill spiders themselves because they don’t have a partner to do the deed.

Readers could construe this as sexist — why can’t a woman kill a spider?  Why is it the man’s job to kill spiders?  What about same-sex relationships, who is supposed to kill the spider?

Since starting this blog in 2013, I have become part of a couple.  Legally, I’m single, but I live with my significant other in a committed relationship.  One would think that I no longer have to kill my own spiders.  After all, I have this man who cleans my garage and fixes my plumbing.  Isn’t he doing pest control, too?

Think again.

I live with a guy who WON’T KILL SPIDERS!  Or snakes, either.  But we don’t have any of those crawling around the house (hopefully).

My Honey is an environmental conservationist.  He loves animals and respects the world’s ecosystem.  His undergraduate degree is in Biology.  He won’t kill a spider, or most any bug, except mosquitoes and cockroaches.

His creature-respecting side is one of the things I love about him.  My cat, Nala, likes him better than she likes me.  While I find it sweet and touching that he is angered and saddened when a careless motorist hits a fox on the highway, I’m a bit annoyed by the “no dead spiders” rule.  I have to surreptitiously squish the creepy arachnids when he’s not looking.  I’ve flushed a few when he isn’t home.  But the other day, when he carefully trapped a spider in a plastic cup and asked me to set it free in the back yard, I grudgingly did as he asked.  After all, he goes along with some of my whacky habits, too.

One could say the fact that I fell in love with a spider protector is ironic.  What do you think?

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The definition of irony.

 

Those of us of a certain age remember the Alanis Morisette song “Ironic,” which was in frequent rotation on radio stations in the mid-1990’s.  The ironic thing about the song is that none of the situations of which she croons are ironies.  The lyrics have been analyzed for appropriate use of the literary device, and guess what? No irony!

Most of you are probably thinking, ‘OK, no big deal.  This chick has to kill her own spiders.  So what?’ Or, ‘why the hell is she going on about irony?’  Well, I’m a writer and irony is one of my favorite devices.

Wait, there’s more!

A couple of weeks ago I woke up one morning with a large — and when I say large I mean GIANT — red, bruising mark on my calf just under the bend of my knee.  My thoughts immediately went to the worst possible cause of such a wound — blood clot.

My wound a week after it appeared.
My wound a week after it appeared.

After an Urgent Care visit, a trip to my primary care physician and a vascular imaging study, my family doctor’s initial diagnosis stands:  spider bite!  I’m still taking some high test antibiotics and the wound continues to be swollen and discolored.

I went home from my second doctor visit and told my Sweetie what the doc had said:  it’s probably a spider bite.  She told me three times to check the bed for spiders.  I thought this silly, as I had just changed the sheets.

“Oh, there was a spider on the bed a few days ago,” my spider lover said.

I squealed: “WHAAAAAAAT???? Where was I? Did you KILL it?!”

“You were asleep.  I flicked it off onto the floor,” was the answer I received.

EEEEEKKKKKKK!

So what do you think?  Is it ironic?