Thursday, October 30, 2014

On Voting - Hard Choices, Soft Targets

I picked up the phone at my Dad's and it was an election campaigner, someone who probably was calling all the voters in the area.  I was expecting a call back of a professional nature so I answered the phone "Dr. J." What I got was not the other Dr. type who was going to call me right back but - "Would you vote for Candidate So and So if they supported (insert liberal female issue item here)?" I was asked. "Actually no" I said.

"What?" was the response, "I'd expect a successful women to support a candidate who supports feminist issues".

Actually I'm not, a feminist that is. Not in the sense of the word usually associated with it. I'm not going to burn my bra (except for that one that makes me look like I'm expecting an assassination attempt) and I'm not going to walk dutifully 10 feet behind my husband with my head covered. I'm a contradiction in stereotypes, a modern woman who can shoot, hunt, manage a team of a couple dozen or so ex special forces types, fix most things and survive on my own. But I'm the type that wanted a strong but gentle man to remove the spider from the bathroom and understand that sometimes I can't do it all and am going to come home after slaying the dragon, go to my room and cry like a baby.  I wanted, (as you all have given me no end of kidding about when I first said it) someone who can  read an old 130 page technical report I wrote, ask me about the thoughts that went into it, then bend me like Gumby and make me forget my name.

I'm not the inaccurate stereotype that liberals would like to make of a woman voter of the right, some hillbilly woman with 8th grade reading skills and a baby on each hip. I'm successful, highly educated, pro Constitution and pro Second Amendment. I call older folks and all veterans Sir and Ma'am and I will happily bring my man a cold beer while he watches WWII  tanks blowing up things on TV (and likely join him).

The feminists probably wouldn't like me, and some of the more more traditionally brought up women I've met probably think I'm a different species. I'm not a woman that thinks my man should act like a women and treat me like a man. I may be able to fix the damn door but I like it when you open it for me. That's courtesy not sexism.  Like my parents, I believe that in a household, decisions should be joint, discussed, like battle strategy, what is best for us, for the family, not dictated by the man simply because he is the man OR the woman simply to keep the peace.

So I find the idea that I should vote for a woman, simply because she is a woman or a candidate because he supports marriage or reproductive issues based on what will get him the most votes rather than what is right in his heart, to be as idiotic as having a politician elected simply because he looked good in an expensive suit and talked pretty. 

"whoo, me?"

Perhaps it's something with me, passed on from a strong mother, who carried a badge and still greeted my Dad in a dress and high heels with a martini on Friday nights. He treated her with the utmost of  care and respect, the same was expected of us, examples of how we live and love, laid out before us.

My former husband was from the deep South, a Southerner raised of rigid and controlling values, not like all of the gentlemanly, strong men of the South I've come to know since.  I was brought home as some prize to show his parents, after they threatened to disown  him for taking up with some bimbo. "Look what I own now", was how I was paraded around, like some prize cow, valued for anything other than love.

I tried my best to fit in, cooking with the women, something I always loved to do for family, tending to chores. But I soon realized that the older women in the family all had a haunted look about about their eyes, a quiet desperation there among all the noise and bustle of large meal gatherings. Women were bearers of babies, burden and contempt, working all day in the heat and the noise on Sundays and holidays while the men got drunk and watched football.
My husband had moved far away, living a different type of life than this, in a whole other world when I married him, so young and so on the rebound from losing my first love. But his father's death brought us back to that place and soon he was treating me the only way he knew, the way his father had treated his mother, with idle disrespect and hidden bruises. I was not the girl he loved, I was the type of girl his parents wanted him to marry and I paid for that choice each and every day.

I tried though, oh how I tried,  but that first Thanksgiving was an eye opener. After cooking all day I went to sit down at the table and was informed by a senior member of the family that the women should "eat in the kitchen", not with the men. We were there to wait on them and clean up after them, and if we had time for a bite somewhere in there so be it.
I came into that relationship with a college degree and pilot wings on my uniform and soon found that although I loved rural life, I hated the way I was treated, simply because of my gender. If I went into a feed store I'd be asked if what I ordered was what my husband wanted. I could be up all night wrestling with a tractor, pack my bag and go spend a few days flying a large transport, only to come home and be patted on the head, and called the "little woman" while the salesman talked to my husband as the money I earned was spent, as if I was not in the room. Then I'd come home to chores and criticism, neither of which ever abated, no matter how hard I toiled.

I'd  leave the house, just to get away from words that drew blood like small stinging insects.  I'd go out into the back fields alone, laying out flat on the ground, looking at the sky, feeling the earth through my clothes, breathing  hard, thinking if I didn't move, he wouldn't see me and I wouldn't have to breathe so hard and so quiet. 

I was not alone, I'd see some women at the church socials, wearing plain clothing, with downcast eyes bearing trays of food which were made with the passion they weren't allowed to show in any other public way. I worked, as the money was needed, but few others did, other than selling cosmetics or kitchenware or other "at-home business". I was asked to attend one of their meetings, watching the team leader whipping the group into a lather of frenzy that reminded me of a church revival. "Who's going to book 10 parties!" and the group response with liturgical precision. "We Are! The products were usually good, and some women actually made a fraction of the money they dreamed of. I'd see in those meetings their eyes, that would blaze up like a lantern just before the oil runs out. There in that small moment a brief blaze of freedom that for many will be snuffed out once they got home.

So I understood that small stand for independence, that recognition of  keen minds and hard work they didn't get anywhere else, a place where they could speak freely, cloaked in the conspiratorial whisper of lipstick and perfume.
But these were strong women underneath, and like myself we went into such marriages with the naive vision of youth, picking someone because everyone expects you to get married. Someone likable, nice looking, someone young and strong, able to change your lives for the better, without a strong look at family, character or integrity. And we stuck it out because of. . . I can only explain it with a phrase that came from the Bible that I had not understand before. "A peace that passeth all understanding". Passeth all understanding. Yes, for in looking back I see it now, that decision to stay that bears no understanding on the surface. That pride, that furious wish to hide the abject folly of your youthful decision, bearing that load around like a large platter, too large for a small girl to handle. Not speaking up, not crying out but carrying that decision, for some, all the way into burning ground.

I will never forget that, but I have forgiven it. Twenty years have passed;  people and places change, while God and the wind steer us  to where we need to be, which for me was with a husband who deeply loves me even as he honors me and what I stand for  Society too has changed since those days when I was a young bride. I can now go into most gun stores and say "do you have the new XDM in .45?" and usually no one bats an eye. I drive a large truck and don't get funny looks in traffic. And if the seat of the truck is covered with cakes and pies it's because I wanted to bake them for the men in my life,  NOT because I'm expected to.
I am not that same young woman. I look at things in great detail now.  I see things not as a whole taken at face value, but as the individual components which comprise the whole. Just as in a crime scene you sift through those seemingly unrelated disbursements of strong and and fragile, the sniffles and sighs that echo in the air even as flesh cools and hair scents the air with ammonia perfume, those illusionary wholes of pieces of life and strong bones, detached yet familiar, so secret yet familiar. I look hard at things, including people, having learned the hard way the years of long sentence that are the result of foolish choice.

Choices without prejudice. Freedoms with responsibility. I will take some leave to travel to vote and like most days off, I will likely go to the range first and shoot, watching the bullet fly free of the firearm, like the stream from a fire hose. I will watch it fly with freedom and power, and I will stand in awe as to the damage that can be done when such power is misused.
Then, when the day has come, I will go home, clean my weapon, throw my apron in the wash and go to the voting booth where I will stand, breathing hard, yet quietly, reminded of sweet words and false promises, fragments of forgotten vows.  I will vote with my mind, as strong as anyone's. I will vote with my heart, not based on what others expect me to do or what is popular but what I as an individual, one lone citizen, can abide. I will vote from history, mine and this nation's.

I am NOT going to vote for a woman with a pro choice button and hair stiff with hairspray. I would not vote for her any more than I would vote for a woman with a NRA button and hair stiff with hairspray only because she is a women. I will  vote for the best candidate, one who can articulate in the face of adversity, stick with a commitment and a belief and put the interests of the people of this country ahead of their social schedule, golf game or Hollywood fundraiser. I want a candidate who, when confronted with a threat to our life and liberty, will not stare at the ground or a teleprompter, or worse yet, apologize. I want a candidate who will fight for with us, and for us, just as I am committed for life to a man who is willing to fight with me and for me (even if the ammo he uses I might have reloaded myself).

So Mr. Pollster, there you have it. Present to me a candidate  that can do those things and I'll vote for him OR her, but only on those terms. There are some mistakes we don't wish to make twice.


  1. You just have to love a lady that has her head screwed on right, that knows what she wants, and lives life at its fullest, you would get my vote if you want to run for President.

  2. I'm glad that you made it thru those bad old days with your sanity intact. Just remember, fire tempers steel or destroys it. Adversity does the same for people.


  3. You must have come a long way to be the strong, caring person I have come to admire through your writings. Still, I cannot fathom a man who would treat you as a prize filly, purchased to be broken into a frightened, sway-backed brood mare. Like many of your male friends, I would welcome a chance to exercise some of my less genteel skills and character traits on such a *spit* "man". The number of women that so many of us love who have been damaged by such louts is almost immeasurable, and so few heal so seemingly completely as you have, my beloved among them.

    Likewise, there are good men who suffer at the hands of evil women, many of them probably cut from the same mold as the candidate that you were expected to endorse. Many of us hide our scars better than the womenfolk, but are no less damaged. Thank you for sharing your honesty, strength, experience and recovery, that others might find inspiration and healing.

  4. It's called actually digging behind the sound bites to see what the candidate REALLY stands for... Man, woman or other... I usually have 'fun' with those pollsters...

  5. Just a virtual hug...somehow it struck me that you might need one.

  6. old oakie - thank you, but I turned down a position in WA because I didn't want any part of that.

    Merle - it took 20 years to get past some of it, but it's definitely past.

    Ken O - I have a good male friend like that, big strapping guy, squiirel type that was abused in the same way by his wife. The scars are the same.

    Monkeywrangler - thanks Vic. Husband is home, halloween candy getting "sampled" and all is well.

    Old NFO - I bet you do!

    Nite all, been a long day work wise.

  7. Claps hands together and smiles. Well said Bridget.

  8. I agree, we have to look behind the words. Glad you've been able to put your past behind you, yet learn from it.

  9. Well said, you sound like my wife. Strong? Yes.A woman that loves to be a wife and treated with that love and respect? Yes.

  10. As I oft say to Rev. Paul (regarding your last paragraph)



  11. "You need to get married." mom said. "But mom, he hit me with the butt of his pistol last night." I said, hoping she'd hear me. "Don't worry, the army will take that out of him." Some of us didn't have a powerful mom WITH HEART in our lives - just a powerful mom. I stayed married til I realized I was waiting to die of old age with a long marriage to show for my escape.

    Today? I cleaned my Mossberg: made a beeswax candle, homemade soap for Christmas gifts, and Joe did the dishes. You and I have always been square pegs in round holes, but with the right man, we're RENAISSANCE WOMEN !!

  12. lotta joy - your husband is a good man, from the character of his work and how much he loves you. You are indeed blessed.

  13. You would get my vote in a heartbeat!

  14. If only every little girl had a strong mother and a good father to get her where you are, Brigid.

    I'm doing my damnedest to make my girls strong, but feminine. (i.e. NOT "feminist" nor submissive)

    Ladies like you don't get press because they don't fit the political/media agenda to agitate and separate.

    And, yes, I'll still hold the door for you, even at the front door to the range.

  15. Amen. Few who seek power should be trusted with it. Whether in relationships or political office.

  16. Amen, and kudos to you for taking your life lessons and turning them into the amazing strength, passion, and grace you share each and every day.


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