The Mid and Me!


It is my great pleasure to finally get to share the essay I wrote about my mom for Listen To Your Mother, Austin.  You can read it in its entirety on The Mid.  Somehow I missed the original posting (and that should tell you how crazy my life has been lately) but better late than never, right?  Such a great honor to have the essay posted on a site I like so well!

Please go give The Mid and my mother some love…

My mother was an athlete. She played baseball so well that she was scouted by a major league team, who thought the Jo Young they kept hearing about was a Joseph, not a Joan. The scout told her coach it was a damn shame she wasn’t a boy, because he would have recruited the multitalented girl. She was a shortstop phenom, who could hit a home run from a crouched position and play catcher like she was Johnny Bench.

Like a Really Old Virgin


My introduction to Madonna was hearing Jennifer W signing Like A Virgin in P.E. class in 7th grade.  Dawn S giggled at her and said, “Aw! You don’t even know what a virgin is!”  I knew what a virgin was because I had read Forever, by Judy Blume.  I was scandalized!  And intrigued.

I was back to be scandalized pretty quickly after realizing Madonna was wearing her underwear on top of her clothes.  I liked Cyndi Lauper better anyway, and everyone knew you had to pick one, or the other.  It was like Wham! and Duran Duran.  You had to choose.  Since I was a decade away from the escandalo news that She Bop was about masturbation, and because I loved Time After Time, Lauper was my girl.

It also had to do with the fact that Lauper always looked like she was having fun in her videos.  Madonna always looked like work, to me.

I fell headfirst into girl crushes on artists like Debbie Harry, Terri Nunn, the women of TLC, and En Vogue, Annie Lennox, Natalie Merchant, and Jane Wiedlin, and now and then, I would flirt with the idea of Madonna.  But still, it looked exhausting to be Madonna.

Today, I finally got around to watching her new video, B*tch, I’m Madonna.  It was embedded in an article pointing out her age, and her age-inappropriateness.  The article suggested that she dresses too youthfully, she isn’t dignified, and she’s trying too hard to prove she’s still attractive.  Listen, the last time Madonna ever looked dignified was when Kurt Loder was interviewing her for the MTV Awards, and she had to hiss at Courtney Love–and that was just Madonna looking dignified in comparison.

Why do people expect dignity from an artist in the first place?  Art isn’t dignified.  Why would you expect dignity out of Madonna ever?  Remember, she made the Bra as Outwear mainstream fashion.  This is not a woman who will ever teach Cotillion.

Also, have you seen her body?  At 56, she’s got more going on than half of the world, half her age.  Why shouldn’t she dress provocatively?  Why is that gross?  Is it because she might be signaling a desire to have sexual relations?  I mean, we’re always hearing that women who dress like that are “asking for it.”  Is it gross because a 56 year old woman might be still be in the market for the same things she enjoyed 20 years prior?

Madonna’s got nothing to prove when it comes to being attractive.  The woman is hot.  The fact that I almost wrote, “The woman is still hot,” gives a lot away.  We have an expectation that after a certain age, attractive women will transition from Hot to Still Hot, which is a more appropriate description.  Like bananas go from unripe, to ripe, to still ripe, to still edible, to what-the-hell-is-that-omg-it-was-a-banana!

Madonna defies your “still ripe” label.  She will be “ripe” until she tells you otherwise.  You don’t get to put your labels on Madonna because she’s such an expert at packaging and marketing herself.  Madonna will tell you when she’s ready for you to see her as something other than the Material Girl, and you will like it.

We don’t look to Madonna for propriety.  We look to Madonna to show us the way, and to tell us how it is going to be.  And that’s why it always looks like work.  Madonna is a teacher.  Madonna isn’t the playground lady like Cyndi Lauper, or the classroom aide like Terri Nunn, or the fun art/music teacher like Debbie Harry, or the brilliant librarian like Annie Lennox.  Madonna is the in-your-face classroom instructor, clearing away the jungles of gender-role-based ignorance with her razor edged, cone shaped bras.

Madonna shows you the future.  She shows you the possibility.  She shows you what it looks like and inures you to it so that when Britney, and Beyonce, and Katy Perry, and Miley come marching out from behind her, you already know why it works.  And she doesn’t apologize for it.

She is everything your patriarchy tells you is wrong with women.  She is brash.  She is bold.  She is in control of, and exercising control over her sexuality.  She sees herself as equal to women of all ages, and does not see herself as less desirable because of her age.  She is a strong, savvy business owner.  She is dedicated to fitness.  She is independently wealthy and does not need marriage (because needing and wanting are different things.)  And she is good at her life.

She still looks like a lot of work to me, but she’s work worth doing because she has never pretended to be anything she isn’t.

Why?

B*tch, she’s Madonna.

The Why Behind the Howl


I’ve done a lot of talking and typing lately that I don’t normally do.  I’ve gotten into internet scraps and blown pretty hard at some people over issues that mean a lot to me.

When it comes to making decisions, I have two filters.  I have my James 3:17 filter and I have my Thor filter.  The Thor filter was born the day my son was, and I looked at him and thought, “I am going to do my best to make this world a better place for you, starting with me.”

My ultimate litmus test is this:  If this were happening to my son, what would I do?  I work from there.

I believe we all want the best for our children.  Our troubles begin when we think the best for our children has to be at the expense of someone else’s child.  Our troubles end when we look at other children and ask ourselves how we can make the world better for all of them.

I want my son to grow up in a world where people work together to see that everyone has enough.  Where, to paraphrase Louis CK, we are all making sure our neighbor’s bowls are full.

I want my son to grow up in a world where you are free to love any consenting adult, who would like to love you back.  I want my son to grow up in a world where you can be any color, or gender, and be the leader of our nation–without people calling you by racial epithets, or genitalia slang.

I want my son to grow up feeling free to worship as he chooses, knowing that if the next guy prays differently, he is no more, or less good, moral, or human than my son.  I want my son to grow up with an open mind, an open heart, and a solid understanding of when to close both of those functions against bigotry, racism, and unkindness.  I want him to stand tall with compassion and empathy, and carry a big stick of intolerance for cruelty.

The world is a scary place, full of anger, and hatred, and abuse.  It is full of people willing to oppress, degrade, and dehumanize others for power and financial gain.  I want my son to stand against that.

So, I have to stand against that, not just agree to disagree with it.

I don’t have any power, or prestige going for me.  All I have is my voice and my ability to type really fast.  But that’s why I post about religion and politics.  I’m trying to stand against a tide, hoping my toehold will make my son’s footprint deeper, so he can raise the next generation to do even better for humanity.  It’s not much, but it’s all I’ve got, and shame on me if I don’t use it.

Two Wins, Four Losses and Counting


I just put a lot of time and effort into writing what (I thought) was a funny post about the best places to flee to if you are upset over Obamacare and Marriage Equality.  Then, I had to step away from the computer to run an errand, and on my way back I thought, “That isn’t helpful.”  Maybe this isn’t helpful either, but at least it isn’t mockery.

My heart is too heavy to fight, or make fun right now.  As excited as I was to see the SCOTUS thumbs-up to healthcare and marriage equality, I haven’t been able to shake the church shooting in Charleston.  And, as I was celebrating marriage equality, another story came across my news feed relating that three Black churches have been burned down in the past five days, and I can’t help seeing it as response to the outrage Charleston provoked, and as a threat to people that they need to sit down and take what’s shoveled at them, or die.

I have this to say:

Shame on you if you think you are better than someone else, or deserve more than someone else because you like your sex missionary style.

Shame on you if you think you are better than someone else, or deserve more than someone else because your skin is light.

Shame on you if you think you are better than someone else, or deserve more than someone else because you have more money in the bank.

Shame on you if you think you are better than someone else, or deserve more than someone else because of your religion.

Shame on you if you think you are better than someone, or deserve more than someone else because of who your parents are.

Shame on you if you think you are better than someone else, or deserve more than someone else because of where you are from.

If you feel superior to anyone, or think you deserve more than someone else based on something you were born with, bought in a store, or were gifted as your heritage, shame on you.

Get with the program.  If you’re yelling in wounded outrage because someone got something you have always had, howling that them getting some of your entitlement means your entitlement isn’t any good anymore, there is something wrong with you.  And you for sure are not behaving like Jesus–who told his followers that if they have something, and someone asks them for a little of it, they were to give over all they had.  You have two coats?  You give them both to the cold guy.

Think about the message you are sending your own children:  You are okay UNLESS you are this thing.  If you are ever this thing, I will not love you, or want to live in the same country with you. That’s a great message.  My love for you is conditional, based on your color, your sexuality, your faith.  Think about that.

Then, think about what Jesus says about his love.  Nothing can separate you from his love for you.  If that’s your leader, follow him.  Put down your rocks, stop yelling at people, trying to hurt them the way you feel hurt, and follow your leader.  He’ll take you to the right place, which is probably going to land you right smack in the middle of what you hate most, serving those you thought were unworthy.  If you’re not man, or woman enough to do that, quit calling yourself a Christian and just name yourself what you really are.

Math is Important


equality

 [ih-kwol-i-tee]
noun, plural equalities.
1. the state or quality of being equal; correspondence in quantity, degree,value, rank, or ability:

promoting equality of opportunity in the workplace.
2. uniform character, as of motion or surface.
3. Mathematics. a statement that two quantities are equal; equation.
If I have six apples, and (historically) Johnny has no apples, this is an unequal value. (This is how we’ve been living.)
If someone takes my six apples and gives them to Johnny, this is also an unequal value.  (This did not happen.)
If someone takes three of my apples and gives them to Johnny, the value remains equal, but I have suffered a loss.  (This also did not happen)
If I have six apples, and someone gives (the historically) apple-less Johnny six apples, that is an equal value in which no one has suffered a loss.
That’s what happened today!  Someone gave Johnny apples in equal measure to the ones I’ve had all along.  Now, we can all make pie!
Today, I would like to congratulate my (historically apple-less) Johnny on having been granted the equality owed him.
It’s a shame it had to be granted, but I will dwell on the happiness apples bring, and hope it means a bounty for Civil Rights in the future.