Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Bad Boys What Ya Gonna Do?

The first few times I listened to Rush Limbaugh back in the late 80's I thought he was somewhat interesting, humorous and quick witted. It didn't take too long to realize that there were misogynistic and obsessive elements to his spiel. Misogynistic traits seem to be characteristic of some powerful people - now and throughout history. From my vantage point this attitude towards women reminds me of eight year old boys in their clubhouse with the "no girls allowed" sign on the door.

Rush Limbaugh has had four marriages, three divorces and no children.

Rush is a large adult son...speaking of which - the jokes about Mike Huckabee's large adult sons and that whole meme might be funny in a twitterish sort of way - you have to be in the mood. One of the weirdest, saddest and sickest stories about the Huckabee clan is that one of the sons allegedly hung a dog while a counselor at a scout camp (what actually happened is unknown to the public other than the dog was killed and the Huckabee son was fired). I don't have much sympathy for a family where the dad and daughter lie, kowtow to an autocrat and debase Christianity for personal gain. I thought Mike Huckabee was a potential interesting candidate years ago...until I learned more about who he really seems to be. But I digress...

I expect Rush is not completely unlike powerful man boys like Jeffrey Epstein, Robert Kraft or Donald Trump in that his attitude towards women (or in Epstein's case girls) stems from his rejection by women. Rush, Jeffrey, Robert and Donald would be incels except for their wealth which allows them to pay women to associate with them - either via marriage, at a tacky strip mall massage parlor or in Jeffrey's case; pay and traffic underage girls for sex and escape justice thanks in part to Donald Trump's Labor Secretary Alex Acosta.

Acceptance and or celebration of misogyny leads to all sorts of weird, cruel and unjust actions in popular culture, right wing and conservative elements in America.

There was a weird aspect in how the show Family Guy treated Hillary Clinton during the last presidential election. It appeared that the writers were saying, we are going to be bad boys and use adolescent misogynistic insults masquerading as humor, towards the female candidate, but mom (Hillary) will save us in the end by becoming president, forgive us for our "boyish humor" and everything will be back to normal. When Trump was elected and the show began to spoof him - his fans decided what was good for the goose was not good for the gander and threw tantrums.

The cruel aspects manifest themselves in attempts to interject personal beliefs into the most personal decision a woman makes regarding her body - whether to carry a baby to term. This violates a woman's right to privacy when making a decision that should be between her, her doctor and in some cases the baby's father. The idea that somehow men, with the support of some women, have supremacy allowing them to dictate what personal choices woman have regarding their bodies is both cruel and frightening in a Handmaids Tale sort of way.

The old (and not so old) man/boys in their no girls allowed clubhouse manipulate our society to further the unjust treatment of women; in the work place, in compensation for their work (either at a workplace or at home) and in valuing the contributions of mothers and home makers.

It's maddening, it's sad, and it's as old as humankind. Outwardly "strong" but inwardly frightened and hollow men looking for self worth by putting some one or some group down.


I've been thinking about that phrase "hollow men" lately.

Dorothy Day wrote in her book The Reckless Way of Love, "You are certainly going through the sorrowful mysteries. But if you don't go through them to the glorious, you will be a hollow man, and considered an opportunist and a fraud."

I think about that idea and I'm pretty sure I'm more towards the opportunist and fraud end of the spectrum than the glorious end. Dorothy Day lived her faith in the real world - I live mine inside my own head.

"The Hollow Men" is also the title of a poem written by T.S. Elliot which ends with -

This is the way the world ends 
This is the way the world ends 
This is the way the world ends 
Not with a bang but with a whimper.

Marlon Brando playing Colonel Kurtz recites the poem in the 1979 movie Apocalypse Now


The world is filled with suffering. We cannot avoid growing old, growing ill and dying (or taxes - unless you're "smart" like the current reality TV personality/POTUS). The Buddha tells us to practice detachment and equanimity. Much easier said than done of course.

I've been reading about Stoicism for awhile now and think that it offers a path to remain courageous, strong and somewhat sane in today's world. One of the possibly counter intuitive but useful practices of Stocism is something The Daily Stoic calls "negative visualization" -
"The premeditatio malorum (“the pre-meditation of evils”) is a Stoic exercise of imagining things that could go wrong or be taken away from us. It helps us prepare for life’s inevitable setbacks. We don’t always get what is rightfully ours, even if we’ve earned it. Not everything is as clean and straightforward as we think they may be. Psychologically, we must prepare ourselves for this to happen. It is one of the most powerful exercise in the Stoics’ toolkit to build resilience and strength."