Recently, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made headlines by visiting the beach with his family. A beach that was closed to everyone else in New Jersey at the time because a state government shut down he caused.
Naturally, people were angry and appalled at his arrogance. They’ve been angry and appalled at his abuse of power as demonstrated in Bridgegate (Refresher:Lanes on leading to the George Washington Bridge from Ft. Lee, New Jersey, were shut down, causing a massive traffic jam. Supposedly, this was because the representative from Ft. Lee did not endorse him for Governor). However, instead of focusing on that arrogance, they went after his appearance, comparing him to a beached whale, etc.
Governor Christie was not always overweight:
See that? Same guy.
Apparently, he’s always been an arrogant jerk. It’s not an angry, tortured soul, hurt response. He’s just a privileged, bullying jerk.
Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold (Republican, Texas 27th) hit the news headlines (and social media feeds. And memes) this week. 3 female Senators were part of the group that blocked the first Senate attempt at “Repeal and Replace.” Rep. Farenthold said, “if it was a guy from south Texas I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style.” (Any “Hamilton” fans out there know what that means). He has also said, “I think that we’re so generous in some of our social problems that people are unwilling to get a job outside in the heat. Rather than get 15 dollars to go get roofing, they’d rather get 9 or 10 dollars in benefits.” (To be fair, the guy has said a few things that make sense: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/b/blake_farenthold.html)
People, again, have responded strongly to his words, including Sen. Susan Collins (R. – Maine) who was one of the three Senators (along with Murkowski and Moore). She was caught on a hot microphone discussing him with a colleague. Did she object to someone talking about shooting her? Did she respond by defending her position? No. She went after his appearance:
“Did you see the one who challenged me to a duel?” Collins asks.
“I know,” Reed replies. “Trust me. Do you know why he challenged you to a duel? ‘Cause you could beat the s— out of him.”
“Well, he’s huge,” Collins replies. “And he — I don’t mean to be unkind, but he’s so unattractive it’s unbelievable.”
“Did you see the picture of him in his pajamas next to this Playboy bunny?” she continues, referring to an infamous photo of Farenthold, below.
The man has been married 31 years. Someone loves him as is, although there must have been an intense discussion after this photo surfaced.
The point is, rather than addressing his actions, she went for the easy, cheap shot. His appearance. It’s not his political philosophy. It’s not him casually threatening to shoot people who oppose legislation he supports. No. She went after his appearance.
If we disagree with someone, but focus on perceived physical flaws as a response, we dismiss what lies beneath that appearance which is the cause of our pique. The packaging is more important that its contents, even though the packaging won’t have an impact on legislation, didn’t shut down the state or block a major artery into New York City, or decide whether we go to war (Yes, I mock the President’ appearance. I mock his Twitter, speeches, promises, tendency to cheat vendors out of their money, his hypocrisy, and corruption even more).
Pro tip: If you get mad at someone and call him/her fat, chances are that they already know. It’s not likely to throw them off balance.
Let me share three more pictures:
And who are these more attractive men? A journalist? Eminem’s cousin? My niece’s prom date? Don’t know? Let me give you some digits:
36 (possible 136)
5 (6, including his brother)
Those numbers represent the number of people killed by Ted Bundy, Timothy McVeigh, and Dzhokar Tsarnaev. A serial killer and two terrorists. And you maybe thought they were cute.
People’s looks matter far less than their deeds. To focus on looks is to objectify, marginalize, and deflect away from the issue at hand. When we stop reducing disagreements to insults based on appearances, we may yet be able to find a way to amicably settle them. If not, the discord and din will continue to grow.
If you’re looking to this space tonight for wit and wonderment, it’s a dead end. Emotionally and mentally exhausting work day. Trying to catch up on personal tasks, and right now, mentally/emotionally, I’m in the fetal position.
The one thing I can offer is my new Etsy store, Wearable Magick. I put together bracelets (or necklaces) of healing gemstones. even if you don’t go along with crystal healing theory, I can make you something very pretty.
Let me show you some pictures:
(No pictures today)
I’m an author. I write a lot of Facebook posts and comments, quite a bit on political issues.
Today, I got a Messenger connection request from a stranger. I tried to find out who it was, but the system just opened the picture.
It was an erect penis with a man’s hand on it. I have deleted it.
I posted about it on Facebook because a number of my author friends have posted about getting these or suggestive messages. Up until today, I hadn’t been exposed to that nonsense.
The comments I’ve gotten so far have ranged from “I sent it” to “Why would anyone think that was sexy?”
I don’t think it was intended as sexy. I do write erotic, funny short stories, but the picture wasn’t sent to that Facebook page. And it wasn’t sent to my author page.
No, I think there was a message and it wasn’t “Hey, wanna do me?” I think it was more along the lines of “Shut up, Bitch.”
I’ll tell you why.
In high school (and I’ve blogged about this), I was getting harassed by another student and his posse on a daily basis. One day, I had enough and slapped him across his face (full wind-up). This was back in the days when parents didn’t press assault charges and, not being a guy, I wasn’t suspended. (Last year, I got a final warning in my work file for telling the office bully to “Shut the fuck up.” Still didn’t stop him from being an offensive asshole). The little twerp sent a message through his friends that he was going to retaliate by raping me. A threat using his penis.
I had an interview with a paid job search company (I was looking for a job). I read body language, and as he was giving the price for the company’s services, he came around his desk, leaned against with his hands in his pockets and his crotch thrust forward, junk outlined, not that far from my face. Now that I think about, he may have wanted a blow job. At the time, I took it as a subtly aggressive posture. “Well, that’s the offer. Gonna take it?” The subtext was “Here’s my dick. What are you going to do about it?” I said, “No,” got up and left as he called after me, “Can’t you borrow the money?” (BTW, that’s how you can identify a bad salesman or desperate bill collector, when they ask why you can’t borrow the money)
I got the same posture when I was fired from a major (now defunct) mortgage company. The man firing me (and he made sure he had two lackeys in the room) did the same thing as he told me I was terminated. Walked around the desk, leaned against it, hands in pockets and forward-thrusting crotch. He looked at me with a smirk and said, “Okay?” I said, “No, it’s not okay” and told him why. The hands came out of the pockets, he retreated to the other side of the desk, turned beet red, and spluttered. The two lackey sat with their hands folded in their laps, covering their crotches, looking somewhat stunned. Submission to the alpha. I was supposed to submit and didn’t. Gee whiz, fellas, he’d just done the only thing he could do, legally. There was no consequence to me firing back at him at that point. What was he going to do? Hire me again to fire me again?
In previous posts, I’ve recounted tales of attempted intimidation on Facebook and (way back when) Myspace. I’ve invaded the male space of discussing sports and politics. I have gotten messages saying things like “Fat fucking whore, I hate you” and “Shut up, you stupid bitch, you don’t know the law” (My Juris Doctor degree and law license would say otherwise, but…). I believe today’s dick pic was a response to political comments I’ve made. I have no way of being sure, but that’s my thought.
As for the other authors who have gotten similar “messages,” I don’t know whether they respond to political posts. Or sports posts, for that matter. 2016 brought a lot of American ugliness to the surface: racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, white fright, and a huge dose of misogyny. If you watch “The Daily Show,” you saw Jordan Klepper interview Trump supporters at rallies who talked about Muslim countries and how bad they were because they were disrespectful towards women. A man, who was clearly unfamiliar with hypocrisy and irony, was explaining this to Jordan while wearing a shirt that said, “Hillary Sucks But Not Like Monica” on the front and “Trump That Bitch” on the back.
Trump supporters are the easy to find examples, through their behavior at rallies and online. They support a man who has referred to the mothers of his children as “a nice piece of ass,” called women who disagreed or mocked him “fat pig” and ugly (Pro tip: if the only thing you can come up with to criticize someone is their appearance, you’ve got nothing. Chris Christie is fat, but that’s not what makes him an arrogant asshole), has been accused of sexual assault, and has bragged about forcing himself on women. I guess he’s just the ultimate phallus to use to threaten women to “stay in their place.”
The guys sending crap to my writing cohttp://Trump giflleagues may just be stoned, giant douchebags, figure that since we write sex scenes, we must be “into it.” I think there’s a subtle message as well.
There’s a reason “The Handmaid’s Tale” (either book or Hulu series) is resonating right now. It depicts a post US world (religious fanatics blew up the Capital and assassinated the President. NOT Muslims) where women are either supportive wives to “Commanders,” household servants, or baby machines because those supportive wives are infertile. Women are not allowed to have bank accounts, have credit (Hell, we couldn’t until the 1970s anyway), not allowed to handle money. Women are forbidden from reading and writing.
I think the inboxed junk isn’t so much sexual as it is attempted intimidation. We do have some troglodytes among us who want certain areas of society to be exclusively male, such as sports, politics, and letters. It shows when an author is discussed with the label “woman” or “female” applied before the term author where our male colleagues are simply “authors.” They don’t see us standing shoulder to shoulder with the boys, we are largely confined to a subset (and there are a lot of subsets because there are a lot of authors who are neither white nor male).
As I said, I have joined an unwilling sorority who have had men use their genitalia as a means of intimidation.