My computer sat, perched on top of my counter, alone, for an entire week. I looked at her occasionally, wondering if pressing her buttons would resolve the ache in my gut. I decided to let her hover alone.
I didn't feel like writing. I didn't feel like letting go of my short story rejection letter, or our two failed condo contract prospects, or the house we lost and can't seem to replace.
And I certainly didn't feel like tackling Rush Limbaugh's effort to label Sandra Fluke a slut simply because she advocated for women's health coverage, or Glenn Grothman's mission to label single parenthood as child abuse, or Rick Santorum's assertion that "we are seeing the fabric of our country falling apart because of single moms."
I have opinions--strong ones--but I was stunned, speechless, disoriented by my realization that the decade currently cradling me in its weak, feeble arms, is one that doesn't actually boast much progress beyond the misogynistic views women have fought so hard to dispel for the last one-hundred years.
Of course I take solace in the fact that not everyone feels this way. My husband doesn't. My family doesn't. Most of the people around me don't. But the people who do are not a small population of dissenters, like I once believed. After all, when those who have been in office, are in office now, or are currently running for office all make public statements that seem to be generally offensive, it leads me to believe they are not alone. They represent a lot of people.
This scares me--quite a bit.
I know the economy is important, but right now, I care more about the issues politicians are trying to toss aside. All of these issues are entangled, and even if they are not important to the men speaking about them, they are important to me. I cannot look beyond the acidic rhetoric and the damaging subtext. I cannot look beyond the progress women have fought to foster for so many years. I cannot wrap my arms around how any of this can be okay.
I know we are desperate and looking for people to blame, but this is absurd. The last time I checked, women do not choose to have intense menstrual cramps, they are not wholly responsible for conception, and they are not flawed, monstrous beings because they are the responsible individuals who stay to raise the children fathers leave behind.
We have problems, yes. We have trends, yes. We have strong beliefs, yes. But it is not okay to wage unsubstantiated attacks on women and tuck those attacks under the safe haven of "preserving religious freedom," or say that statistics support the notion that single moms are to blame for the "ruination" of our country.
Let's stop pointing fingers. Let's stop looking for someone to blame, and let's look for some way to fix what's wrong. Let's get serious about welfare reform. Let's change it; let's make people accountable. Let's find jobs. Let's clean up the streets. Let's stop making it more lucrative to collect welfare checks than it is to earn minimum wage. Let's stop ignoring the fact that poverty (which also includes hunger and issues of safety)--more than tests, more than teachers, more than anything--impacts a child's ability to learn and to succeed in school. Let's figure out how to make a "real" paycheck more attractive than drug trafficking. Let's reincarnate the notion of "the village" and remove the litigation that prevents that village from doing its part to "raise its kids." Let's re-instill manners, and responsibility, and self-discipline, and ethics. Let's empower people to empower themselves.
But more than anything, let's stop finding scapegoats. Let's stop pointing fingers. Let's stop puncturing one another with sharp, vicious swords. Instead, let's work together to stand on top of these rocks, gaze out into this rough, beautiful ocean of life, and find a way to rediscover respect.