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BATTERED WOMAN SYNDROME
17 February 2006
As I was driving home from the photo-shoot for Titanic: The Musical, I was listening to the Gene Burns program on KGO. I had spent the afternoon, driving home from my mother's, listening to Pete Wilson's talk show, also on KGO. Pete Wilson talked about Cheney and the whole shooting incident--mostly about the apparent attitude of the vice president and his minions, the slow response on the part of the White House (has anybody heard from GW?), and all that we've been listening to for days now.
Burns, on his evening show, talked about the Katrina mess, the Australian photos from Abu Ghraib, and other instances of government incompetence (pick a card, any card...).
Burns sent out the perhaps rhetorical question to his audience: "what do you do when it's the whole government that's incompetent?" He listed incident after incident after incident where this administration has bungled things, mishandled things, misled people, outright lied, manipulated things, evaded questions. On and on and on. And then he asked what we as a disgusted people do about our governmental incompetence.
The more I listened to him, the more I decided that I was beginning to understand what it must feel like to be a battered woman. I can't remember the last time I turned on the radio or the television and saw something good that anybody in authority in our government did. It's all about this mistake and that goof and this overcalculation, and this stupid appointment and that coverup.
You reach a point where the bombardment is so constant and from so wide a field, so varied in its scope, that you just fold in on yourself, curl into a ball and ignore it all.
How many battles can you fight when you have absolutely no power whatsoever? When the guys in authority won't even let you get a word in edgewise.
I am reminded of a talk show that aired on Valentine's day. It was the local Fox station which took on the subject of the gay marriage demonstrations.
Ellen called to let me know about it. She hoped I'd call in to the show in support of her, but being a wimp and terrified of speaking out in public where my voice can be heard (though I don't find this threatening at all in print), I knew I would not be able to be effective, if I could even speak at all, from stage fright.
This being Fox, of course they were completely against gay marriage, but the message came out, spouting all this vitriolic hatred. Apparently Ellen had called in to the show to try to explain the difficulties of being with a life partner and having no legal protections whatsoever.
Thirty minutes later (when she called to let me know that the show was on), the host of the show and most of the callers were still attacking her. Their voices sounded like the faces that I saw protesting in Woodland on Valentine's day.
Judgemental. Critical. Angry. Hateful. Without having a clue what life was like for gay people.
The host was convinced that Ellen had grown up in a homophobic family, that she couldn't accept herself, that she was spiraling down into emotional pain, that no amount of acceptance by society would heal her. This, he says, is why she wants to be married.
I tried to listen to the show. A gay man called in, trying to explain why gays did not have the same rights and how you could not get all of your rights covered legally.
The host wouldn't let him get a word in edgewise. Every time he said anything, the host made fun of him, told him all he had to do was to go to Kinkos and fill out a generic form and all his problems would be solved.
The caller tried vainly to make a point--any point, but was not permitted to finish a sentence, while the host continued to ridicule and attack him.
Ellen says all she wants to know is how to convince the government that as Shelly's 30+ year old partner she is entitled to death benefits, Shelly's Social Security, the same as I would if Walt died (assuming he got Social Security which, as a government employee, he does not). Without Shelly's Social Security, if she predeceases Ellen, Ellen would have to move out of the home they have held together for 30 years.
But the guy didn't want to hear that. He wanted Ellen to be sick. To be damaged. He wanted to be right and he didn't want to hear anything else.
That's the message I get from this administration.
There is no administration in my lifetime which has not had its flaws, and I do not single out Republican adminstrations because I am a Democrat. Democratic administrations have had their problems too. But the arrogance of this administration in the face of massive bungling and mistakes which have severely adversely affected this nation--and the entire world--in a way that has not happened in my lifetime have just left me--and I suspect a great majority of the American public, numb. It's too much.
I am reaching saturation. They are winning. They are winning because the mountain of bad has totally buried any spark of hope. It's just too much work to lift my head and look up.
So I'll watch mindless television and try to ignore it all until the next time I feel like someone is hitting me over the head again with the next big thing, whatever it might be.
And we have three more years of this, at the very least, to have to endure.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
(I did some playing around with Picture Cloud, using orchids that my mother raises)