Wednesday wanderings and walkabouts

With the no specific topic in mind, let’s put on our hiking shoes on this cool fall day and wander outside. Our Australian friends have a more earnest term of “walkabout,” so let’s walkabout and ponder as we stroll through a forest or path hopefully with a friend, given the stories below. If your significant other cares to join you, even better. Holding hands is optional but recommended.

In no particular order, here are a few items to ponder.

One of the things I have discovered is politicians and their staff members really like it when you call them and thank them for positive or courageous actions. Representative Nancy Mace, a South Carolina Republican, is getting flak from a member of her tribe for calling said person out for bigoted and mean-spirited remarks toward another congressional representative. I called and complimented Mace on doing the right thing and her political courage. We need more of that in Congress and in her party and less of the mean-spirited name calling and bullying.

I read yesterday the North Carolina School of the Arts, a high school for talented young artists, has now increased the number of plaintiffs to 41 accusing the school of allowing sexual misconduct occur. This school has failed to learn the lesson that groups like the Catholic Church, Boy Scouts of America, Penn State University, Michigan State University, US Women’s Gymnastics, Ohio State University, the US Military, et al. have failed to learn. The victims, not the institutional brand, matter the most. And, by focusing on the victims and bringing the alleged predators to justice, the institutional brand will actually be helped not harmed. Doing the right thing matters.

Unfortunately, I am aware of a couple of folks I know who have been victims of sexual assault. It makes you angry that this can happen. My advice to any person on a college campus or in a large organization, if you are sexually assaulted, do not go to the campus or security officials of the organization Call the police. You will be better served if you go to an entity that is not involved with the institution who will try to protects its brand first and foremost. As for college students, I would suggest young women not let anyone handle their drink, drink judicially and go to parties with a friend. Be in control of your destiny. When testosterone, alcohol and groups are mixed together, a woman’s best interest may not be top of mind.

Putting these stories together, I admire courageous and egalitarian leaders, especially women who exhibit these traits in the face of more adversity than a man faces. I also believe women must be extra vigilant in a world that continues to prey upon them. There are too many men like Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes et al out there who have used their positions of power to force themselves on women, whether it is a major retail store manager or a plant manager in a small town. These local managers who prey on women workers are far more prevalent as they control the hiring and scheduling.

It is hard, but it can be done. And, it may affect your income, which makes it harder. Women should not let any man or woman in power take advantage of them or others. I saw two stories this weekend on CBS Sunday Morning News that are telling. The actress Rita Moreno says she was raped by her agent when she was a teenager. Back in the early 1950s, she said she had no voice as a young Latina American and no one would do anything about it, so she did not even try. The other story is of the rock-n-roll singer Pat Benatar who said radio people in the early 1980s said if she slept with them her record would get played. She told them to go screw themselves.

We cannot expect all women to be as feisty as Pat Benatar and many still feel constrained like Rita Moreno did as a Latina American, but we men and women should be advocates for all women who are being pressured. And, we should applaud courage when we see it, whether it is political or personal courage.

Only women bleed – an unlikely source for powerful words

Whether his name rings a bell for a younger generation, there is an old rocker named Alice Cooper, who beneath his “Kiss” like make-up, sang some great rock-n-roll songs. But, he co-wrote and recorded one of the most powerful ballads, with domestic violence and maltreatment of women as a back drop. The song was aptly entitled “Only women bleed.”

Here is sample of the lyrics from the middle of the song.

“Man makes your hair gray
He’s your life’s mistake
All you’re really lookin’ fors an even break
He lies right at you
You know you hate this game
Slaps you once in a while
And you live and love in pain

She cries alone at night too often
He smokes and drinks and don’t come home at al
l

Only women bleed”

Domestic violence remains a hidden trauma for women. I use the word “hidden” as many victims try to hide their pain and bruises. They have been told it is their fault by their abusers. They are shamed as well as beaten. And, the abusers are quite adroit at masking their violent and controlling tendencies from their co-workers, friend and relatives.

In an agency to help working homeless families that I volunteered with, about 1/3 of the families in need were domestic violence survivors. In addition to losing their home, the spouse and family had to also experience the trauma of domestic violence. PTSD in these families had two causes.

If you are in a domestic violence situation or know someone who is, here are two loudspeaker bulletins.

  • He will not change. Full stop.
  • Find a way to get out before it is too late.

Let me close with the painful story of a man who started a local group called “Men for Change.” His sister hid from him and her other siblings that her husband was beating her. She would avoid family gatherings when bruises were apparent. She also hid the fact her husband was beating her two boys, on occasion ramming their heads into the ceiling.

She hid this from her siblings until they found out. How did they? He killed their sister Only women bleed. The abusers will not change. Get out.

If I see you on the trails

I long ago ceased my running and have been a walker and hiker instead. Often, I will go to one of the four trails in parks near my home. If you see me on the trails, you will see a friendly, but tall 59 year old man. Yet, I understand why women running alone will pause when they see me coming towards them.

The news of the day only heightens the concern women must have in the workplace. Similarly, they must be diligent when away from the crowds. I do my best to be overly friendly when walking on the trails, but I am a big guy and people don’t know me from Adam. Female joggers and walkers have to be on the guard.

Since I walk the trails quite often, allow me to offer some advice as this old man and father sees it. Please do not run or walk alone. It is that simple. There have been too many stories where lone women have been attacked. A dog will help, but another person is even better.

Another piece of advice may be harder to follow. Shed the music and earpieces. Sound is a good indicator of trouble, so when it is blocked by music, one of your senses is disabled. I know of several stories where the assailant came up from behind. Another sad story is a woman running at night on a street did not realize a truck passing had a trailer, so she stepped off the curb after the truck passed only to be killed by the trailer. If she had been without earpieces, she might have heard the trailer. Plus, it is not uncommon for a runner to dart in front of a car when listening to music.

The final piece of advice is to avoid running at night or dusk. It is hard to see you, first and foremost, but it is harder to see the assailant. The best option is to run or walk at a park with a crowded parking lot. If yours is the only car, it is best to avoid the trail that day. It gives me pause when I am the lone car.

I have come across some interesting things along the paths. I saw about eight deer earlier this week. I have seen snakes and been spooked by rustling squirrels and birds. I have yet to see any bears, although there have been more sightings in the city. I have witnessed what I think was a police/ informant meeting, which hastened my pace. I have seen people who have given me pause. And, I have seen too many women jogging alone.

Be safe and happy trails.