Please Coach Frost, Stand Up For Women

I have been having 90s flashbacks lately. Not pleasant ones. In fact, like many women in America, I have been having  an onslaught of Very Unpleasant Memories (VUMs for short) crop up, fueled by the media reports of Important Men Doing Pervy Things (IMDPT). It’s weird, I had honestly forgotten the hell that was being a teenage girl in the 90s but now it’s all coming back in every rotten, sordid detail. And the 90s, sexist as they were, were probably a cake walk compared to the social environments previous generations of women had to grow up in. Reliving this stuff has been hard for everyone.

While my first reaction to the flood of IMDPT going down in flames was to take a seat, eat some popcorn, and delight in the patriarchy collapsing under its own weight, now my reaction is just sadness. All of it, just the flood of news which reminds you that suffering is everywhere and it’s been everywhere and we’ve ignored it for far too long.

While I (and every woman I know that was alive at the time) could write volumes of Pervy Things Boys Did To Me In The Nineties, I have one particular story that’s disturbing me lately, but it is a bee sting story. Up until last month, it would have been meaningless, and perhaps it still is, but it is my story. One summer in the misogynist 90s I was chosen to attend a leadership training camp. The camp was great. At the end, it had a dance. Cute boy asks me to dance, then wastes no time in groping me. I was just taken aback, not at all in the mindset of deflecting perverts that fine summer day. Once I had my wits about me I politely (as I knew no other way) removed his hands from my ass, as if it had all been an innocent misunderstanding. Nevertheless, he persisted.

We continued to dance, he would not let up. Every time I redirected his hands to my waist he’d grab my butt again, like it was his *right* to do it. His right, this not-even-a-man who’d just met me moments earlier, who had been hand-picked as a good citizen from his hometown American Legion Auxiliary, had just decided that he was my ruler and my body his rightful territory. I honestly was so shocked and confused it took me far too long to realize I could just walk away, which I eventually did. But in those panicked moments when I was trying to figure out what was going on and how to respond to it (is this actually happening?), I looked around the room for a lifeline. One of those moments when  you witness or are involved in something so sudden and bizarre you look around for a reaction, like did you see that man falling from the sky? That’s not normal, is it?

The thing that stings like a bee was that on that night there were no lifelines, just self-involved bystanders. A male friend I’d known since toddlerhood was there, we’d gone to basically Jesus camp together so he of all people would probably know I didn’t much enjoy getting felt up by random dude. But what did I feel? Embarassment that he saw me like that. And he would not be one to intervene, on anything, ever, so absolutely no lifeline there. Then I look to my right and I see the older, college-age guy that was there as an alum and counselor. He was no help as he was grinning smugly, both of his hands firmly gripping the ass of a cute camper, who was also smugly grinning and gripping his ass in return, locked in what appeared to be consensual groping bliss. The good looking gropers never made eye contact with each other – not even a fleeting sweet gaze upon each others chiseled features – instead, their eyes were wide and looking around the room in what I interpreted was to see how many people were seeing them.  Needless to say, no lifeline there either, just a gross self-absorbed authority figure enjoying young flesh.

In rethinking this story as it popped into my brain as a VUM, I considered the possibility that the guy groping me at the dance was doing it not just because he was an impossibly horny teenager with no self control or respect for women whatsoever, but because he saw the cool man counselor setting the tone, distorting the reality as to what is acceptable for a man to do to a woman on the dance floor at a government and leadership camp, took note, and followed suit.  Cool man counselor was not just oblivious to the blatant misdeeds around him, which I thought was a little bit his job to pay attention to, but he actually encouraged it with his own self-absorbed behavior. And that really worries me.

But, like I said, this is a bee sting story.  One of those that should not be shared out of respect for the person down the street who didn’t get stung by a bee, she got mauled by a bear. There is not enough ink in the world for the papers to print every bee sting story from every woman who ever was on the receiving end of IMDPT. I just can’t tell you how common this stuff is. It only makes the papers if it’s way worse, which led every girl and every woman to shrug it off and say “at least it’s not rape” and know that very, very little can be done. The common consensus was that ONLY rape was intolerable, the rest was part of being female and being alive. Now the tides have turned to where we actually think grabbing a woman’s ass against her consent is a bad thing.  And it is! It was! It always has been! We have never had the right to complain before or had ears that would listen!

But back to my point, that behavior of simple self-absorbed complacency really worried me, because a few short months later, a woman did get the equivalent of mauled by a bear, witnessed by the exact same cool counselor man, at his apartment, and it made national headlines, and I can’t say how awful it was. I’m beyond speculating what he was doing and how he did or failed to act. I understand being shocked and delaying action because your brain can’t process something so terrifying and so bizarre fast enough, I’ll give him a very very generous pass for that. The fallout from the event was far-reaching. Football player breaks into other football player’s (the cool guy counselor) third-floor apartment by scaling up balconies where he finds his ex-girlfriend, drags her down 3 flight of stairs by her hair, and bashes her head into a metal mailbox. Coach, who was regarded as a mix of Jesus and Santa Claus, suspends him for 6 games, then puts him in to play for the Fiesta Bowl in a move that made me and other girls and women alike feel less about ourselves and our genders and our bodies than we had ever felt before. The words “low point” can’t even come close to describing it. I’m not sure if I knew the word “patriarchy” back then, but I knew it had won, and my life and my health and my body as a woman didn’t mean very much to the white Christian men who had all the power and got to decide these things. When Kate McEwan was beaten down, we all were beaten down.

Which brings us to the present. Cool guy counselor, whose real name is Scott Frost, just signed a 7-year contract to be the head coach of the Nebraska Cornhusker football team at a price of $35,000,000. Good for him. Now, if you’re reading this, let me ask you – as a person who has witnessed a horrifying act of violence against women, and as the new leader of the Cornhuskers, will you strive to make a team and an environment where people around town aren’t hearing reports of the football players beating their girlfriends and raping women at parties while the head coach (all of them) look the other way?  Because that would be really great. You could champion a cause of standing up for the rights of women and have a rapist-free college football team.  And if someone does do something bad, can you do the opposite of what Tom Osborne did and have the criminal justice system sort it out instead of you handling it your own way? Heck, you could even use some of that 35 mill and have Brenda Tracy come back and educate your new team on how to not be rapists. Or donate some to RAINN.

You could do so many good things, you could start fresh, and unlike that terrible dance, you could set the tone for what a man does and does not do.  And unlike that terrible event a few months later, you could just stop all of the hurt before it happened. You could have a zero tolerance against male sexist bullshit policy, you could kick a player off the team for grabbing someone’s ass.  It’s possible!  It’s a new day, it’s 2017! You have so much power and privelege and authority now, you can change the social dynamics of the entire state. If Coach Osborne made teenage girls like me feel terrible about themselves, maybe you could, with your wise actions, make all teen girls and women feel good about themselves, like their bodies and minds and health and lives DO matter. Because they do. I hope you know that now, and I hope you’ll use your platform for the good of both young men and women, because the patriarchy hurts them both.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Amazing New Art Collection

If you haven’t heard, I have amassed quite the exquisite collection of fine art.  I have acquired all the pieces for free and can show them to you at any time.  You can own them, too and I can also browse your collection and steal it without you losing anything.  I am of course talking about Pinterest, the best thing to happen to anyone ever.  I’ve been lurking for a while but only in the past few months have I started actively using it, like developing boards and pinning and things.  While other people are using Pinterest for workout inspiration (whatever) or recipes, I have a more realistic approach because I know my limitations.  I started a recipe board, just because I thought I should, but it’s mostly just cocktails from the Today Show feed (those ladies know their way around a bar, their Drinks page is awesome) and fruit that looks like Bert and Ernie, with the requisite dish that I tried making but soon realized that looking at a recipe once and thinking you know it 3 hours later is not the best way to do business.  Hence my limited board.

What I can do and not screw up on is look at art.  It requires no work as it’s something on Pinterest that doesn’t require cooking, assembling, or the distant promise of perfect obliques.  You just get to gaze lovingly at cool stuff other people painstakingly made.  Of interest to me lately has been portrait painting and photography, like this gem.

I would like to do that someday, when I’m not home sick, when the couch isn’t so darn comfortable, and when I have the perfect balance of free time, creative energy, and inspiration.  So no time soon!  In the meantime, I’ll study what I like about the pictures I like–some may call it laziness, I call it the R&D phase.  And I’ll pin, and spend my blessed free time daydreaming about Capucine and Avedon in Paris.

I invite you to do what 9 other people have done and follow me or check out my Amazing Portraits or Pretties boards for all things Super Awesome.  Until then I’ll be gaining passive knowledge as lazily as I can.

The Last 2.5 Years in 2.5 paragraphs

I love writing.  I miss it.  Baby happened August 25, 2010, hence the hiatus.

Since my last post, I have learned a lot of valuable skills that will serve my family well in a post-apocalyptic world, like embroidery and wine blogging in haiku.  You have no idea when a fume blanc poem or elegantly-stitched throw pillow might save you from doom.

 

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Cordureindeer is here

I have also learned a bit about photography.  I love it because it’s an art form I can practice while sitting around on a Sunday afternoon watching my son eat chili.  Check out this rad chili montage:

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Captain Chilibeard Contemplates Life

 

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There you have it.  I hope to post more ARTS soon.  Until then, check out this owl I made that I entered into the Bennett Martin library’s “Lincoln at Night” show last summer.  I was not going to enter but my brilliant friend Zeljka Hassler convinced me to over drinks at Barrymore’s.  The conversation went something like this:

ME: But it’s not perfect, I can do better if I had more time, it has glue all over it.

ZELJKA:  Have you read Fifty Shades of Grey?  That book has glue ALL OVER IT!

I conceded and the owl became the hit of the show’s 3 and under demographic, who aren’t much for fine art photography and didn’t even notice the glue.

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Owl be back

Two great things

1.  The rain barrel I painted auctioned off for $510.  Yeah for the kids who can now go to nature camp!  It was a gorgeous early spring day in a nice pastoral setting.  Here’s a picture of the scene, unfortunately you can’t really see the elk lazing around  in the background.

The second most awesome thing is that shortly after the auction I get a call at my desk at work.  A blogger from Chicago had Googled me and wanted to talk to me about my barrel.  She writes about greening libraries and decided that morning her post for the day was going to be on rain barrels, and found my barrel online since it was displayed at the public library (again with the Google).  Here’s the link.   

http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/green-your-library/rain-barrels-serve-dual-purpose

I was also asked by someone at the auction if I’d paint a barrel for he and his wife.  Sadly had to decline.  Flattered, though, all the way around.

Meet me at the libary

Your face is red, like a strawbrerry.  Anyway my barrel is getting edumacated at the Bennett Martin in dowtown Lincoln.  Here’s some pics.

It looks smarter already

My mom took these with her new Droid.  I need to go down there with my camera one of these days.  Again, thanks for the photos, mom!

more fun on the other side

In case you’re one of the few people who hasn’t already heard this story a million times, I was called last Sunday to do a story for the LJS on the rain barrel.  The call came from the coordinator at the city office, and I recognized the prefix as the same City of Lincoln one that would frequently leave automated messages to tell me that I have overdue materials at the library, which happens at least every few weeks (ironically, the same library where the barrel is now).  So I ignored it.  Then at 9 pm I finally checked my messages and realized that no, moron, although you do have a late fee right now you also had an opportunity to brag about how awesome you are in the local paper, buuuut you missed it.  The coordinator had called from her office to see if she could give my number to a reporter who wanted to do a story that day and have it run in the paper Monday to coincide with the first day of the barrels being displayed throughout town.  This story could have been mine…. New Artistic Rain Barrels Unveiled

All the better.   It’s not about the fame, man, it’s about the music watershed management.

I Heart Watershed Management

In December I had heard about the City of Lincoln’s Artistic Rain Barrel Program and in January I submitted a design.  In February I was surprised and delighted to hear that my application was one of 25 chosen for the 2010 program!  For the rest of that month and on into March I used every spare minute to figure out how the heck I was going to turn this thing into an object of art.

primed barrel

After initially freaking out because the thing was, well, huge…it comes up to my waist and I’m 5’11″…I had imagined it shorter and fatter…I realized I could do this and my design (or an elongated version of) was appropriate for the size and shape of it.  Knowing that I lack the skill to pull off photorealism on a big bucket (or canvas for that matter) my design submission was simple–2 colors, just outlines (think KISS method).  No shading, no gradation, just cat tails and wetlands creatures outlined in a pleasing palette.  Something fairly simple and straightforward to execute and nice to look at–it’s best for everybody that way.  I had an idea of the colors I wanted so off to the art supply store I went.  Unfortunately, they had nothing that matched the paint in my head and with such a large piece I didn’t want to make the mixing formula too complicated.  I had decided on a few colors of some inexpensive acrylic paint in a bottle (not knowing what the best formulation is for a primed barrel–who does?) and mixed 2 of them in a freezer bag, squishing it around and making a mess everywhere.  Fun.  Then I got a lovely new wide brush and went to town.  Base color done.

Now for the hard part.  Making it look good.  Yikes, where to start.  Generally I would try to sketch it out on paper first with the appropriate dimensions to see how it all looks before committing to the canvas/barrel, but for a cylindrical object that sounded…hard.  I decided I had better test a small area in back to see if I liked my foreground color.  Ooh, I did.  I wonder what that dot would look like as an object…then as a scene…before I knew it I had dove in head first and come up with this. 

just put the stupid paint on the stupid barrel

I liked.  I also realized that this would require many many layers and lots of edge cleaning up to make it look striking and professional.  For the next few weeks I painted and repainted, inserting and deleting frogs, turtles, beavers, butterflies, dragonflies, and birds.  I finally got done with it last Tuesday night, waited 48 hours and had Bronson out in the garage spraying it down with topcoat.  Friday morning (the deadline for turning it in) I panicked when I couldn’t find the original bubble wrap it came in but had to get to work.  He went to 2 stores to find some and came back right in time before my mom got there in her Explorer to take it back to the city Watershed Mgt office (she also got stuck with picking it up for me because I was too sick to leave the house that day).  It takes a village to paint a barrel.  Thanks, you guys.  Here is a picture she took after she dropped it off and they unwrapped it, all shiny and topcoated.  Standing next to it is Amanda Meder, the organizer of the program, who I cropped out because I don’t know if she wants her photo on my blog!  Anyway, this will be at the downtown (Bennett Martin) library tomorrow and for the next month, so if you are in Lincoln stop on by!  Also look at the list of other businesses displaying barrels, there are some really amazing artists out there!

the front of the finished product

Also, the lovely and talented Zeljka Hassler is currently updating my website, so go to www.andreariley.me and check it out!  Some of the photos on there by Matt Miller, who graciously agreed to photograph my art outside yesterday.  Check out his site at http://mattmillerphoto.com/

back side

Ages 3 and Up: Artwork Inspired by Childhood Toys

I was invited (by myself) to display at a show going on at Lincoln Community Playhouse to coincide with their performance of Babes in Toyland.  Local Hero Design put it on and is selling prints for a $5 donation to the playhouse.  There’s a ton of good art down there and it will be hanging until Dec. 20th.  I decided to do some photographs (despite the anxiety-inducing fact that I don’t actually know anything about photography other than I point the camera at things that are pretty) because I had just gotten a great new camera and wanted to justify its purchase, also I was too damn lazy and crunched for time (thanks to NaNoWriMo) to do a decent painting.  Anyway, here are my 3 favorite ones–I decided to display the last one.  I got a metallic blue frame with a white mat to hang it in, when the show’s over it’s going in my future niece’s room.