Now there’s a fraught word. Technically, a female dog. More commonly, an epithet lobbed indiscriminately at women and at men who are presumed to allow other men to dominate them. And especially men who”allow” themselves to be dominated by women. Aka bitches. “Make ____ your bitch.” Dominate it, with overtones of rape.

I had it thrown at me today, in fact. I went to enter a restaurant, and if you know me personally, you know I have a couple of small fractures in my right foot (tripped over a dog toy and hit my very solid bed frame with my right pinkie toe with enough force to cause not only the pinkie toe break, but also a “buckle fracture” a couple of inches down. If I was the Burgermeister, Meister Burger from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” I would ban all dog toys from the house. That would cause sad dachshunds. Sad dachshunds are destructive dachshunds. They get to keep their toys. However, this is a detour)

Image may contain: dog

and a surgical shoe and a noticeable limp when I walk. (The plus side of this is that the plantar fasciitis in my left foot has said “I’ll shut up now.”)

As I said, I was entering the restaurant and a couple was leaving. I was trying to safely navigate past them and thinking that the man (Nope. Not gentleman. You’re about to find out why) looked like Sam Elliott. Image result for sam elliott


I got a couple of steps past them, and he loudly said, “You’re welcome” over his shoulder. I yelled back, “Thank you!” and then I heard it float back from him.


(The restaurant staff saw this and gave me extra special treatment because – their words – I had “been attacked”)

Not the first time I’ve heard, to be sure. Not the last, certainly. But the widespread use (and yes, I use it myself. I am no angel), I think, points to a thinly-veiled hostility towards women. And the veil is being drawn back.

While I was in law school in Concord, NH (Yes, I graduated and passed the bar in MA. No, I don’t practice), the first time my parents came by to “inspect,” as parents are wont to do, the man who lived next door came out of his house, introduced himself to my father,  looked at me, and proceeded to recite a list of how things were supposed to be done. A few weeks later, I was late to a class, and ran out the door. He screamed at me from his door about how I wasn’t supposed to slam my own door. I yelled back and heard, “Geez, I didn’t know you were going to be such a bitch about it.”

 Bitch: Woman who does not obey orders from random men.

My mother lamented my unladylike demeanor all of the time our lives ran together, from 1961 to 2013. I didn’t like wearing skirts all the time (Mom, I know you won’t read this because you can’t and I know you wouldn’t believe me anyway, but I didn’t like skirts because I didn’t want anyone looking up them, which happened in second grade). I was and am direct (“You’re just like your father!”). I don’t step back and let the boys go ahead and certainly don’t do so with a pretty smile and “that’s okay.” I’m perfectly content with saying, “No” without frills or apology. And I’m perfectly content to enforce it.

Bitch: Woman who does not act soft and submissive.

“Smile more. Women should smile. You look so much prettier when you smile.”

Bitch: woman who does not smile on command.

“Resting bitch face” is a part of the current lexicon. It implies that even in repose, you must arrange your face to make sure you don’t offend or intimidate men. Even when you are working out a a problem (math or logic) in your head. If you’re familiar with the X Men, Mystique, who is a shape shifter, can make herself look like anyone else, but she has to focus and concentrate. When Mystique is at rest, she is blue with textured skin, golden eyes, and red hair.

Image result for mystique

The “good” X Men around her prefer her to concentrate.

Image result for mystique jennifer lawrence

Mystique would rather not. So, she’s a bad X Man. She’s a bitch.

I have dealt with office Romeos who stroll from desk to desk chatting up their female colleagues who are trying to complete the tasks for which they are paid. It’s the women who get in trouble. I was working in the branch of a financial services company when a scandal erupted at another branch: one of the salesmen had stalked and harassed the customer service representative, even leaving notes on her car AT HER HOME, making late night phone calls and essentially terrorizing her. When she complained, the company moved HER. Nothing happened to him. I got sent to that branch for a day to fill and I  protested the assignment. My boss, a woman in her fifties who had come up from the “Mad Men” atmosphere, told me to “Shut up. Maybe you’ll like it.”

I have been with other companies, including one very recently, where women were in mid to upper management and treated the women under them in the chain of command like rented pack mules: unreasonably demanding, forcing excessive unpaid overtime, dumping their assignments downward, communicating mostly with threats, insults, and denying opportunities when those women tried to move on. It’s insecurity run amok and about on par with the sexual harassment and discrimination some men dish out. They create a hostile work environment.

Image result for bucket of crabs

This is a barrel of blue crabs.

If one crab tries to crawl out, the other crabs will pull it back in. Such is the case with some women in the corporate world. Those who have been subjected to the harassment, condescension, discrimination, and diminution for long enough will try to stop those who push back. “Don’t be such a bitch about it.”

Bitch: Woman who stands for her dignity.

We live in a time when fundamentalist Christians with political influence want to undo the progress on women’s from reproductive control (sovereignty over one’s own body), to equal pay, to the right to sue an employer who abides sexual harassment, and, in the middle of the 2016 campaign that stated Trump would lose if only women voted, wanted to undo the 19th Amendment. You know, the one that said women could vote. Yeah. I saw the tweets. They wanted that gone.

Bitch: woman who sees herself as equal to men.

Our current President notoriously talked about forcing himself on women. If women criticize him, he attacks them based on appearance. He’s not the only one. And when I have been attacked for not yielding for not giving pretty smiles and dimples when I’m getting pushed, the inevitable comeback is “Fat, ugly bitch.”

Bitch: woman who will not yield.

Years ago, I would hear “be a lady, be a lady, be a lady.” What I saw was ladies getting pushed aside, treated like dirt, getting their asses swatted by the men doing the pushing, and smiling through it. I know a lot of ladies with substance abuse issues. I got enough beatings growing up to know I don’t like it.  I knew, having been raised by strict, forceful father, that I did not want to yield my power, my authority to another tyrant (“I am the man, and what I say goes.” Fuck you, but that’s another word for another post) simply because of an XY chromosome combination. I like fundamental fairness, and that isn’t it.

It is now, 56 years on this Earth, that I finally see these individual acts coalesce and a pattern emerge. Thinking this should have ended in the early 70s when women marched for their rights. We roared, we made ourselves heard, we got some grudging concessions and three women on the Supreme Court. One Christian fundamentalist who believed women should not work outside the home, despite being a lawyer herself (the hypocrisy kills me), killed the Equal Rights Amendment.

Apparently, it was all window dressing.

Because when I was too preoccupied to acknowledge and profess gratitude to a man holding a door (actually for his wife to pass through), I am a bitch. Because I didn’t want a cranky, insufferable old man dictating how I was to conduct myself in my own home, I am a bitch. Because I don’t smile on command, say “No,” mean it, and don’t apologize for it, I am a bitch. Because I won’t get off a leg press because a man (who had been chatting up a woman on the other side of the gym before he came over) wanted it, I am a bitch.

You know what?

You bet your  ass I am.


What I Saw at the (Newish) Revolution

with a hearty “Fuck you” to Reagan apologist Peggy Noonan. Your crew put a lot of shit into motion that has effectively hamstrung the American middle class.

I participated in the Women’s March on January 21 as promised. I was at the Palm Beach, FL rally. They expected 1,500 people, got 3,000 RSVPs and the final estimate of the crowd was 7,000. Seems this happened at all rallies (except Antarctica. I think they got exactly  the number  they expected).

All 7 continents!

All 7 continents!

I’m hearing the same thing about all the Marches/Rallies: they were peaceful. Upwards of 3 million people assembling around the world and no arrests. In fact, a group of the marchers in DC sang “Happy Birthday” to a cop.

Peaceful, I tell ya.

Peaceful, I tell ya.

My group and I were heading home (actually, it was me, my friend, and three ladies we met on our way to the rally) before we were hassled. That was by a random man who decided he was going to lecture us on abortion because when women march obviously, that’s we’re planning to kill babies.

I’ve seen posts on Facebook from people telling us to “get over it” in terms of the election results

Oh yeah.

Oh yeah.

and just accept them. And posts from people condemning the marchers for wanting to kill babies.

You guys, this was so much more than that.

Women deserve respect.

Women deserve respect.

Yes, there were signs with coat hangers and Pro Choice messages. There were signs protesting the attempts to kill Planned Parenthood. “Aha!” you say, “So this was all about reproductive rights!”

Not even close.

There were signs for LGBTQ rights. Signs for immigration rights. Signs for equal pay and a higher minimum wage. Signs for mental health care. Signs about respect. Signs for veterans, Black Lives Matter, protecting Muslims from official harassment, climate change (Gaia is a female construct. MOTHER Earth)

The numbers of people hitting the streets and the diversity of issues presented said a lot about how the new President and his agenda is viewed. Inaugural speeches are usually upbeat, speak of unity and progress, and speak of a better future. “New Frontier.” “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” “With malice toward none, with charity for all…” are the kinds of classic phrases that have come from inaugural speeches. What did we get January 20th? “American carnage.” “radical Islamic terrorism.” That won’t do. I will not fear. I’d like to think that, if necessary, I would stand my ground against tyranny like this:

This is courage.

This is courage.

The message of fear was stopped by millions lacing up their sneakers, donning pussy hats (not me. And I’m not showing you pictures of me from Saturday because I look like a weird-looking old man), and hoisting signs demanding respect, equality, and services for better lives for all.

Hope. Love. Apply liberally

Hope. Love. Apply liberally

I’m going to sum up with another picture (it’s how I get you guys to read these things)

get used to it

Lacing up the Sneakers

“We hold these truths to be self-evident…”

I’m sure this will trigger a memory of high school civics (or American History) and the need to memorize the Declaration of Independence.

“…all men are created equal.”

Men. Got news, George, Thom, John, and Benny Boy: women are, too. And we’re going to marching this Saturday to drive home the point.  If you’re interested, you can find a march here:

Women's march poster

Women’s March on Washington

Nothing personal, but there are issues of personal sovereignty at stake here. It took from 1783, when Britain signed the Treaty of Paris acknowledging the sovereignty of the United States (and I have copious notes for a story about that. They’re 3,000 miles away. Please buy a shit ton of my books so I can use the royalties to go get them) to 1789 when the Constitution was ratified and became effective (By the way, all of you “State’s Rights!” junkies: we tried that under the Articles of Confederation from 1781 to 1789. Weak central government with strong regional government failed miserably. Really. It did) to figure out voting and representation and how the machinery of democracy would work. The Founding Fathers screwed up on a few points: slavery wasn’t outlawed, in fact enslaved people were counted at 3/5 of the number of white inhabitants, and neither the Constitution nor the Bill of Rights did not specify that gender could be used to deny the right to vote. That didn’t get straightened out until 1920. It didn’t say we couldn’t, but that’s the way the guys interpreted it, because God knows, they love their boys’ clubs.

It took until 1974  and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act before a woman could get a credit card or a mortgage in her own name.

Until 1978 and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, a woman could be fired for being pregnant.

The “boys will be boys” and sexual harassment of “Mad Men” was perfectly fine until 1977. Of course, in 1991, we saw that it didn’t stop because the chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Clarence Thomas, was accused in graphically detailed testimony by Anita Hill of engaging in a pattern of sexual and hostile behavior WHILE HEADING THE OFFICE TASKED WITH ENFORCING EQUALITY. Didn’t stop his ascension to the United States Supreme Court (and he’s done zip minus while on the bench except to “me, too” everything Scalia wrote). And I can attest that that shit still goes down without much fear of reprisal unless the victim gets a lawyer and sues the employer.

Not so much this...

Not so much this…

as this

as this

The biggie…

1973, Roe v. Wade. Wherein the Supreme Court said that a woman’s right to choose whether or not to terminate a pregnancy was legal.

Right now, we are a day away from swearing in as President of the United States a man who has a track record of contempt and disrespect for women. Never mind that he’s cool with sexual assault, that he makes comments about his daughter that leads me to believe he has actually had inappropriate relations with her. He has said he thinks women should be punished for getting an abortion. He’s in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood. Since the rise of The Consecrated Con Man, Jerry Falwell,  and his “Moral Majority” (which was neither), a woman’s right to choose has been under focused, high-powered, relentless assault. Personally, if a woman I’ve never met wants an abortion, it’s none of my business. I had a friend tell me he was “morally opposed to his tax dollars paying for abortions.” Thanks to that shithead Henry Hyde, and the Hyde Amendment of 1976 (which keeps getting polished and renewed), they don’t. And the maker of the statement was shitting his diapers when it passed. I’m morally opposed to war, and I don’t want my tax dollars paying for that. However, I don’t get a say in the matter. Even Henry Thoreau couldn’t get away with not paying taxes because he objected to the Mexican War. The incoming President, on the other hand,…not as a moral objection but because it was “smart” and “good business” for him to carry forward a $900,000,000 loss and legally avoid paying taxes for years. (The $900,000,000 loss being a mark of “good business”? Not so much).

I’m not sitting this out. I may be beyond reproductive age and I have no daughters, but I see a big picture here. Women ARE the majority in this country and we should not have our gains rolled back. Read “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood sometime.

Handmaid's Tale

Thus the march.

No reason resistance can't be fashionable

No reason resistance can’t be fashionable

I figured this would be a peaceful thing. However, I was given information on recording police violence, what to bring in case of tear gas and arrest; who knows what’s going to happen. But it’s important enough to take the risk.

I urge you to also lace up your sneakers, RSVP to your local event, and make it known that we, the majority of Americans, will not stand for our rights, our personal sovereignty, to be eroded or taken away.

Now watch this video. And share the hell out of it.

New Guards

Free Range Woman *

(I’m trademarking that sucker)

Tis Mother’s Day weekend and  I am not a participant. I have no children and my own mother passed on in 2013. (She wasn’t crazy about the holiday. I pointed out to her once that she seemed to be as far away from her children as possible when it rolled around. She didn’t deny it)

I am not, nor ever have been, married. I’m not alone. (And I’m not defective, either. Let’s be clear) I’m also well past my twenties, which is the traditional age range for marrying and starting a family (although, that seems to be stretching on the back end onto one’s thirties). The labels women of my situation have had to endure are such quaint terms as “spinster” and “old maid.” Men get to be bachelors all their lives. I know; it’s an old complaint, but I suspect men are the ones who made the naming rules. 

Without the task of bearing and raising children, I’ve been free to, quite literally, move around the country, as wanted (or needed. I’ve been in that situation), pursue a career that I wanted as a child (without much success, but I pursued it), and go through some serious shit without worrying about dependents and what would happen to them. 

I propose that, in the 21st century, we shed the old, rather derogatory terms and replace them with a new one:


The Free Range Woman is just that: she is able to pursue her own path (which may lead to marriage and family even in middle/old age) and does so.

With the advent of animal rights, locavore, farm to table, food-related movements, “free range chicken” has become part of the lexicon. These hens are allowed room to be chickens rather than penned into a tiny space. 

“Spinster” and “old maid” are terms that have been around at least 200-250 years. They’re antiquated and carrying the baggage of patriarchal expectations that girls would grow into wives and mothers or be on the fringe of society because they didn’t find a way into the acceptable status. Think of Miss Havisham in “Great Expectations”: not being married wasn’t her fault, but the shame and humiliation of having been jilted left her mentally and emotionally stranded at that moment for decades. She had one job…

“Unmarried woman” brings up images of a Jill Clayburgh movie from the 70s and a line from “Private Benjamin” where Goldie Hawn, the newly widowed and unhappy about being single Judy Benjamin, wails “I would have been Mrs. Alan Bates in a heartbeat.” 

Free Range Woman also looks good on a T shirt. And may have mathematic meaning. (I didn’t do well in algebra and math, and my mathematic consultant passed away 12 years ago). 

The next time some dipshit asks me why I’ve never gotten married (A more subtle version of “What’s wrong with you?”), I shall smile and answer, “Because I’m free range, Baby.” 

Then end the date.