On Weinstein and the Message We Send

The New York Times ran a story last week exposing the sordid history of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual predation and payoffs sending shockwaves through Hollywood and beyond. Many have rightly wondered since how this loutish behavior went on for so long without anyone crying foul. (Other than his victims who apparently didn’t warrant defending by those with power in the industry, though they clearly have no qualms calling out bad behavior in those whose politics they oppose — more on that in a bit.) RedState’s own Patterico wrote an interesting piece last night attempting to answer the question as to how the Weinstein story didn’t break before now.  He raises a good point about the Lee Smith article in The Weekly Standard which, itself, alludes to another Hollywood mover and shaker who, despite acknowledging his own depravity, is spared being named.

I was particularly struck when I read Patterico’s article by this excerpt from Smith’s piece:

Hollywood is full of connoisseurs like Weinstein, men whose erotic imaginations are fueled primarily by humiliation, who glut their sensibilities with the most exquisite refinements of shame. A journalist once told me about visiting another very famous Hollywood producer—you’d know the name—who exhibited for my friend his collection of photographs of famous female actresses—you’d know their names, too—performing sexual acts for his private viewing. As with Weinstein, this man’s chief thrill was humiliation, and the more famous the target the more roundly it was savored: Even her, a big star—these people will do anything to land a role; they’re so awful, they’ll even do it for me.

That last sentence called to mind the big story from almost exactly one year ago: Donald Trump’s obnoxious comments to Billy Bush on the infamous Access Hollywood tape. At the time, I wrote the following about the message we send:

Several friends shared this tweet by Kim Carroll (whom I do not know):

“If you’re making excuses for sexual assault because you don’t want to lose an election, you ARE Hillary Clinton.

https://twitter.com/KimGOP60/status/784795474884689920

I hesitated before sharing it myself, as I knew it would likely rankle some of my other friends.  Ultimately, though, I felt compelled to post it – and to elaborate on my reasoning.

Let’s get this out of the way right up front: I do not like Donald Trump.  I have never supported his candidacy – have,  in fact, objected loudly to it since June 16, 2015.  I have stated repeatedly that I will not be voting for him.  I also do not like Hillary Clinton.  I have never supported her candidacy and have stated repeatedly I will not be voting for her either.  My reasoning as to both is fair game for discussion but is not the purpose of this post.

The purpose of this post is to state why Donald Trump’s comments — and how we react to them — matter.   They’ve been excerpted (and replayed) elsewhere, but I will set them out here (somewhat reluctantly) in order to make my point clear:

Trump: “Yeah that’s her with the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful… I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.”

Bush: “Whatever you want.”

Trump: “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

Unlike some, I’m not overly shocked by the comments.  I have, in fact, heard similar statements before.  No, not all men speak like this – and no gentleman does – but some men do.  And it comes as zero surprise to me that Donald Trump falls into that category.  (Frankly, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.)  Actually hearing the audio and watching the video of him emerging from the Access Hollywood bus with Billy Bush only to make a show of hugging the woman whose appearance sparked their comments is a bit jarring – more so than reading them in print.  There is no question that Trump made the comments; we get to hear them straight from the horse’s [ass’s] mouth.

I’ve seen many draw the distinction that these are just words and not actions (like, say, another prominent male politician whose wife is seeking the same office as Trump.)  That is true (and I’ll circle back around to Bill in a moment.)  However, Trump’s words imply that these are actions he’s already taken. On multiple occasions.  What if he’s just bragging, though?  What if he’s never actually just started kissing on a woman without waiting? What if he’s never just grabbed some woman in the most intimate of ways without first verifying her consent (because “when you’re a star…you can do anything”)? We’ll go with that, and set aside the allegations that have been made by more than one woman that Trump has, in fact, acted in just such a way (because we don’t have incontrovertible proof of such – just allegations.)  This means that, in his view, kissing and grabbing a woman “by the pussy” (side note to Donald – it’s not a handle) without her consent is something to boast about; something which ought improve his image in the eyes of others; something about which men should laud and applaud other men.  It isn’t.  It’s sexual assault.

No, really, it’s squarely within the legal definition of sexual assault. Some may balk at that because it seems like such a harsh characterization, but that is exactly what it is.  And anyone who believes that boasting about either doing it or having the intent to do it is just hunky-dory, needs to be disabused of that notion right quick.  I say this as a woman who adores men and in no way views them all as predators.  However, I also say this as a woman who on occasion has been groped or touched in inappropriate ways by men (or boys) who did not have my consent for same, and yet didn’t feel I had the right to object.  I may have jumped away or yelped or even tried to laugh it off, depending on the circumstances, and to be very clear, I was (luckily) never harmed physically. But I was made to feel like an object, and it was and is belittling and demeaning.  In hindsight, I regret not objecting and not making it clear that this was not okay – for two reasons: First, because I believe many men, if they realized how it made women feel, would not engage in such behavior, particularly not if they thought of it in terms of their mothers, sisters, wives or daughters.  Second, because those men who simply don’t care how it makes women feel should not be given a pass.

Most importantly, I say this as the mother of a fourteen-year-old girl.  And quasi-step-mother to sixteen and eighteen-year-old girls.  And aunt to seventeen and twenty-one-year-old nieces.  I adore all these young women beyond belief, and I don’t ever want any of them to think that it’s okay for someone else to touch them without their consent, or to belittle or demean them by treating them as anything other than the dear beautiful souls they are.

So let’s be crystal clear on this: Kissing a woman or touching her private parts without her consent is NOT OKAY.  Bragging to others about having done so is NOT OKAY.  Giggling with others over your intent to do so is NOT OKAY.  And if you wish to be a nation’s leader, if you wish to have millions of people (including women) place their trust and faith in you to set the tone and steer the course for our country, saying what Donald Trump said is NOT OKAY.

“But it was 11 years ago!” some exclaim.  Yes, it was.  Setting aside that Trump was a 59 year old married man at the time, who hadn’t the slightest compunction about sharing with others his “heavy” pursuit of a married woman (Nancy O’Dell), that still isn’t long enough ago to excuse him from issuing a full-throated apology and repudiation of the comments – which he hasn’t done.  Nothing in his statements about it since indicates he has the slightest clue as to why his comments were inappropriate – only that he knows others were offended by them.

“Bill Clinton has said and done worse,” others point out.  Yes, though we don’t appear to have handy audio or video of quite such a crude comment or of his acknowledged indiscretions or alleged improprieties, I’m willing to accept that it’s extraordinarily likely that he has.  But nothing Bill Clinton has said or done excuses Trump.  Does the fact that many have elected to give Bill a pass and/or to deny that any/all of his alleged malfeasance actually occurred exhibit an ugly double standard?  Yes, it most certainly does.  If you’re willing to give one person a pass for the same thing for which you’re condemning another, purely because the political party/affiliation of the former aligns with yours, you’re being a disingenuous hypocrite.  And I have to acknowledge that I’m guilty of that.  I voted for Bill Clinton twice (though that was before most of his bad behavior was known), and I’ve even recently mused that I might be more willing to vote for him than either Donald or Hillary.  I was only half serious (as that’s virtually an impossibility) but I was wrong to do so, even if it was to make a point. The fact remains that Bill Clinton’s bad behavior – whatever your belief as to the extent of it – does not excuse Donald Trump’s or anyone else’s. 

“Hillary Clinton has enabled Bill and victimized his accusers.” This is often pointed out, as well. And certainly, if even half of the allegations are true, she’s rightly criticized for doing so.  But even assuming all of them are true and she’s as ruthless and calculating as many believe her to be, that still does not excuse Donald Trump – and if you’re attempting to excuse a grown man gleefully recounting his past (or contemplated) physical assaults on women because you don’t want her to win, then yes, you are doing the very thing she’s accused of doing.  You’re rationalizing bad behavior – which you’d likely not tolerate if it were directed to yourself or a loved one – for political purposes. 

Two wrongs never do make a right and the lesser of two evils is still evil.  If you’re someone who’s decided that despite his multitude of flaws, you’re still willing to vote for Trump in an effort to prevent Hillary Clinton from winning, I accept that, even while I won’t be joining you in that endeavor.  What I don’t accept is any attempt to excuse and normalize his comments or the behavior they describe.  They are NOT OKAY. And I don’t want my daughter, or yours, or anyone’s son to come to the conclusion that they are because we ultimately elect (or vote for) a man who thinks they are.  

Now, back to Weinstein. Just as “the message we send” matters when we react to bad behavior by a candidate or officeholder, it matters when we react to bad behavior by a movie mogul or actor or rock star. Or fail to react, as so many in Hollywood who had to know what was going on, seemed all too willing to do. Because it was easier to look the other way and excuse it. As long as they were benefiting from Weinstein’s favor, it was the expedient thing to do.

Something to bear in mind the next someone sashays up to the mic at an awards show and makes grandiose pronouncements about the character of our leaders and reminds us of just how brave and bold they are for speaking out.

 

 

 

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Just Want to Enjoy Some Dang Pigskin and Nachos

Since Donald Trump brought up the NFL “take a knee” controversy in his Friday night speech in Alabama, many have weighed in with their thoughts on the issue, including several of my fellow writers here at RedState. There are a variety of takes (though I’m sure this comes as a surprise to those who assume everyone who writes for RedState is of the same mind on all things.)  A sampling of the varying views can be found here, here, here, here, and here.

As a huge sports fan — football, in particular — I must admit it’s gotten under my skin. Waking this morning to see all the coverage, I vented my spleen a bit on Twitter. Though perhaps not as eloquently as I’d like to have expressed it, here is my own take on the matter:

Is that so much to ask?

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ACLU Wastes No Time; Files Suit Against the City of St. Louis Following Stockley Protests

The Jason Stockley verdict was handed down one week ago in the City of St. Louis. In the intervening days, there have been protests of varying scope. Those occurring during the day have essentially been non-violent, if somewhat inconvenient at times for motorists and certain venues. But there have been eruptions of violence and vandalism at night, and the police have employed various methods to quell them and made numerous arrests.

Today, the ACLU filed suit against the City of St. Louis on behalf of two city residents, alleging violations of the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments,

“for retaliating against persons engaging in First Amendment-protected activity; for interfering with the right to record police officers in public places; for unreasonably seizing them and applying excessive force; and for violating procedural due process rights by kettling and gassing and spraying them with chemical agents designed to cause pain and confusion without constitutionally adequate warning. “

The suit was filed this morning in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri.  It seeks as relief an injunction “requiring the City of St. Louis to declare protests ‘unlawful assemblies’ and to order protestors ‘to disperse’ in a constitutional manner and otherwise limit police activities at protests as required by the Constitution (which strikes me as simultaneously vague and redundant), and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.

Given the injunctive relief requested, it will likely receive a fairly prompt hearing by the Court. Stay tuned!

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Is This Nursing Home Mogul an Achilles Heel for McCaskill?

Claire McCaskill

As we’ve covered previously, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill (D) is facing a battle to retain her seat in 2018.  In a red state that went for Donald Trump by 19 points, she is vulnerable and her would-be Republican challengers are licking their chops.

Just as she has benefited in the past from opponents’ gaffes, McCaskill has demonstrated she is not immune to her own bungles. But her real weakness may stem from her longstanding friendship with nursing home executive Rick DeStefane. Yesterday, the Kansas City Star ran a detailed — and troubling — account of the many clouds hovering over and around DeStefane and his nursing home company, Reliant Care Group. The article is lengthy, but a group focused on defeating McCaskill’s re-election bid, Missouri Rising Action, provides a helpful summary:

  • DeStefane has given more than $60K to McCaskill’s political campaigns & is a close family friend of hers
  • DeStefane’s nursing home company was charged w/ Medicare fraud & forced to pay $8.3 million to the gov’t as part of a settlement 
  • DeStefane’s company has been accused of health and safety violations at nursing homes that led to resident deaths in Missouri
  • Conditions at DeStefane’s nursing homes have been called “egregious” w/ inspection reports revealing the sordid details
  • McCaskill’s husband & DeStefane are longtime business partners and joint own two vacation homes in Lake of the Ozarks 

For her part, McCaskill has attempted to distance herself from DeStefane’s shady track record. From the KC Star article:

McCaskill would not talk to The Star or McClatchy for this story. Her spokesman, John LaBombard, said the senator was vaguely aware that DeStefane was involved in a civil dispute with the Justice Department through her family friendship with him.

She didn’t know details about the dispute, LaBombard said.

The senator’s personal relationship with DeStefane and her use of their shared vacation property at the lake don’t present any conflict of interest with her work in the Senate, he said.

But this glosses over the lengthy history McCaskill’s husband, Joseph Shepard, has with DeStefane.

Shepard and DeStefane were partners in the nursing home business from the late 1980s until Shepard separated himself from Reliant’s operating companies in 2002 and 2003, not long after he married McCaskill. She said at the time she wanted to avoid any conflict of interest.

Shepard still held an interest in partnerships that owned some of the buildings and land that Reliant rented for some of its nursing home properties, however.

LaBombard said Shepard fully divested himself of Reliant’s properties by Jan. 1, 2008, the date the Justice Department’s allegations of fraud begin. On that date, the final transfer of Joseph’s stake in such a partnership was completed, LaBombard said.

He said the senator has never had any business ties to DeStefane and her husband no longer has any connection to Reliant Care, although Shepard and DeStefane remain partners in other business ventures.

So, while McCaskill is busy snarking about where Josh Hawley resides, expect her longstanding connection to DeStefane (not to mention the questions which have repeatedly arisen in relation to Shepard’s own business dealings and his benefiting from stimulus funds) to keep McCaskill’s finances and friendships front and center in this hotly contested race.  Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

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READ and Weep (With Laughter): This Police Chase Play-By-Play Will Tickle Your Funny Bone

It goes without saying that police chases are (typically) serious business. And with tensions as high as they’ve been in the St. Louis area following Friday’s announcement of the Jason Stockley verdict, this isn’t at all to make light of that situation.

That said, the St. Charles County Police social media folks treated us all to one of the funniest accounts of a police chase I’ve ever seen. So, if you’d like to take a break from the angst and outrage, and enjoy some #SundayFunDay, take a gander at this play-by-play of last night’s chase. The police account updates the initial status in the comments, and some of the responses are priceless, as well.

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Protesters Shut Down Much of St. Louis Following Acquittal of Former Police Officer

As we reported earlier, the Judge who presided over the murder trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley issued a not guilty verdict this morning. In anticipation of the announcement, Governor Eric Greitens activated the National Guard and law enforcement agencies beefed up their presence following vows of “mass shutdowns” by activists.

Rumors swirled yesterday that the verdict would come down this afternoon around 3:00 p.m. Instead, to the surprise of many, it was announced this morning at 9:00 a.m. Although Mayor Lyda Krewson had announced a designated “protest zone,” protesters began amassing at the corner of Market Street and Tucker Blvd., near the courthouse from whence the verdict issued.

The protesters began marching throughout downtown St. Louis as their ranks grew. Police afforded a buffer zone of sorts, blocking off certain streets to traffic and ceding them to marchers, but blocking them from entering a highway on-ramp and disrupting traffic there. In response, many downtown businesses opted to close early and let their employees go home rather than get trapped in protest traffic.

The home office of Wells Fargo Advisors closed at 10 a.m. Friday. The 4,900 employees at the Market Street campus west of downtown were “strongly encouraged to take their laptops home” and continue working there,” based on a statement from the company.

….

The federal courthouse announced earlier this week it would be closed Friday, in anticipation of the verdict.

Brokerage and investment banking firm Stifel, which is headquartered downtown, also notified about 1,500 employees Friday that they could go home due to the verdict’s release.

Nestle Purina PetCare, which has 2,000 employees at its headquarters just south of downtown, closed its office campus at 11 a.m.

US Bank said it was closing six of its downtown St. Louis locations at noon Friday including its branch on Tucker Boulevard.

My own office initially planned to shut down at 2:00 p.m., then bumped up the time to 11:00 a.m. after this morning’s announcement.  As I was leaving my garage, I looked up Washington Avenue and saw a large contingent of bicycle cops heading my direction. The protesters were following, about 4 blocks behind them.

stockley

 

And as I drove out of downtown, the streets were eerily quiet (considering it was near lunchtime on a Friday.) I guess the protesters have been somewhat successful in their stated goal. Hopefully, that remains the extent of it, though there are concerns the largely peaceful protests will take a turn later today. We’ll keep you posted.

Update 1:  The Post-Dispatch is now reporting that police have used pepper spray on some protesters.

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BREAKING: Verdict Announced in Stockley Murder Trial

Local news stations are reporting that St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Timothy Wilson has rendered a “Not Guilty” verdict in the Jason Stockley murder trial, which I discussed here yesterday. The Judge issued a 30-page ruling, a copy of which can be read here.  Al Watkins, the attorney for Anthony Lamar Smith’s fiancee, acknowledged Judge Wilson’s professionalism but said he finds the ruling “appalling….The family is sorely disappointed. The community will be appropriately sorely disappointed.”

Multiple law enforcement agencies are present in and around the St. Louis area.  Helicopters can be heard over the downtown area.  There are already people gathering, marching arm-in-arm on Market Street in downtown St. Louis, near the courthouse.

The Courts and several local schools are closed today as a precaution in light of anticipated unrest. Some downtown offices were prepared to close early, anticipating the verdict would be announced this afternoon.

We’ll update with any further developments.

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Democratic State Senator Won’t Face Expulsion From Missouri Senate for Trump Assassination Comment

Missouri state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal speaks on the Senate floor Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014, in Jefferson City, Mo. Chappelle-Nadal, a Democrat who was among the those tear gassed by police while protesting with her constituents in Ferguson, Mo., spoke passionately about being involved in protests after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black 18-year-old man. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Missouri state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal speaks on the Senate floor Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014, in Jefferson City, Mo. Chappelle-Nadal, a Democrat who was among the those tear gassed by police while protesting with her constituents in Ferguson, Mo., spoke passionately about being involved in protests after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black 18-year-old man. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Missouri State Senator Maria Chapelle-Nadal (D – University City) was roundly (and rightly) condemned last month for her Facebook post hoping that President Trump would be assassinated.  Immediately, there were calls for her to resign — not just by Republicans, but also by prominent Democrats, like U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, U.S. Representative William Lacy Clay, and the Missouri Democratic Chair.

Though she removed the comment and subsequently apologized, Missouri Lt. Governor Mike Parson called for a special session of the Missouri Senate to vote to expel her. A week ago, he had this to say:

“It’s been overwhelming for my office and I just believe the will of the people is that she doesn’t deserve to sit in the Missouri Senate,” Parson said.

Parson adds the majority of senators have told him something has to be done. A vote for her expulsion would need three-fourths of the senate calling for it. Then two-thirds of the senators would need to vote her out.

Today, the Missouri Senate approved a resolution to censure her, rather than expel her. Though many Republicans continued to call for her expulsion, it became clear that they did not have the votes to expel her, even with a 25-9 Republican majority.

Sen. Denny Hoskins, a Warrensburg Republican, said he still supports expulsion and publicly asked Chappelle-Nadal to resign.

“We as elected officials have a higher standard that we must set for ourselves,” he said. “Mistakes are made, but actions do have consequences.”

Chappelle-Nadal said Wednesday that she has no intention of resigning because her constituents don’t want her to step down.

The final vote to censure her was 28-2. The only two to vote against the censure were senators Kiki Curls (D-Kansas City) and Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis).

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How Blue the Sky Was: Reflections on 9/11 and the Flight 93 Memorial

One of my most salient memories of September 11, 2001, is how brilliantly blue the sky was. My attention was fixed on the sky for much of that day – even after the planes were all grounded, I kept looking up, warily searching the sky for signs of further attack; beseechingly searching it for answers. I’m not sure what you call that color – cerulean maybe? Whatever it is, it’s beautiful. And it haunts me. Its brightness contrasted so drastically with the darkness that clouded that day.

Several years ago, as I reflected on the day, I wrote:

There’s a lot of focus on the remembrance this year — as there should be. But, honestly, it’s hard to look back. To see the photos and the video, hear the audio. To remember the terror and overwhelming sadness of that day. It cuts down deep in a way nothing else I’ve experienced has. Like a psychic wound.

In June 2014, I had the opportunity to visit the Flight 93 Memorial with my family.  Like the bright blue sky of that sad, sunny day in September thirteen years earlier, I found it both beautiful and haunting. There’s a hush in that meadow. The wind whispers through it, a barely audible chorus of sadness and loss, but also of love. The day we were there, the sky was fittingly gray and somber. I was an utter failure at holding back the tears as we walked along the memorial wall, looking at each of the names of Flight 93’s passengers and crew and the flowers and mementos others had placed there for them. This one, in particular, broke my heart:

flight-93

 

As fate would have it, my travels took me through Pennsylvania again today. With it being the anniversary, I was hesitant, at first, to return. But as I drove nearer, it felt wrong not to. I steered the car off the highway and along the winding back roads that lead to the memorial. There were quite a few people there, of course, but there was still a hush as I descended the path from the new visitors’ center to Memorial Plaza. Except you could hear the chirping of the crickets and cicadas among the wildflowers:

It reminded me of the eclipse – both eery and cool to hear them singing like that in the middle of the day. Of course, it didn’t grow dark today, but the sky was hazy and muted, rather than brilliantly blue.  I walked along the memorial again, pausing at each of the names. I spoke with a gentleman from the Park Service while there. He said it was extra busy today (understandably) but they have visitors every day – even in February. The families sometimes ask, he noted, and are gratified to know their loved ones aren’t forgotten. “They’re not,” I said. “We remember.”

I was hoping to make it to my destination in Ohio before nightfall, so I couldn’t stay for long. I began the trek back up the path, looking again to the sky.  And there I saw the strangest thing: I regret that my camera doesn’t do it justice but there was a glowing ring of light in the sky with a rainbow/prism on one end and a reflective light on the other.  I verified with park personnel this is not from any light they shine at the memorial – it just appeared there.

img_9197

 

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I hope some of the family members and loved ones there today saw it, too, and received some of the same comfort it afforded me. The sky didn’t offer any answers when I searched it sixteen years ago. Today, it did.

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“What Husband You Say?”

As Caleb Howe wrote yesterday, Neal Boortz submitted his application for Insensitive Clod of the Week with this tweet:

Nevermind cutting an ounce of slack to a woman who’s obviously been through the hell of Hurricane Harvey and mightn’t be in the peachiest of moods about having a microphone shoved in her face while trying to catch her breath and regroup with her children, Boortz leapt at the opportunity to moralize, assuming — with virtually no information — that the woman was husbandless and thus worthy of derision. Forget compassion.

Well, it touched a nerve with some — myself included.  So I had a thing or two to say about it:

As Jim Jamitis later noted, Boortz’s passive-aggressive non-apology after receiving considerable heat for his sadly revealing tweet, was pathetically lame.  And further compounded the problem:

There is a place for commentary on the horrendous rate of children born to single parents — of all colors — and the burden they put on society.

Yes, there is and — setting aside the fact that Boortz is still assuming that describes this woman’s circumstances — the middle of a horrific natural disaster ain’t it.

The episode also called to mind something I wrote several years ago:

I don’t think many people would contend that single parenthood is ideal. I don’t know many (any?) people who have aspired to it. Raising a child can be difficult even with a loving, supportive partner.  Take that out of the equation, and it can be flat out overwhelming.

I am a single mom.  No — that wasn’t by design. I was married to my daughter’s father for seven years, and she is, without question, the best collaborative effort anyone could ever ask for.  She is an amazing, wondrous, beautiful little soul and the reason I don’t regret for one second having been married to her father.  I do regret that we weren’t able to make the marriage work — we both bear responsibility for that, and I will always carry with me the guilt of letting our little girl down and not giving her the ideal family situation.

Still, I consider myself very lucky.  My ex and I are on good terms — friends even.  And I believe we do a fairly decent job of co-parenting our kiddo.  She splits her time evenly between us, and we figure out a way to put her first and make it all work.  Mine is certainly no hard knock story, either.  I am blessed with an amazingly supportive family, who help out with child care when necessary.  I was an “older” mom to begin with — had my daughter when I was in my early thirties — and already had an established career.  I have the usual stressors — I worry about remaining employed, I worry about finances, I worry about being a good mom and raising my daughter to be strong and healthy and happy — but I get by.

And when I have my doubts, when I get scared that I just can’t do it and am going to mess it all up, I look to my grandmother for inspiration. She became a single mom (through divorce) at the height of The Depression. Her parents owned a farm, and she had to leave my mom in their care during the week to work at her job in the city. I recall her telling me that, for a time, she only had one dress to wear to work, so she would wash it every night in the sink in her apartment and hang it up to dry, then get up the next morning, put it back on, and go to work. She knew tough times. I don’t know all the details obviously and never discussed her feelings and thoughts on it all in depth, but I know that she endured. And, in the process, managed to raise a very happy, healthy, well-adjusted daughter herself. So, it gives me hope and gives me strength — if she could do it with all of those odds stacked against her, I can certainly do it with far fewer.

Familiarity with her experience and my own has, I’m quite certain, colored my perception of what the term “single mom” means.  I suppose you could say I figure it means mostly the same thing “mom” means — a wide variety of things. In short, you could say no particular stereotype comes to mind when I hear the term.  So it was with great surprise that I learned several months ago on a conservative message board I frequent that most single moms earn a living “working the pole.  (Obviously, this isn’t the case. However, the stereotype was trotted out in snide, dismissive fashion. It probably won’t surprise the reader to learn that I took exception to this.)

Earlier today, I stumbled across a somewhat similar discussion on Twitter.  A young friend I follow, who also happens to be a single mom, was branded a tramp and asked (in accusatory fashion) if she was on governmental assistance.  To further add insult to injury her heritage was disparaged. I don’t know what prompted the accusations. I only know that they struck a nerve with me. Quite honestly, I don’t know the circumstances of her single parenthood, nor had I given it much thought — I know her purely from our minimal interactions on Twitter. I do know that she strikes me as a sharp young conservative-minded lady. And I know that she wasn’t deserving of the invective hurled at her. There’s one more thing I know, above all else: Even though the circumstances may not have been ideal, she chose to give her child life.

So, what is it about single motherhood that prompts — in some — the instinct to judge, accuse and hate?  And why is single fatherhood received in almost opposite fashion?  A man who, sans mother of his child, nevertheless supports, cares for and takes an active role in said child’s life is lauded.  He’s a stand-up guy.  He is not branded a tramp. He is not presumed to be shucking his clothes for a living. He isn’t assumed to be on the dole.  No, the presumption is that if he does these things, in spite of not being married to or in a committed relationship with the mother of his child, he is a noble man — he is to be admired for taking care of his responsibilities.

Quite frankly, I agree with that presumption. I do admire men who stand up and take care of their families.  Men who see parenthood for the gift that it is and who put parenting their children first are to be lauded.  Then again, in my book, so are women.

One has to wonder, had that CNN clip featured a “Daniel” and his children, would old Judgey McJudgerson have wondered where his wife was? Or whether he even had one?

Since Harvey descended upon Texas, we’ve seen multiple photos, video clips and stories of heroism; of people helping one another regardless of race, religion, gender, or politics. That is as it should be.

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