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Multigenerational Mom Muses on Twin Toddlers & Twenty-Something Daughters

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women’s voice

I Escaped a Cult Once, Can our Country do the Same?

The happenings in the world have sent me toppling backwards — years backwards — into the fear and frustrations and seemingly inescapable situation of my past. Of the cult I grew up in and the people who were taken prisoner by its promises and leadership.

I know what a cult can do. I know the appeal of a leader who focuses on your innermost desires and vows to put an end to your most paralyzing fears. I know what that kind of leader can do.

I know how his testimonies speak to good people with legitimate concerns. I know how his scripture touting soothes, how his pulpit pounding activates, how his charisma intoxicates.

How his promises to carry you, save you, deliver you from evil are so very welcome in our dark world. How the traits he embodies (or at least professes) — strength, charisma, Godliness — are just what you’ve been looking for to bring you — to bring everyone — into the promised land.

But he’s no Moses.

Nor is he the chosen one to lead anyone out of darkness — despite the genuine hopes behind those who support him.

But be wary of the “Hope” this man holds aloft with his dazzling promises.

I’ve lived among false promises such as he proports. I’ve watched my family — and countless others — fall under the weight of sincere hope, falsely met.

I was speaking recently with a friend of mine who shares my past and also overcame it — and is as equally worried (and furious) about what she sees unfolding as I.

In her own words, “The exploitation of a good heart is the vilest of crimes.”

And I agree.

I’ve seen far too many good hearts (then and now) used as ammunition; I’ve seen too much real hope twisted to poison. I’ve seen too many rational heads uprooted, unhinged, and made ready to destroy others — and themselves. United with him, it becomes “Us vs Them,” and the fallout is deadly. Families torn apart. Friendships. Self worth. So many lives destroyed.

And the motivations I see now are the same as the motivations of the good hearts who found themselves entangled in my childhood cult: To align more closely with God’s commandments and Christ’s teachings and traditional family values. At least that’s what so many of those who follow Trump are seeking. Despite the fact that his promises resemble nothing of Christ’s promises. Nothing of true Christianity.

White nationalism is not Christian. Prejudice and pride is not Christian. Political power over moral duty is not Christian.

Christ asked that we protect the weak, include the marginalized, serve the downtrodden. We are supposed to be good stewards of this earth, not blatantly ignore — or participate — in its destruction.

Trump’s platform is the reverse of Christ’s message. But the lambs have laid down with the wolf by the millions.

Half our country has fallen victim to a leader whose ability to bend and break wills is mind-blowing in its potency. And the fallout has already begun.

And, sadly, I’ve seen it all before.

But this time, it’s not the hearts and lives and futures of a (relatively speaking) small congregation in Texas at stake. It is the vast population of these United States. And it is not only our freedom that is threatened, it is the very soul of decency.

Yes, the happenings of this past week — and throughout the past four years — have sent me toppling backwards into a time and place in my life where my freedom was nonexistent, my future bleak and seemingly out of my control, my frustrations at those who couldn’t see the truth, overwhelming.

But this isn’t my past. It is my present. And I am terrified about what my future might hold.

I was able to escape a cult like this one once before. It took courage, unmitigated strength, and a willful refusal (every single day) to listen to the sugar-coated lies of those who would eagerly lead me astray. I had to guard myself at every angle, lest they slip the Kool Aid into my mouth, lest they place the blinders over my eyes.

I pray our country can now do the same.

But, y’all… I’m really, really scared.

A Nasty Woman’s Testimony

While working on my novel, I’ve been doing research on the patriarchy — that time-honored tradition of passing power through the penis. You aren’t a member if you don’t have a member.

I uncovered some questionable (but fascinating and honestly believable) etymology on the word testify. In ancient times, vows (and deals) were made by laying hands on (or beside or below) the testicles –take note of that root (and yes, pun intended…) — and then swearing. Women had no testicles, so no testimony for them. They couldn’t take a sworn oath. As a result, they weren’t in the membership. Literally.

(On a sort-of-side-note… all my life, my father has told me not to swear. Curse words out of a woman’s mouth turn it ugly!!! Well, rest assured, if there’s a double-standard, I’m going to fight to liberate it.)

And speaking of fighting, I’ll fight when somebody tells me I should keep quiet — especially when it comes to my opinions.

I’m not sorry for having opinions. I never tell anyone not to say what matters most to them. And neither should you. I have seen — in an up-close-and-personal way — how absence of dialogue, absence of voiced opinions, breeds dangerous dogma.

When only one perspective is heard, that’s when things can go horribly awry. That’s when cults emerge. That’s when fascism reigns supreme. When there’s only one voice shouting from the rooftops over the top of all the others — that’s the only time I believe it’s okay to say, “Will you shut up, man?”

This country was built on freedom — of all sorts. And should’ve been built on freedoms for all kinds of people. But we’re just now getting to that. We’ve made tremendous progress. We’re closer than ever.

And that’s why some sorts of people keep telling other sorts of people (people like me) to be quiet.

You know what kind of people want people like me to be quiet? Two kinds. The kind of people who have nothing to lose if the status quo is maintained… and the kind of people who hide behind the kind of people who have nothing to lose. Those who support them and hold them aloft and give them praise and feed their egos because they’ve been conditioned and brainwashed for a very long time to believe that the status quo is the only way to go. That if we rattle the cage, we’ll cause it all to fall down.

Well, let it. I’m tired of being caged. And hushed. I’m ready to rage against the machine, against the patriarchal juggernaut.

You know who I admire most? The ones who have escaped the smothering muzzle of the patriarchy and have come to speak out against it. And the people who still struggle under the massive gears, yet rail against it nonetheless. And the people running as fast as they can away from it, screaming warnings about it to the rest of us as loudly as they can. And the people running behind it, casting stones at it as hard as they can. I’m one who has escaped it, and still struggles under it, and runs away from it, and goes after it. I am all of those. And until it falls, so many of us are.

You know who I do not admire? The folks who ride atop its motorcade, waving flags of past injustices and touting its greatness. I do not admire the ones who ride its coattails like it’s their divine right to be pulled along because they wear the color of their forefathers and support the prejudices it fosters.

The patriarchy is really good at denigrating people who don’t align with their likenesses. They love to label so many. But today, I speak for me. For women. They judge us by our physical appearance — label us dogs, liars, bimbos, pigs who are ugly, fat, and horse-faced (to name a few). Or deem us weak because we bleed and have nothing dangling between our legs. Or call our voices harsh and our motives nasty. If we wield power, they call us monster.

They separate us from them… the members from the member-less. They love to make us the reviled Other.

Well, I will embrace the Other. I will wear my Nasty Woman shirt to Kroger proudly, despite the looks I get — from men and women alike. Like I should keep my opinions to myself.

I’m tired of being tried under the patriarchy’s rules and shamed for being a woman with a voice. Tired of being told to shut up.

You know who tells me to be quiet? No one. I will wear shirts, post signs, write blogs, and sing out for all the world to hear. My voice, my body, my opinions, my choices.

They are my rights — and should’ve been from the beginning of this great nation. We’ve been slowly gaining ground. And we cannot lose it now.

So watch out, patriarchy, the monsters and nasty women are coming — not for your member, just membership.

we won’t go back where we came from

Why are Americans yelling at other Americans to go back where they came from? What has our country become?

Apparently, a hate-spewing-and-mongering place where if you aren’t white and a man, you must not belong. Where you definitely don’t belong on a platform where you’ll be heard.

I mean, that was definitely the case for me as a girl growing up. I was white (which made my life a little easier), but not male. So I was just supposed to shut up and let the white patriarchy “take care of everything” for me.

I knew a long time ago that sort of governing body wasn’t for me. I wanted a voice. I didn’t just want it — I needed it. So I fought hard for it and I found it. And there’s no way in hell im going back where I came from. 

And now I’m willing to fight hard for these congresswomen and for all women — to be strong and belong. 

I really thought our country had moved past such a heinous viewpoint. But now, that’s pretty much all I see and all I hear. White men in power telling women to go back where they came from, whatever that means. 

And I honestly think I know what that means. They want women to go back to the days of their youth (the men’s youth, where women stayed silent and submissive). There are even some women (quite a few of them, actually) chanting right along. Serena Joy would be so proud…

Well, this woman is not going back where she came from. I’m using my voice for more than parroting the patriarchy. I learned what that could get me a long time ago, and I’ll be f***ed if I’m going back to that place again. Legitimately.

So I will persist in stating my opinions and in fighting for my voice, my body, my rights. For all our rights.

Because despite the fact that women make less on the dollar than the average man and we hold less seats in our “representative” government, we are STILL equal citizens in the eyes of the law. 

But if we don’t keep fighting, I’m not sure that will stay the case. If we don’t keep fighting and speaking up and demanding change and demanding accountability, our representative government might very well go back to the government of 1776… All white. All male. And all, by the way, immigrant. There’s a piece of white, patriarchal irony for ya.

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