The Liberal in the Red Hat

As a life-long liberal, I am concerned about liberals. I often hear how we strive to be tolerant and inclusive, but I am not witnessing this. If I had to evaluate liberalism, I would replace it with a series of disjointed boxes. Their only connection would be with their artificial alignment. They appear unified, but each focuses only on its own box.

Not long ago, I was present at a faculty meeting, and the topic was hate speech. One professor argued that if a person showed up with a Trump MAGA hat, they would not allow him to wear that cap. The professor said the hat would disrupt the class and make students feel uncomfortable. It would be a macroaggression.

Political office is a mess, from current events in Virginia to the toxic partisanship in D.C., yet I strongly disagreed. Our students and our faculty have protections under the First Amendment. It would be illegal to remove someone from a public college classroom because of what they are wearing, I argued. Unless he is privately chanting “build that wall, build that wall” or making a Nazi statement, he has just as much right to wear that shirt as a gay person can wear a rainbow shirt, or an African American can wear a “Black Lives Matter” shirt.

That scared me. As one that often writes on disturbing and inappropriate content, I know what it is like to get censured. I wrote a poem that addressed my past trauma through a speaker. I lost a childhood friend in a horrible school bus accident. Its purpose was to hold a mirror up to society and show all of us what we seldom do. That poem was banned by a social media platform that champions free speech for violating “community standards.” I wrote them back and said, “I hope you never experience what it’s like to have your tongue ripped out of your mouth.” That banning felt like assault to me. I am the liberal in the red hat.

I was being vulnerable. I was admitting to the darker more conflicting aspects of myself, but I also was a survivor of repeated trauma. I felt that because I was a man, my boyhood abuse did not matter. That is the message men get.  

 I then realized that we have no art in the United States when any form of art is censured. Art is not meant to be politically correct. Now, I was the enemy. Yet, I knew, as a professor in literature, that my readers needed a lesson in how to read literature. They were reactive, the possible catalysts for fake news. They became the self-righteous moral “social justice” crusaders with little regard to the poem’s true meaning.

What all of us have in common is that we are connected. I grew up so poor that I lived on hot dogs and fries for two years, often with no running water, and, at times, had no central heat in rural Western New York. I understand the anger the Trump voter feels. I try to understand what it’s like for my African American student to be a minority in America, whose cousin dies in her arms from a gunshot wound, and after 20 years of feminist study, even as an editor of a collection on women, what it means to be female in America. It’s hard for all of them, and if we listen to their stories, we will connect.

People care about what they care about. By nature, we don’t care about people unlike us, so if we mock the differences in us: a hat, skin color, gender, sex, or our struggles, demons, and mental illnesses. We are running from ourselves. We will make the others enemies. There is the saying I’ve heard, When good conquers evil, good becomes evil. We all suffer, but we suffer differently. The very heart of fundamentalism relies on the devaluation of human beings. If the United States is anything, at present, it is a bi-polar fundamentalist state.  For liberals, controlling speech will make us all better and happier. I see it as an assault on a democracy. In truth, free speech is the only pathway to continued democracy. As my conservative friend once put it, “Sometimes you have to put up with a little crap on your glasses.”

Where Art Thou Aesthetics Please?

If I could,

I would

Sculpt young girls,

Paint them,

And, if I could be a little boy again,

I would dance with them;

If I could be a little boy again,

I could have my friend back then

???

As I grew older, it happened,

Suddenly, violently,

As the years passed,

I grew fonder of

Young girls

aesthetically

???

She needs no branding,

No face painting,

No smiling,

Seemingly standing in the nude,

Only her face we see,

Not inappropriately,

To demonstrate

Pure and natural beauty,

Much like my muted mutual friend

???

But being a man, having

An aesthetic eye

 For girls?

Has a darker side

For our panic-protected world and

for my childhood,

His story

???

When I see her,

I see the defiance of pretty

But barely dirty bare feet,

Of a girl looking at me

Looking at her,

A bite away from the dangers of womanhood

???

Of innocence not lost,

Or has it been already lost,

On the cliff, the pending dusk of girlhood?

Me, not knowing if I should grieve or celebrate

Her delayed glory and my childhood memories’ defeat

???

For it is in a young girl to be just so beautiful in presentation,

Yet so clueless to its affect,

She, now, defies age

By dancing like a woman,

Only to return a child again

???

Is it inappropriate for a child-woman to act a woman-child?

Sassy is in the middle somewhere, but

It’s demanded that men not notice,

So we pretend so,

For we are perverts, peeping Toms, or pedophiles

All in denying,

Take your pick

???

We yell,

“Stay Safe,

Stay Safe,

Stay Safe,”

All the while

Multitasking on our phones with kids in back

Who’s driving this torment and chaos called life’s hack

???

I have a confession;

You know it;

You suspected as much,

That I might like girls

more than women aesthetically because,

In my defense,

Why would I not like someone that is

Uninhibited,

Carefree,

Unguarded,

Inappropriately,

Confident,

But timid in shyness,

And bold when not supposed to be so,

Spontaneous,

And truly free

???

Can you really blame me,

When their only motive

Is to be happy,

And so it is with me

???

I want the Me Too Movement

To cease,

When we have equality and everyone

Can afford to be carefree,

When women and girls can be anything,

Any way they want to be,

Naked or beautifully clothed

And we will truly value thee

???

I learned visually

 That girls were better than me(n).

Can I like girlhood,

Please?

And not be an offender,

A pedophile,  

A pervert, or

A sleaze

???

Can I make you uncomfortable

Please

 Because deep down

You are afraid of me

???

Or is it their beauty

That scares you so?

Would you wouldn’t want to be me?

You are,

No worries, for shouldn’t we love natural aesthetic beauty?

Dying in Artificial Coolers

One of my earlier pieces … had to wake up at 2:00 a.m. to write it.

Dropout Professor

Blue and purple nebula Blue and purple nebula on black space background (depositphotos.com)

What if your life was at the bottom of that dude’s cooler?

Your eternity, that bit of liquid there;

You see it, rolling around the Styrofoam seams

Lost, wandering, this way and that way

Until it dries up, or the dog licks it

In hopes of something better.

You, YOUR life and dreams,

What then?


What does 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60

Or 70 matter … a century even?

Some live a week, maybe only a day;

Others lose count or don’t count.


They simply stop working.


It could be worse, right?

It could be maybe that muddy hole instead?

You know, the one your bare-child foot got stuck in

Back when you had hope and dreams?

No, better than plastic-type white;

This one dark, warm and dirty — the primordial soup

— A mommy’s womb — ;

The other bright, artificial and painfully clean.

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Nudity Is

beautiful nude woman

I flipped through the pictures until I came across the one I saw before.

In all the vividness and splendor of black and white, I peered at a woman on the edge.

There, in a moment, she is nude, rear facing the camera, front facing danger and destruction, turning away from the tantalizing passion and desire of man at the risk of the free fall below.

The girl with her arms stretched above her head; her hands are in the “salute” pose I’d often seen in gymnastics.

Those beautiful, slight, fragile hands are pointed toward the heavens in much the same way as thousands who had been tied to crosses before, but these ropes seem gone, cast away, if just for a moment, and now these two features—the features that give us so much advantage in this world and that cause so much pain—are positioned to cut through the air and thus the water in desperate hope to limit impact.

In a moment, her long hair is wild and free, as is her body.

Free of clothing, free of the concept of nudity, evil, and humiliation. Her mane pours over her shoulders not in an attempt to hide her nakedness but rather to highlight her natural beauty.

I saw her dark wet hair kiss her spine. The two are glued in matrimony of being.

The spine slowly crawls to the buttocks. They are firm, muscular but feminine. I felt elated. I felt good. Looking at her made me love being human, and I think the human body is beautiful. The hips join in to create a beautiful harmony.

I can still recall the diamond-shaped light sifting between her legs, where the buttocks, thighs and crotch meet. Dark skin against the light of the sun; water, the giver of life, running down the flesh; the woman, in the moment, and the viewer moved in time.

There, in a moment, my eyes moved further down to see the form of her legs, her hamstrings, the back of her knees—that are so fun to tickle—and her wonderfully shaped calf muscles.

It finishes with the soles of her feet blinking at me, “dirty” but not so and even so, I would not mind them dirty at all, for all of her is so beautiful in this moment. She brings me into her experience and I forget all about the photograph.

Everything becomes one: I, her, and nature.

Misogynist Memorandum

Concept for young sexy female car repair

Date: July, throughout the years

To: Wretched Wrench-Wielding Wenches

From: Random Patriarchal Interpretations (aka: society)

 

It has come to my attention that several wenches under our employ are wielding wrenches–some physical and others the virtual equivalent. I personally understand how such desperate and wanton women would desire to forcibly twist and pull the nuts off those that make their lives ever more difficult and fraught with fear, even when, often, for their own good.

As one that has been both on the receiving end of such violence and that has enjoyed his male privilege extensively, I ask our ladies to think back to simpler days and their “lady ancestries.” Be nice to men.

If only she would come to work and look more young and make her bosses coffee when they ask that of her, as well as any other errands or favors that men fancy. Serving is the best way to a promotion for young servant girls, and even if one is not so young, she should try to fool her boss with wantonness for him–not being miserable, base, and mean. Such little-girl behavior will lead to her defamation. I am interpreting Shakespeare’s meaning here, and we all know that he was quite the feminist of the 1600s. Women could not be feminists then, nor could they be tastefully employed. Those were surely better days.

Women, I find, cannot help it. It’s in the nature of a wretched wench. In other words, she should aim to fool us where youth dies but experience lives. She probably won’t fool us for young ladies always take initiative to be noticed and are less self-conscious than the older she. They are less clever too, therein notice men’s advantage? I am giving the plot away!

Don’t you know that for women experience is a demotion not a promotion?  Since being young and virgin (and stupid helps) is a poor long-term plan, giving up is the best advantage. So from now on, smile instead of frown, be pleasant instead of mean, and never seem desperate, even with the customer (or your bosses) for you will scare them away, even if you are not wielding a wrench. To be ladylike is to be pleasant and young-looking, at least in spirit. So wrenches are forbidden as no woman should ever defend herself against a man, either physically or psychologically. That is unladylike as is giving into a man and getting caught as a result of her desperation. Desire is never a man’s fault. I believe it says so in great books?

No more twisting off nuts, please, or such a wench might find herself in HR. Let us protect her, but then again we don’t protect violent wenches, do we? Oh, sorry. My bad?

Let me rephrase all of this. In the end, no matter what happens to a “girl,” we reserve the right to enforce the negative connotation over the positive. No matter how she looks at it, it’s her fault and men’s privilege. A man can do no wrong when with the lesser sex.

(From the Author) Actaully, I don’t know what to think of this. I wrote it a while ago. I kind of like and hate it, so I will let you decide.