I had forgotten how long it had been since I first posted my thoughts on the famous “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” editorial. I tend to repost a link to it every year, so that may be one reason why it doesn’t seem to have been around on my blog for as long as it actually has.
In that sense, it is quite like the editorial itself–timeless. It speaks to me the same amount every year I read through it, as it does for countless other people. A written work can of course become legend without continuing to be universally accessible, but in this case, it is the never-wavering accessibility of this piece from more than a century ago, as much as its message about Christmas and Santa that makes it, and my thoughts on it, worth sharing again year after year.
So, Virginias and others interested, click on the link above, to read my original post on the piece, which sums up how I have always felt, and continue to feel, about this most excellent example of writing with passion.
Before my time, my mother worked with this guy who would often leave early on his lunch break, stay away for three hours, and come back about 30 minutes before the end of the work day. Usually he would mention that he did this because he didn’t want to be “late for leaving.”
There’s a bit of a parallel between that and this blog as we all get set for Christmas, and the end of 2017. After a not-entirely-planned hiatus of two months, I could say I’ve at last check back in to write a post or two so I wouldn’t be late for leaving 2017.
I do plan to post several more times before the actual end of this year, and probably more often than I would during a twelve day span any other time of the year.
But on the whole, 2017 has been a year of being off track on my public writing goals. So much so that I used Nanowrimo last month informally, so as to kickstart a stalled goal of having a rough draft of Novel Four completed by the end of the year. It seems to have worked, as I not only made the 50K words, but the end of the draft is in sight.
If I manage to get it done, it would be one of the few writing goals I set for myself at the start of the year that I achieved as intended.
Not that writing a novel is a small feat. It’s not, believe me. But I had hoped to have far more short stories written this year.
However, I have been journalling this year again, which I do off and on throughout my life. Though for my eyes only, the pages of those journals do constitute writing. The distillation of feelings or observations or longing or all of the above plus into coherent sentences on the page is no doubt useful, even if it is in atrocious handwriting, with the awkward structures left in. It is for this reason that I am perhaps not as hard on myself about missing my productivity goals in writing this year as I otherwise might have been. (Though I am still not thrilled.)
But it happens, and in the end, a set of essays and a novel published this year, even if not totally written this year, cannot be ignored when I look back on the last 11.5 months or so.
My inner editor has been a bit more active this year than it has in a while for my fiction. Also, in general I have been more tired on the whole this year than in previous years. But as it does little-to-no good to lambaste one’s self over such things, and given that one should remember, as I have often told others, that to get any writing done at all is no insignificant feat, I shall consider this post the official end of any sanctioned guilt I place upon myself for what I have and have not gotten done. The rest of the entries this month/year will be more proactive.
For in the end, what choice does a writer have but to be proactive?
Actress Alyssa Milano suggested on Twitter that women who have been the victims of sexual harassment state so by using the hashtag “MeToo.” The concept went viral on both Twitter and Facebook, and continues going strong.
Around the world, and, on my own Facebook/Twitter feeds.
For truly it is everywhere, and truly, it is pervasive in its effects on women.
When demonstrations or movements such as this arrive with the attention of calling out or bringing attention to sexual harassment, and other issues faced by women, the chorus of (mostly) men begin their “What about…” refrains in a counter protest as old as sex itself.
“What about the men that get sexually harassed? What about equal rights? What about the world’s view of us, and what about…..”
What about giving me, and the rest of the world a break with that shit?
To be clear, men are sexually harassed. Men can even be abused, raped, or silenced by shame or fear in wake of being such, and that’s not denied by any sane person. Yet if the only time the issue of male sexual abuse enters your mind enough to “speak out” about it is when a movement attempts top shine a light on the victimization of women, you cannot be that concerned with the issue of sexual harassment of any kind to begin with. What you are actually concerned with is establishing a false equivalence, wherein even in their victimhood women cannot in any way be in greater numbers than you and other “what about” men. What is intended as an exposure and education about the very real issue of sexual harassment against women, becomes instead a platform from which insecure men can remind the universe that they exist, and have known what a bad day is too, insisting that they are entitled to a hashtag.
Ignored in all of this is that they are free to create a hashtag. Ignored in all of this is the overwhelming statistical truth that a woman is not only more likely to be sexually harassed, but is also in a less powerful position, socially, professionally and physically to deflect or stop it than is the average man. It is such an obvious aspect of our society that more often men have more power, money, influence and political cover than women that it isn’t even a legitimate use of time to argue in favor of the point.
Pneumonia kills. Not always, but it can, and it does. Less so in this country than other places, but it happens. The sort of thinking described above applied to pneumonia would require a discontinuation of the study and recognition of the disease simply because in many cases, a patient did NOT die. “I had it and I’m fine today,” makes no better an argument to ignore pneumonia treatments than does, “Men get harassed too,” counter the victimization of women.
Tragically the “whataboutism” is the least insidious of all the reasons to shout down movements such as “Me too.” Horrible male insecurity and narcissism may be in that case, there are worse reasons to rail against “Me Too” and similar campaigns.
There is the notion that it’s all just “a joke” when men say such things to women. Set aside the fact that if it were just a joke, nobody should be getting this upset at being called out for doing it. If what you are doing when you harass a woman is a “joke” and you are told to stop, but insist on continuing to do it no matter how you are making a woman feel, because you have a “right to joke” or think we have become too “politically correct,” you’re not defending jokes at all. You’re defended your non-existent right to treat anyone in any manner you find entertaining. Nothing at all matters but what you think is a joke.
Ironically, (but not) there is plenty that such people would be offended by, should jokes be made about it. Tease them about something as insignificant as not being allowed into a particular showing of Wonder Woman, and watch them foam at the mouth about equality and rights. Tell them to calm down, that it’s just a joke on them for being men while you go watch the movie with only women, and you may need your mace at hand.
A similar position is, “it’s a compliment.” As much as many people would love to believe that “I want to suck your tits,” is an empowering comment to make to a stranger, who should be ultimately flattered by it, such comments are not compliments, because those who receive them do not view them as such. You are not commenting on an intrinsic positive quality in the person, only a desire you have for a specific piece of the anatomy; a piece they may or may not have any control over, but which they do not display specifically for you to ogle.
Which brings us to the next counter to “Me Too”. That women must want the sexual attention because why else would they wear a tight shirt with no bra? Because they feel like it, is of course the answer, but if that is not sufficient, consider the possibility that they want to look good for someone who is not you.
When you shout such things at women that you do not know, or those you do know, you do so with the assumption that they are engaging in a mating call, and that your ape grunts, if louder, faster and more persistent than the others will open her up to sharing your lust. It never enters your mind that she doesn’t consider you good enough for her, which she has a perfect right to determine.
It very well could be she likes the world to see her body, and see it they shall. But her willingness to show it doesn’t mean you have been given permission to say anything about it or approach her. Sorry, you’ll have to use magazines tonight, or find someone who is looking for you. But your presence in the same vicinity of a woman you find sexy doesn’t mean you will turn her on. Deal with it.
And while your at it, deal with it if she is wearing “modest” clothing and still doesn’t want you. Because if she doesn’t and you keep trying, you’ve define sexual harassment.
Ah, yes, “you can’t” deal with it. The oldest, worst, and least acceptable excuse of them all for obvious sexual harassment. Biology. Men are built to be horny, to spread their seed, to procreate. Because of this they are not, and cannot be expected to be in full control of themselves. Sex on TV, sex in the movies, sex in music. In all of these boys/men are bread to have women of a certain type, and it;s not their fault advertising works so well. But you, ladies could help stem this by dressing modestly, or giving more men a chance, or at least allowing them to catcall you, because men are built differently. It’s science.
Except it isn’t. In general, men cannot control an erection forming, and that’s about the extent of what they cannot control. (Even that can be mitigated if you put in a bit of effort beyond that of monkey.) You can control what you say, where you walk, what you look at. You do not have to do anything sexually. Believe it or not, you don’t even have to masturbate. But keep telling yourself that you do. Keep blaming the media, and keep following the incorrect assertions that a male is incapable of controlling himself once he gets to half-erection.
And when you get to believing it, you say things like “boys will be boys.” You’ll feel entitled to gratification from any woman that stirs you sexually. You’ll greet your daughter’s prom date with a shotgun slung over your shoulder because you assume he must absolutely be like you were/are, while later wondering why your son hasn’t “scored” yet or doesn’t date much.
In other words, you’ll be a prime perpetrator of sexual harassment.
“But not rape!”
Maybe not rape. There is a distinction between sexual harassment and rape. There is a distinction between “battery” and “assault with a deadly weapon.” You’re not exactly role model material if you commit the former instead of the latter. You’ll still a violent asshole. And you’re still a perverted masochistic bum if you’re okay with harassment even if you do not extend it to rape.
The comments are not a game. The following of a woman down the street is not boys being boys. Your non-erection reaction to scantily clad women is not a result of your being hostage to your hormones and rubbing, touching, patting or coming into contact with a woman without permission is not flirtation. It’s sexual harassment, and with movements such as “Me Too” I can either choose to believe that thousands of women, and more than a few of my own friends are just making it up, or I can choose to believe that sexual harassment of women is nearly embedded into the DNA of our culture, effecting nearly all women. (Whether they report it or not.)
“Women blow every little thing out of proportion into sexual harassment or rape because they like the attention.” A common jeer from this scum convention I’ve been talking about.
Attention? Really? If all they wanted was attention, why do you suppose they were doing everything they could to avoid yours? Could it be that in the morally bankrupt world of sexual manipulation, sexual harassment, and sexual violence, the ones who are truly, desperately, pathetically and dangerously pining for attention are those who have forced women everywhere to stand up and say “Me Too”?
I’m a man, in control of my mind, my actions, my dick, and my spirit. I’ll not allow anyone to claim otherwise, nor will I accept such claims from other men who judge the entirety of their existence and the ultimate fairness of the universe by how much sex they get, and how quickly they get it, upon demanding same.
A few people mentioned to me how they didn’t think I was being fair to male victims of harassment, and that no harm could come from them making use of the term to identify their victim hood. I embrace this notion in a broad sense, but still feel extra caution must be exerted. If in fact the movement is about women, (and that is where I have been coming from all along), I suspect there can be at least some collateral damage done, intentionally or unintentionally, because once again we run the risk of removing something that is about women, and making it about everyone, thus diluting the potency of the particular issue.
“If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” Is what Milano herself originally posted, and from that I came to believe that it really ought to be about the female version of this issue.
The last few weeks, maybe months, I’ve been up against some internal resistance in my fiction writing. I once described this experience not as writer’s block, but as writer’s weight, and I seem to be suffering from a heavy dose recently.
I don’t know exactly why, I wish I did, so I could fix it. As with so many other issues, it’s probably a combination of factors, fatigue being no small component. IN fact, what little fiction writing I have done lately, happened a few days ago, as I am in the midst of a week long “staycation” from my part-time job-a job for which I must get up way earlier in the morning than I am built for. Gaining traction on some of the lost sleep probably opened up a brief window to write a few hundred words earlier this week.
Still, I won’t put it all on being tired. I’ve worked on my fiction when tired before. The Beacons I See was written mostly while I had the same part time job, with the same lousy sleep patterns, and yet I still completed it.
As with so many of the ups, downs and neutrals of writing, it’s mental for the most part. I just haven’t “been there” as it were. I don’t mean inspiration, because I’ve known for a long time that a writer cannot wait for that to strike every time. Besides, I already know the stories I want to be working on; the inspiration for them came to me some time ago. Motivated may be a better term, but it still doesn’t quite fit how I am not feeling, as it were.
There may be a touch of thinking I am a fraud creeping in here and there. If so, I should probably be concerned with that less than any of the other likely reasons I am not writing much, for just about every writer that ever lived will feel as though they are a fake at some point. Possibly at multiple times throughout their life, and in some cases their entire life. If fear of being a fraud of contributing to my current lack of production, I’d at least be in good company.
Fear not, I haven’t set aside writing totally. I in fact writer in a private journal a bit just about every day. It’s less structured than writing intended for public consumption, and of course isn’t the same as writing fiction, but I’ve not gone numb on all wordsmithing, and that has to be a plus, right?
I’m still reading as well, fiction and non-fiction.
I imagine it will pass, or thaw, or, move on, or whatever the appropriate verb is for my situation. I suspect I won’t make my stated 2017 fiction writing goals now, (though one never knows.) But the self-appointed deadlines are just that-self appointed. If a draft gets done after that deadline, nothing bad happens because of that, other than disappointment in myself. But being too hard on oneself never helps either.
In the meantime, between now, and feeling a full normal flow of productivity, I stay open to answers, and willing to accept the slog I’m in for the time being.
Have you ever felt like this?
I’ll be giving away one free paper copy of The Beacons I See in a random drawing on Goodreads. If you;d like a chance to win, simply go to the novel’s page and click the button you find there to register for the drawing. (You must have a Goodreads account.) You have until October 1, if you’re interested.
This is my first attempt at having a Goodreads giveaway, and it ended up far easier than I expected it to be. They basically take care of everything for you. They even pick the winner at random, and send you the address. (I of course must send the book to said winner.)
I’m thinking about using the giveaway in the future for my older books as well, but for now, one giveaway at a time.