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                            A PERSONAL VAGINA MONOLOGUE

I was still in my teens during the beginning of the second wave of the Women's Movement, and a young wife and mother when I attended my first consciousness-raising groups.  I was politically active and aware, and had been on the receiving end of typical misogynist nonsense in the workplace - scored highest of any applicant ever on pre-employment tests, but not able to move out of secretary status because the Underwriter jobs were reserved for men who would be or were supporting families.  

They never told me that when they hired me, held it out as a carrot when I agreed to start as a file clerk.  I left them suddenly.  That was my first real job, not an auspicious beginning.  I've actually never made it long-term in the corporate world.  My bullshit meter starts screaming at some point in the process and I generally leave on bad terms.

I'm serious as hell about my role models.  Women of my generation were on the cusp.  We had clearly defined expectations to meet, and most of them were wifely and motherly.  A career woman was rare and exceptional, admirable but generally out of my league.  Then there was the hippie thing, which I had embraced with passion and a fair amount of drug use.  Janis Joplin was tough, talented and didn't take shit from anyone.  She was also vilified, disrespected, and ended up dead.  Powerful messages.

When I married I embraced June, learned to be a gourmet cook, gave wonderful dinner parties, tore up carpets and polished up hardwood floors, stripped wallpaper and hung more, stripped woodwork, and essentially restored a couple of lovely old Craftsman homes while keeping a home, giving birth to, nursing (yea La Leche League), and raising 2 kids.

It wasn't wonderful, by any means.  We had money, a position in the community, interesting friends and and an interesting life heavy on the arts.  We used to drink wine with Robert Bly and his wife if they were porch sitting when we walked by.  I met and partied with some of the best actors in the country.  I was also a raging alcoholic married to a raging alcoholic, and the Janis part of me kept busting out at the most inconvenient moments.  

                   The key thought:  I've been too good for too long!

Those were my choices.  Be an excellent wife and mother (much fail there) or be a powerful creative woman who dies a tragic death.  Nothing in between seemed likely.


I stayed involved in the women's movement until the day I wondered why I had to wear a pin-striped suit to be a woman in business.  It wasn't that I had to be a guy with a vagina, it was a step worse:  to succeed I had to learn to be a guy without a penis.  But nice.  Attractive.  Not too sexy.  Never angry.  Never loud.  Never pushy.

We were co-opted.  We were fighting about abortion rights, refighting a done deal, and we were trying desperately hard to become man-like, because only men succeed in business.  The notion of bringing a female sensibility to a male-dominated culture was too radical.  

I didn't want to be a man, I wanted to be a woman who was valued for what made me different from men.  I wanted my slant on things to count, my femaleness to be acknowledged as worthy of attention.  I wanted a President who could cry when talking about the deaths of soldiers, or innocent civilians.  I wanted a President who understood the value of every human life because she was the progenitor of human life.  I want women on the Supreme Court because they have a different attitude toward the world, an attitude that includes the impact of law on ordinary human beings.  We tend to think about that once we understand how fragile and precious life is.

Men conquer, women negotiate.  We needed and still need a whole lot more of the female perspective before our country and our culture are worth fighting for.  There needs to be a balance, not an inequity in either direction.

Why are Michigan's (Texas's, South Carolina's....) legislators so damn scared of women?  We're scary people.  We see through their bluster and recognize it as weakness and fear.  We've had to learn to read men since birth, to protect ourselves and to be able to manipulate them into doing what we need them to do.  Since they won't listen to our input it has to be on the sly.  They resent that (who could blame them) but they also bring it on themselves, so the pity I feel lasts for a nanosecond.

There's a whole other factor to the culture we live in that's never discussed.  Mega-Corporations took root in a society run by men obsessed with dick size.  Money equals inches in this country.  My guess is our overpaid CEO's would work for a lot less just to be associated with the biggest whatever in the world. The money is only necessary to add inches to their penises once they've trashed their latest company and found it necessary to move on before the shit hits the fan.  

(Who the hell would marry Donald Trump if he was a plumber?  Not any young, smart, gorgeous sexy female I know.  He's too dumb, too controlling, and too proud of being a bully.)

Penis size is also a component of racism.  The common wisdom of my young womanhood was "Once you go black you never go back"  (not true, but compelling), and that black men had huge dicks.  Also not necessarily true, but equally compelling, and extremely threatening for Northern European men in particular.  The amazing telescoping penis looks extremely small when pulled into the body, a necessary adaptation to keep sperm active and healthy in cold climates.  If you ever wonder why it's so necessary to paint young black males as dangerous, violent, and threatening, add that issue to the mix.

Barack Obama is an attractive, sexy man.  And he's black.  How many of his most virulent attackers are really worrying about "never go"ing back?  Add competence and intelligence to the mix, and you've got a man who is supposed to be inferior based on his skin color, who is breaking every damn meme we use to define black maleness as threatening and worthless.  How can ordinary white guys compete?

 Angry white men are simply men who fear (or know) that they can't compete on a level playing field.  Without white privilege on their team they can't automatically get the job, win the election, attend the first choice college.  They have to work as hard as women and non-white men do to attain that plum.  

After centuries of being allowed, even encouraged, to think the plum is automatically theirs it's incredibly hard to be forced to excel.  Tough shit.  Once you've had about 20,000 years of being on the short end of the stick I'll see if I can work up a little compassion for you.  Until then, bust your ass to get what I want, too.  If you're better than I am, more power to you.  If I'm better than you are suck it up and be gracious.

Janis is running the show most of the time these days.  June is embarrassed by my language, my anger, my comfort with living alone, my pleasure in having a life that belongs to me and doesn't require that I be conciliatory or expend effort on caretaking.  I'm 62.  I've done those things, and well, but never again.  

I actually suspect that June's getting a kick out of this.  I think she likes it when I take on internet bullies, and when I tell people they're really showing their ignorance when they spout birther BS.  I think she might have cheered a bit when I asked why Catholic religious freedomz counted more than non-Catholic religious freedom does.  I think she agrees that my Jewish, Buddhist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, pagan friends have a "religious", moral and legal right not to be injured by legislation that endangers their lives.  (Atheists don't have to add religious to the mix.)

I think she's chanting "vagina" in a whisper, and wondering if she'll ever shout it out.  I suspect if she'd been in the crowd at the Michigan Capitol she'd have yelled at the top of her lungs.  

Maybe I'll reach old age without the inner battle!      

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Comment Preferences

  •  This went to places I didn't expect. (14+ / 0-)

    Sometimes I write to know what's important to me today.  This seems to be it.

    VAGINA!!!!   SLUT!!!!!!  TANTRUM!!!!!!!

    I'd say they can kiss my ass, but it's too precious for that kind of pollution.

    I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

    by I love OCD on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 10:21:31 AM PDT

  •  Considering where Janis was from, it's all the (5+ / 0-)

    more remarkable.

    Janis went to the same Texas high school (at around the same time) as Jimmy Johnson

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 10:30:17 AM PDT

  •  Excellent Observation I Noticed Back in the ERA (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joe wobblie, I love OCD, Dragon5616


    Men conquer, women negotiate.
    The word "assertive" particularly caught my ear in those days. My first thought was that you've already lost the fight if your opening position is not to promote your needs in kind.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 10:42:43 AM PDT

    •  We still need to learn to assert ourselves, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and to tell people what we need, want, and expect.  Women don't do that well in the business world yet.

      What we also need is a world in which it's preferred that all people negotiate, and conquering is embarrassing and an obvious cover for fears of inadequacy.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

      by I love OCD on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 10:55:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My favorite Barbara Billingsley scene (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    I love OCD, Dragon5616

  •  I met Janis (4+ / 0-)

    a few months before her death, when I delivered David Getz's drums to her house for a rehearsal.  You might be surprised to know that all she was wearing when I was in her house were red panties and red shoes.  Pretty sure the shoes were red, anyway.

    I was a roadie for another SF band at the time, and I got to hear a lot about Janis.  I stopped in at the Avalon Ballroom on my way home from a gig, and caught the end of the last set played by BB&tHC.  I collected the empty Southern Comfort bottle she discarded when she left the stage, and kept it for years.

    She was talented, complicated, and a bit pathetic in some ways.  My roommate was part of the Grateful Dead Party Krew, and ran when she came onto him after a show.  Her manager was an a$$hole named Albert Grossman, who used her up, did not give a $hit about her other than her ability to make him money.

    She is certainly an icon, but her real story is a lot sadder than even the public version.

    •  That's what makes her a scary (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hnichols, Dragon5616

      role model!  All that talent, all that energy, and a badly slanted playing field.  I loved her because she was just as loud and raucous as the rocker guys.  I loved Joan Baez, but she was a lady, not an ass-kicker.

      I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

      by I love OCD on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 11:07:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My guess is, June was drinking as much as Janis (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    I love OCD, hnichols, Dragon5616

    To escape the plastic, Stepford drudgery of 50s wife hood.

    'Ward, weren't you a little hard on The Beaver last night?'

    Romney/Sauron 2012 - One Party to bring them all and in the Darkness bind them!

    by Fordmandalay on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 11:01:48 AM PDT

    •  Absolutely true. I watched part of the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hnichols, Dragon5616

      first season of Mad Men and had to quit because it's so damn accurate.  The wife needed medication and alcohol to manage the boredom and endlessness of her life as adjunct.

      Everyone should see that show.  It's scary how real it is.

      I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

      by I love OCD on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 11:09:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's not much talked about (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        I love OCD, Dragon5616

        But there were a lot of nervous breakdowns, back in the day - wives running naked and screaming down the street in the middle of the night, unable to cope with the insane pressures and stifling limitations of their roles. The "Cleaver" model of family was a fairly modern invention - a single pair of adults, trying to live on their own with nothing to provide their needs but the retail industry?
        No multiple generations living together and supporting each other? No extended clan networks "bartering" internally? That was the "Waltons" model, the real "traditional family", and the shift to something less independent was crushing.
        Men faced their own pressures in the "Cleaver" model, but they at least had power - and the overwhelming favoritism of the law. Women were powerless, yet expected to work miracles.

        "Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage." - H. L. Mencken

        by Jaxpagan on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 11:57:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Interesting that ageism and sexism intersected so (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          handily there.  My mom survived, with my help and a few short runaways to her family home.  It was a hard life, and a lonely one.

          I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

          by I love OCD on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 12:14:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  What did June say to Ward on their honeymoon nite? (0+ / 0-)
    Ward, don't you think that you were a little hard on the Beaver last night?

    You don't need to firebomb Dresden to prove that you can fly the plane.

    by SpamNunn on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 11:24:31 AM PDT

    •  I've always wondered about that. (0+ / 0-)

      Why beaver. snatch, pussy, red snapper, etc?  I don't really understand dick or cock or wood either.  Is it just common to use slang or is it about being embarrassed that we own genitalia because of our repressive culture?

      I do it, I say dick instead of penis, I just find it curious.

      I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

      by I love OCD on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 11:33:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the answers I have (0+ / 0-)

        The name Dick goes way back as a reference to an "everyman" (witness Shakespeare's Henry IV: "I am sworn brother to a leash of Drawers, and can call them by their names, as Tom, Dicke, and Francis"). It fell into use as slang for a riding whip, which is a not-too-difficult jump to slang for a penis.

        "Wood" is easier to figure out, because of the penis's, um, tumescent characteristics.

        "Cock" is another fairly easy one - it was originally applied to aggressive people (from which we get "cocky"), since that's a characteristic of roosters. They also stand up straight, which got the term applied to things that stick up ("a cocked ear") and consequently to spouts ("drain cock"). Not a big leap from those to the modern usage).

        "Pussy" probably either comes from the German puse ("vulva") or Norse puss ("pocket/pouch"), but no one knows for sure - it didn't show up in its modern slang usage until the 1800's, but prior to that for a few hundred years it was used to refer to a woman in general, similar to "gal" or "chick".

        "Beaver" is relatively modern one (early 2oth Cent), and comes straight from the imagery of a split beaver pelt (the term earlier was applied to bearded men, for the same reason).

        "Snatch" I don't know, and I'd honestly never heard of Red Snapper.

        I know there is an article called 'Snatch,' 'Hole,' or 'Honey-pot'? Semantic Categories and the Problem of Nonspecificity in Female Genital Slang that goes into some detail about the general evolution of FGT's (Female Genital Terms). I haven't read it myself, but the key excerpt seems to be:

        FGTs contained both explicit (e.g., tuppence, thruppeny bit, Mrs Penny), and implicit (fur purse, pocket book) references to money. In most terms, the amount of money was very small, suggesting reference to money rather than to value. Many FGTs not coded with this category (e.g., fish, lettuce, quiff) have, historically, meant money (Wentworth &. Flexner, 1975), and many have simultaneously meant prostitute--Green's (1999) money category is identified as the money-maker. These terms suggest women's worth and value to be in their genitalia, and commodify the genitalia as objects to be purchased. Indeed, commodity was a sixteenth century British term, now obsolete, for the genital area (McConville & Shearlaw, 1984).

        "Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage." - H. L. Mencken

        by Jaxpagan on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 12:26:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  • effing wow... (0+ / 0-)

    ...So powerful, impressive, lucid and true...I've sent this to my "minions." (hehehe)...thank you lover of OCD...I'm now your minion and following you!  :)

    Oh, and I personally know Janis Joplin's sister who lives in the same town as me...

    Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences.

    by paradise50 on Wed Jun 20, 2012 at 10:23:13 AM PDT

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