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Handsome-est Contest

The headline announced the crowning of the International Beauty Contest winner.  This sort of headline always brings to mind what my beautiful, intelligent, gifted mother-in-law once remarked:  “Until we get rid of beauty contests, women will never be equal.”  I was 25 years old at the time and wasn’t sure what she meant.  Through the decades that followed, it became painfully clear what she meant, and I’ll be damned…she was right. 

Men don’t have handsome contests.  They don’t strut in speedos or dress up in tuxedos to answer questions about what will save mankind, and then twirl batons as their talent.  Men don’t parade with banners across their chests at rodeos, state fairs, car races, or on state stages to be crowned king of handsomeness, and then turn around to see if they can win the country’s king of handsomeness, and then – wait! There is yet more to come – turn around some more to see if they can become king of international handsomeness.  There is no international restaurant chain with a crude title named after a personal part of their body. 

Men feel handsome however they look.  They do not dress up to be compared and judged, they don’t give a shit what you think.  Take them or leave them and by gawd, if you leave them, that’s YOUR problem, not theirs. They are proud of their body parts but won’t consent to Hooters naming a subchain of restaurants after them, called “Ballsies”, because they refuse to be reduced to serving food to you in a logoed jock strap.

Men still tend to earn more than women.  Men could always vote.  Men could always own land and open a credit card.  Men have always been president of the United States.  In novels, books and magazines, men are not first described by what they are wearing, or ranked on whether it is fashionable or not.  They know it is their brain and their talents that count, but hey, they know they look good, too, no need to point it out. 

Little girls are still complimented the most on how pretty they look, not on their top grades, interests or skills. The one universal day recognized in a woman’s life by all of society making her the center of attention, is her wedding day – because there is (usually) a man involved. Women’s magazines flood the reader with improvement ads:  skin, hair, lips, clothes, body.  Men’s magazines flood the reader with national news, repair and home upkeep, funding and investment research.  When a woman becomes married, she truly is the wife of the house. She makes it a home, but she still also covers most of the housekeeping while working forty hours a week or the caregiver of the couple’s children.

Aging men are not demeaned because of wrinkles, gray hair, or broader tummies.  They are admired for hanging with partners 20-40 years younger than they are, and the movies often reinforce this role.  They have sex whenever they can because they do not have a womb, so getting pregnant is not their problem.  They do not feel responsible for the babies that are produced, but at their insistent right to ownership of female wombs, the babies must be born.  Females are not allowed to age.  Women are rejected because of wrinkles, gray hair or broader tummies.  “Anti-aging” media campaigns target females.  You can be 50 only if you look 30.  You can be 60 only if you look 40. And that look is determined by the makers of lotions, creams, lipsticks, foundations, eye makeup, hair products, etc., who are filling their pockets with the socially instilled insecurities. 

How do we protect our little girls and young women from these hypocrisies and falsehoods? 

As my mother-in-law implied, we must first get rid of beauty contests.  What is “beauty” after all, but an energy that defies definitions.  It is varied, glorious, intriguing, charming, structural.  There are always social norms glorifying specific versions of beauty…in one culture, huge rings in the mouth to extend the lips and face is considered beautiful.  In another, height above 62 inches is egregious. Blue eyes here…brown eyes there.  You get the point. 

Why get rid of beauty contests?  Because beauty is art.  Imagine walking into an art museum and being forced to compare all works of art to each other, and then pick one…ONE…that is supposedly, “the best”.  The best of what, exactly?  Is it not foolish to put “beauty” into a narrowly defined slot, when in actuality, it cannot be captured in one form and not another form?  We all know the woman who strikes us as powerfully magnetic that is beyond logic.  Great bone structure is obvious and when it isn’t, we are confused because it is something we can’t point our finger to.  It is unsettling when something happens inside that person that reaches out into her space and makes her irresistible to us or others. 

Why stop beauty competitions?  Because beauty cannot be defined.  It has no social consistency and brutally sets women against women for the most superficial of superficial values.  It keeps women distracted from their real power of intelligence, wisdom, compassion, talents, and sensualities.  It delays or prevents women from gathering with other like-minded and able women, and making major differences in the world together.

Beauty contests need to be eliminated because the “scholarships and opportunities” given only to the winner should be given to all women, regardless of social popularity.  Because men were smart enough to not have them for themselves.  Because women are not objects, but human beings.  Because each woman has beauty within, and has a right to own it. 

We know better now.  We and all our young women and little girls, deserve to be seen, loved, and cherished for our true worth as a human being. 

My mother-in-law knew that, and she was right. 

To children and moms on Mother’s Day 2017

After weeks of cold and thunderstorms and gray days, today is beautiful.  The sun shines, the breeze blows and my balcony beckons.

There is a young mother on the grounds of my condo building, playing with her son who is about 4-5 years of age. There is delight in her and happiness in him. It reminds me of the times I spent with my own son while he was growing up.

My son and I shared a special bond in his early years that held my life together by the love and awe that only a woman can feel towards the life she has produced. Though I only had the one child, I have always been profoundly grateful for my son’s conception and development in my body, and the gift of giving birth to a full, separate human being.

The child-upon-my-lawn is full of joy. He bats a ball to his mother with supreme glee while she struggles to catch it and toss it back. She expresses shock at his prowess, pride in his stroke. He tries harder to be better. He misses, she laughs and grabs him in a hug as they both slip to the ground in laughter.

I remember those days of play, and a picnic in the snow (“The Winter Picnic” by Robert Welber) that froze my behind and fingers. Memories of reading to my son at night…trying to find answers to his questions on life and the behaviors of others…these flood my consciousness, and I am in peace.  I am thankful to have not only given life to programs…projects…but to relationships.

The little boy in my yard waves to a helicopter overhead that is coming in for a landing at the nearby airpark. I smile. Though I know the pilot and passengers don’t see, I still want to wave, every time, too. My childhood is still within me.

From the corner of my building, the father walks around and joins the fun. The family of three gives me unexpected hope in the future.

I know many women who are single mothers; children who have been abandoned; husband and fathers who neglect their children and mothers. I know too many children who have grown up to make choices that have cost them their health, families and tragically in some cases, their lives.

Yet today…in the sun soaked backyard of my condo, all is well, and life is good.

On this eve of Mother’s Day, I say with profound gratitude, I am happy that love still exits in units. That children still matter to so many. Ultimately, I’m glad love is so powerful. A mother will always be a mother, and nothing upon this earth ever changes that relationship to her child(ren), and rippling outward, to the world. Because of my own motherhood, I have learned to love the child in adults. I share their dreams…innocence…and struggles. They will never be alone, if they are in my space.

To all my fellow moms…happy Mother’s Day. May you continue to be honored every day of your life for all the love you awaken in yourself, and others.

Dear Mr. Mitch McConnell, a Few Questions:

As a graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Law (1967), I am perplexed as to why you fear a placement on the Supreme Court?   I am assuming you studied the law at the University, and understand that the Constitution and its intentions are meant to be respected, honored and followed, to the best of someone’s ability.

  • Are you fearful of the Constitution’s intent?
  • Do you lack courage to do the right thing, or are you naturally an anxious person?
  • Has this recent nominee made judgments against your top campaign donors (NRA etc.), and you are afraid of losing their funding?

As a law student, obstruction to justice, obstructing the law – such as promoting the blockade of a Supreme Court justice nomination – you learned that it is not only unethical, but illegal.  Yet you are choosing to be unethical and perhaps, illegal.

  • Why are you willing to break your oath to uphold the law?
  • Why does the oath you took to serve the citizens of your country no longer mean anything to you?

I am confused why you are personally against the President of the United States to the point where you continually show disrespect for the position.  You have done little else but try to thwart the good the President has accomplished while personally demeaning the man.

  • Are you prejudiced against darker skinned people?
  • Are you personally threatened by President Obama’s thoughtful, gracious approach?
  • Is there jealousy involved?

The NRA contributed heavily to your re-election campaign.  You insist they approve the nominee.

  • What was the selling price?  How much was the trust of the citizens of Kentucky worth?
  • Did the NRA treat the citizens of Kentucky to dinner and buy them flowers first?

You were voted into office to represent the citizens of Kentucky.  But your confrontational actions are affecting me in my state, too.  In fact, you are systematically destroying the backbone of the United States you (supposedly) represent…its middle class, its women and children.

  • Are most Kentucky citizens bigoted like you?
  • Do most Kentucky citizens want women demeaned, education destroyed, and the working class eroded?
  • If not, who – besides your own personal agenda – are you representing?

One last concern.

I continue to read your “stances”, and I wonder if you ever feel shame for your behavior, or guilt that you, as a grown-up, who is in such an influential position, has no awareness of the common good…or guilt for being so openly and proudly hostile, in how you treat others who may think or act differently than you.

  • Do you really…really…believe you are earning your lifetime pay and benefits, and leaving a legacy that children want to grow up and emulate?
  • Do you really…really…believe you get re-elected after abusing your position so?

You have a pattern.  Whenever you have a choice between money and ethics or the law, you choose the money.  When you do not get your way, you become uncooperative and belligerent.

  • How do you define “wisdom”?
  • Do you have any answers at all, that the intelligent, wise and mature in our society would describe as common sensed?

Inquiring minds want to know.