The rally in Charlottesville two weeks ago was a shock to America. It revealed not only our differences, but the schisms that are keeping us apart. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a disaster to bring us together. This weekend, that disaster is Hurricane Harvey.
Many of my regular readers know that I am a born and bred New Yorker. I lived through both 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy. The thing I remember about both is that we temporarily forgot our differences and remembered that we are all Americans. If we needed a kick in the behind to remind us of this, Hurricane Harvey is that kick.
Whatever our differences are, we need to put those aside and help our fellow citizens. Whether it is a donation to a reputable charity or volunteering to help the victims, please give. Our fellow citizens need us.
Contrary to popular belief, sexism is not dead. It’s alive and well.
Writer Laura Bates’s 2016 book, Girl Up: Kick Ass, Claim Your Woman Card, and Crush Everyday Sexism, is about confronting sexism in the here and now. She writes about everything from unwanted flirtations, to the double standards that women have to deal with every day and how to deal with the sh*t that women hear and read about in the press everyday.
I really liked this book. I really liked it because it dealt with sexism on a practical, everyday level, not on a hypothetical academic level. Using her own experience and of others, she calls out the bullsh*t sexism is still unfortunately part and parcel of our culture. She also provides practical advice when dealing with sexism head on.
I absolutely recommend it.
Before Married With Children hit the airwaves in 1987, the family sitcoms that littered the television landscape were a 1980’s reproduction of the family sitcoms of the 1950’s. Following in the groundbreaking steps of Roseanne, Married With Children push the envelope in ways that had not been seen before.
Al Bundy and Peg Bundy (Ed O’Neill and Katey Sagal) appear to be the hetero-norm, middle class white suburban couple that has been seen on television since it’s inception. But they aren’t. Al works in a shoe store for a living and hates every minute of it with a passion. Peg is a housewife who does not do housework. Their teenage daughter, Kelly (Christina Applegate), has only one thing going for her: her looks. Ne’er do well son Bud (David Faustino) is not exactly the brightest bulb in the box. Their new neighbors Marcy and Steve Rhoades (Amanda Bearse and David Garrison) are newlyweds and the picture perfect image of suburban normal-ness.
Married With Children was crude, rude and so far from politically correct that it didn’t even have a moral compass. But it was and is so funny. It was the perfect antidote to the perfect TV families of the late 1980’s and 1990’s. But that was the brilliance of this show. It mocked the perfection of the genre in a way that was refreshing. Sometimes when you turn on the television, you don’t want to think. You just need a dumb show to make you laugh and Married With Children was that show.
The legacy of Married With Children is not just the pushing of the envelope, but the idea that families on television reflect the audience who is watching. Families are messy and no one is perfect. While this show was a little far from reality, it revealed a truth about life and what audiences really want to see on television.
We can choose our friends, we can choose our romantic partners. But we cannot choose our family.
Libby Phelps grew up in the most notorious family in America: the Westboro Baptist Church. The granddaughter of the group’s founder, Fred Phelps, Libby towed the family cause until she reached early adulthood. Then something changed. Her life and her life altering decision is detailed in the book, Girl on a Wire: Walking the Line Between Faith and Freedom in the Westboro Baptist Church. Ms. Phelps, along with journalist Sara Stewart writes about her growing up inside the Westboro Baptist Church and the slow shift she made towards the outside world.
While the book is a little slow at some points, it is also quite fascinating. I found her story to be fascinating because only someone who has grown up in a group like the Westboro Baptist Church can fully explain what it is like to live that life. It is also fascinating because her story speaks of the duality of freedom of speech. On one hand, we can say what we like without fear of recrimination. But on the other hand, what we say can be construed as hate speech by someone else.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely, because it speaks of the sometimes diving duality of what it is like to live in a democracy, especially a democracy where differing opinions are bound to happen.