Dads

It’s ironic with Mother’s Day just around the corner, the topic of our blog for last week and this is dads.

Our fathers were the subject of lunch conversation yesterday as three of us regaled one another with tales of our bad dads.

To put it bluntly, they were all jerks. All three drug or alcohol addicts. All verbally or physically abusive to our mothers, and to us. Two of the three died young. Evidently stumbling through life inflicting and suffering pain is bad for your health.

Years after she was grown and gone from the house, one of my co-workers was arguing with her dad about how messed up he was when she was growing up. At one point he defended himself with “well, I never sexually abused you.”

The three of us erupted in shrieks of laughter. That’s setting the bar a little on the low side wouldn’t you say?

Still, as much as our dads were big jerks, they were also smart, funny, hard-working, resourceful. Each of our dads encouraged us, in ways no other man ever would, to try scary things and be successful. Yes, father/daughter land is a maze.

Back at my desk I was left wondering, have we gone down the wrong road to end violence against women and children by thinking we could somehow shove out or wall off all the bad dads? The truth is, even after they die, they still exert an influence. How do we help one another sort this out?

Baseball season is almost here!

I would like to propose a toast.

Please raise your double mocha cappuccino latte delight to

our

very

own

Seattle Mariners!!!!!

Wait, wait, wait.

Even if you are not a baseball fan, hold onto your cup.

The Mariners are doing something that no other professional men’s team in America is doing. Taking on men’s violence against women. For years now the team has supported Refuse To Abuse™ with powerful messages about respect for women.

If we are serious about ending violence, then we can’t hope for a better platform to preach from than professional sports. Think about it. All those high-profile men who have harmed women. Even if you have never watched a sporting event in your life, you can name these infamous guys. Basketball, boxing, football… oh yes, and baseball.

Even as the Mariners call for respect for women, their roster includes Josh Lueke and Milton Bradley. They stammer through press statements about employing these men. The public and the media raise a stink. This, my friends, is progress!

But here’s even more good news: after the Lueke uproar, the Mariners could have walked away from Refuse To Abuse™ and gone back to ignoring violence against women like other teams do. But they didn’t. They are staying committed and working to figure out how to do this right. That’s integrity.

Lovers of baseball, let the Mariners know you appreciate their commitment to Refuse To Abuse™. If you are a fan of another team, get up off your couch and let your team know you want something as good as what we have going on here in Seattle.

Thank you Mariners. I am so proud of you. Now, get out there and play this great game well.

Cheers!

Party time!!

I don’t know what’s wrong with me this winter. I find myself being inordinately happy – laughing out loud. Sometimes at myself and (full disclosure) sometimes at you too. We can be a grim lot in our movement, wouldn’t you say? Seems like it’s against the rules to celebrate.

Case in point. We just had a great victory. When the brand new Congressional leadership started the session with a bill to try to force us back into a little box by redefining rape, we raised the roof with an outcry.  Shaming them until they backed down.

Take one minute – that’s 60 full seconds – to feel your power.

That, my dears, is the taste of liberation!

Thank you Nick Baumann and Linda Feldmann for your outstanding reporting and follow up on this. Thank you Jon Stewart for your brilliant satire.

Thanks to everyone who

  • posted a link to info on Facebook or email,
  • talked about it with friends,
  • contacted one of the co-signers on the bill.

That was fun!

Someone. Turn up the music! It’s party time!!

BLT, anyone?

Jack Kornfield tells the story of a school teacher. After returning home each day she’d do a little survey of her energy and the ingredients in her cupboards and if she had both in good supply, she’d make a stack of sandwiches. She’d package them up and walk to a street nearby where homeless people lived, offering food to anyone who looked hungry.

A local reporter got wind of this and wrote a feature. Becoming somewhat of a local hero, the woman started getting checks in the mail from folks who cared about the homeless too. Imagine the senders’ surprise to receive their money back – with a note stating simply “Make your own damned sandwiches.”

Now in retelling Jack’s story, I do NOT mean you should stop writing checks. No no no. When folks ask you for money it’s because they need it, so give them lots. In fact, WSCADV needs money and you can give right now!

AND consider taking up the challenge to “make your own sandwiches” too. The world is desperate for direct connection through any and all expressions of love and kindness. Socially, politically, environmentally, we have a lot of bread to butter – so let’s get busy.

This does not need to be a big undertaking. Start small (say … P, B and J):

Work up from there.

Wiki-what-the-hell?

My little friend Jacob hopped into my car the day after Halloween, still wearing his bat costume, and asked: “What’s the biggest bat?” It just so happens that my next door neighbor Greg Falxa is a bat researcher. After he told us about the Flying Fox, Jacob still wanted more details. Where did we turn? Wikipedia, of course. If you dare, check it out. No worries, they eat fruit.

I printed out a picture for Jacob and thought idly about clicking on the Wiki definition of domestic violence, which I do periodically to torture myself. This time, sitting atop the article, was a box with an orange exclamation point saying “This article is in need of attention from an expert on the subject.”

I’ll say!

I then unearthed the frightening fact that this Wiki article got (hold onto your hats) 94,632 hits during the 31 days of October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I have been working for 30 years to educate the public about domestic violence and  have not come within a light year of talking to that many people. How do your efforts at public awareness match up against the near 95,000 high school and college students and miscellaneous others being spoon fed this out-of-date and unintelligible misinformation about domestic violence?

This is a call to researchers and others with a talent for accurate and engaging prose. Put your money where your brains are. Make it your mission to upgrade the article to be at least as interesting and accurate as the article on bats!

1-2 sucker punch

Another domestic violence awareness month is upon us. Oh yeah, and another breast cancer awareness month.

I cannot name two issues that strike more directly at the heart of every woman … and anyone who’s ever loved a woman.

But I mean, really? Who wants to be more aware of disease and violence? Personally, I am all too aware of these dismal, depressing things.

Cancer and domestic violence have flattened me with a 1-2 sucker punch. Unless you are a really good friend of mine, I don’t think you want to hear about the ravages of being bald, ashen, and exhausted from chemotherapy. And honest, you don’t want to know the horrific details about the domestic violence murder suicide in my family.

Trust me. You do not.

And I don’t blame you.

But how about the flip side? What if we focused on what could be and how to make that happen?

What if I came to you and said: “October is Women’s Health and Liberation Month?” How about we spend at least 31 days each year being aware of the possibilities?

The prospect of equality.

The dream of universal healthcare.

The vision of prevention (not early detection or intervention) for both cancer and domestic violence?

How about that?

Finding comfort, if not answers

Vanda Boone was murdered this month.

By a man.

On a trail where I ride my bicycle all the time.

Though I did not know Vanda, this feels personal. Another woman, just like me. In the place so many of us go when we need to be outdoors.

Ribbon Pole
The ribbon pole where 25 names have been tied since 2005 when the Moments of Blessing first began

Yesterday’s heat did not deter 80 of us, mostly strangers, from gathering for a Moment of BlessingInterfaith Works brings people together when someone is murdered in our county to reclaim the place of violence.

These events help me with the sadness and the big questions I’m left struggling with. What is so deeply wrong with us? Why do men murder women who are total strangers, and murder women they profess to love?

I have found few answers to these questions in my 30 years of working to end violence against women. I guess this is what draws me to the spiritual comfort of the Moment of Blessing. In standing with  others,  I am not alone in being deeply moved. It consoles me to form a circle, cry with others, and speak of life and love.