Women’s Place is in the House. And the Senate. (But not the Oval Office?)

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Among the jumbled, troubled feelings I had when Trump was elected was one of betrayal. I felt betrayed by my own gender. How could so many women vote for Trump, who displayed a cavalier and disrespectful attitude toward women? How can we fail to elect a woman president at this late point in history?

Many countries have elected or appointed female heads of state. By my quick count of Wikipedia’s list, since 1940 there have been no fewer than 160 female heads of government and heads of state throughout the world. Thirty-five countries have female leaders right now. The United States is lagging far behind, in spite of the fact that we have a two hundred year old women’s movement. Countries that have a far more oppressive attitude toward women overall none the less have elected or appointed women to the highest government office. Why can’t we?

For one thing women in this country tend to vote along party lines rather than voting based on gender. I can attest to this. I never would have voted for Sarah Palin. Probably few people voted for or against Hillary based on her gender, at least not consciously. I think that to understand the failure of this country to elect a woman president or even vice president, we have to look deeper.

I was overjoyed when Barack Obama was elected president. I am very proud that our country could elect a black man, but I was not surprised that a black man was nominated to run for president sooner than a woman. I was more surprised, though glad, that Hillary  did so well.  Black men were at least nominally assured the vote on February 3, 1870, with the passage of the 15th amendment, which states that no one can be denied the vote due to “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Women were denied the vote until passage of the 19th amendment which prohibited sex-based restrictions on voting in 1920. That is 50 years later! Women had been fighting for the right to vote for one hundred years by that time. I hope that this country will nominate and elect a woman of color four years from now.

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This country is very patriarchal and male-dominated. The sleek car and the hand gun, two phallic symbols and symbols of power,  are among our status symbols. They capture the imagination of young people and are often associated with American life. Endemic to our culture is the image of the Lone Ranger, the heroic rugged individual who rides into town to fix everything and rides off alone into the sunset. The individual is celebrated, not the group. This is a masculine oriented point of view. Women are more associated with the archetype of the collective. The male assertion is “look what I can do!” The feminine version is “look what we did!” Other cultures, though male dominated in other ways, value  the collective much more than we do. We have a history of pioneers striking off on their own to settle the wilderness, and this image is deeply embedded in our national imagination.

Trump projects this archetype, as have quite a few previous presidents. He styles himself the plain talking self-made man, although of course he is neither. He is a college educated son of privilege who says many things that aren’t true. He wants us to think that he is the lone hero who can come in and fix it. Hillary showed a lot of toughness in her policies, her stamina, and her stance, however her slogan, “we are stronger together” was all about the feminine principle and the collective.  These are not yet strong in the national imagination, although they should be. Even though I understand this, I find it shameful and embarrassing.

The Electoral College

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The founders of our country were concerned that democratic voting by the populace may not work because the “common man” would not be well enough informed to vote in his own best interest. Of course, the term “common man” is used advisedly. At the time, only men could vote. In fact, only white men could vote. The founders, who were all educated, privileged white men, were concerned that lower class, uneducated white men, especially those living in remote rural areas, would not understand the issues well enough to make an informed decision. Isn’t that interesting? The group that turned out in larger than expected numbers to elect Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton were young, lower class, uneducated white men, especially those living in remote rural areas.

The solution the founders came up with in order to solve this problem inherent in any democracy was the Electoral College. Actually, as far as I know, it never really worked. The idea was that we (not really we in those days) would elect people to represent us in selecting a president. Each state would have representation proportionate to the population of that state. These representatives had no obligation to vote for any particular person. They were supposed to be wise men who would make good decisions. Well, but is that really democracy? People began to be dissatisfied with this, so the practice came to be that the electoral college representatives would cast all of their state’s votes for the winner of the popular vote in that state. OK, so now we have another undemocratic situation, in which the winner of the popular vote can still lose the election.

It is my understanding that this hasn’t happened very often, but it has happened disastrously twice in my recent memory; in 2000, when Al Gore lost to George W. Bush, and this year, when Hillary lost to Donald Trump. If Gore had been elected, global warming may not have progressed at its present alarming rate. Now, we are faced with the uncertainty of an unstable personality in charge of a possible nuclear strike, potential upsets in any number of international relations, an accelerated destruction of the environment, the conditions for another economic depression, the loss of hard gained human rights, and maybe even a bloody, senseless, useless civil war.

Will the majority of the people who voted for Trump find that his presidency is in their best interest? No, of course not. One of the things they want is jobs. I actually think that Trump may be able to deliver on this to some extent. The problem is, the new jobs will be at minimum wage, and minimum wage may well be cut back to a lower level. Why? Trump wants to bring manufacturing back to this country. Corporations would not make the profits they now make, paying American wages. Wages would have to be rolled way back for corporations to move their plants back into the country. He says he’ll rebuild the infrastructure. I got pretty excited about that until I realized he’d accomplish that the same way, contracting the jobs out to corporations. They, Trump supporters, want to go back to a simpler time, the way it used to be. Before globalization. Deep down, they want to do something about their fear.

It seems to me that the more divided our nation becomes, the more often the popular vote and the electoral vote will differ. If the popular vote is very close, there is more chance the electoral vote will be something different. The whole populace used to shift back and forth in a healthy way between the more progressive and the more conservative political parties. Now, we seem to be stuck in our positions. People are mistrustful of their elected representatives and fearful of one another. This fear, of course, is being manipulated and we must not let our democracy be taken away from us! The Electoral College has been a topic on the internet quite a lot lately. There have been petitions circulated. I have signed them. It doesn’t guard us against stupidity, it only makes the campaigns more difficult and more of a crap shoot. I will say more about the Electoral College when I write about the constitution.

 

 

Trumpitis:

I voted for Hillary. I voted for her because I thought she was competent and, frankly, safe. I voted for no change. Not all change is good.

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It’s the sick and disoriented feeling I and many of my friends have had since the election last Tuesday. I haven’t written here in ages, but thoughts are going through my mind and now it’s time for self expression.  This is a Boomer issue, since we were always interested in change, in peace, in human rights. We cared. We voted.

 

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I voted for Hillary. She wasn’t my first choice. I didn’t vote for her because she was a woman, although I think electing a woman president is important, and I was glad to vote for a woman. I voted for her because I thought she was competent, experienced, and, frankly, safe. Trump appears to be very impulsive. It frightens me to give him the power to start a nuclear war, which the voters have done. To tell you the truth, I voted for no change. Not all change is good. I trust Hillary to keep things on an even keel. I felt that was the best that could be expected. I just wanted someone who could safely steer the ship of state. Someone I would get in the car with and trust to drive me home.

This is an older person kind of choice, conservative in a sense. I wanted to conserve the gains we had made in the past eight years. I wanted to conserve our beloved nation and our planet. No, I didn’t think Hillary was the most progressive choice. I thought that she was backed by the establishment, and I was flat out amazed that she lost.

The events since the election have caused me to fear civil war even more than I had feared the specter of nuclear war. Demonstrations turning violent, the surge of hate crimes and KKK marches are very upsetting. A nation divided can not stand. I have fear for the fate of our nation. Economically, I fear a major depression.

I am trying to understand what happened. I have been thinking: Does democracy work? I hope it does, and it’s a serious question. As many people have mentioned, I have thought about whether the electoral college system is necessary. How sacred is our constitution? Could some of it be outdated? When you question any part of the constitution, does it endanger the whole of it? What if we lost the Bill of Rights? What about the second amendment? I have been thinking about women in American politics. Many other countries have elected women. Why do we lag behind? What kind of president will Trump be? Who voted for him, and why? Will they get what they expect? I plan to address these and other questions in upcoming posts.

 

 

How to Beat a Cold

I had not yet fully recovered from a serious case of diverticulitis, when that most hated of all maladies, the common cold, came calling.  This happened to be a very virulent bug, and my immune system is in the pits, so I actually was incapacitated by it for several days.  For me, with colds, this is the exception.  I would rather have a tooth pulled than come down with a cold.  So, over the years, I have developed an arsenal of remedies to help me avoid a cold, or experience only very mild symptoms lasting less than the fabled week it normally takes to get over one.  As we get older, getting a cold seems to become more bothersome and even vaguely frightening.  It could “take hold.”  There’s a very real chance of feeling lousy for a month or longer.  I’d like to share with you some of the things I do to keep the dreaded rhino virus at bay.  Standard to say:  I am not an M.D., there is no known cure for the cold, and these suggestions are meant to help you stay more comfortable, if they do work as well for you as they have for me.  I also don’t mean to promote any given product.  I am passing on information and ideas, as friends do.

The best thing to do for a cold, obviously, is not get one.  There are some things you can do about this.  Two of them I learned from a former boyfriend:  Be rude and obsessive.  It may seem quite rude to tell someone not to bother coming over for a visit, but if your friend has a cold, it may be the best thing to do.  The problem is, people are most contagious just before they know for sure they do have a cold.  You know, it’s during that “Is this a cold or an allergy?” period. Or you might never even see the person who has the cold.  The germs are on the ATM machine or grocery cart handle.  This calls for is the obsessive part.  Especially during cold season, keep washing your hands.  Germs are not so likely to fly through the air and land in your mouth.  More likely, you get the germs on your hands and transfer them to your own nose, mouth, or eyes.  There has been a lot of publicity about this lately, so no more need be said.

As significant as the spread of germs may be, it also seems true that if I am happy, unstressed, and at the peak of health;  someone with a cold can sneeze in my face and I won’t get sick.  Some people “never get sick” and others catch everything that goes around.  This is the mysterious factor of the immune system.  Some people just have good genes, immune-wise, and others don’t; but there are also a lot of things you can do to boost your immune system, both on a regular basis and as needed.  If your diet includes more than five servings of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables per day and no sugar, alcohol, processed or junk food (unlike mine), you may not need to do anything else to boost the immune system.  The rest of us need at least a multi-vitamin.  Most people also need extra Vitamin D and Vitamin C, especially during cold season.  In years past, I have also taken Astragalus supplements during cold season, and it seems to have helped.  You can also take Astragalus daily, starting when you think you have been exposed to a cold, as I did this time.

I was introduced to Airborne by a relative who is a school teacher.  There are also other, less widely distributed, preparations meant to give a jolt to the immune system.  You can get them at a health food or vitamin store.  Airborne is widely available.  It may not be the best, but it has been working for me.  It has vitamins and minerals as well as a few herbal ingredients.  You can take it as soon as you think you’ve been exposed to a cold.  I’ve remembered to do that on several occasions, and didn’t get a cold those times.  Or, you can take it when you start to get a cold, and if the immune gods are with you, you may be able to beat the cold.  I always take Astragalus, Goldenseal, and Echinacea along with it.  Then I gargle with salt water, clean out my nose with a slightly less saline solution, and go to bed.  Often, I wake up without a cold.  That’s what I call “beating” a cold.

It doesn’t always work.  It does work often enough that others have taken note.  “What happened to that cold you said you were getting?”

Well, I didn’t get it.  But sometimes I do.  It’s still possible to have milder symptoms and a shorter period of illness by continuing the same regimen.  If the nose starts to run and I start sneezing, I wash out my nose (There is a proper way to do this, with a neti pot, but I just snuffle up some slightly salty water from my hand and blow it out again, on each side) and gargle with salt water twice a day.  I drink Airborne two or three times a day.  I take Astragalus once a day, and Vitamin C, Goldenseal, and Echinacea three times a day.  As a last resort, I put diluted hydrogen peroxide in my ears.  A friend told me about this and I swear, I’ve had cold symptoms disappear as soon as I do it.  There are a number of herbal teas that bring relief to cold symptoms as well.  My favorite is called “Gypsy Cold Care.”  Put a lot of honey in it and you’ll feel just fine.

How to Use a Dating Service

I was talking with someone who reads my posts.  She is married, and in no need of a dating service. Lucky her!  However, some of her friends are dating.  As we spoke, it became clear that while my last post, “The Dating Game,” gave people a sympathetic experience to relate to, it didn’t offer much practical help.  I started to give her a few pointers that I had already passed on to a couple of friends, when I realized that this information would be useful to more than a few people.  My advice is mainly oriented to the woman’s point of view.  Guys also might find some of the information helpful.  Some of the content could work for the gay and lesbian dating scene, as well.  I know that dating services do serve the gay community.  So, gals, here goes.  Take a deep breath.

Women, you have to recognize that in our age group, there are many more single women than single men.  There have been more women than men in our cohort all along, since the Vietnam war.  As we get older, the ratio of women to men increases, due to the difference in longevity between the sexes.  This means that in the dating world, we are the job seekers and men are the employers.  You know how in today’s job market, there are over a hundred applications for each advertised job opening? You can’t just stand around waiting for the job to find you.  It is the same in dating.  Many of us have been taught that it is the man’s role to seek out women.  There are undoubtedly strong cultural and biological reasons for this, but we have to counteract the impulse to just wait, to a certain extent.  Not too much, because men have the same programming, and want to maintain a semblance of leadership in the mating game.  It gets tricky.

If you do use an online service, how you look and what you say is very important, just like in life. This is equally true for men, by the way:  I have simply clicked past and disregarded many potential dates because they didn’t have a photo or say enough in their profile.  Put your best foot forward.  Several photos are better than one.  You probably want both a head shot and a full body shot, unless you can’t get one or the other to come out flattering.  There is nothing wrong with photos that aren’t you, but show things that you like. I learned this from the men on the service I’m using.  Some are great photographers and have wonderful landscape pictures, others have snapshots of pets or prized possessions. It’s like a little photo essay that tells a lot about you.

When you write your profile, try to think about things that make you stand out.  How are you different?  Everyone likes candlelit dinners and walks on the beach.  Think about what you really like, even if not everyone might think it’s special.  It’s special to you.  Do you do needlepoint? Do you especially like old monster movies? Fishing trips? Tell about it.  Why do you like it?  Do you particularly like fresh brook trout for breakfast or is it more about spending the whole day in nature? What’s your idea of a great first date?  Oh, going to dinner.  How original!  Of course, that might be what you do, but what would you want to have happen?  Would you laugh at each other’s jokes, discuss Elizabethan love sonnets, or compare lives?

Usually, the service invites you to say what you are looking for in a relationship or in a partner. Think about your values.  What is important to you?  Honesty, financial stability, social activism, romance, travel?  My sense of this question is that you want to make sure to mention the things that are absolute deal breakers for you and then leave it kind of general.  People will self-select away from you if they don’t recognize themselves in your description. I know I do, when I read men’s profiles.  Think about the quality you are describing and whether or not it’s really important to you.  For example, you may write that you want to meet someone “adventurous,” and you are thinking about being willing to try a new sushi place, but a very nice man may avoid you because he’s been thinking about sky diving but hasn’t worked up the courage.

OK, women, now here’s the hard part.  Once you have enrolled and posted your profile, you might have to take some initiative.  You may get some response from men, but not necessarily the ones you want to meet.  I, for example, have no interest in a long-distance romance, and have to politely refuse offers that come from across the country.  To find men in my area, I had to use the search function and put in some criteria.  I selected an age range, a distance I was willing to travel, and non-smoker. Then. start looking at the pictures and profiles the service provides for you.  Don’t be disappointed if you don’t find much at first.  You really have to stick with it, just like selling cosmetics or looking for a job.  If you haven’t dated for a while, it may be a good idea to go out on a date or two, even with someone you think you probably wouldn’t be interested in, just for the practice.  A friend of mine said she did this, and I think it’s a super idea.  Think of it as a lark and a free cup of coffee!

You have to expect that you will often make the first contact, in the form of a written message through the service.  Don’t just pick one guy and write a long letter to him and then sit waiting for him to write back!  You don’t know enough about these people to be that selective.  Write to as many fellows as you can find that meet your criteria.  Say something nice about them, a little bit about yourself, maybe something that isn’t in your profile, and ask a friendly, curious question.  Is that an antique desk in your photo?  What kind of fishing do you like? Are your dogs both Pomeranians?  This invites a reply.  The person to whom you are writing will look at your picture and read your profile, and if he is interested, he’ll write back.  Gentlemen write back, politely but firmly, even if they are not interested.  You will do this, too.

Now.  Here’s the tricky part.  You write to him once.  You do not write to him again until and unless he writes to you.  The ball is in his court.  It is exactly like a game of tennis.  You return the ball promptly when it’s in your court, then it’s his turn.  Then your turn.  Keep doing this until someone, probably the man, suggests a meeting.  Say yes!  You aren’t doing this to brush up your writing skills! It’s fine for you to suggest a time and place.  Do not give your phone number, email address, or street address before you have met this dude in person.  This common-sense rule works for men as well. Scam artists come in all ages and genders, sadly.  This having been said, at some point you have to trust your gut feelings about a person.  The first meeting should not be a big-deal date.  Meeting for a drink or a cup of coffee is a good idea.  That way, if you are uncomfortable, you can get away rather soon, and if you’re having a good time, you can extend it.  Better yet, make a second date.

Good luck to you!  Let me know how it goes.  Next:  How to Go on a Date

The Dating Game

A couple of months ago, I signed up for an online dating service.  I don’t know what possessed me to ruin a perfectly good life that way.  Well, I do know.  A friend talked me into it.  That’s what they all say, isn’t it?  I was having a great summer – travel to Brazil and Seattle, afternoons spent by or in the swimming pool, tan and blond (an effort to go gray run amok) and feeling invincible.  We were three of us in the pool, and the older of us was telling the other two we’d better get out there and meet people while there’s still time.  Pretty dire.  “Meet people” is a Boomerism, and those weren’t her exact words.  I don’t think she said “catch a man,” but it’s what she meant.  Now or never.  Get going, girls, on the count…one…two…tackle!  Oh, please.

None the less, as I said, I was invincible in those now-past warm months.  I usually do take a dare.  That sounds wild, try again:  I respond to a challenge with a willingness to take risks. I signed up. I chose a service specifically for older people.  The first few times I logged on to the site were discouraging.  Everyone looked so old!  The men seemed to fall into one of two categories: monosyllabic every-day Joes with their ball caps and fishing gear, and the New Age Mr. Perfects, always looking for Ms. Even-More-Perfect.  Narcissus ready to attack Echo for her lack of self-esteem, and imperfect mirroring. Not to mention chipped nails. I knew they wouldn’t even answer my emails.  As for the regular guys, well, I might have to suck it up.

Dear readers, I would like to say that I am doing this for you, but that wouldn’t be the case.  I know you want to know what dating is like after fifty or sixty years of age, after years in a relationship and out of the dating scene.  I know that I have to write about this sooner or later, and I will need some experience.  Seriously, before this I was thinking I’d interview friends for my material.  I am not back out on the dating scene for Boomerage.  I am doing it for me.  Although my last relationship must be chalked up as a total failure, there are elements that I miss:  Someone to share feelings with, to tell the day’s events to a sympathetic ear; someone to laugh with.  Daily hugs.  Dancing at midnight in the kitchen.  I have friends, near and far, mostly women.  Just when I’m feeling alone, the phone rings, and there is one of my friends, eager to know the latest events in my life and wanting to share her experiences.  I get to know that I’m not alone, but it ain’t the same as having a partner at home..  No way, no how.

I finally got some emails from men in my area who weren’t so damn special and weren’t bozos either.  What do you know? I thought to myself, maybe this is OK after all.  I went out on some dates.  I got a hand-shake, followed by more e-mails.  I got a kiss, followed by more dates.  Lord’a mercy, it was working!  I can report first hand on dating after sixty.  My life is getting interesting.

First, let me say, this is something I didn’t envision for myself.  I thought that by this age I would be in a lasting relationship.  I’m willing to bet that other singles my age and older had the same expectations.  Men and women alike, straight and gay, want a secure situation for their old age:  The hug and sympathetic gaze to come home to.  We don’t really want to get dressed up and go out all that often.  It’s too much trouble.  If we were in a long-term relationship, we could mumble complaints to our partner, remind each other to take a nap that afternoon, have someone’s help to knot the tie or zip the dress.  When we are dating, we have to do this more frequently and we are on our own.  Is that tie straight?  Is the dress too tight?  Is what we want to show, showing; and what we want to hide, hidden?

Wardrobe concerns are just the tip of the iceberg.  I have to tell you, dear readers, that dating post sixty is no different from dating at any age.  If anything, it is a bit more nerve-wracking.  The stakes are a bit higher.  More than ever, we want a stable relationship.  The biological clock for pregnancy is one thing.  This is the big biological clock.  We are more vulnerable.  More than ever, we fear a mistake.  We could be abused financially.  A wrong relationship could take us just beyond the age at which we seem datable and attractive.  If we become ill, the person we’re with could fade out or become abusive.  These concerns may not be conscious, but they loom in the background, making the usual dating angst bigger and darker.

You may remember the drill:  Will he call?  What if he doesn’t?  What if he does?  What should I say? If I’m too distant, will he give up?  If I’m too forward and affectionate will I push him away?  Why did she say that?  Does she think I’m stupid?  Is she manipulating me? And so on.  I get nervous before a date, depressed afterwards.  For someone who was on a very peaceful, even keel it’s like buying a ticket for an extended roller-coaster ride.  I’m just not getting the “whee!” part yet.  I am in the white knuckles stage.  Perhaps, after a couple of times around the loop, when I’m more relaxed.  On the other hand, I am getting an opportunity to see into some of my deepest hurt places.  In my world, this is a good thing.  I can process and resolve them.

Dating should be fun.  When I was in high school, I remember it was lots of fun.  People in their twenties seem to enjoy dating.  As mentioned, the biological clock appears to up the ante and increase dating angst for many women in their thirties, while guys are still cruisin’.  This sets up a discrepancy that men apparently continue to carry in their cellular memory – the desperate woman, trying to catch any man at any cost.  A very skewed picture, far from reality, but I think it’s in the mix.

For me, I went through a divorce and was unexpectedly on the dating scene once before, in my early fifties.  My experience then was very different from my present experience.  I took it extremely lightly and had a ball!  My thinking was that the main mistake people make in dating is to take it too seriously and fail to have a good time.  I was not goal-oriented.  I was just out of a marriage.  I was in no hurry to do it again. I went out with men I met through a dating service, old friends, people I happened to meet socially.  They say fifty is the new thirty, and, physically, I felt much the same as I did at thirty.  I had already raised a family.  No clock was ticking for me.  Perhaps I was not serious enough, because I ended up in a dead-end relationship.  On the other hand, I might have landed there anyway.  At least I had fun.