I believe atheists hold the moral high ground. I, on the other hand, am a polytheist. I believe Isis and Pele, when properly propitiated, are worthy of worship. I believe the dominant paradigm is unbalanced toward patriarchy. I believe that important decisions cannot be reached to the benefit of all if they are formed only by committees of men who do not moonstruate, nor do they bear children. I believe womyn should refuse to use words that include the word men to describe themselves. We bleed with the lunar cycle, why aren’t our “periods” called moonstrual cycles? Right now, I’m going through Lunopause. Hallelujiah and AhhMoon, the hormonal swings have been known to cause lunacy.
I believe that whomever is married to the President of the United States should be called the First Spouse – so we can get used to the idea of that role being filled by either gender.
I believe it is not possible for God to be male or female – god must be both. There are too many yins and yangs so easy to see and observe. I believe that organized religions bring comfort to many, and comfort is a good thing. I believe that life is not fair, but that gratitude should be our most frequently experienced emotion. I believe that every time I treat another human, animal or natural space with respect, the world has been changed for the better – that actions speak louder than words and actual deeds speak louder than any professed belief. I believe that people of principle can disagree, but that unlike opinions, we are not entitled to our own facts.
In October of 2018, I attended a conference in San Francisco about: Women Rising! New Visions for a Post Patriarchal world . It was held at a small college in the South of Market area downtown. And one of the speakers, Leilani Birely spoke of the Five Genders in Hawaiian and most indigenous peoples’ world view: Male, Female, Man-in-Woman’s-Body, Woman-in-Man’s-Body and Two-Spirit. That sticks with me to this day. Of course, we humans come in all gender flavors. It’s so sensible and so compassionate. However, it is anathema to the Patriarchy. And make no mistake, we are living in a Patriarchy. I fight that in small ways every day. First I switched my entire contact database around to always print the woman’s name first on the mailing label. Then, I switched to duplicate entries for each couple, with the wife’s birth name instead of the husbands, because men are not expected nor required to change their name when they marry. A ring and a public proclamation is enough. I get some blowback, as these women claim that changing their names to some luggage tags their husbands can transfer to whomever, that this was their CHOICE. Like hell it was. The social pressure is deafening, almost makes you think it’s normal to give up everything you’ve ever accomplished under the name you were born with because some people think the Napoleonic Code was right. I remind them that the great liberal state of California waited until 1970 to allow married women to hold property in their own names. Even if it was theirs before marriage. Yep, 1970. And I tell my female clients and friends never be a secondary borrower on a credit card. All rights and privileges accrue to the primary borrower, which bankers assume is the man. This house has no Mrs. Tanenbaum, never did. No such person. My friend reminded me years ago that I was born with my father’s name, and you know, she’s right, but gee, gotta start somewhere… Oh, and starting last year, I’ve been stamping Harriet Tubman’s face on my twenty dollar bills. What did Andrew Jackson ever do for this country, compared to the heroism and bravery exhibited by Ms. Tubman? And our currency has carried the angry visage of some white man or other since we started printing it. There are just so many unseen slights and outright discrimination against women, it’s hard not to be angry all the time. But I am fighting back. So looking forward to the Post Patriarchal World, it will not be wished into being, and there will be collateral damage. Goodness knows, I am used to holding unpopular viewpoints, but they are based in an unshakeable belief in gender equality.
When I learned that the Rolling Stones big hit “Mother’s Little Helper” was about Valium “though she’s not really ill, there’s a little yellow pill” and it was the most widely prescribed drug in the 1950’s, I nodded with understanding. Almost jealous that doctors are not doing that now. So many smart women forced into subservient stultifying roles – those were NOT the good old days. On social media, I see photos of the women standing behind the Mango Mussolini and say “The town of Stepford called, they want their Robo Wives back” and I get likes and hahas. But seriously, they scare me.
Scary smart chicks should not be expected to face life sober. The hostilities take many forms. Derision, shouting, storming out, questioning, always questioning, our conclusions. Libtard, Snowflake, Pollyanna – I am none of those things. Gas lighting is the new sexist art form. Fighting every single day to be heard, to have our advice heeded.
De-humanization on steroids, the last four years. So I speak. And I write checks to progressive candidates. And I write letters to my elected representatives. I ask my friends, “why do you think Fox Media and Sinclair Broadcasting keep handing you someone brown to hate?” I argue that no person is illegal. That we should be ashamed seeing asylum seekers arrested just for asking. There was never any caravan from South America. Cliven Bundy was no hero. Kyle Rittenhouse is just another in a long line of murderous angry white men, egged on to crazed attacks on an enemy manufactured by xenophobic propagandists. Clutching their un-read Bibles, they come wrapped in the flag, spewing hate. The Confederacy, founded on de-humanization, on the ugly belief in the superiority of the Caucasian race. And all too often, in the right of the Master to beat his wife, too.
And on January 6th, the violently misinformed beat a police officer to death with flag poles and fire extinguishers. Those are the faces of our abusers. Let us punish without mercy the ones who lied to them, and pointed them like bayonets at the Union
When I was in college, for one of my classes in world history, I was assigned a textbook called “Herstory – the underside of History”. The premise is that human history has been written by the victors, men who for many years denied literacy to women. I began a critical examination of the history we are taught in school – tales of geopolitical conquest, tales of religious wars, tales of pharaohs and emperors, and concluded that these chapters are actually not that important. Not to our evolution as a species. Cultural and scientific breakthroughs, changes in the definition of family, the fall of matriarchies and the rise of patriarchies – these are the truly historical events. Lines drawn on a map, borders and country names changing as soldiers and warriors bled to crest a hill for the right to rename it – what we celebrate – it is all decidedly one-sided. “Progress” towards this goal of complete subjugation of the natural world is actually taking the human race backwards. The so-called Renaissance was the Dark Ages for woman’s rights – the Napoleonic Code and the blithe assumption that women are chattel was the opposite of a giant step forward for mankind.
Possessing a left and right brain working at full capacity in a society willing to accept only one per gender, I find that logic, reason, intellect, numbers, analytical thinking are not expected from one who pines to take brush to paper and paint EVERY branch of those stark trees silhouetted by the sunset. From one who works steadily at the art of turning a phrase like a lump on the potter's wheel, without knowing what shape it is going to take. And I wonder how many half-uttered thoughts died a-borning' because some pitiful pre-programmed inadequacy department determined that no-one wanted to hear them?
So I take much of what has been written with a grain of salt. There was a female Pharaoh named Hatshepsut who ruled one of most peaceful and abundant periods in Egyptian history. Her name was literally erased from history – the hieroglyphics were chiseled out of the stone monuments and tablets, her name was not included in the lists of rulers. I always picture that chisel and the chunks of stone where once there was wisdom whenever I read an account of the period I’ve been researching for the historical novel. Important contributions, I assume, will have been left out if those contributions were made by women.
I just edited a poem I wrote in 1982, it was published in Das Tor (image attached) in 1984, time to dust it off, eh? This one's for all of us who ride (or used to ride) the bus in San Francisco:
Glancing up from my hard-to-come-by window seat
Her hands flipping pages slowly,
Mouth intoning, she holds her squirming child
Reading a story, like going to the circus
Things bright and new
Not like every day, seats worn shiny
The worn handles grasped by many
Riding the Muni to work or home
Chinese ladies sport
Pinks, oranges, squares, dots.
Two dozen eggs crated, their white rounded tips pressing
against clear orange cover
How will she get those home?
So many soft sleepy faces today.
More than my usual morning share though,
of handsome men on the 5 Fulton.
Thin leather shoes with matching laces
and tastefully wooden heels
Leading to silver gray slacks
The ever-present darker-than-navy blue sports jacket.
Splash of gray in his carefully manicured mustache
Active eyes, lids not lowered
Unusual on this always sleepy bus with refined resigned faces
Flash of white starched cuff
Strides purposefully away.
Did you know
you were being sketched?
Aloha Blog Buddies! Here is an excerpt from my poem that just got accepted to Drunken Monkeys (yes, I know, perefect venue for me lol). Will supply link in a few months (probably July 2021) when it's posted - Woot!
she pours her frail brute strength down inside your head
like Alambic Brandy, and you smack your lips, ahhh
that burns so smooth, pour me another...
Catherine G. Tripp writes for grownups, for the curious, for those who appreciate wry humor, who take deep dives into the depths of character and share her righteous indignation at the banal nature of evil and anger at how easily it permeates everyday life. Her work has been published in Pilcrow and Dagger, Wingless Dreamer, Reedsy, and she has read her work for several Zoom shows in 2020, including the Mask Monologues, Coffee and Grief and Creative Caffeine. Her recent writings and blog posts have been insightful, fast-paced, evocative essays about current events, and thought-provoking memoirs about the tangled branches of her family tree.