After #metoo

The day feminists have long dreamt of is here, rapidly gathering steam, and powerful men (who’ve abused women and expected grateful or grudging silence in return for the women holding onto their jobs) are falling like dominoes.

Now that the #metoo movement is established, having made it possible for victimized women to have their say, let’s start a parallel track, and tell our stories of how we, or a woman we know, defeated an attack of any kind. Here I expound on some things that can help.

Get physical if you receive an unwanted touch.

I’ve written before of my young adult anger at a man I didn’t know draping his arm around my shoulders. I hope the others with him in those 1978 South Side park sidelines got more than a laugh at their buddy’s expense, that they learned something from watching me stagger him with a backfist across his chest. But the resistance began long before that.

Use your voice.

My mother told us for as long as I can remember that when she was a young MD leaving Cook County Psychopathic Hospital by herself in the wee hours one morning, a man announced a robbery. She started yelling that she was going to meet her friends at the deli, and no she would not give him anything! Stunned, he stopped in his tracks and said, Well, how about two dollars? This served only to set her off on a fresh tirade as she stormed away. Her friends said she should’ve thought how she might’ve been killed! This she shrugged off and laughed at her win.

Outwit verbal harassment.

The Academy behind me, I had been on the streets of Chicago as a recruit for all of about 2 weeks in late 1982 when, after roll call one afternoon, the slightly older female who worked the desk called me over. Since I’d already learned she was catty at best with almost everyone, I approached warily. “Maja, we’ve decided you need a nickname.” I said, “Oh?” Basing her next remark on how she thought my maiden name sounded, she said, “Yeah, I like – weasel.” I said “I won’t answer to that,” turned on my heel and walked away. Nobody ever called me Weasel to my face. That was 36 years ago. Now everyone who might’ve remembered it is retired or dead; I outlived many of my tormentors or am still on the force where they are long gone, so I’m a survivor, of sorts.

Recruit an ally.

Maybe the memory of my fearless mom was in the back of my mind when I was a freshman at Lane Technical High School, which until the year before I got there had been boys only; their self-appointed quota said a mere 200 girls per class were to be admitted each year — and 1400 boys. I was in the second class with girls. In English that fall, the regular teacher was absent, and with the substitute occupied, the boy behind me saw fit to yank my bra strap through my shirt and snap it. The banshee rose howling in me as I wheeled, cursing and lashing out as he cowered.

The sub went to the powers that were. I was ordered to do five periods of the in-school suspension I can now laugh off as “discipline,” for “swearing, inciting a fight, and fighting.” The boy got nothing. I went to the first under duress and protests which went nowhere.

The next day our teacher, an African-American woman, was back. I told her the situation exactly as it happened. She nodded and told me she was going to fix this! She got me excused from the remainder of my punishment — and the boy who touched me ten periods of discipline. I suppose word got around, because none of them yanked my strap after that.

Take a martial art.

One of our Chicago Transit Authority assignments was to stand with a partner in a subway station for the two hours that comprised morning rush hour, then go on patrol in a squad car. At the Congress Blue Line stop one day, a raving man approached me, at which I set my stance: feet apart, slightly toed-in, arms up in a loose circle, fingertips barely touching. I looked in the middle distance. He went raving around me from side to side, partway and back, never entering the circle. To an untrained eye like his, I was paying him scant heed.  Eventually he tired, perhaps off to try for an audience elsewhere, and left.

As a child I’d had judo, and perhaps that helped with the guy who made my walk in the park no walk in the park. It was certainly years’ worth of tai chi chu’an, shaolin, and wing ch’un training that taught me to stand ready. En guarde!


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So-Called Ruler Of The United States: You’re Fired!

Are we condemned to live even another week in the USA (read: the United States of an Asylum?) which is no longer the long-revered asylum for refugees fleeing violence and unspeakable horrors in their own countries?

The so-called president’s handlers seem more concerned about their own political ambitions than one of Vlad-the-Poisoner’s critics – an American green card holder – having been poisoned for a second time.

The handlers and hangers-on have to clean up after Trump every time he opens his mouth. They make excuses for him, explain “what he really means” as “alternative facts,” and walk back his bluster. The man can’t get through one entire day without sidestepping/stepping in his own hot messes. But neither he nor any of them offer us anything close to a sincere apology.

Trump – to whom the rules don’t apply, according to him – basically threatens to bludgeon anyone like the teen protesters who he considered out of line. Yet the autocrats and dictators who harshly silence their own dissidents and who pose the greatest threat to the planet’s peace? – Oh, those types say nice things about him, so he’ll be sure to say nice things back. He wants “his” people to fall down and worship him or sit up and take notice like Kim Jong Un’s people do. We won’t do either and you can’t make us!

What a juvenile we’re saddled with! Over dinner with his son-in-law he cavalierly ordered a raid, in Yemen, where almost anything that might go wrong did. On to more clandestine conversations about his mistresses and businesses, I’m sure.

As a child I learned bare-bones military strategy by playing Battleships. I don’t think the Donald ever played that, the card game War, or the even more important war game: chess, all of which my peers and I know well.

Rob Mueller’s finding cannot come soon enough.

Message to the current White House occupant: you might have surrounded yourself with the grovelling sort, but the rest of us don’t owe you obeisance. Don’t know what that is? – Look it up! This isn’t your gilded penthouse anymore. The rest of the world thinks we’ve lost our collective minds because of you. You claimed to be concerned that they were laughing at us, and yes they are laughing at us – because of you! Your foolishness and bad attitudes have come home like a pigeon to foul the lot of us. You think you’re above the law. You promised to work for us, but you’ve wasted a quarter of your so-called presidential time on your myriad golf courses instead, so better still: You’re fired!

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Call In Sick for Father’s Day? DON’T!

This is not unique to the Aviation department in our big city – this is for the beleaguered worker everywhere stuck with having to take on someone else’s work when that person isn’t really in dire straits, with more work than is wanted – really, almost more than is humanly possible, and certainly more than is humane.

Just a shout-down to the day shift Aviation Police Officers N.K.A. chuckleheads (etc), eighteen of whom called in sick, early Sunday morning several weeks ago, which meant most of the midnight watch got shafted, I mean stuck/mando’d (mandatory overtime that most of them didn’t want), because Mothers Day.

Like the Cook County jail guards who acquire the flu en masse on Super Bowl Sunday, you missing Aviation Officers reveal the depths and dregs of your own selfishness. You don’t give two $#!Ts for anybody else, certainly not for your coworkers on midnights and their need to sleep those abnormal daylight hours. Oh, and because unlike with big city police departments, you know, officers SWORN to tell the truth and do their best), nobody’s coming out to your house to make sure you really are there and sick!


We hope they change the rules without warning and you chuckleheads get gigged when you call in sick but are then found to be out to lunch, because we all know you’ll sick out again for the World Series, or Christmas and New Years Day, maybe Fathers Day too, right, because you’re a dad and only you and your offspring matter, you deserve whatever days off you damn well please.

What, did your wives or mommies put a bug in your ear early on Mother’s Day Sunday because you forgot to request time off sooner? It’s not like nobody you stuck with your shift had to get to their own homes for anything insignificant like to try desperately to catch up on their sleep or see their own families or doctors or take their g-DAMNED MEDICINE.

If you don’t want to do ALL the jobs the work entails and you won’t be allowed the time off, then grow up, QUIT, and go work somewhere they’ll put up with your asshattery!


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Against school shooters? Prove it!

Texas’s lieutenant governor Daniel Patrick and the NRA’s Oliver North have said prayer in schools is what’s lacking,what’s responsible for young men killing classmates, plus laid blame on schools having too many doors and on video games. Too bad they don’t seem to be kidding — or reasonable.

Schools have many doors because they have been known to catch fire. Anyone who wants a repeat of the notorious, needless school fire (December 1958, Chicago) at Our Lady of the Angels’ school fire in which children were told by the nuns to pray – not to run out – and which resulted in ninety-two kids dead from flames and smoke – then listen to Mr. Patrick and Mr. North. Praying didn’t help those little children of God, and fewer exits won’t help future scared students get away from shooters.

You want to talk violent videos? Start long before that, at the beginning, with football. Football has until very recently encouraged young men to pray, then crack each other in the head with your own helmets, knock ’em down, pile on, binge-drink afterward. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy has increasingly shown up in football’s victims, causing some to have violent outbursts and/or to commit suicide. Hello Danny, Ollie? Why no “credit” where credit is due?

While we’re talking violence, let’s not tippy-toe around toxic masculinity anymore; let’s call misogynists what they are. Start with a look in the mirror: do you boss your wife or girlfriend around? Do you refuse to listen to her, change the subject to shut her up, and/or enjoy making her cringe, then tell her she’s too sensitive? That doesn’t make you a partner or a real man, it makes you a gaslighting bully!

Feminism is the “radical” belief that all people (not only women) are equal under the law. Feminism has started no wars, starved no-one, tortured no-one, killed no-one.

The belief or implicit expectation that our daughters owe attention to any unpleasant men is the trouble, and more parents, coaches, teachers, and other leaders are overdue to correct these nasty misperceptions. Toxic masculinity is the root evil. Its adherents call the miscreant who went hunting sorority girls (May, 2014, Isla Vista California) a “supreme gentleman,” when nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone who blames everything BUT this vile attitude, that men get to do what they want, allows this disease to fester and replicate. You know what else replicates and festers, Ollie? Cancer!

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Let’s help kids for real

Jubilation was what I felt at the Golden State Killer’s capture thanks to his relatives’ DNA, even though I did not know any of the victims or their families. Concern is what I feel now that the ACLU says it’s worried about privacy. I am more concerned for the millions of other victims the world over, whose abusers and killers have gotten away with their crimes not just for decades but through the ages.
Women have borne the brunt of men’s hostilities since, well, forever. I think my brothers and sisters in law enforcement should avail themselves of all applicable DNA technologies with all due haste, to ensure the men who left behind unwanted pregnancies, unsupported babies, and impoverished women will be forced to account for their crimes against humanity.
Let’s say a man off on an Indonesian sex jaunt was found to have left behind a fertilized egg (or several), and that the women were in any way forced to carry the pregnancy/ies to term, or were physically harmed. New international laws, preferably through The International Court of Justice (at the Hague), which forced the careless, negligent, or deliberately hostile at-fault men to pay for the children, would mean women all over the planet can get at the very least financial relief, which could enable them to lift themselves out of poverty.
Anyone who says he despises abortion but is pro-child can then put his money where his mouth is, because seed money will be necessary, for collecting and maintaining the victims’ children’s DNA. When a match is found and the male perpetrator has his check garnished as recompense for the shattered lives he left behind, a portion of the money can also be used to replenish a small portion of those coffers, and grow them.
Sure, some men who will shriek that their own fathers weren’t around to teach them how to be real/manly men, or their own pop was just the sperm donor the mother knew and who would only come by when she got her check. Not a reasonable or legal excuse!
A guy who’s old enough to risk sex with someone he’s not committed to? Sooner or later the tests will come back, at which he should be of age to get his wallet out. And if those men can be forced to get jobs, the taxpayers will no longer have to pay for children not theirs/issues they didn’t cause.
Unscrupulous organizations that steal donors’ money could be put out of business. International agencies could switch from saving the children to replanting farmlands and forests. Pimps who feel entitled to rape virgins, claiming, “We’ll get married, but you need to sell yourself to get us money” might become a thing of the past, and if those evil men kill themselves at the scope of the harm they already caused? Oh well, no great loss, and the DNA coffers can be allotted to help get their victims on their feet..
At last, a war chest can be put toward making up for the war on women.
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The new Junk Kings

Some politicians clamor for welfare recipients to be barred from using food stamps for soda and candy, while others try to have taxes imposed on sugary drinks, to the great consternation of beverage distribution giants, who call the taxes an infringement on our “rights”.

Fair enough, in its perverse way – everyone ought to know how to make their own poison (sorry – cakes and cookies). But then — since thousands of hectares in the USA are merely corn and beets destined to become syrup for that candy or soda — rural enterprises so involved shouldn’t get any government farm benefits.

But, you cry, part of your place supplies your family’s actual food! Okay, you can deduct that food-producing portion only, whatever it is: an acre, a quarter acre, a thousand square feet. No sugar beets (and yes I know beet greens are very nutritious, but who grows beets for greens?), no sugar cane, no corn-syrup crops.
If the government has to pay for corn on the losing end, namely the health costs associated with too much sweetened junk food, too many sodas, too much too much – why should it have to subsidize the people and companies making the problem?

The sweeteners in diet sodas are believed to be be associated with obesity. Being overweight and especially being obese puts tremendous strain on one’s joints and heart. People want help for their health problems, and Medicare for all is a noble pursuit. But then why should the government support the weapons of our self-destruction? Why shouldn’t we help society instead, by taxing bad behavior?

Chicago recently caved, buying into Big Sugar’s siren lure and claims that the tax would prevent consumers from making their own choices about foodstuffs. This isn’t food we’re talking about taxing (I believe raw foodstuffs shouldn’t be taxed at all) — neither is the sweetened-beverage industry paying, by and large, fair market value for the water they need to make this $#!T.

Sugar is known addictive substance, just like alcohol, just like tobacco with its repugnant additives. Sugared drinks and candy have no fiber and no nutritional value; even 100% orange juice isn’t as good for us as an actual orange with a glass of water. Sugar was discovered to be harming human health decades ago, when the industry took its playbook straight from Big Tobacco, and was successfully able to steer attention away from itself by blaming fat, see:

Tobacco is bad for us, alcohol in excess is bad for us, sugar is bad for us. Sugar of all sorts has been oversold to us in the same way cigarettes were, and all sugar/corn syrup products (and the never-degrade plastics they usually come in) ought to be taxed to the hilt too. Because fair’s fair!

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Trains? Yes, please! Planes – not so much

Peace of mind has its price. For me those twelve years ago that seem like just yesterday it was $551.

Some people just shouldn’t fly. I should’ve remembered I’ve long been one of them, but it had been 15 or more years since my last flight, and I didn’t have much time to spare between Girl Scout leaders’ training and the start of my daughter’s school.

“Do not go gentle into that good night – Rage, rage…” Dylan Thomas’s adage gripped me as I gripped the armrests and would not let go.

Aboard that plane heaving through turbulence, my rage was raving and impotent, the plane indifferent. Nowhere to get off, no turning back, no relief — nothing to it but get though it. Seeing the flight attendants in no way concerned, just busy in their ordinary ways, in no way lessened the trauma within.


I wanted to kiss solid ground when the plane finally did land in Miami as scheduled, but I didn’t, trying to save face in front of my little girl. On the drive to his family’s home, my brother-in-law admitted he feels the same about flying. As soon as he left to pick up his own kids from school, I burst into fresh tears and lunged for the phone: 1-800-USA-RAIL.

Even though she was only four, my small one and I had been on trains cross-country a few times before. Fingers crossed, I managed to navigate the phone tree to a real person.

Yes, they had a sleeper for the day I wanted — two actually: one on Train 92 for the Miami-to-DC leg, and then, let’s see, yes, another for DC-to-Chicago. My relief knew no bounds, and when the agent asked if there was anything else she could do to help me, I sobbed “Thank you for having a sleeper, and for being there!”

When I got off the phone I was still crying. Morgan took my face between her hands and said (gravely? – bravely?) “Don’t worry, Mommie – you don’t ever have to go onna airplane ever again!” This caused fresh tears, for wasn’t I the adult here?

Jose came home with his children and the girls chased off together, my sister-in-law arrived from work, dinner was made and eaten, just like they always do. Next day my dear one refused the clothing I suggested (“No ‘sorts! Pants!”) despite the 80+-degree heat. We went the flea market to look for size 4T pants (none), but she and her cousins  would ride the ponies. We stopped at Doris’s dad’s farmette, where we drank juice straight from the coconut and held baby goats. All along, I kept my emotional turmoil to myself, then and the next five days. We swam in their pool. It was a good visit.

I’ve visited churches and temples, yet never known the degree of peace that enveloped me when, the breeze blowing warm, we were given a ride on an Amtrak people-mover/golf cart-sort-of-thing, and the train pulled up, on time. In boarding, we told car #9211’s attendant, Thanks – we know the way to room 5, see you up there. This was better than any merely familiar spot, like my mother’s favorite kid-friendly bookstore-cafe. This was our home-away-from-home.

Relief flooded me as we set our bags under the seats and settled in for the ride. Long distance travel, especially when somebody else drives, somebody else cooks (in the dining car), and somebody else cleans up, is fabulous. I wanted to hug the whole process, but I tipped everybody instead.

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