The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...

The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...
He's thinking Classic. (click on photo)

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Mar 18, 2015

The Crab Pot

We sat in the aluminum fishing boat, the sun beating down on our bare shoulders, the sound of the water lapping around the oars as the boat rocked gently from side to side. My brown hair pulled up into a ponytail allowed wisps to tickle my cheeks and neck, as the wind skirted across the lake. Mt. Hood stood tall and bright in the background, beetles knickered at each other in the distance and the smell of fresh pine trees permeated the air. My ex-husband rowed the boat with ease, as the muscles of his arms flexed with each stroke and his construction man hands gripped the handles of the oars. This sounds like the beginning of a romance novel. Alas, no.

“Let me row,” I said. It was over a decade since we’d become a couple and we had spent many days in this boat on the water. We began in Southern Oregon on the wild Rogue River, with him rowing and guiding, while I would smile, relax and read a good book, waiting for the next prime fishing spot. In 1991, we moved to Gresham, Oregon, just East of Portland and set out discovering the glorious fishing aspects of the Clackamas River. On this particular day we were camping in our favorite spot on Timothy Lake, located in the mountains, just southwest of Mt. Hood.

The husband raised an eyebrow. “Really,” I said, “I want to row. This is perfect!” It wasn’t the first time I would have rowed the boat. He had shown me how to navigate it on the river and since I was the product of a family of girls who could shoot, hunt and fish, I was proud to learn the ropes of trailering the boat and water navigation. The large lake was calm, the boat traffic light, with only a few other fisherman around us. This would be a piece of cake compared to navigating a river’s current.

He shrugged his tanned shoulders, smiling slightly – I thought, proud that the wife could row his boat. He muttered, “Okay,” and we began to gingerly switch places. He moved to the back of the boat, eased into the cushioned boat seat, opened a beer and I re-centered myself in the mid-boat, aloft the seat box. I gripped the oars, allowing my hand to slide down against the thick rope wrapped around the wood.

The husband said something, gave me some direction, to which I offered a snarky wife remark and rolled my eyes. He knew this was not my first rodeo. I set off, moving the boat through the water gently, feeling the oars, centering my weight, and testing the strength of the waters resistance. I played with navigation, reversing the direction of the boat, spinning us around – raising my eyebrow back at him. I could move the boat anywhere I wanted, as easy as I could navigate an automobile backwards or parallel park – I had never been directionally challenged.

I don’t know at what point I decided I needed to show off. Perhaps it was the heat of the day frying the frontal lobe of my brain where logic resides. I had started moving the boat through the water at a nice clip. Feeling the muscles in my shoulders strain, my forearms bulge (as much as an un-muscular young gal’s forearm can bulge) and my hands tremble as they gripped the oars. I remember wanting to see just how fast I could get this boat moving on my own. The husband begrudgingly gave a positive nod.

As a runner - er, jogger – er, runner – often the perfect powerful song will slide through my playlist and my spirit soars. My legs react and I feel as if I’ve surely hit that 6 minute mile. When in reality, I probably look like Dane Cook’s comedic rendition of a pedestrian fake running across the crosswalk in front of your car (look it up, it’s hilarious). I feel like the hare, my mind is the hare, but physically, I’m still the tortoise.

I imagine on that day this sort of scenario is probably what was actually happening with the boat. I had propelled us fast enough to create more of a breeze against our skin, to push my ponytail around my neck, but to the bystanders, we probably looked as if the anchor was down and a mad woman was at the helm.

I looked across the water, smiling, feeling strong and able. The oars were powerful, glided through the water with little splash – it was so damn easy. I wanted to make the husband proud. I looked around and spied a few other boats fairly close to us. I thought they were watching. I was in the moment.

BAM! Suddenly I couldn’t see anything but the blueness of the sky, not a cloud in what felt like tunnel vision. The sides of the boat no longer extended alongside me, but upwards towards the blue. I could no longer see the husband, as he was now blocked by the seat box, where I was no longer sitting. And my legs were extended straight up into the air.

At first humiliation hit me but I instantly squelched it with a big gut bomb of laughter. I opened my mouth and let out a big guffaw, shoved my head and shoulders up with my elbows and looked squarely at the husband. He had one arm bent across his mid section, while the other elbow rested on that forearm, his hand clutching the sides of his mouth, while he shook his head side to side and chuckled. I looked around at the other boats, and realized what they saw.

One second there sat an insane rowing woman and suddenly, this rower caught a crab and flipped right over. The passenger was left staring calmly at an empty seat, flanked by two upright legs.

This vision sent me into fits of laughter and the sound pealed across the lake towards the shore. I returned to my prone position, staring at the sky, feeling quite stupid, and a little mortified. I realized I couldn’t hide there forever so I swung my legs over and push myself upright in the boat. All the while, the husband sat there quietly with a sly smirk on his face.

There are only a few human traits that I really despise and arrogance is at the top of the list. I find it an ugly trait and regardless of how talented an individual is, their talent shines brighter when filtered through a humble demeanor. There is no doubt that I was overflowing with arrogance that day, without a shred of humbleness even searing my aura. Who knows, perhaps if I’d been successful, I may have become an annoying arrogant S.O.B. Thankfully, the great character checker in the sky knocked that chip right off my arse, and restored the rightful balance of humility to the universe.



Mar 11, 2015

The Market Price of Words

Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize winner for the book The Color Purple, said, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” As I peruse the news stories about the new movie 50 Shades of Grey, a feeling of resentment and fury moves across my mental plane. And afterwards, I wonder what power I really have in making any difference at Hollywood’s movement to desensitize our nation by promoting sexual abuse as the new norm. I can already hear the laughter, cat calls and comments from the ultra liberals, who say it’s “art,” or just a harmless novel.

What power indeed. The power of the written word will be my sword. Just as Russell Wilson used his written word to cut through many a fan’s soul when he twittered, “Thanks for the early showing of the movie 50 Shades of Grey last night. Great Movie,” followed by, “Provocative/disturbing no doubt but it does not make me any less faithful.” Not only has Wilson’s “Why Not You” foundation created the “Pass the Peace” campaign to “bring awareness to domestic violence,” Wilson has woven the facts of his Christian faith throughout the fabric of his reputation and fame as one of the NFL’s leading quarterbacks. A supportive response to this movie flies in the face of everything Wilson has purported himself to stand for, and in the face of dissenters of Domestic Violence.

The responses to Wilson’s post were immediate, with anger on both sides of the issue. Those who support the great athlete’s right to watch whatever he wants and those who viewed his support of this movie as an affront to the faith he constantly tweets about online and discusses for the public’s viewing pleasure. Interestingly, not one person shouted about the hypocrisy between campaigning against domestic violence and supporting this movie. Unfortunately, the fact that he is a self-professed Christian was the issue, rather than the image of an American athlete, with glory, money, and power both on and off the field, verbalizing support for a movie that idolizes the same rough male power abuse of a female.

On October 2, 2014, seahawks.com released the news about Wilson’s campaign against domestic violence and quoted him, "As NFL players, we do not play a gentle game. Our hits, our anger, our aggressive behaviors need to be regulated and confined to the field. The fight is not just with fists. The fight is with minds, thoughts, mentality and perception.”

View me scratching my head here, trying to pull it all together. “The fight is with minds, thoughts, mentality and perception.” A movie and its’ themes infiltrate mind, lead the thoughts, sway the mentality and alter perceptions. 50 Shades of Grey is not condemning but glorifying sexually assaulting, raping, beating a woman just because a man can. This story promotes the idea that abuse is okay because she likes it.

So what’s the problem? Here’s an excerpt from the novel:

Just kidding. Not because I’m too frigid to enjoy a nice titillating story. I intended to include an excerpt; however, as I read through bits and pieces of this novel, which has surpassed 100 million copies sold, I felt like I needed to vomit. I felt the need to run away. The material caused internal fear and panic, as I read about the lead docile female character enduring what equated to being beaten and abused, for the pleasure of a man with tremendous power. As I read, I experienced a gut wrenching impact to me as a woman, as a human, and I found myself unable to understand how any woman could read this novel, support it by watching the movie and applaud or be amused.

Domestic Violence has been a hot topic in the news over the past year or so, due to multiple athletes beating their wives. The NFL’s administration has been subjected to scrutiny as the news broke that top NFL officials had ignored player’s abuse of their partners. The severity of the problem prompted Wilson to step up and challenge other high profile persona’s, such as Derek Jeter and Justin Timberlake, to meet his actions, donate money and fight against domestic violence.

According to Domestic Violence Statistics.org (DVS), every 9 seconds in the US, a woman is assaulted or beaten, and at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime (most often, the abuser is a member of her own family). Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women (more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined). DVS reports that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually, and everyday in the US, more than three women are murdered by their partners. In their research they found that 55 – 95 percent of women abused by a partner do not file a report. Women report that reducing this violence and assaults are a “top concern.” Finally, the report shows that boys, who witness domestic violence in their homes, are “twice as likely to abuse their own wives.”

Anne Munch, a former prosecuting attorney, has devoted her life’s work to advocating for victims and educating the country. She is an expert witness for several branches of the United States military and was involved in the development of their Sexual Prevention and Response program. Munch created a video presentation, discussing whom she’s labeled the “Unnamed Conspirator” involved in sexual assault cases. The general public.

Old perceptions and attitudes, myths about a woman’s behavior, such as what she’s wearing to whether she was walking down to the local pizza restaurant alone (good girls don’t walk alone), prevent jurors from finding offenders guilty, when the evidence and facts prove “beyond a shadow of a doubt” the defendant's guilt.

She tells a story about a young girl who was raped at work. Munch leads the listeners through all the facts – physical evidence, physician' report, the girl’s blood on the offender’s shirt – and the story of the girl’s life, which was turned upside down during the pretrial preparation time. The girl received death threats, leading to the arrest and conviction of two separate men, one a fanatical fan and the other, a “murder for hire.” The young woman moved to multiple states as she awaited the trial. Finally, as jury selection began, the young girl decides that she could not endure the effect this trial has on her life and withdraws her complaint – walks away. Munch explains the offender went free and proceeds to show his photo to the audience - on the front page of a national magazine. A star. A hero. She says the general public doesn’t want their idol to be convicted. We don’t want to believe that someone we like, we care for, we love, would be the perpetrator of such an awful act. So we blame the victim and excuse the offender.

We are the Unnamed Conspirator.

I posted about this subject in my Women’s Studies class, as we took on the topic of Domestic Violence last week. Jacque, a fellow student made an interesting comment. “When Russell Wilson was approached about supporting it, I noticed many people pointed out he shouldn’t support it for religious reasons. In the Bible men sold women, kept slaves, and exploited minorities. It seems 50 Shades would be similar to a story right out of the Bible, with slightly more explicit detail.” I have to agree with her, as reading an excerpt from the new and improved Message Bible, the revised wording reads like a XXX erotic thriller, rather than a parable about life.

Shawna, another fellow student, responded, “Even though the media shows disgust with violence against women, it’s supporting this film and how it’s sexy and romantic. I read the books, as best as I could. I try not to judge. It’s a horrific book series. I tried to get through it and I just couldn’t get over the cringing and the overwhelming sense of just how wrong it all was. Manipulative, creepy, and eventually rape. It’s not sexy or romantic. It is a piss poor example of a relationship, abusive, horrific, and the fact that it’s being represented as what young woman should be shooting for, scares me.”

One of my personal contacts posted on Facebook that six screens in their local theatre were showing 50 Shades of Grey on Valentine’s Day. The day our nation has delegated as the day to celebrate our partners, our lovers, our friends, with respect and hopefully some sex (Yes!). Sarcasm jumps in here – because apparently we can’t perform 364 days of the year, we need THIS one particular day. And yet, on Valentine’s Day 2015, movie screens across the nation devoted lover’s day to a story line that promotes and idolizes physical and sexual abuse; the torture of a good ole’ American girl. Do you think there will be a new doll for our daughters named Ana Grey?

Why should we give a damn what Russell Wilson publicly supports?

Why do public figures create foundations and campaigns? Why would celebrities challenge their peers for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? Why would Wilson publicly challenge other public figures to donate to “Pass the Peace?” Why did Marshawn Lynch refuse to speak to the press?

Because, the world is listening.

These people live in the power seat. The influence of their spoken, written, published word is immense. A young boy, who is fatherless, living in an environment surrounded by violence – the very same children, whom these very athletes are directing and leading – the children watching from their hospital beds at Seattle Children’s – listen, watch, follow, act. Adolescents, pushing back against their parents with normal rebellion – listen, watch, follow, act. Young adults and even grown men, idolizing their hero – the power of the great cause us to listen, watch, follow, act.

Russell Wilson twittered this was a “great movie”, without any explanation of exactly what was great about it. He supported it because it was filmed in Seattle, the city he loves and the city that loves him. Wilson personally places himself in a position of leadership for the vulnerable and while he has been vocal with the fact he is not perfect, there are no shades of grey where domestic violence remains acceptable. This chink in the armor alters perceptions about domestic violence and may have wide spread damaging consequences to the ones who should be protected.
 

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