Wednesday, January 03, 2018

The Battle of the Sexes

By Fred Owens
This past year of 2017 has been a good one -- turbulent, to be sure, but a good year over all. And 2018 will be even better.

In 2018 the battle of the sexes will continue. Men know they don't understand women and they don't try to understand women, which is why they say you can't live with them and you can't live without them, and the best thing is to do what they want as often as possible and don't ask why.

Women think they understand men. They don't. Thinking they understand men leads to thinking they can change them. This doesn't work and won't work, but it will be fought out in 2018.

But men will adopt a few changes, out of compassion and out of self-preservation. There will be no more bum patting, for instance, of anybody by anybody else. That's an easy one, because it is concrete and specific. Everybody knows what a bum is, and everybody can understand that you don't put your hand on someone else's bum.

The hard one is the ban on jokes. No jokes at all is the safest choice, but it's so undefinable -- what is offensive -- and it's so humorless.Imagine a sign at your place of work that says "No offensive language." This is most problematic and subject to constant interpretation.

Imagine dropping a large heavy object on your foot while you are at work. You cry out "Jesus Fucking Christ, that hurts!"

Multiple persons might be offended by that language. You should have said, "Dang! Double Dang!"  But instead you let loose with a ripper.

So try to stick with concrete and specific rules. Men cannot be reformed, but they can carry out simple instructions. Women are expecting men to change, and to live up to new standards of behavior..... I would not raise the bar too high. I would not issue a universal indictment against the male sex. That's a little too ambitious. Trump merely wants to make America great again, whatever that means. Trump's goal seems modest in comparison to #MeToo's goal of reinventing human nature.

I mistrust messianic movements. I mistrust zealotry. I have a small tolerance for righteousness. I am sinner myself and I feel most at ease with my own kind.

I mistrust movements led by Hollywood entertainers. I mistrust movements that go viral on social media.

Please Change the Name

The movement against harassment and assault is laudable but the name is a poor choice. #MeToo has a whining sound to it. "Don't I get to play? I want to come too?"  The name is passive and secondary. Wonder Woman would never say Me Too. Me Two is for sidekicks. It's for Number Two.

The Battle of the Sexes Continues

Being a little picky here, but I keep hearing about unwanted sexual advances. Is there a way to find out ahead of time?

And sexual misconduct is beginning to sound like fun -- please re-consider using that phrase.

So Old-Fashioned

If you change your expectations and insist that men behave in a new and better way, you might very well be right about that -- erecting a New Standard for Men.

A standard for men and a standard for women. What do you call that when men and women each have a standard?

A Double Standard! God, I love it. We're bringing back the double standard. 

Coercion and Deception. Sexual harassment and assault are matters of coercion and should be resisted. Deception is another problem altogether. Supposing you meet a man and you get along well and go out together and become intimate over time, and then you find out he's married. He lied to you. He didn't force you to have sex with him, but he lied to you and got what he wanted. This happens all the time. Are we going to include deception in the general indictment?

Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein is small potatoes. Donald Trump is causing far more harm to woman and humanity. Is #MeToo going after Trump? He seems unscathed and unassailable at this point.

Meryl Streep. She said famously and in paraphrase, about Harvey Weinstein's hotel room, "I didn't know. Nobody told me. How was I supposed to know?"  By defending herself this way she became guilty of either ignorance or looking the other way. Streep's day as queen of Hollywood is over. Reese Witherspoon is my pick for the new queen of Tinsel Town..

#MeToo is evolving into Time's Up. Certainly a much better name, as I have already mentioned. But it remains to be seen if they can get their feet on the ground, representing the top tier of wealthy and prominent actresses  -- how is that supposed to help the rest of us? This is the Hollywood elite. Real movements start in church basements in Oregon and union halls in Wisconsin.

The movement is flawed, but Trump dismisses it as his peril. The battle of the sexes will rage in 2018. Trump will lose. Time's Up will stagger, will falter, but will somehow stumble to the finish line and win.

So remember the new rules. Keep yous hands to yourself and if you drop something heavy on your toe, say "Dang! Double Dang!"

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Bonus story
Since we discussed wrong touching, it might be interesting to read this story about nursing work, which is very much a "hands on" occupation.
Touching People
I wrote this for students in a nursing class -- you might find it interesting because it gives you a look on the other side.

Nurses touch patients. There is a right way to do this and it can be learned.
I begin with my experiences as a patient, in hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices, going back to childhood. When the nurse or doctor touched me, putting their hands somewhere on my body, it always felt good.
It’s kind of difficult to describe how it felt -- sort of warm and cool at the same time, and both comforting and firm.
If a doctor or nurse touched me and it didn’t feel good, I would get out of there really fast, but this has never happened.
The nursing student might recall experiences of being touched by health care people. Did it always feel good? Try to remember how it felt.
New nursing students are not used to touching people in the way that doctors and nurses do, especially the men. It’s a little scary and it feels awkward and embarrassing, but think of it simply as a skill, something you can learn, something that you will get better at with practice and experience.
Consider the body. In our culture, for the most part, the safe areas are the arms, shoulders, neck, head, and the feet below the knees.
I like to make a “get acquainted” touch when I first meet a patient at the hospital, usually by putting my hand on their arm for a second. This gives the patient a chance to get used to me. It gives them a chance to object -- with words, rarely, but more often with a kind of flinching that can be quite subtle. It’s hardly ever happened to me, but if that does happen, I back off a few feet, and give the patient some space, and begin to talk instead.
If I have the time, but often enough I’m dealing with a necessity and must act fairly quickly. I still go through an approach procedure, even if it’s very compressed in time. “Hello, I’m Fred, I’m the Nursing Assistant and I’m going to help you move into a more comfortable position so that you can eat your dinner.” Then I come closer, but a hand on their shoulder or arm, pause for a moment to see that it’s okay, and then go ahead and prop them up or help them move to a chair.
I sometimes deal with cranky, irritable, delusional, and violent people. I get hit, scratched, bitten. One time an older patient, a stroke victim, threatened to throw a hot cup of coffee in my face -- that was a little scary, but usually it’s not scary, just very unpleasant. I really don’t like it when patients act like this. It hurts my feelings, and it feels just as bad if I see one of the other nurses get treated this way -- but it’s been a part of nursing for a long time. Very sick people are simply not responsible for their behavior -- they are sometimes very frightened and in pain -- who could blame them?
Nurses ¬never respond to a disruptive patient with an attitude of “getting even.” If you can’t literally “take it on the chin” with a smile, then you should not be in nursing. Which is to say that the patient can touch you in a bad way, but you must always touch them in a good way?
This has never been a problem for me, but I always monitor my emotional balance. I strive to be sympathetic and yet professionally detached. Some patients are more fun to be with than others. It’s all right to like someone, but within a fairly narrow margin. You still owe the very best of care to those patients who are not exactly your cup of tea.
Consider Mr. Jorgenson in Room Three. He is getting to be a pretty unhappy fellow. He keeps yelling, “Where’s my shoes? This is a prison. I’m leaving.”
But he can’t leave. He’s too sick, and if he tries to get out of bed, he’s going to fall down and hurt himself. His desire to leave the hospital is rational, so the nurse can agree with that, but we cannot, ever, let a patient hurt themselves or someone else. So, a dialog begins with Mr. Jorgenson, and it might go on for hours. “Mr. Jorgenson, I understand how you feel. Of course you want to go home, but you’re too sick to get out of bed. You really need to be in the hospital right now. We’re going to get you better and get you out of her as soon as we can…”
Back to touching. The private part of the body is everything between the shoulders and the knees. We do not go here without the patient’s permission. Even if the patient is asleep, unconscious, or delusional, we always announce verbally our intentions. “I need to check your brief, Mr. Jorgenson. It might be time for a change.” The patient then has the opportunity to refuse permission.
Touching in this area is intimate. I think that “intimate” is the right word. It’s not sex, it’s not love, it’s not even friendship -- it’s health care, it’s what we have to do when we have to do it, and we’re good at it. And you will be good at it too, with practice and more experience.
I continuously verbalize as I’m working. “Yes, it looks wet. I’m going to change your brief and clean you up a bit....This cloth might feel a little cool...I’m going to turn you over on your side for just a bit...” --all said in that calm, matter-of-fact tone of voice which the nurses are so good at using. You will get good at it too.
This is not the time for “visiting” or being friendly or sociable, and, please, no jokes. Curiosity of a professional nature is good because that’s how we learn. We work with human bodies, which are very interesting. They come in all sizes and shapes. And every part has a name -- and we only use the professional names. You will learn them and use them.
When you’re learning to do this work on the private parts of the body, watch your own thoughts and feelings -- if you’re too nervous, if you have inappropriate or unprofessional thoughts and feelings that persist and do not go away -- then, seriously, maybe you shouldn’t be in nursing. You’ll be doing yourself, the patients, and the whole world a big favor, if you are completely honest with yourself. No blame, just look for some other kind of work.
But you’ll probably do just fine.
Then, when the procedure is finished, the brief is changed, and the covers are back on, we can go back to being sociable and talk about the baseball game or any other thing.
Generally, an older patient, or one who has been sick for a long time, is very used to being handled. This is where the beginner gets experience and where the nursing staff will assign you. If you are a little nervous or tentative, the older patients either won’t notice or won’t mind.
Just take a deep breath, pause for a moment, and do it.

More Bonus Stuff

FARM NEWS from Fred Owens
Man dies in torch fire accident on farm
 ELTOPIA, Wash. (AP) -- A man was killed in an accident on a farm near Eltopia.
 The Franklin County sheriff's office says 75-year-old Everett D. Monk was cutting scrap metal in a field with a torch Saturday when his clothes caught fire. The Tri-City Herald reports he apparently died of burns.
 A friend found the body.
 That was the news story. Just those few words. It was in the paper last year, but I kept this file because I wanted to think about this man, 75-years-old, and his name was Everett D. Monk.
 I thought of calling his people in Eltopia to find out about his life, but I didn't need to do that. I found I could read his whole life story from this news item.
 He was out in the field cutting scrap metal with his torch in early December. It was cold out there in the sage brush country. This was in eastern Washington, with low hills and no trees -- just wheat fields lying fallow in the winter sun.
 This is where you could research it -- you can find things on the Internet. You could find what the weather was like in Eltopia on the day that Everett Monk died. But it was almost surely sunny and cold -- that's the typical winter weather, and it's good working weather.
 Everett Monk was 75, but he didn't want to sit around the house. He had been a working man all his life. He grew up on a farm and started doing serious chores every day since he was ten years old. Starting work at the age of ten, driving the pickup around the ranch and handling tools.
 So he worked every day for 65 years, until December of last year, and he wasn't going to just sit around in his easy chair on that last day. He just wasn't used to that.
Instead he got dressed and went out. There was a "bone yard" -- a pile of rusted out implements and machinery -- but it was a good hundred yards from the house.
 The bone yard was a little bit out of sight, and his family was gone to town. There's not that much to do in December on a farm. That's when you have the time to work on some projects -- like making modifications on a piece of farm equipment.
You can't just buy a hay baler and use it, but you need to adapt it to the special conditions of your own piece of land.
Everett Monk knew how to do that, and his welding tools were in the back of his pickup that cold and windy day.
I'm not sure about that -- was the wind blowing? Or was it calm?
Because he began cutting the scrap metal and working in a careful way.
Then the accident happened. Maybe it was calm and then, all of a sudden, the wind picked up, and blew a spark from the torch to the sleeve of his jacket, and he may have been distracted by a sudden noise over the hill, and the spark settled on his coat sleeve and began to burn, and the wind picked up and he was on fire.
He was on fire. And he was shocked. Did he drop and roll on the ground, which is what you are supposed to do if your clothes catch on fire?
I could call the sheriff or the friend who found his body and ask them -- if he just fell down, or if there was evidence that he dropped and rolled on the ground. But that doesn't really matter too much.
A friend found his body. Everett Monk was dead, after working on the farm all his life. He may have suffered in agony from his burns, or he may have gone quickly from the shock.
But it was over. Everett Monk, the farmer from Eltopia in eastern Washington, may he rest in peace.
He could have stayed in the house on that day in December. He could have just taken it easy, but he was used to working.
That's all. This is the End. Really.

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
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