Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Herman Cain -- questions not being asked

Here is this week's question for the Texas Faith blog in the Dallas Morning News. I am a member of the Texas Faith panel. Below the question is my response.
You can read responses from the rest of the panel here.

Question: As you know, Herman Cain faces allegations that he sexually harassed female employees during his time at the National Restaurant Association. The Republican fervently denies the charges, although there are reports that settlements have been made in these cases. Cain’s story about those settlements continues to evolve.

As this story unfolds, I would like to hear you talk about the obligation of the women in this episode. It is natural that they would want to avoid a media firestorm. But don’t they have a moral obligation to step forward and tell their side of the story, like former NRA employee Sharon Bialek did on Monday?

If nothing happened, shouldn’t they be explicit about that? But if something did happen, shouldn’t they provide details? After all, Americans are trying to evaluate the campaign of a rising presidential front-runner who says he did no wrong.

My reply:
After hearing the explicit details of Sharon Bialek's accusation, seems to me the bigger question here is: "Do men have a moral obligation to treat women like valued human beings made in the image of God instead of as sex objects who exist solely for their sexual gratification?" This seems especially pertinent when the man involved claims Christian values. 

That question never seems to come up in discussions like this. Instead, the questions focus on the women. And they can't win, because the usual media take on women who call out powerful men on their behavior is a simple one -- women lie.

Nearly all the media minimize what women say happen in events like this. Bill Clinton's campaign called such accusations "bimbo eruptions," a phrase picked up quickly in the media. In more than one report in the wake of Bialek's explicit description, Cain is being referred to as a "skirt-chaser." What Bialek described is the action of a sexual predator, not a "skirt-chaser."

The collective belief seems to be that any woman who is sexually harassed must have done SOMETHING to make the poor innocent guy think she wanted it. Apparently many Americans agree, given Herman Cain's jump in money raised since the allegations surfaced and the dismissive if not outright hostile tone toward the women in letters to the editor in various newspapers, including the Dallas Morning News.

Our culture, like many in the world, holds women responsible for the sexual behavior of men. The catch is that men get to determine what constitutes seductive behavior on the part of women. For some men all it seems to take is breathing while female.

It is interesting how this cultural bias has persisted, because at its heart it is deeply insulting to men. It portrays men as creatures completely helpless to resist anything they deem tempting. Not exactly a quality to be desired in a leader, is it? But that's not how it's seen, because it's part of the Old Boys Club Code -- guys get a pass for making a pass. Hey, it just proves he's a lusty all-American guy. However, Cain is very lucky, because this pass is extended to black men only if they are allied with rich and powerful white men.

So here are some other questions that have not been asked: 

  •       Do men who witness inappropriate behavior of a supervisor (in this case a CEO) toward employees have an obligation to speak up when that supervisor runs for president of the United States?    
  •       Why don't women candidates of either party seem to have a problem with men making accusations of improper sexual advances like this? And if one did, how do you think she'd be treated by the public and the media?     
  •      And why aren’t these questions deemed worth exploring? 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Coming Out

          title="Wordle: Coming Out Day">Wordle: Coming Out Day

This piece of Wordle.net art was created using the paragraph below, which I posted on Facebook today.

Today is National Coming Out Day, so I am coming out as a straight woman who loves and is loved by many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. To those who are out, I say I am awed by your courage and sense of hope. To those who aren't out, I say be where you need to be, but know there are many of us who have your back.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Simon Chronicles continue

           It's been a while since I've had time to do any blogging. I mean, my life is incredibly busy, given that I have to supervise my Chief of Staff, her assistant, AND the dogs. It's a wonder I manage to work in my 20 hours of sleep every day and still keep my paw on top of things around here.

          My Chief of Staff is always taking pictures of me, of course. Who could resist me?

Here I am in my normal handsome self.

Here I am in my spooky version.
 Freaks humans out when cats' eyes do that. 
Why do you think we do it?

Here are my dogs, keeping watch from inside the house while my Chief of Staff reads the newspaper and drinks her morning coffee.

And here they are, keeping watch on the front deck. Like they could scare anybody. Oh please.

Here I am supervising Ms. Wiggles and Toby.

Sometimes I amaze myself with how patient I am with those human kittens my Chief of Staff adores.

They always seem to want to touch me. Sigh. I AM irresistible.

Catching a quick nap on the floor next to my Chief of Staff's desk. She's "working."

She does not like it when I leap onto the roof. I can't imagine why. It's not like I'm going to fall. I'm a CAT, for heaven's sake.

I DO enjoy teasing her, though.

This is my buddy Mike. He's getting old and can't hear very well, but I still like to hang out with him. He's a border collie, which means he is almost as smart as a cat. 

This is one of my favorite places to hang out. I can see what's happening inside the house . . .

and outside in the garden. Have to keep a close eye on the birds and squirrels.

I do work, though. Here I am inspecting the new bench in the Chapel Garden. Looks like my Chief of Staff has created another great place for me to take a nap.

And here I am occupying the exact middle of the couch -- keeps the dogs on the floor.

I like my basket too. It's up high, where little boys and silly dogs can't bother me.

My bowl is here too, so I don't even have to get all the way out of bed to eat. Nice, huh?

Don't tell my Chief of Staff, but my favorite place of all to sleep is at her feet. 

I have to inspect the bathtub occasionally.

And take a bath in it. That's what it is for, right?

I figure if people are going to leave water in such convenient places, I am going to drink it.

Sometimes I day dream by the window.

And sometimes I dream on the dogs' beds.

And now that Mike is older, he sleeps almost as much as I do.

I  like the big round window -- makes a great place from which to monitor the garden in air-conditioned comfort.

I helped my Chief of Staff clean out a storage area.

There were tubs and interesting boxes EVERYWHERE!


And a mirror big enough to capture my splendid self.

Well enough of all this. It's time for another nap. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Early Sunday morning, I met my daughter, son-in-law and two grandsons on the plaza between the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. 

We were there for the opening of the exhibit 9/11 Tribute on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of that unforgettable day. The Museum of Science and History was chosen to receive the largest artifact in Texas from the World Trade Center -- a full facade panel that once supported the three floors (101 -103) of the North Tower, located two stories above the center of the impact zone.

Prior to the opening of the exhibit, the community gathered to  honor those who perished that day as well as those who lived on, carrying that unfathomable loss forward in time with them for the rest of their lives. We remembered men, women and children who died that day simply because they boarded a plane or went to work. We remembered the first responders who ran toward the peril as others were fleeing it.

As we waited for the program to begin, we talked with my grandsons, ages 9 and 7. The oldest had been in his mother's womb on September 11, 2001.

 She and I told them how she had called me and Gayland, awakening us in a hotel in Las Vegas where Gayland was attending a conference.

As soon as she heard my voice, she burst into tears. I couldn't understand what she was saying and was terrified that something had happened to the baby or to Michael, her husband. I could not imagine what else could have so devastated her.

She finally was able to gasp out, "They've attacked the World Trade Center. Turn on the TV right now."

I told that to Gayland, and he got up and did so while I asked her, "Are you OK? Is Mike OK?""

"Yes, yes," she said, "Turn on the TV. Call me later."

So I hung up and we watched in horror as the second tower collapsed. It was as if our brains could not process what we were seeing. We reached for each other's hands and just held on to one another as we listened to the news that is so sadly familiar to us all now. We rented a car that day and started for home. I could not rest until I was holding my child in my arms. 

As we told the boys this story, we had our arms around them. All over the plaza parents and grandparents were holding onto children and grandchildren, the already precious made even more so by the date's reminder of how fragile life is.

Then we watched the Fort Worth Police's Mounted Patrol Unit arrive and line up. The boys love those horses and always make a point to greet them when we encounter them. To see all of them lined up was a special treat.

After the formal program was over, the large crowd began making its way into the building to see the beam, which is displayed in the museum's atrium until the outdoor memorial is completed. As the line moved slowly and steadily toward the entrance, we walked past the statue of Sacajawea, her face turned to the rising sun, her baby on her back. Gavin thinks her name sounds funny, but he assured me he knows who she is -- "She showed the men the way west."

Just inside the door was the model of what the completed exhibit will look like. 

Inside the atrium, the words "Bent, but not broken" are painted on the wall above the beam.

 I talked with Van Roman, president of the museum, and he said the reason they displayed it horizontally instead of vertically is that people want to get close to it, touch it, always with reverence. He and his staff, and apparently most of the members of the public viewing it are very much aware that microscopic human remains might still reside on the beam.

Watching people encounter it on Sunday made it clear that this twisted beam has become a sacred relic, transformed by fire and the death of innocents into a holy thing. 

Pray for peace.