Wednesday, December 16, 2020

A Vast Anti-Misogynistic Conspiracy

 Dear Wall Street Journal Opinion Page Editor Paul A. Gigot,

Or, should I say, Babycakes?  After all, the new article (behind a payway, here's a NYT article about it) you wrote defending the article that Joseph Epstein wrote, and you published, says that Epstein's use of the word 'Kiddo' to describe Dr. Jill Biden, an educator and a grandmother, is acceptable because that's what her husband sometimes calls her.

My husband doesn't call me Babycakes. He calls me Sweetheart sometimes. That doesn't give you, or Epstein, permission to do so. Please take a note of it.

You claim that the outrage sparked by Epstein's essay (that link is behind a paywall, but if you look around the internet, you can read it for free) is a Democratic conspiracy meant to somehow stifle free speech, and that the people expressing it were playing "the race or gender card to stifle controversy." You remind us that Dr. Biden's position as incipient First Lady means she's not off-limits to this sort of criticism.

You. Don't. Get. It.

People are not angry because they're Democrats or Republicans. They're angry because Epstein's misogyny, which you considered worth publishing and defending, trivialized not only an impressive accomplishment but also every woman who attempts such things. They're angry because yet another old white man told a woman to sit down, shut up, and find her fulfillment in the shadow of her connection to a powerful man.

The line that really makes me furious isn't being talked about much. Epstein rattles on about the how doctorates aren't worth as much any more, how even honorary doctorates have been diminished these days, and then--this is the part that really torqued me--that they decreased in prestige proportionally to how often they'd been given to Black women. Yep. It's not just these women who want to be called "doctor" that infuriate Epstein. It's these uppity Black women with advanced degrees.

How dare he? How dare you? Is it remotely possible that you don't understand how insulting you're being? How is it possible you think people are angry as a stunt, instead of being angry because you, the pair of you, gave them sufficient reason to feel that way?

I'm not a doctor of any sort. My friend Sarah is (Doctor of divinity from Harvard, therefore Reverend Doctor to you), as is my other friend Sarah (veterinarian), and her sister Kelly (biologist, head of a university department). As is the female obstetrician who delivered my daughter. As was the other female obstetrician who delivered my son. But none of that is the actual point here. The point is that this man went out of his way to trivialize a woman's accomplishments. He even demeaned the title of her doctoral thesis. He's small-minded and petty, and you found his insults worthy of being given a national stage, not to expose them, but because you agreed. And we're angry. Not because we're Democrats. Not because we're women. Because the pair of you are assholes, and you piss us off.

Friday, December 11, 2020

A Spot of Morning Chaos

 Half an hour ago I took my second cup of coffee into my office and sat down at my desk. My dog hopped into my lap and curled herself around me as she usually does (and as she is again now), butt on my left leg, head on the right arm of my chair. I'd started up the computer and was happily contemplating my morning's work--I got some particularly good news yesterday, which, while I'm not ready to make it public, certainly made the morning and the idea of work quite pleasant--when I heard a soft but definite thunk thunk.

I decanted the dog, leapt to my feet, looked out the window, and, my daughter later told me, squawked loud enough that she heard it upstairs.

My large grey mare, Sarah, looked back at me. Through my office window. Across a very large front lawn from anywhere she was supposed to be. 

Pal, our very ancient Quarter horse, stood beside her.

Boots on, jacket, hat, dog leash stuffed in pocket, out I went. Pal was now standing under the birch tree in the side yard, looking mournful. He's like a kid who can't bear to be left behind, but he regrets the consequences. I looped the leash around his neck. "C'mon, old man, where's Sarah?"

I could see the barn now. I could see the wide-open gate beside it--snow, my fault then, I went through it last and clearly didn't properly latch it. Sarah was all the way back to the barn--she must have run. My daughter's horse Merlin was milling around near the parked truck and trailer. T, my rental horse, was standing in the field in front of the open gate, looking scandalized. T is Lawful Good and doesn't break rules. (My daughter thinks he's a vampire: can only cross thresholds if specifically invited.)

Pal puffed and huffed and dragged his feet. This was a lot of work for him, something he should have considered before he followed Sarah.

Merlin looked up, saw us, and dashed back into the field. It's not because he cares about breaking rules. It's because he's greedy for his breakfast, and wants to be the first into the barn. He went to stand by his stall door.

I got everyone into the field. Gate properly latched. Portioned out the breakfasts, dumped them into the feed bins in each stall. Went through the end stall, Pal's, into the field, letting it swing shut behind me. Opened Merlin's stall, let him in. Turned around to see that Sarah had flung Pal's unlatched door open and gone in to eat Pal's food. Happily she was still wearing her grazing muzzle. She pounded it into the feed bucket in frustration.

I grabbed her, took her out. T stood outside, looking appalled and slightly petulant. I opened his stall door with one hand and kept hold of Sarah with the other. "Good morning, T, here you go," I said. Properly invited, he stepped inside.

I took Sarah into her stall and removed her muzzle. Shut her in and went back outside, where Pal was very slowly making his way to his stall, because, by crikey, it's already been quite a day.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Finding Joy

 Hello, friends. It's been four months since I've written a blog post. I've never gone that long between posts before, but then, nothing about this year is usual.

Last week I put gas in my car for the first time since June. My usual hermit tendencies have only increased with Covid; sometimes days go by when I don't leave the farm. Happily, I like it here. 

In my family we have a phrase--how do we make this suck less? Because sometimes we all have to put up with things that well and truly suck. You can't make them enjoyable--but sometimes you can still add a bit of joy. So we got ice cream cones on our way out of the children's hospital. Borrowed a really good audiobook for the stultifying car ride. Played cards while waiting in a long line. Once my daughter and I got pedicures at an airport when a flight was (horrendously, with maddening consequences) delayed. 

In this pandemic, my husband is decorating the house for Christmas on a scale eclipsing his previous very impressive years. Yesterday he went to Lowe's for ornament hooks and a 6' hose (for me, for the pony paddock). He returned with ornament hooks, a 6' hose, 6 boxes of LED Christmas lights, 2 poinsettas and a rosemary tree. He spent most of the day making the house beautiful. Meanwhile my daughter, who's working at a library, has used interlibrary loan to borrow a six-volume very interesting series about dragons.

Lately on my list of things that are helpful: borrowing electronic versions of trashy novels from my local library; hot baths; a knitalong Advent calendar, where every day brings another small packet of yarn to add to a project. I know, it's only December 1. But I started it the day after Thanksgiving. When you are trying to create joy, you don't need to follow every rule.

What's working these days for you?