Category Archives: Women

Hot Air: Rape

Heartbreaking. Absolutely Heartbreaking.

The brilliant author and essayist Roxanne Gay writes about being fat. She ascribes it to the gang-rape she experienced when she was but 12 years old.

Like racism, hunger, homelessness and the seemingly countless other sins of our benighted species, rape is becoming intolerable. Slowly but surely — glacially — we’re coming to condemn both the acts and the culture in which they thrive.

And I’ll say this as a member of the gender that’s responsible for the vast, vast majority of rapes and molestations: We are all to blame for this epidemic. Each and every one of us males has, at the very least, had to squelch the impulse to rape, to molest, to fondle, to grope, to leer, to comment, to make the object of our aggressions — macro- and micro, both — feel like nothing other than a pussy to be grabbed. Not, in any sense, a human being.

If any of us has a shred of decency, of sensitivity, of respect, of dignity, for chrissakes, we teach ourselves to value women — including those who stir us both healthily and not so — as peers. I like to think of myself as one of those enlightened fellows. Maybe I’m not, though, in the eyes of some, or even all, women. All I can accurately say is, I try.

Too many other males don’t try. I don’t care why. A woman being raped by one or a dozen men doesn’t care why.

We must begin when a male child is in kindergarten — hell, preschool! — to teach him to resist those urges. To teach him to love girls and women. It must be a concerted, directed effort, a pedagogy, as the educators like to say, to get him to recognize those aggressive impulses and to control them.

A boy is never too young to start learning how to be a civilized human being.

Hot Air

Guy Talk

I see in the papers that the Republican Candidate for President is headed for a thoroughgoing drubbing this fall. He’s behind overall in polls measuring voter preferences across the nation. He’s behind in some heretofore dependable Republican states. He behind among Latino voters. He’s behind among African-American voters. Voters feel that Hillary Clinton “won” the three candidate debates. The Republican establishment is petrified that many of its down-ballot candidates will lose, thanks to voter distaste for the man at the top. In polling among the genders, the RCP is losing dramatically among women.

The fact is, pretty much only men are tilting toward the RCP.

I hereby apologize to the nation and to humanity for “thought processes” of my fellow males.


Big Talk Talk

Following the news this week that IU’s Eskanazi Art Museum will close for three years beginning late next spring for a massive rebuilding project, you may want to check out the Big Track of my interview with museum director David Brenneman. The interview ran on WFHB’s Daily Local News Thursday, September 29th but, as with all Big Talk guests, you can catch the original, pretty-much-unabridged chitchat between Brenneman and me on The Pencil’s Big Talk page.

In the longer track, Brenneman talks about the rebuild. Catch some morsels of info about the Eskanazi’s upcoming plastic surgery in the second half of the interview. The museum will reopen in the spring of 2020.

And speaking of speaking, filmmaker J.R. Biersmith joined me on yesterday’s Big Talk. He directed the documentary, Men in the Arena, a look at the lives of two young Somali men, Sa’ad Hussein and Saadiq Mohammed, who endured the horrors of civil war in their country yet still were able to become top-flight soccer players. Their escape from the war-torn Horn of Africa nation and their subsequent relocation to this holy land are the focal points of Biersmith’s movie. Local soccer maven Tyler Ferguson has arranged for a special showing of the film here in Bloomington Wednesday, October 26, at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. She joined us in the WFHB studios for the Biersmith parley.


J.R. Biersmith

Tune in next week for a discussion of the upcoming one-night only recreation of the fabled and notorious Cabaret Voltaire, produced by the Burroughs Century Ltd. and the Wounded Galaxies Festival. The original Cabaret Voltaire was perhaps the world’s most avant-garde and hyper-fashionable locale back in the ‘teens and early ’20s of the century just past. There, visual artists, poets, authors, political boat-rockers, and other suspicious characters gathered to share, create, and define what was hip in the pre-WWII world. It became the birthplace of the Dada movement. The Burrough’s Century’s Dalia Davoudi and other guests will join me for a lively discussion to be aired Thursday, October 27. Stay tuned.

Leaning In, Too Nicely

Jazz ivory-tickler and poli sci prof Jeff Isaac attended a recent conference where a woman from the Ukraine asked a question of the panelists and was immediately met with an onslaught of males in the audience leaping up to tell her what they thought she should know. He writes: “We are now being treated to a torrent of mansplaining….”

He concludes: “I wish these self-important men would shut the fuck up.”

This reminded me of something that happened at the last Science Cafe, a week ago Wednesday. The discussion had to do with Beauty. Are there objective standards of Beauty? Is there any way to measure it? Does science offer us a way to define it?

It was all pretty heady stuff and, as per usual, the audience was comprised of about 75 percent men and 25 percent women. At one point in the discussion, one man opined that “the feminists” would be “kicking and screaming” at the suggestion that there is such a thing as definable physical beauty. This led to a few other guys spouting off about what women might or might not think about the whole thing.



As they blathered on, I had to squelch the impulse to jump up and tell them to just ask a goddamned woman what she thought. I didn’t wag my finger at them because I figured here’s a gang of males talking about the thoughts or non-thoughts of women and there really was no call for yet another guy to pipe up about it. I longed, though, for one of the women to raise her voice. Hell, I longed for all the females there to kick up a fuss and, ultimately, tell the males to shut the fuck up.

Sadly, though, we’ve taught women never to tell jerks to go straight to hell. I know a few females who’d skewer the blowhards that night. Jen Maher comes mind, as does Irasema Rivera. But seemingly none of the women at Bear’s Place that night carried herself with the swagger, confidence, and controlled rage of those two. Too bad.

It takes time, I suppose, for people to overcome the lousy lessons drummed into them from birth. Especially when those people are constantly told their primary purpose is to make nice.

One day, women’ll make a ton more trouble even than they’re making now — and that’ll be a good day.

BTW: Bloomington’s Science Cafe just may be on its last legs. The moving force behind the (sorta) monthly lectures and audience Q&A sessions is moving his base of operations to another college town. I’d slip you more info about him and his future but he’s notorious for keeping his personal life close to the vest. In any case, the SciCaf gang is looking for someone ambitious enough to keep the ball rolling here in So. Cent. IN. Drop in at the next session, Wednesday, Dec. 7th, 6:30pm, at Bear’s Place.


My beloved Cubs are, as of this writing, one win away from appearing in their first World Series since Japan was busy surrendering to the Allies. Now, believe me, I was thrilled to pieces when they pounded a passel of Dodgers pitchers to take a three games to two lead in the National League Championship Series. I slept easily last night.

OTOH, the lead-up to the Cubs’ eventual explosion caused my nerve endings to protrude from my skin. My stomach was being flipped and flopped like a square of “meat” on a White Castle grill. Truth is this newfound success of the Cubs is, for the most part, no fun at all. Despite running up the best record in the game this summer and being generally recognized as the best team in existence today, the Cubs easily could have succumbed to the Giants last week or to the Dodgers this week. And — you know what? — nobody cares what a team’s regular season record was if they don’t win the whole shebang at the end.


A Moment Of Bliss After Hours Of Misery

Should LA upset them in games six or seven this weekend, I’ll have to do plenty of mental gymnastics to overcome the voice of my pathologically pessimistic daddy-o in my head. And I’ll have to try to comfort the imaginary soul of my mother who, if she had to experience yet another Cubs heartbreak, would be inconsolable.

Jayson Stark writes on “One win away….: Are those the most beautiful words in the universe? Or are they the most scary words in the universe?”

Is it better to have loved and lost…, yadda, yadda? Who in the hell knows? Not me, that’s for sure.

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