I got home from work last night around 7:00, just in time to watch the roll call vote of of the DNC, and the delegation from South Dakota make Hillary Clinton the first female major party candidate for president in our nation's history. I stood in the entryway of my house, my purse and briefcase in hand and watched the cheering and the scroll across the bottom of the screen for about 30 seconds.
My husband walked out of the kitchen to take the bag of groceries dangling from my right arm and asked me, "What's up?"
I didn't realize it immediately, but in that moment watching the scene on the television, I had started to cry.
He asked me again, "What's wrong?"
I came around to myself again, and turned toward him, "They just nominated Hillary Clinton for president."
"Well, yeah...did you expect something different?" I took the towel from his hand.
I cleared my throat, dabbing my eyes with the towel. "No...no; I knew they would nominate her. It's just...Kiersten's not here to see it. I wanted her to see this day."
He looked down, "Yeah, I know."
We had gathered on the couch to watch the election returns, with some enthusiasm. We had called Kiersten off school for the next day so she could stay up, and her best friend, Serena, had been given permission to stay overnight and watch them with us. We played games and laughed as the states on the map started to light up red and blue, tried, with limited success, to explain the Electoral College to a 4th grader and a 6th grader, sang songs from Schoolhouse Rock, and generally spent an evening so geeky, so academic, that I was sure neither girl would ever be able to tell her friends about it.
Around 11:00, the results from Ohio were announced and the electoral votes put Barack Obama over the 273 mark, making him the first African-American to be elected President of the United States.We all cheered. Serena put her arms around my neck and started to cry a little.
Steve spoke up, "Pay attention, Bug. Barack Obama is our first black president. We've never had one before. This is a big deal."
Kiersten looked like we'd just told her there was a secret passage in the back of her closet that led to the temple at Machu Picchu. "You mean, we've never had a president with chocolate-colored skin before? That's just weird. Why should that make a difference?"
Serena leveled a gaze at her that said, wordlessly, "I love you for your heart, but my God, you are just about clueless..."
Steve spoke up again, "Honey, some people think that people with dark skin aren't smart enough to be president or to run companies and stuff like that. We don't believe that in our family, but there are enough people who do, that we've never elected anyone with brown skin to be president before."
"Well, that's just dumb! Why should the color of your skin matter? Serena has brown skin and she's way smarter than me!"
I spoke up then, "I know it's dumb. Are you ready for this? We've never had a woman president either."
She looked at me. "Well, I get that! You can't be a mom AND be president at the same time!"
I nearly choked on my drink. Here was a child who lived in a household where her mother was the primary wage-earner. Who had grown up with an African-American best friend. Who was widely regarded by her classmates and teachers alike as the smartest in her class. And whose complete lack of comprehension of racial bias was exceeded only by her matter-of-fact acceptance of societal inequality for women. This child, who I thought I was raising to become a strong, self-actualized woman, had encountered gender bias so tacitly, so ubiquitously that she didn't even know there was anything to question about it.
I was horrified. And I vowed then and there to give her as much exposure as possible to strong, capable women in important roles, so she would never again question how someone could be a mom and ANYthing else.
How many little girls across America see gender inequality so regularly, so matter-of-factly, that it simply does not register on them? How many of them look at portrayals in the media that emphasize a woman's clothes, or her tone or her weight and understand, without it ever being said out loud, that her brains, determination and hard work are less important than her appearance and ability to bear children? And how long before we as a society reject this double standard and call out gender bias as readily as we call out racial bias?
As it turns out, I didn't get much time to fulfill on my oath. But I hope, wherever she is today, that she sees what happened last night and understands how important it is.
And I hope, 20 years from now, a little 8-year-old girl sees a woman running for president and doesn't give it a second thought.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Monday, July 25, 2016
Last weekend, I attended a marvelous meet-up of folks from Radio Paradise that I have known for the better part of a dozen years. I've attended a half dozen of these meet-ups over the years and they are always just an enormous amount of fun spent with some of the kindest, most talented people I have ever had the pleasure to know. It's always an absolute kick when we get together.
However, after a long weekend of shenanigans and a red eye flight home, I ended up with the obligatory cold, no doubt picked up on the airplane either there or back. A friend commented to me: "Ah; it's the law of conservation of fun. You had fun and now you have to pay for it." I also noted this weekend that my having been gone last weekend meant that it took about three times as long as usual to clean house and weed the garden.
I had another friend, who attended this year's ComicCon with four teenagers in tow, comment that he highly doubted that he would get to see a single thing on his agenda, as he was busy making sure that the kids got to do everything they wanted to do. It made me think of many, many (MANY) afternoons spent with the Bug when she was young, going to places that I thought were fun, and spending pretty much all of my time watching HER have fun. And that I was OK with that. Which got me thinking about the Laws of Fun and what Fun invariably means to us as adults.
So presented here for your review, debate and critical analysis are The Laws of Fun
Law 1: Conservation of Fun: The total amount of fun in the universe is a constant. Fun may be neither created nor destroyed.
- Corollary of Inverse Rationality: For each act of fun, an equal and opposite act of unfun is generated somewhere in the universe.
- The TANSTTAFL Constant: The amount of work that accumulates while you are having fun is equal to the the normal amount of accumulated work, times the square of the amount of fun you have while you are away from work.
- Corollary: Generation of fun with a deliberate target for the unfun can result in later rebounding of unfun upon the original perpetrator. (“The Karmic Payback Theory”)
- Susan's Theory of Karmic Balance: Just because it isn't nice, doesn't mean it isn't funny
Law 2: Funtropy: As the scope and scale of fun increases, the potential for degradation into unfun also increases
- Corollary: The more structured the fun, the more unstructured the unfun (the “National Championship Effect”)
- Corollary: The rate of degradation into unfun is inversely proportional to the cost of the alcohol being consumed (the “Bud Light Constant”)
Law 3: The Parental Observer Effect: Watching your kids have fun is, in fact, fun.
- Disney's Corollary: The likelihood your child will melt down and/or puke is a function of the product of the amount and duration of fun the child has.
Thursday, July 21, 2016
City of Cleveland throws temper tantrum; mayor claims "it’s been up way past its bedtime for the last three days"
CLEVELAND -- The entire City of Cleveland, Ohio threw a huge temper tantrum Wednesday evening, disrupting the Republican National Convention proceedings and eventually crying so hard that it threw up all over its recently-re-opened Public Square.
“The city simply has been up way too late all week”, claims 2-term Mayor Frank Jackson, “its regular bedtime is around 10 pm, and so far it hasn’t gotten to sleep before 2am once this week. This was bound to happen eventually.” The mayor expressed concern that the city was due to have another late night on Thursday and there was no telling how bad things might get.
“It took sanitation workers almost three hours to clean up the mess it made in the fountain last night. I swear, the city has stuffed so much damn confetti in the FREE stamp that now it just says ‘BBBB’. And have you seen East 4th street?” said Mr. Jackson, shaking his head in disgust and gesturing toward the entertainment district. Reportedly, the street hadn’t managed to settle down for more than about 45 minutes all day, was still wearing last night’s outfit with a pair of underpants on its head and was just lying there, kicking its heels against Prospect Avenue.
The city's Director of Public Health complained that the city still hadn’t eaten a decent dinner from the night before, opting instead for a root beer Big Gulp and half a bag of Cheetos. “At this rate, it’ll be constipated for a week. Have you ever tried to force a city to eat a nice salad if it wants chips? It’s impossible. And it's still recovering from the Cavs parade a couple weeks ago. I just don't know how we're going to get it back on a regular schedule.”
At press time, city officials expressed concern that if the city couldn’t manage to settle down, they would be forced to put the entire East Bank of the Flats in a serious time out.