A Final Verdict and the Final Rose

I didn’t post anything after Super Bowl Sunday because I didn’t want to sound like a prissy, prudish church lady. (I know, I do that plenty.)

But how can the people in charge of the whole affair ignore/dismiss/hush-hush the prevalence of sex crimes committed Super Bowl weekend when the half-time show itself looks a lot like soft porn? Clearly, Jenny from the Block lives next door to the local strip club… and Shakira’s hips don’t lie: sex (still) sells. Why do these talented, hardworking, highly successful women find it necessary to objectify themselves in the name of “entertainment?” I don’t get it.

Why do we (in this “progressive” modern culture) continue to promote and parade female role models who influence our girls to devalue their brains/talent/character and proffer their bodies as objects of lust and sexual gratification for someone else?

… I digress.

Yesterday Harvey Weinstein was convicted of rape and sexual assault. Apparently his reputation as a predator was a well-known secret in Hollywood. For decades. This guy wasn’t just a taker or a troll. According to a jury of his peers, he was a vile, unrepentant perp who preyed on dozens of women. And then bought, bribed (or “cast”) his way out of jail.

In the wake of the guilty verdict, an LA reporter named Kim Masters tweeted:

20 years ago, Harvey told me when a woman says the sex wasn’t consensual, “Sometimes you have to write a check.“ Turns out sometimes you have to go to prison.

No hashtag necessary.

On to our next specimen… (We’ll call it Exhibit B.)

Michael Bloomberg… and his non-disclosure agreements. (If there’s criminal activity buried in that paperwork, there needs to be an excavation crew. And justice.)

Maybe he’s telling the truth. Maybe those documents contain zero evidence of harassment or sexual assault or anything that even sniffs of it.

Time will tell.

(Also… maybe.)

And then there’s “The Bachelor.”

I don’t watch this show (not because I’m “above it” or too prissy/prudish – I’ve gawked at back-to-back episodes of KUWTK on occasion, so I’m guilty of all kinds of stooping and staring) but my Twitter feed informs me the bachelor was “intimate” with contestants on set. Does that mean the finalists who went “undercover” but didn’t get the final rose should be considered the escorts of this particular bachelor party? (Kidding not judging. Really.) Most likely, their ambition just got the best of them. They wanted to win (the show/the guy/the rose/the ring) and did what they thought they needed to. It’s a free country… and I’m guessing the hotel suite was free too.

Let me be clear: I’m not lumping the bachelor (whats-his-name) in the same category as Weinstein (or even Bloomberg, if it turns out he’s guilty of sexual harassment or worse). Presumably, the reality tv star is only “guilty” of being sexually active. Consensually. But can we admit that just because something is consensual doesn’t mean it’s advisable, healthy or mutually beneficial?

(Key word here is mutually.)

Bottom line: I wouldn’t want my daughter to be a contestant on this – or any other – bachelor’s show. (For a whole host of reasons.)

My hope is she’ll find it wholly unappealing to pursue that kind of “reality” or “relationship.”

That she’ll avoid the takers and trolls. That she’ll steer clear of bad boys and playboys. And that – somehow – she’ll elude all the users/abusers/ predators/perpetrators out there. (The ones sex-trafficking at the Super Bowl, assaulting on casting couches, drugging coeds on campuses… and lurking in corners of the dark web.)

I hope and pray she’d never want to strip half-naked on prime time television and shake/twerk/bump/grind to “restore sparkle to the Super Bowl” (< NY Times) through self-objectification, seduction and sleaze… in front of 100 million viewers.

Please, dear God… no.

As far as I can tell the only way to change the culture is to… well… change the culture.

It starts by teaching kids and young adults (yours/mine/ours) to respect themselves and others. Which requires – in addition to age-appropriate educational materials – sound guidance, suitable role models, sturdy boundaries.

Boys and men need to learn the importance of impulse control and R-E-S-P-E-C-T… and what it means to love well.

Love doesn’t prey on anyone. Ever.

Love always protects. 

(God’s words, not mine.)

If you can’t figure out what it means to “protect,” here’s a pretty good litmus test:

Would you want somebody to say/do/demand that from your sister/mother/daughter?

Now, let’s flip the coin.

Girls and women need to learn that their bodies are not objects for someone else’s gratification. And they shouldn’t allow themselves to be valued for their looks (or likes) either. They need to learn the difference between someone who lusts for them… and someone who actually loves them.

Love is safe… and unselfish.

(If it’s pressuring you, pretty sure it ain’t love. So what are you waiting for? Leave.)

I get that when it comes to sexual relations, everything isn’t distinctly black-and-white. There’s a whole lot of grey area. At least fifty shades. (Or so I’m told.)

I understand that one person’s idea of harmless flirtation might be interpreted by another as enticement or invitation. Those lines can get pretty blurry, pretty fast. Especially when there’s alcohol in the mix.

While lust isn’t a crime, it can certainly lead there. And it does, maybe more often than we think. So let me clarify something:

If someone says they don’t want to go there or do that, 100 times out of 100, they aren’t playing hard-to-get. They don’t want to go there or do that. Period.

By now everybody ought to know that. But apparently, some need remedial instruction. So let’s get the message out there. Loud and clear.

We’ve got work to do. (I’ll start again at my house.)

Wendy

P.S. If you think I’m giving POTUS – or anyone else accused of sexual assault – a free pass by not detailing the allegations here, you’re wrong. First off, Jesus is the only one issuing free passes… and those are redeemable only upon last breath. And secondly, I believe every accuser should be heard, every charge considered carefully, and every criminal case reviewed/argued/tried fairly and thoroughly. Our justice system – rightly so – deems every alleged offender (defendant) innocent until proven guilty. Or in the case of Bernie’s long-ago “writings” – fiction until proven nonfiction.

A Wee Bit Irish

My dear reader,

It’s been said that there are only two kinds of people in the world:

The Irish… and those that wish they were.

On St. Patrick’s Day, I was always the girl with the wish. My “real” Irish friends and family proudly (sham)rocked and relished their special day. (Usually for several days.) And I wistfully watched their eating/drinking/dancing/merrymaking from afar. Such fun for those Irish lads and lasses… pinching, kissing, clinking all the day long.

And then there was me. So very Un-Irish.

And green with envy.

No rainbows or pots of gold for me. No shamrock socks or sparkly green earrings. No Irish soda bread or boxty. No pranking or pub crawling or jigging or hurling (the sport, not the unfortunate aftermath of the pub crawling). And despite hours spent sitting and searching in the grassy field behind Lincoln Junior High School, not a single four-leaf clover. Not one.

My only consolation was my U2 mixtape and a big bowl of Lucky Charms. (Those pastel marshmallows really are magically delicious.)

When I was in college, a bunch of us went downtown to watch the St. Patrick’s Day parade and gaze at the 8th Wonder of the Windy City:

The gloriously green Chicago River.

If you’ve never seen it, you should. At least once. It’s quite something. The Butler and Rowan clans pool their cash… and dye the whole waterway slime green. (Seriously, it’s the color of Slime. Remember that stuff? I can’t believe our parents let us spend money on that lump of neon nothing.)

That little ‘L’ train excursion was the highlight of my St. Patrick’s Day memories.

Until…

My brother did one of those DNA swab tests last year.

AND GUESS WHAT?!

I’m a wee bit Irish!

(Nine percent, give or take.)

Apparently, somebody back in our family tree hailed from the Emerald Isle. Which may explain my smiling eyes, these freckles, and my fair share of feisty.

But I’m probably not Irish enough to be called Lass… alas.

(That won’t stop me from celebrating with wild abandon my newly-acquired holiday.)

Now that I’m officially (sorta) Irish, I’m kicking off my day with a cheery “Top o’ the morning,” a Kerrygold bulletproof coffee, and a St. Paddy’s Day playlist on Pandora. I’m planning to wear an emerald – ok, green foil – tiara and whip up some homemade shamrock shakes. For dinner. (When it comes to wild abandon, I don’t play.)

And I shan’t forget to give thanks for the Saint who made it all possible… Maewyn Succat.

Yes, that’s reportedly the given name for dear old Saint Patrick.

(Not sure where he picked up his new moniker, but I do think it worked out for the best. “Happy St. Succat’s Day” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. So all’s well that ends well.)

The “Apostle of Ireland” was a missionary and church bishop who – legend has it – used shamrocks to help explain the mystery of the Trinity. The three leaflets of each shamrock symbolizing the Father, Son, and Spirit: three distinct Persons, three parts of One Whole-and-Holy God. Pretty clever guy, that Maewyn.

Humble and grateful too, apparently.

“I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, the least of all the faithful and most contemptible to many, had for father the deacon Calpurnius, son of the late Potitus, a priest, of the settlement [vicus] of Bannavem Taburniae; he had a small villa nearby where I was taken captive. I was at that time about sixteen years of age. I did not, indeed, know the true God; and I was taken into captivity in Ireland with many thousands of people…

“And there the Lord opened my mind to an awareness of my unbelief, in order that, even so late, I might remember my transgressions and turn with all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my insignificance and pitied my youth and ignorance. And he watched over me before I knew him, and before I learned sense or even distinguished between good and evil, and he protected me, and consoled me as a father would his son…” (Saint Patrick’s Confession)

So it turns out Saint Patrick was… well… a sinner. Just like the rest of us. We’re all wretches, the whole lot of us. Some fighters or drunks. Some liars, cheats, or back-stabbing snakes. Even the “nice girls” and “good guys” have some mean/bad/ugly in us. Even the best and kindest among us are selfish screw-ups (or stubborn fools) at times.

And deep down, we know it, don’t we? Because deep down, there’s guilt/shame/blame that’s all ours. And we can’t cover it up no matter how hard we try. So we drag it along behind us like an overloaded suitcase with a busted zipper and a broken wheel. Eventually, the weight of it will slow us to a stop. Or the whole mess will start spilling out.

That’s the thing about guilt. It’s heavy stuff. And there’s only one place to unload it for good.

God.

Give your guilt to Him.

(He can take it.)

And the best news is… in exchange, He’ll give you sweet freedom. A clean slate. A fresh start.

 For God was in Christ, restoring the world to himself, no longer counting men’s sins against them but blotting them out. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others. (2 Corinthians 5:19, TLB)

When I owned up to my ugliness and pleaded forgiveness, God didn’t turn me away. Instead, He showered me in mercy.

And showed me the Way.

Lucky me!

Wendy

P.S. Got guilt? Give it to God… and grab hold of His amazing grace. It’s a gift. (Signed in blood, sealed with a promise, delivered direct from heaven.) Just ask, and it’s yours.

He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. (Ephesians 1:7, NLT)

Pour out your heart to God and soak up His love and mercy.

It’ll be grand. 🍀