If pro is opposite of con, is progress the opposite of congress?

Have you ever imagined a world with no hypothetical situations?

Why do we drive on parkways and park on driveways?

Toots

A Poem by Michael Estabrook

Retired, we only have one car,
and the wife . . . well she’s the boss you know
like all wives are
can be stingy with the car, need it
for a “business meeting”
or some special shopping urgency blah blah blah
hey wait a minute I’m the man of the house aren’t I?

I’m gonna demand the use of that car today
I’m gonna march right up to her and stare into
her pretty shining brown eyes
and state sternly
like I really mean it “I’m using the car today toots
whether you like it or not. Put that
in your pipe and smoke it!”
Well, on second thought.

When Our Eyes Would Meet At The Station

A Poem by Michael Estabrook

One Friday night the winter of 1971
I got the last seat on the bus home, back row
in the middle, the worst seat.
Sleet and snow turned
the one hour ride into two
and the woman beside me fell asleep
on my shoulder her name was Jean,
24 years old working at Fortunoff’s
in New York City.

She was tall, pretty and pleasant,
with long brown hair. We’d say hi
when our eyes would meet at the station.
I liked her and watched her closely
could tell she hated it when men—
especially middle-aged businessmen
with plump wives and kids in college—
made passes at her.

But I never did that, I only said hi
when our eyes would meet at the station.
But that was enough for me
because I was young, life
was still a mystery
and she never
fell asleep on any of their shoulders
like she had on mine.

Over It Redux

An Essay by Eve Ensler

I am over rape.

I’m over women (cisgender, transgender and gender non-conforming) having to tell our stories over and over, traumatizing and re-traumatizing ourselves over and over when the stories and names and identities of perpetrators remain protected and anonymous.

I am over rape culture, where privileged men with political and physical and economic power take what and who they want, when they want it, as much as they want, any time they want it.

This would include the super Predator in Chief, Donald Trump, who was elected after bragging about grabbing women’s pussies without their consent and who has more than 15 charges of abuse against him. Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly… the list is endless. It’s not enough to fire them and have them walk away with millions. Sexual abuse is already illegal.

I am over how long it takes for anyone to ever respond to rape, and how long corporations and partners protect abusers through payouts and backroom deals. If that same president or CEO stole money from you or killed someone, you can bet they’d be fired on the spot and he would be charged in court.

I am over the three out of four women who experience sexual harassment feeling they can’t tell anyone for fear of losing their job or not being believed.

I am over women being slowly made insane and angered and humiliated and shamed by being forced to ignore, deny, block out, tolerate, minimize the sexual harassment in order to survive.

I am over “33 million U.S. women being sexually harassed, and 14 million sexually abused, in work-related incidents,” as reported by ABC News-Washington Post.

I am over domestic workers being held as sex slaves.

I’m over non-documented workers being sexually and physically abused, and then having no place to turn for protection or justice.

I am over room attendants in hotels having to fight to get panic buttons installed on their beings because they can hardly bend over to clean a bathtub without fear of being attacked by male guests.

I am over restaurant workers being made to tolerate being grabbed, insulted degraded and harassed at jobs because they are reliant on tips and paid $2.13 an hour.

I’m over 76 percent of nurses being verbally assaulted and kicked, punched, bitten, grabbed or attacked by their patients or visitors on the job.

I am over 60 percent of women farm workers suffering sexual abuse, so much so that their place of work has been named the field de calzon, the field of panties.

I am over the hundreds of thousands of women in Congo still waiting for the rapes to end and the rapists to be held accountable.

I am over the thousands of women in Bosnia, Myanmar, Pakistan, South Africa, Guatemala, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Iraq, you name a place, still waiting for justice.

I am over one in three women in the U.S military getting raped by their so-called “comrades.”

I am over the fact that half of all transgender people and lesbians will experience sexual violence.

I am over the fact that 75 percent of women in prison “have histories of severe physical abuse by an intimate partner… and 82% suffered serious physical or sexual abuse as children” and they are being further punished rather than healed.

I’m over college campuses being places young women survive rather than places they thrive because of rape culture.

I am over the forces that deny women who have been raped the right to have an abortion.

I am over rape victims becoming re-raped when they go public. reality of being a woman — by the numbers.

I am over women still being silent about rape, because they are made to believe it’s their fault. Because they did something to make it happen like “wearing the wrong clothes.” Because they are terrified they will get fired or won’t get the part or ever work again.

I am over people not understanding that rape is not a joke and I am over being told I don’t have a sense of humor, and women don’t have a sense of humor, when most women I know (and I know a lot) are really fucking funny. We just don’t think being forced to watch a vile, powerful man masturbate in front of us to keep or get a job or having an uninvited penis up our anus or our vagina is a laugh riot.

I’m over women being forced to leave their homes when their husbands beat them.

I am over violence against women not being a number one international priority when one out of three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime ― the destruction and muting and undermining of women is the destruction of life itself.

No women, no future, duh.

I am over the endless resurrection of the careers of rapists and sexual exploiters ― film directors, world leaders, corporate executives, shamans, priests, rabbis, imams, gurus, coaches, doctors, movie stars, athletes (insert here) ― while the lives of the women they violated are devastated, often forcing them to live in social and emotional exile.

I’m over listening to a predator who has slept with and then married his step daughter expressing his empathy for a mutual predator.

I am over years and years of being over rape and rewriting and updating this piece Over It.

I am over thinking about rape every day of my life since I was five years old. I’m over getting sick from rape. I’m over getting depressed from rape. I’m over getting enraged by rape. I’m over reading my insanely crowded inbox of rape horror stories every hour of every single day.

I am over being polite about rape. It’s been too long now, we have been too understanding. We need it to end now.

We need people to truly try and imagine ― once and for all ― what it feels like to have your body invaded, your mind splintered, your soul shattered.

And really deeply, truly, I am over the passivity of good men. Where the hell are you? You live with us, work with us, make love with us, father us, befriend us, brother us, get nurtured and mothered and eternally supported by us, so why aren’t you standing with us? Why aren’t you driven to the point of madness and action by the rape and harassment, degradation and humiliation of us?

Why aren’t you rising in droves, going beyond apologies and confessions, realizing this issue is your issue not ours? Why don’t you see yet if you were to stand as one fierce band of insistent, consistent, loving men speaking to your brothers, calling out your brothers, interrogating yourselves, dismantling patriarchy in every board room, audition hall, hotel, hospital, office, farm, school, locker room, this whole thing would change overnight?

There are approximately one billion women on the planet who have been violated.

ONE BILLION WOMEN.

Can we rise together? Can we change the paradigm? Can we rebirth the culture because we know that when women are free, safe, equal and allowed to be alive in all their intensity the whole story will finally change?

–from One Billion Women email newsletter

The Conflict Zone

A short story by Charlotte Silveston

The red dot glows on the woman’s forehead.

Standing too close to her, blood throbs against my eardrums, masking clangs and thuds and the distant drone of a motor. The heat is making me feel feverish.

It’s one against many, how many I can’t tell; some are close and others are far off. The woman is stuck. She doesn’t even blink.

I can’t move either. They might come for me too. For now, it’s just her and them. Both products of the schism, but they are on one side and she on the other.

The panic in my chest beats its wings faster, almost a hum. They’re taunting her – drawing it out, making her wait. I wish – wish – I could help.

“Why won’t you get the message?” It’s the one nearest her. Still she doesn’t blink. One of the others spits on the floor and I swivel my eyes, watching the foam judder. “Muslims aren’t welcome here.”

The woman’s head snaps up, the red dot almost pulsating, and she stares at me. Has she realized I’ve been here all along? But then I can feel it. Everything is slowing. At last. Relief floods my mouth.

Finally, she blinks, and in unison we stand up: two strangers, united. The men look at one another.
We are coasting to a stop. I nod to her.

“I’m not a Muslim,” she says, “not that it makes any difference.”

The red dot appears more prominently. It always would be, her bindi, hovering in the space between her eyebrows. Empowering her. “I,” she announces, “am a Hindu. Today, I wish I was Muslim.”

Standing next to her, I nod my agreement. The men turn their eyes away from us.

The Tube doors bleep and slide open.