How is it Friday again already? Where has this week gone? I’m not sure.
Fortunately, I keep a…well, it’s sort of a bullet journal…kind of…on my desk.
It’s definitely a journal. And it certainly has bulleted lists in it. But compared to the Swiss Army knife of elegance and utility of other people’s Bullet Journals, mine is merely a lowercase single-blade pocketknife.
Or maybe a sharpened flint.
I finished last week strong, anyhow, with that post on the virtue of curiousity. Disappointingly, the only person to comment on the post (on my Facebook page) completely missed the point. So. Well. So much for that.
Saturday was pancakes and a trip to the library. Saturdays always mean pancakes and the library, and have since my oldest was a toddler. We’ve had a fair bit of upheaval over the years, but this ritual remains a constant.
This Saturday varied from the usual post-library script of reading and lazing about the house, though. Instead, we went to a horse show that the community choir I belong to was singing for. I had to bring my two youngest on stage with me during our performance as I had nobody else to keep an eye on them. They behaved well, though, and afterwards we were able to wander around, admire the horses, and do some crafts and kid activities.
All my kids enjoyed themselves, but it wasn’t hard to see which of the three is the most avid animal-lover.
Sunday, an old college friend came to visit. She showed up during bedtime and proceeded to hand chewy gummy candies out to my freshly-toothbrushed kids, and indulged my daughter’s immediate demand that “Miss Meghan” read her a bedtime story. It was another hour before I was able to get everyone tucked back into bed.
As you can imagine, my children have concluded that Miss Meghan may be the coolest adult ever.
(She did apologize for disrupting bedtime, but hey, what’s the point of being an unofficial adopted auntie if you don’t spoil the kids sometimes?)
Of course, you realize that I WILL wreak my revenge someday, should Meghan have children of her own. 😉
With a friend in town, my bullet journal for Monday is just a row of “rescheduled” arrows, as everything on my to do list migrated over a day (or two, or three, or four…it’s been an unproductive week, OK?). With some effort, Meghan and I managed to desist lounging around me house talking long enough to make it out to a coffee shop to eat lunch…and talk.
It was kind of a late lunch, which was a good thing, as it turned out, since dinner took a while to prepare and wound up running pretty late.
It was worth it, though. You see, Monday, we made sushi for the first time. And, since my daughter isn’t thrilled about seaweed, we replaced the nori with prosciutto for one roll.
I’m calling it “proscushi.”
She was pretty happy about it.
Tuesday, I bade my friend farewell and my husband and I took our groggy selves off into town to run some errands, foremost among them the procurement of costume stuff for Halloween. My boys have decided they want to be “dapper steampunk robots,” inspired by the look of the steampunk group Steam Powered Giraffe.
But, naturally, with more gears. Because that’s how you make something steampunk. 😉#metoo hashtag about sexual harassment and abuse. I started writing responses, but draft after draft seemed inadequate.
Just to crown the day with melancholy, Tragically Hip lead singer Gord Downie died that day, sending his hometown–the city I live near–into full-on public mourning. The local radio station is playing nothing but Tragically Hip songs until Monday, and someone shared a picture of a local city bus with “Gord, We’ll Miss You” across the route display.
Public mourning and public movements are funny things. When you can participate by sharing your own genuine distress, it can be cathartic and freeing to feel like part of something larger than yourself. When you’re not particularly moved or personally invested–as with my own lack of emotional connection to the Tragically Hip–it’s easy to either become critical of the “hysteria” of public grief, or almost resentful over your exclusion from it.
Both were on display in reaction to #metoo, and it’s given me a lot to ponder, especially a couple of conversations I witnessed between women who felt that movements like #metoo and #yesallwomen somehow challenged their own identity as women who had no stories of harassment or abuse to share. To my mind, that in itself is evidence of the ubiquity of the sexism underlying #metoo, that women are left feeling inadequate even when they aren’t targeted for harassment. If we tell women who experience unwanted attention that they should take it as a compliment, what does that say to women who aren’t singled out in that way?
It’s always going to feel a little odd to be on the outside of public catharsis. But there’s something human and valuable about public acts of mourning, repentance, confession, or repudiation for those who find themselves no longer alone with their private burdens. I may not be grieving Gord Downie, but I respect the public grief of those around me, that gives room for private experiences, associations, losses to be mourned through this public figure and this public act.
My preferred mode of catharsis, though, is amateur philosophizing. I ended my week with a burst of productivity, finally crossing off most of the bullets that had accumulated and migrated through my journal this week.
I finally put my finger on why it bothered me so much to hear people complain that including harassment alongside assault weakened the impact of the #metoo campaign by conflating the two:
I’ve heard a lot of people say, in the conversations sparked by #metoo on Facebook and Twitter, that rape, sexual assault, even harassment are ultimately about power.
But power enters into sexual dynamics long before we reach assault, doesn’t it? It’s there as soon as the insecure initiator starts manoeuvring, consciously or unconsciously, to get the upper hand in an encounter. It’s there when the older guy pursues the younger girl who makes him feel like the worldly, experienced one. It’s there when the “nice guy” decides to make a move on a friend while she is crying on his shoulder after a nasty breakup or the death of a loved one. It’s definitely there when an employer invites an intern up to his hotel room to discuss her professional future, having made it obvious that he has the ability to destroy reputations or make careers at a whim.
–From “Let Her Yes be Yes: #MeToo and the Cost of No” at The Personalist Project.
And I made the connection to something we’ve talked about a bit over at The Personalist Project, the anti-personalistic master-slave dynamic, in a followup piece called “The Master-Slave Dynamic and the Price of Eggs.”
Our friendships, too, may be marked by the master-slave dynamic if a domineering or especially outgoing personality is matched with a subdued, timid, or insecure friend. It’s possible to run roughshod over a beloved sibling or friend, not out of malice, but simply out of a failure to recognize an imbalance in influence or resources.
This is, of course, the lesson Jane Austen’s Emma has to learn, having exploited her position of relative privilege to interfere in her friends’ intimate emotional lives. At the conclusion of the book, Emma is only saved from the consequences of her meddling in Harriet Smith’s life by the revelation that Harriet had not been quite so submissive as she appeared, having continued to see the young man Emma had decided she was too good for. Even in this moment of relief, the imbalance in their friendship is still evident in Harriet’s confusion and shame over having failed to take the advice of someone who had been “so good” to her.
Let me be clear: I am not drawing an equivalence between meddling in a friend’s love life and rape. Not every temptation to dominance is equally monstrous. But…well, let me show you….
Please go and take a look. It took me a week to get it all out, but I hope it was worth it! Maybe next week my bullet journal will see fewer migrations and more accomplishments. 🙂
To check out other Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t The Lyceum.