I submitted this to the Museums of Sonoma County’s Fire Wall, an online searchable display and digital repository of the Sonoma County community’s creative reflections and personal stories of the 2017 wildfires and their aftermath.
Just one day after Hollywood offered a show of support for the #MeToo movement at the Golden Globes, 100 French women published a public letter cautioning the movement, including its French counterpart, #Balancetonporc (“Rat out your swine”), about going too far. The letter was co-written by five French women: Sarah Chiche (writer/psychoanalyst), Catherine Millet (author/art critic), Catherine Robbe-Grillet (actress/writer), Peggy Sastre (author/journalist) and Abnousse Shalmani (writer/journalist). It was signed by some 100 others, including Catherine Deneuve who has become the most visible target.
I have been reading Esther Perel’s “Mating in Captivity” and the French letter stunned me. While I had been thinking about being treated like property, or like prey, I realize that what works in the boardroom is not the same as what works in the bedroom. Where is there room for flirtation, seduction? What is the difference between seduction and assault? (Answer: salesmanship) But this joke ignores the real power differentials of predators over the naive.
Above all, we are aware that the human being is not a monolith: A woman can, in the same day, lead a professional team and enjoy being a man’s sexual object, without being a “whore” or a vile accomplice of the patriarchy. She can make sure that her wages are equal to a man’s but not feel forever traumatized by a man who rubs himself against her in the subway, even if that is regarded as an offense. She can even consider that act as the expression of a great sexual deprivation, or even as a non-event.
The French women are afraid this witch hunt will backfire, enslaving us in “a status of eternal victim” and prey. They call us Puritans, unwilling to look at the realities of how men and women really are. These are experienced, professional, women “of a certain age” as the French like to say it. They are trying to show a gray area that has been forgotten in the stampede. They are asking for reason and responsibility from women as a whole. They are asking us to look at the bigger picture.
Rape is a crime. But insistent or clumsy flirting is not a crime.
I would argue about “insistent” but I think they are right about “clumsy.” I was most touched as they described how they raise their daughters, and their reference to our Inner Resource where we are already whole, already free. They teach their daughters that trauma is a part of life but it does not have to be a life sentence. Trauma to a woman’s body “does not necessarily affect her dignity and must not, as difficult as they can be, necessarily make her a perpetual victim. Because we are not reducible to our bodies. Our inner freedom is inviolable. And this freedom that we cherish is not without risks and responsibilities.”
The message of the French women is important. It has only been 70 years since French women regained the right to vote, something they lost under Napoleon. The role of women in the workplace is still being shaped, and the #MeToo movement is critical to increasing safety in the office. The French are saying, “don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.” Don’t stamp out flirtation, compliments, gallantry. Recognize the inherently-predatory nature of seduction and that it works in both directions. Recognize that we are animals in clothes. Recognize that men are different from women. In this culture, we women must restrict our behavior or face “slut shaming,” a phrase that has no masculine counterpart. At last, men have a chance to pull back from the paternalistic custom of taking whatever they want, no matter how boorishly or violently. We are trying to chip away at entrenched male privilege; unexamined, unearned “confidence.”
It’s Not Just The French
Founder of the clothing brand Esprit, Susie Tompkins Buell, a prominent donor to the Democratic Party, is considering withdrawing support for senators like Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts who urged their colleague Al Franken to resign after he was accused of sexual misconduct. Ms. Buell told the New York Times, “In my gut, they moved too fast. Mr. Franken was never given a chance to tell his side of the story.”
“For me this is dangerous and wrong,” she added. “I am a big believer in helping more women into the political system but this has given me an opportunity to rethink of how I can best help my party.”
We need to very careful right now. Remember Arab Spring.
Had a great time visiting Steve and Sharon who had their luxurious trailer at Emigrant Lake, complete with son Joe and his delightful children Kiah and Liam. Early morning at the lake:
On Friday night we saw an impressive Julius Caesar after a superb meal at the Hearsay Restaurant 49 South 1st Street Ashland. Elegant jazz-style room and delicious crushed fruit aperitif. Saturday night was “Off The Rails,” a Measure for Measure mash-up with a musical about the Old West — great fun. Dinner that night was the elegant Alchemy Restaurant 35 South 2nd Street Ashland. We tried to get to the free “Greenshow” both nights, but the air was hazy and filled with particulate matter from the surrounding forest fires, so the free performance was cancelled one of the nights. We amused ourselves in the comfortable Members Center — luckily Steve and Sharon are members!
No photos during the performance, but believe me, they were fantastic!
Patricia Pascual celebrated the Grand Opening of her new Yoga Studio in Rohnert Park, and her birthday, with a party. I have a really hard time finding places in Sonoma Mountain Center (formerly Agilent) so it took me 45 minutes of trying doors, talking to security, walking around buildings and driving to finally find the place. By then, it was 9 p.m. and I was too cranky to take off my shoes and find a place in the studio. Anyway, happy birthday, Trish!
This gallery contains 5 photos.
My favorites. Click on the image the little fawn to get to the five thumbnail images. From there, click on any image to reach the slideshow. In the slideshow, lick on any image to get the big honkin’ image file. Ellen Sennerwald is in my watercolor pencils class and she brought in this drawing of […]
When I was a teenager, J.M.W. Turner was one of my favorite painters and I squeaked with glee when I discovered that the London museum had an entire WING of his paintings. I think I spent a couple of days there. I liked blurry paintings then — they seemed more artistic than photographic paintings.
Now that everything looks blurry, I prefer paintings with sharp lines, but I didn’t want to miss this show. I enjoyed the movie with some of my art friends, but none of them could go to San Francisco when I could, so I went by myself. It was very crowded, even at 11 a.m. on a Wednesday, so now I know to go as early as possible, and to leave by 1 p.m. to beat the traffic back. It only took about an hour, each way.
This show focuses on work Turner produced from age 60 to 75 and includes some of the scathing criticism by his contemporaries. My favorite is the image on the right, above, of a steamship in a snow storm. The apocryphal story is that Turner had himself lashed to a mast for two hours to experience the storm and watch the steamship founder. The art books at the museum question this story but the painting is very dramatic.
I was struck by Turner’s work ethic, and how much he traveled to find compelling subjects. The watercolors from his visit to Switzerland come with detailed descriptions of the techniques and materials he used. My watercolor friends will love the show!
In Sept, 2012 I read book three in the Bruno Series, The Dark Vineyard. It has taken me this long to get to the first book in the series: Bruno, Chief of Police. It is a quick read and I love the way Martin Walker writes.
As a working journalist, 13 of his books have been non-fiction, with many about the Soviet Union. When he retired to the Périgord region of France, he embarked on his first fiction book, The Caves of Périgord which was very ambitious with three intertwined story lines. The first, in the prehistory of the area, described how the caves may have been created. The second story line dove deeply into the French Resistance in the Périgord region during WWII and the third story was set in present-day London and Périgord. It was very interesting but complex and sometimes hard to follow.
His next fiction book, Bruno, Chief of Police, is much lighter and more playful. The caves get only a few paragraphs and we meet Bruno who embodies the world-renown charm and discretion of Frenchmen. It also touches on the horror of war and the toll it takes on the bodies and souls of men, women and children. In this book, it is Bosnia as well as WWII. Martin Walker really has a reporter’s eye for detail and he moves us quickly through the mystery, but it is the charm of the people we meet through Bruno’s detective work that is the real pleasure in this book.
I am really looking forward to the next one. Thanks for loaning it to me, Russ!
Howard created this during the 10 minute silent break in a meeting he attended on Friday the 13th. The tornado represents a black hole and he is emerging — so far, he has one wing out.
On the evening of my birthday, I attended our regular Threshold rehearsal but it was sparsely attended because it was so close to Christmas. About a week earlier, our leader, Kay, had decided it was time for me to graduate because of my successful singing at the bedsides of the dying. First, I sang to Kay and Robin, then they put me in the chair and sang “O Sister My Sister” to me along with Venus who had just arrived. I spoke a little about how the choir gives me an opportunity to be fully-present and to open my heart-space to the person to whom we are singing. Then, the famous Maria Culberson arrived (an important leader and song writer for Threshold) and we had a wonderful practice. At the end of the practice session, they sang several birthday songs for me. It was great. I felt really loved.