My Blog Week: March 27 to April 2
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A Word on the Week
Handle with Care
This week’s Oscar event has, per the pundits, aged to at least touch the border of overness—but it’s still my topic today. Why did the event seem like a personal policy challenge to us all? Partly, I think, because movies, and the company they keep in popular entertainment—the books that inspire them, the anthems that memorialize them—promote a version of manliness and female inertia that the slap refuted. To those who have pretended to the world that a fist for an insult is a chivalric show of love, and fair exchange, came the emotional gut-punch that told them it’s a fairytale.
I have six points to make, and because this lesson has a broad application, I’ll do it without naming names.
First, a man doing violence to protect his wife, puts her in a position. How much harm she considers done, and what she would like to do about it, are her own choices, as is the timing of any redress she seeks. His violence steals the narrative, escalates the incident, limits the possible ways of viewing it, and takes away her chance to weigh and measure before approaching the offender.
Second, if the person making the joke were a grandmother, an innocent child, a smirky teenager, a war veteran, or a comedian, the value of “defending my wife” would be tested by whether each of these persons gets punched, or some do and some don’t. If some do and some don’t, it’s really a hierarchy of power being defined. If only the comedian gets punched, the husband becomes the comedian’s stalker.
Third, we’ve seen people who “love” America commit acts of violence, notably on January 6, 2021. We’d rather not see this become an excuse for a light sentence. But the argument that allows violence “on behalf of (wives, daughters, America as symbolic female)” is essentially the same.
Fourth, a joke about a medical condition may be painful. But in households with abusive adults, there are two kinds of trauma, affecting the ones who get hit and the ones who have to watch. The joke is a reminder; the violent act is a reliving.
Fifth, what does the Hollywood version of the man protecting the woman really say? If we go forward through literature and theater from the earliest tellings of this tale, it says that women, in their weakness and softness, are figures of virtue. A threat to a woman is a threat to goodness. Yet a good person doesn’t applaud cruelty being done in her name. A good person doesn’t silently allow it. A good person, best positioned to intervene, stands up to prevent cruelty. A good person is sacrificing and bears consequences.
All of which seems a harsh reflection, and shouldn’t need to be. It’s unfortunate that the slap—my first point—created this ethical box, and that the parties involved got positioned in it.
Sixth. Finally, as to our overtrained-by-movies mentality, we have to stop supposing everyone who is going to do the right thing will have thought of it at once. Surprises take time to process. No one has a script telling them what happens if they rise by themselves. Or sit by themselves. A standing ovation occurred…
However, that’s also a case of devalued currency. The highest audience accolade should belong to once-in-a-lifetime performances and appearances by the venerable and beloved, not to all receivers of awards.
On Monday, a new poem in the Eight series, “King’s Knight”, with Artsy asking help from a neighborhood fixer. On Tuesday, Catastrophe, and survival stories of those caught shipboard. On Wednesday, The Sword Decides!, with a glimpse of a sinister encroachment. Thursday, the conclusion of “The Hold”, showing modern technology romp easily over the brain that believes itself a mind. Saturday, a fresh edit began of “Nedforum”, the most recent Tourmaline story, in preparation for the next one.
Images on my posts sometimes have a link to related information (click first image), sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, sometimes in answer to a direct reference. Since people can be leery about links, I include them here: what they are, what sites they point to.
My Blog Week: March 27 to April 3
Eight: King’s Knight (poem)
Catastrophe (part nineteen)
Marjorie Bowen: The Sword Decides! (part fifty-three)
The Hold (conclusion)
Tourmaline: Nedforum (part one)