Scream Too

Why didn’t you scream?


If you were really


You would have


For help…

From Pain…

It’s 2023

I want 

To scream,

At the persistence

Of the insistence

Of blaming



While Claiming

To be the one


Of all the ways

To cross


Why didn’t you scream?

Exposes the truth:

Not everyone is

A screamer.

I want 

To scream too

When the dignity

Of human


Is ascribed to

A fetus

And not to

The woman

Or girl

Who is pregnant.


Medical realities,

Much less care

For women and girls

Or really anyone

After being born,

Is inhumane.

The guy 

Who just 

Walks up to


After a tic tac

And kisses


And says

He justs

Grabs them

By the pussy,

Probably did

Not have

A traumatic 


That defined

The rest of


From that

Time in

The dressing 


Women’s experiences

Have too long

Been silenced

Or taught

To be silent.

The courageous



This week

Stepped forward

Not to scream

But to tell

Of the inhumanity

Of being denied

Speaks volumes

About those who

Minimize what women

And girls continue

To endure,

And ensure

That women

And girls

Have little to no


Why don’t

We scream!

Nothing to See, Hear

Nothing to see,


Just keep


We’ve got




Over controlled


And Women

Suffer alone

While we


The next

Mass shooting.

Nothing to see,


Or do,

When it’s legal.


The law




Is claimed

For cells

And corporations


A fetus

Is not exempt

To the IRS.

Nothing to see,


But potential

Through ultrasound.

Yet potential

To massacre

With each


Is abided


It is


We are



Or Deaf

Just hostages

Of Prayers


The 18th Century.

Not known

For nuance

Or complexity

But purity,

Our reality



By myths

And systems

That feign


And calibration.

Yet absolutism

Is our DNA–
From Puritans

To Purell.



Are nothing

To see here.

Hearing women

Capitol Policewoman

Caroline Edwards


Bearing her Trauma

Divulging the truth:

On January 6th,


In people’s blood

“I was catching people

As they fell.”

“It was carnage.

It was chaos.”

“…I would find myself

in the  middle

Of a battle.”

Fulton County Georgia

Election workers

Mother and daughter


Of threats and abuse.

Shaye Moss recalled

Her living nightmare

“All because 

Of lies

For me doing my job.”

“A lot of them

 Were racist,

A lot of them 


Just Hateful.”

“Be glad 

it’s 2020

And not 


Shaye recounted.

Shaye’s mother,

“Lady”Ruby Freeman,

A proud 

American citizen


Stood up

“To help Fulton County

Run An Election

In the middle

Of the pandemic.”

“Do you know 

How it feels 

To have the President

Of the United States

Target you?”

“But he

Targeted me—

Lady Ruby…

A proud American citizen…”

Ms. Cassidy Hutchinson

Mark Meadows’ 


Overheard and witnessed

The callous and crazy.

The 25 year old


Repeated what she heard



“I don’t effing care

That they have weapons. 

They’re not here

To hurt me.”

“Take the




“Let my people in.”

“I’m the effing


Take me up

To the Capitol



We have to go


To the West Wing.”

Said the Secret Service


of the





The wall.”

When Meadows was asked


“Hang Mike Pence”

Mark said to Pat (Cipollone the lawyer):

“You heard him


He thinks

Mike deserves it.”

To which Pat 


“This is 



We need

 To be 




“Mr. Meadows

Did seek 

That pardon.

Yes, Ma’am.”

June 2022

A miscarriage

Has occurred.

Actually, an


Fifty years in the making

Seeking to criminalize

Those most



But not over,

The tide will turn

Toward Justices


From Dark Money

And desperate for


Rights for


Who can’t get



The law sanctions

Open Carry

To full term.

I’m expecting


In response to

“Pro Lifers”

Who care


For those already



For the right

To bear arms


I hemorrhaged


And could barely


This is an


On women and girls’


I will not dwell

In the cruelty


And contractions.

We will


And create


Slurred Speech

What’s in a name?

Representative Yoho called Representative Ocasio-Cortez “a Fucking Bitch” on the steps of the Capitol. He continued to tell her that she was “disgusting” for saying that poverty was the driving force behind a rise in crime in New York City. I think we know who is disgusting, but we don’t have to yell it at him on the steps of the Capitol.

Then, they each went to the House floor to speak about the incident. By now you know that Yoho apologized for being disrespectful, while denying that he called A.O.C. a “Fucking Bitch”. He went on to talk about his wife of 45 years and his two daughters and his love of country etc.

A.O.C. gave a powerful rebuke, suggesting that Yoho came to the House floor to “make excuses for his behavior”.

She continued, “What I do have issue with is using women, wives and daughters as shields and excuses for poor behavior,” she said. “Mr. Yoho mentioned that he has a wife and two daughters. I am two years younger than Mr. Yoho’s youngest daughter. I am someone’s daughter too. My father, thankfully, is not alive to see how Mr. Yoho treated his daughter.”

For many, her words were a moment of clarity. Regardless of party affiliation, or political attachments, she spoke to the significance of speech as behavior. What is decency? What is responsibility? How we treat each other matters.

I was floored that so many men were awakened—men who typically value women and have sided politically with women’s issues. Like the #MeToo outpouring that revealed basically every female (and plenty of males and those on a gender spectrum) who have experienced sexual harassment and/or abuse, so many men were shocked.

Those moments of clarity are sobering. For those of us who feel redeemed, we know we are not alone or that we didn’t do anything to warrant such behavior. For those (mostly men) who are sobered by the pervasiveness of disgrace, despite thinking that they are champions of women, welcome to the real world.

Language defines worlds. As (his)tory has unfolded, it has been his. Women have been the other. We thought we moved beyond the 70s and 80s, those waves of feminism that brought women’s issues to the forefront. Like our  reckoning now with systemic racism, we are still reckoning with sexism.

I see this moment as an opportunity to confront what I call “Slurred Speech”. You know when someone makes a racial slur. It’s a form of name calling intended to evoke an image—perhaps a stereotype or a negative image, even from a bygone era, that demeans and depicts the person as less than. It is intended to degrade and humiliate, and is expressed with venom, anger, or disgust. Or maybe it’s expressed as a matter of fact, which is more insidiously dangerous. It is intended to wield power, and even children understand this without being explicitly taught.

I dare say we have all used Slurred Speech at one time or another. For kids it’s part of play. Kids learn how to deal with insults of all sorts, sometimes in useful ways; usually not.

We define ethnicity with Slurred Speech, and despite decades of “political correctness” that has sought to remind people that insults are bad behavior and beneath our character, many have been slow to grasp the social cues. Our recognition that insulting people based on ethnicity, sexual preference, gender, mental capacity, (dis)ability, is not only about decent behavior, but about transforming the way we think. Transforming speech is transforming behavior. I’m actually appreciative of Sarah Palin’s directive to not use disability as an insult, including “retarded”.

Now, this is different than merely saving denigrating speech for private or select situations. Comedians have always sought to push the envelope by using Slurred Speech for its shock value. Audiences laugh because it gives them permission to not be perfect—to feel like their perceptions are true in some way. It’s validating.

It’s also distorting.

Slurred speech, when one has a physical condition, whether congenital or temporary as brought on by drugs or alcohol, is difficult to understand. The distinct phonemes blur together. It’s interesting to me that a slur also means a derogatory name or insult. It blurs together everyone in a category and demeans and dehumanizes them.

Throughout history, humans have used Slurred Speech to dehumanize the other. Racial, ethnic, (dis)ability, sexual preference, gender,  have been verbal weapons. Sometimes the Slurred Speech conjures up some myth that lingers—even as a myth—but remains as an understood insult, and so is hurled because it is a known weapon, like a knife. It doesn’t matter that it’s not a new tool; it still stabs and wounds.

Feminizing someone and using female related words as slurs have always been weapons. The most demeaning thing to say to a man has always been that he is like a woman—as though that is the worst thing imaginable. How to degrade a man? Call him a pussy. And what’s the worst thing to call a woman? Aside from a Fucking Bitch on the steps of the Capitol, call her a whore. Because a woman who has to sell her body to make a living must be worse than the John who seeks her out.

We’ve seen a shift in speech since the Baby Boom when letting it all hang out became preferred to uptight polite repression. Everyone just lets it rip. It has lead to a moment that still sends chills and nausea through me: the moment when Representative Joe Wilson shouted, “You lie! ” on September 9, 2009 during President Obama’s joint address to congress.

That was not Slurred Speech, or was it? It was a direct reaction, but it was hard not to believe that the only time that such a disrespectful outburst occurred was by a White congressman against the first Black POTUS.

When did letting it all hang out evolve into disgraceful behavior through speech? There is no doubt that aggressive speech is better than physical aggression, but they are not disconnected. Words inspire. Words are reflections of control. Who utters what matters. Shifting norms is a fluid process. We are always evolving as a culture. But evolution can be messy.

Sometimes, we get clarifying moments. Other times, we get to hear language that sounds familiar but in a new context, and we have to learn to listen differently. Controlling language shifts power dynamics. That’s why there was a backlash to “political correctness”. It was a threat to a power dynamic.

When words like the N-word, Bitch, and Queer are newly controlled , people, along with those words are transformed. Those previously victimized are empowered. Power dynamics shift from dehumanizing/objectifying  to ownership and control.

When a woman is called a Bitch, it is an attempt to remind her to step down from power. This is a concept that isn’t even thought by most who utter it. Words just fly off the tongue. It is a habit, passed down to each generation. The human need for power is eternal. But in the USA, everyone seems to fear losing whatever power could possibly be held. I see snarky comments by so-called bleeding hearts all the time. Everyone seems to have Slurred Speech. Some contain it better than others, and know their “safe spaces”.

We have become a scared ,diminished society, not because of the Pandemic. This is America. We strive here, and when that is threatened, personally or as a group, we insult, degrade, dehumanize and diminish through Slurred Speech.

XYs: Ex-Wise

We are now in a moment of creating exes. Ex-media guys; ex-congressmen; ex- Hollywood guys; and soon to be many more exes across domains.

Why? (or Y you ask?)

The X factor has wizened up and spoken up! What should be apolitical—appropriate behavior and not making others uncomfortable (i.e. basic decency)—has become political as well as cultural. The tectonic shift that we feel is cultural. The fight (and the hanging on) feels political.

I think many men are confused and are asserting misunderstanding. The old “game” is played by different rules depending on the player. And many women (and girls and boys) were never playing the same game. They were parallel playing—smiling back and/or staying quiet not enjoying what was happening, just to get through it.

Many men are now astonished that there has always been so much sexual misconduct. There has always been sexual harassment (which became codified in the workplace in the 1980s), sexual abuse, sexual assault, and rape, which most people understand as aggressive behaviors and criminal. But a kiss? A pat on the tush? An “accidental” touch? A little flirtation?

Many (men) are actually confused. Well, a lot of women are not confused. Remember when the term “date rape” was coined? The definition of rape was not really changed; it was no longer contextualized to be limited to some sick/violent stranger. Women (and girls and boys) who had had sex forced upon them were finally being acknowledged as being victims of rape. And then we learned that such behavior was actually rather common. Such knowledge actually enabled us to be wiser.

Perhaps some of the confusion exists because men are thinking that sexual attention is always wanted. Well it isn’t. Not that kiss. Nor that pat on the tush. Nor that accidental brush up. And certainly not that exposure!

It is important to distinguish among the types of behaviors that fall under the sexual misconduct rubric, and it is important to delve seriously into serious accusations. False accusations have always occurred and will always occur . Bad behavior will always exist. But we are wiser and no longer tolerate what for many was barely tolerable.

So as the culture shifts toward a less limited understanding of sexual misconduct, and we wise up by standing up for decency, the politics will follow. I know it doesn’t feel like that at this moment that our culture is in flux, but all great social/civil rights movements began with cultural shifts that brought wisdom and political change. (Besides, power issues are often played out through sexual behavior.)

As for defending politicians who might have been icky rather than outrageously gross but “champions” of women’s rights or civil rights……I think it is wise to make them exes. It feels politically risky, but we see the costs of rationalizing indecent, irrational, insecure, stupid,  behavior. It has real political costs, and they are HUUUUUGE.


Stereo Types

The not-guilty verdict in the Zimmerman case may have punctuated this trial, but it opened up conversations about the legal system, Stand Your Ground Laws, and prejudice. President Obama’s remarks last week on why the not-guilty verdict had caused such pain for so many, were  an authentic and powerful acknowledgement of the everyday humiliations endured by black males– youths and adults.  He spoke about the experiences of black men (and teens) being followed while shopping in a department store; hearing the click of car doors locking as they stopped nearby; and watching as women clutch their purses tighter if they are close by or sharing an elevator. Many black parents have lamented that they have had to teach their children that being black in America includes the many indignities of being followed or singled out–just in case.  Mr. Obama was most powerful when he said, “When Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son,” he continued,”Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me, thirty-five years ago.”  Some people quickly distorted his words and cried race-baiting, as though mentioning (or even acknowledging) race (which was denied during the trial) is so taboo and so distorting, that all it does is provoke. (And who might it provoke????)

In so many ways our culture has evolved and become more inclusive, but scars and serious problems remain. The word “prejudice” doesn’t get thrown around as much as it did when I was young. After the seventies, as identity politics became more solidified, the word “prejudice” was an insufficient term for discrimination based upon race. We don’t hear the word “chauvinism” very much any more either. In the seventies, a chauvinist was usually a sexist male. The original meaning of chauvinism, however, is exaggerated patriotism. It later became used as a synonym for sexism. Today we see many chauvinists who embody the bellicosity of the original and later usages of chauvinism. They also tend to call others racists or race-baiters, as though any mention of race now is meant to reopen old wounds, while ignoring the mention of race (or any other means of discrimination) is somehow more evolved. We tend to treat racism, sexism, homophobia, and chauvinism as overt attitudes of bigotry. Even without chauvinism, we discriminate. “Discrimination” has become a term used to define unjust treatment of different categories of people. Discriminating also (and originally) means distinguishing characteristics among categories.  It is clear from so many events and stories, none less than the shooting of Trayvon Martin, that prejudice, in the most general sense, is ever-present. Because humans discriminate (not necessarily negatively), humans pre-judge (not necessarily negatively). Still, we constantly discriminate and pre-judge positively and negatively based on appearances.

From the moment that Trayvon Martin was shot, I was surprised that people equated the Hoodie with dangerous black males. To me, the Hoodie is part of the youth dress code. I suppose that regardless of race, any kid in a Hoodie (with the hood up) can arouse suspicions. Except if it’s raining. Then the hood has a utilitarian purpose, not a cultural reference. Suggesting that the way Trayvon Martin was dressed aroused suspicion is like blaming the girl or woman for wearing short shorts or a low cut top as though she “had it coming”.  The truth is, as parents and teachers, we must explain the categories that get distorted. For many, this is a sad commentary.  I agree that it is sad that as a culture we judge, and too often mis-judge, based on appearances. We must also acknowledge that in addition to prejudices, there have always been aggressors who use excuses for their behavior.  As parents and teachers, we must teach our children about the messages that clothes send, intended or unintended, that speech and physical presence shape perceptions in all ways. We must remind ourselves of our own categories and assumptions.  There will always be people who will have distorted perceptions, and we may be able to enlighten some, but many will just not get it. Because prejudice must always be examined, we must make our children aware that prejudice exists and that some may act on those prejudices.

I have read several articles in the past week that have noted that women have refused to say hello or respond when approached by a black man, as evidence of a still enforced stereotype of the “scary black man”. I have been thinking about the fact that women, often judged more on appearance than men are, often perceive threat by men regardless of race.   While the history of racism is undeniable, the lack of understanding of women’s experiences (regardless of race) from the dawn of time,  also needs to be reinforced. While not all men have threatened women, women have always been threatened by men. When women are called rude or prejudiced because they choose to be responsible for not sending any potentially confusing messages, men(regardless of race) need to understand women’s historical experience as well.

With a culture that glorifies violence, and gun laws that have not only not diminished violence, but include numerous tragedies beyond Trayvon Martin’s death, we must continue the conversations about our history and culture; about positive and negative discrimination, and about how we can reduce violence and bigotry. Neither hoodies nor short shorts are the problem. How we interpret is the problem. When we stereotype, we have an oversimplified (and distorted) image of a person. Hoodies and short shorts are stereo types.