Here is just a smattering of recent battering headlines:
“The Rise, Then Shame, of Baylor Nation” (The New York Times, 3-9-17)
“Sexual harassment: Records show how University of California faculty target students” (The Guardian, 3-8-17)
“Inquiry Opens into How a Network of Marines Shared Illicit Images of Female Peers” (The New York Times, 3-6-17)
“Why So Few Women in State Politics?” (The New York Times, 2-25-17)
“Donald Trump remains silent as white men continue to terrorize America” (New York Daily News, 2-17-17)
“How a Fractious Women’s Movement Came to Lead the Left” (The New York Times, 2-7-17)
“The Trump Administration’s Dark View of Immigrants” (The New Yorker, 2-2-17)
These are national headlines that clearly speak to the white supremacist heteropatriarchy in charge of our nation. I usually soft-pedal my language a little more, avoiding such charged terms as “white supremacist heteropatriarchy,” but let’s call things as we see them. The photo above, from Samantha Bee’s “Full Frontal,” speaks more than a thousand words. The “president” has effectively created a boys’ club (almost all white) of men between the ages of 55 and 80. He has sent the message that all people who aren’t part of this group are unworthy. We know, though, that this group only survives through its attempt to appear strong by making others weak. Groups like these are doomed to fail.
In the meantime, I wish I could say that the United States were just stagnating. The unfortunate fact, however, is that we are moving rapidly backwards. The world can see it, we know it, and only the little Trump pumpkins continue to prop up our stupid dictator. *Check out Mexican surrealist painter Antonio Ruiz’s painting “El líder/orador” to understand this reference to the people I would like to officially dub the “trumpkins.” Take note, too, that Ruiz painted “El orador” in 1939, a significant year in dictator history.
There is no room to breathe now as we play defense on behalf of the First Amendment, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX, and the Affordable Care Act. At the same time, we are reasserting what we thought were core values, such as welcoming individuals and groups from other nations, understanding that often it is better to keep families together, rather than wrench them apart, body autonomy, and loving our neighbors. As the stags run (and ruin) our nation, they eliminate from their path anyone and everyone who is unlike them. Those who are unlike them is a large and ever-growing subset of people.
Nevertheless, high-level business people know that well-run organizations encourage expression of divergent opinions and the cultivation of healthy debate. These elements keep the organizations on their proverbial toes—innovative, collaborative, comprehensive. (See Section III of Gender Shrapnel in the Academic Workplace for data and practical solutions on this issue.) Isn’t democracy at its very core the idea that the people—in all of our differences and commonalities—will learn about the issues, educate others to be part of a well-informed citizenry, debate wholeheartedly, and then make decisions together about the best courses of action for all?
The national examples of stag-nation that I’ve provided here are replicated at the state and local levels. In my state, Bob Goodlatte for decades has honed a dictatorial machine fed by national, white, male supremacist machinations. (See previous posts in the Gender Shrapnel blog for examples of Goodlatte’s scary-ass brand of government. Also check out Chris Gavaler’s Dear Bob Blog and Gene Zitver’s Goodlatte Watch.) At the regional level, Ben Cline has consistently supported policies that are dangerous to all women. (See last week’s blog post for more information.)
At the University of Virginia, where women comprise 56% of the student population, less than 30% of the presidential search committee is comprised of women, with two of those women being students. In daily life, I watch my children perform in concert after concert whose playlist includes only male composers (some of whom, at least, are of color). They participate on an official school academic team, for whose competitions they are asked questions primarily about Western civilization up to the year 1800 (i.e. not many women included, unless they are mythological figures or real-life muses). They play on sports teams for which the girls teams are still playing in the smaller gyms or swimming in the shallower lanes. They learn at school that transgender people will be forced into a bathroom not of their choosing. In other words, we as a culture are not even moving forward on the smallest of everyday issues that affect us all (or many of us, at least). We are seeing and experiencing how draconian governmental restrictions are severely limiting self- and group-definition and freedoms at the national, regional, and local levels. This will affect our culture for decades to come.
What are Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Bob Goodlatte, and Ben Cline so afraid of? Why must we who live in this country cater to their bizarre fears? If they’re afraid of nothing and simply want unquestioned power, then why are we letting them have it? We need fewer trumpkins and more resistance. After “Willly Wonka”’s Veruca Salt, we need more resistance, and we need it NOW.