crane

On Lava Caps and Fresh Rice

 I got a look at the smoldering mess that was under the lava cap sitting on my emotions when, of all things, my husband asked me if I shouldn’t be using the old rice in the refrigerator rather than cooking some more for the eel and rice dinner my son and I were having.  John was having to eat grits and eggs because he’d had periodontal work done earlier in the day, so he wasn’t even eating with us.

 

I said, “No. There isn’t enough. Jet and I were just talking it through.”

 

And he came back with a, “I didn’t hear your conversation.”

 

And Jet chimed in with, “We talked about it in the car, Mom...”

 

And I said, “No. We were talking about it as we came into the kitchen.”  And I got a whole lot angrier for what seemed no reason.

 

It took some talking and working things out before I could get at what was really going on with it all.

 

I am sick of the fact that the women who have been sexually harassed basically being told that it’s their fault that it’s still going on. That because more women didn’t complain, didn’t press charges, didn’t publicly call out the men who behaved badly, more men were allowed to behave badly and keep on doing it.  That we were complicit in the societal behavior of making it so that men could victimize women.  When, in my head, the problem is with the men who are doing the shit they’re doing, not with their victims. Blaming the victim makes me so very angry. Except... except... except, yes, silence is being complicit.

 

Yeah. Talk about lava and leaps. *sighs* What the hell does this have to do with rice?

 

Thing is that I was raised as a good Chinese girl, that I should always just take what happened and not complain, that complaining was for the weak; and you just kept going and doing what you had to do.  This is also taught to men. But additionally, it was obvious that a Chinese girl should always have her reasoning, her thought processes, her decisions while creating questioned by others and that they should always be right in what they tell her she should be doing and what she should be correcting.

 

It was a part of my personality that I should always be open to being questioned and always open to someone else improving what I’ve done or thought or created.  It also allowed my parents to do some things that are now considered abusive, and it also allowed boyfriends, bosses, and others to do things that now would be considered harassment or outright abuse. And it means that I just “take it” when someone criticizes or questions or second-guesses every one of my decisions.

 

It also allowed me to really get better faster when I did have mentors who were better than I was at the thing that I was pursuing; however, it really messed me up when someone who was abusive and was worse at teaching or communicating what they were good at went at me and told me what they thought I was doing wrong.  And they were wrong.  I got better, with age and experience, at telling people who were wrong to fuck off, but I have to be angry to do it, which is unfortunate as it means that I have to be afraid of their opinion, first off. 

 

And it all makes me completely complicit in just allowing men to tell me what to do most of my life, in letting their opinions override my own even when I had good reasons for mine; and the few times I really fought for what I knew was right, I turned out to be right and I wonder, now, about all those times I just gave up. What if I'd fought those then? And worse yet, what if I'd just been courageous enough, brave enough to not worry about getting hurt, and just speak up gently?  I can't go back, I can only keep working on getting better at it with the next thing I do. 

 

Including whether or not I should be making fresh rice for my dinner, when I’d already thought through all the reasons why I needed to along with the one other person that would be affected by that decision.

 

It’s not that John was a terrible person for asking. He wasn’t. He wanted to make things easier on me if there already was rice that hadn't had to be cooked. I just triggered on a mountain of other stuff that was going on in my back brain from all the other stuff I was working on in there. He really didn't need to question my decision, which I'd made with full input with the people involved, and when I said something about that, he apologized and will try and not do that again.

 

And perhaps, I'll just have fewer questions about my decisions in the future, and more practice at speaking gently when someone does.

Tags:
Editorial moment inspired by your post...
I just watched a very interesting anime series this week called Welcome to the Ballroom, about- of all things - the world of competitive ballroom dancing. Without giving too much away, the core substance of it, to me at least, concerned the delicate balance of power between couples when they dance in competition: traditionally, obviously, the male totally leads, & it’s up to the woman to flawlessly follow that lead, including compensating for any foibles, weaknesses, or imbalances the man might be experiencing. But - of course- if her influence is too obvious or perceived as too strong, that’s been considered a serious flaw, which cost the couples points or even competitions.

What made the series interesting- and timely - was its exploration of a whole new dynamic between dancing couples through the young protagonists: one where each has a gift at both leading and following, and - despite the consternation it causes the old school judges, the young ones are clearly at their very best when both are freely expressing their creative intent while tuned into their partner, and are able to truly share the lead, focusing more on reading the partner’s micro-moods & moves as the dance progresses, rather than that constant “push me-pull you” for control, which destroys not only the flow (especially if the woman is an extremely strong dancer.) The exceptional level of creative magic that comes out of them as a unit when they’re truly in synch is nothing short of magical. And really, doesn’t that represent the very best of how men & women can work & create together?

It struck me as a perfect allegory for the best case scenario of what could happen if this current shakeup between the sexes plays out to its inevitable conclusion. Women have so much to offer, such unique perspectives, & so many true strengths which are vastly different from men’s: if we are ever allowed true equality in the workplace, the creative arts, & the world of politics at home & abroad, without being stifled or patronized, without having to fear for our personal safety, & knowing we’d be heard & free of retaliation if we reported transgressions... there’s just no telling how vastly different and improved the whole world could be.

(TBC... damn length limits! 🤬)
Re: Editorial moment inspired by your post...
Ooooo... I do like that. And thank you for the title! I can look for that.
Pt 2
I took for granted my 90% female work environment all those years I worked in libraries. There 3 men I did work with for several years apiece: one that was many years older & my subordinate, who made an overtly sexually suggestive move against me. I never reported him, fearing between my new status as a supervisor (clearly, he was testing me,) & his age & reputation as a “good Christian family man,” my credibility would be limited - and I’d seen his ability at creative prevarication demonstrated many times, “good Christian” or no. Male co-worker #2 was another “Christian family man,” but his downfall was more fear of women, not lust for them. Worse yet was his sheer stupidity: his lack of both professional knowledge & common sense caused a great deal of confusion & extra work for myself & my staff, he embarrassed us regularly in front of our patrons, and as his immediate subordinate, he made my life a living hell as I was the one the entire staff came to with their complaints! The last straw came in the form of a couple of “hygiene issues” (of the sort typically mastered by first graders,) which were so extreme that the staff found sharing the break area with him at mealtime totally unbearable. Shortly after we begged the Director to come share a meal with him, he was caught in some gross malfeasance and gone. The 3rd fellow was a vast improvement over the other two by comparison, a nice & easy-going guy. He was, in fact a bit too easy-going, & because he loathed his job, he made it his avocation to do as little actual work as possible. The fallout, of course, was much more work for his staff, an extremely talented & creative group of African-American women who had been running the place just fine before he got there, and -again - feared speaking up about his shortcomings for fear of either reprisals or getting stuck with someone even worse than him. And while these 3 men out of a staff of around 90 were - when compared to a Weinstein or Weiner - relatively benign, it does make me feel extreme compassion for all women stuck in workplaces where they are either numerical minorities or economic minorities or both: given my experiences, I can only imagine the frustration and horrific stories they could tell. And conversely, as I was saying before, I can’t help but wonder how totally inside-out (in the best possible ways) our world could be if women had the freedom to work unharassed, to receive equal treatment and pay, to be assured of a job to come back to after childbirth & an available affordable day care center, and to work with male coworkers who perceived & treated them as equals.

I know it can’t/won’t happen overnight: it may take generations & much much struggle. But it starts on the ballroom dance floor. It starts with someone like you having an epiphany about rice & sharing it online. It starts with Oprah Winfrey’s address at the Golden Globes, and with every #metoo shared on Twitter. It may not be fast enough to suit us, but it IS starting, and it has the inevitable feel of the tide of history behind it, and it may be the most hopeful feeling for our species & it’s future that I’ve ever had.
Re: Pt 2
Seeds to grow... xD

Yeah.

And what strikes me is that all those awful men were at the top of your organization instead of actually dong the work. I hope that that, at least, changes.