Sunday, June 12, 2005

My House - My Rules

The exchange below is in response to my post about Brandi Stahr, the girl from Texas who fought with her family, then took off and made a new life for herself in Kentucky. Tracey, the commenter, who clearly doesn't know me and has never read any of my previous posts, decided to do the unthinkable here in Catharineland.... What we call a "drive-by" (thank you for the phrase, grrl).

I decided to pull it from the comments and make it a post. I realize it's long, but I beg your indulgence. I think it's really important that we air this dirty linen in public, rather than in the miniscule little print of Haloscan. Tracey's posts are italicized and right-justified; mine are in standard font and left-justified.
Before we're too hard on Tracey, let us do as she suggests and be "compassionate." Tracey is not doing anything that every one of us hasn't done -- nominated herself for Grand Poobah in a one-vote election. I'm just at an age where I'm finding it harder and harder to swallow, especially when it concerns women arbitrating who's a "good girl" or a "good mother. I got a little tart with Tracey, I'll admit. We all know how gladly I suffer... well, let's just say how gladly I suffer, and leave it at that, shall we?

With rights come responsibilities. She had the right to run away, but what about the responsibility/humanity of not dreadfully hurting the ones that loved her? Besides...how is it a right to ring up thousands of dollars in bills and then run away from it all so your parents can pay for it? Sure...she had every right to do what she did...but it still makes it wrong, in my opinion. Of course, I would never intentionally hurt my family like that...I choose the "right" of having simple human decency over the right of simple selfishness.

Tracey

Tracey, girl... well, ain't you something... a regular girl scout you are. You know all about responsibility and rights, do you? A political science major, are you? Brandi has spent 7 years supporting herself, not asking for her family for a thing (by their own admission). And where do you get off passing judgement on the relationship she has with her family? You know nothing about her family (unless you're her mom, in which case, leave the girl alone, for God's sake!!) So, don't come around here with your ridiculous assumptions and your high-and-mighties. They just don't fly here, kid. Now, get thee to a nunnery.

~C~

Eh...I never made it well in the Girl Scouts, could only hack a couple of years. But I still love the cookies! lol And you're right, I don't know about Brandi's relationship with her parents...I guess that I am coming from a place where I just couldn't envision hurting people like that. How much would it have taken just to say "sorry...leave me alone?" Dunno...that's where you and I will have to disagree.

And really, you don't know me either. Not a poly sci major (but married to one. lol)...and vote decidedly liberal (Though I'm more of a Dean girl and not a Kerry supporter). I'm all with you with the rights thing...I just believe that rights, not tempered with compassion, can lead to a very individualized and lonely existance.

It's too bad that polite debate and alternative opinions don't fly here...because I think it's healthy to hear opposing viewpoints. Promoting irresponsibility (you never did answer the 26,000 dollar question...lol) above responsible behavior, if indeed a part of liberalism, is something that I'll never quite be able to grasp.

And, sorry, not going to a nunnery...I'd miss certain things way too much.

Tracey

Dear Tracey -- I couldn't agree with you more. Anything not tempered with compassion can lead to a very lonely existence -- including random, self-righteous judgmentalism. Climb down off'n your high horse for a few minutes and look up a couple of words in the dictionary for me -- the first is "debate;" the second, "thesis." Intelligent debate -- polite or otherwise -- depends on both parties agreeing to stick to the thesis. I made the original post -- so I got to pick the thesis. (My house... my rules....)

The post wasn't about whether Brandi was "good girl" or not (boy, did those two words leave a bad taste in my mouth -- GAH! I think Rhonda just fainted.). The post was about whether she had the right (as an of-age adult) to relocate and leave no forwarding address. My main point was that she wasn't "hiding," (Malinak's sinister implication being that she was guilty of some wrongdoing on her part) -- she just packed up and moved and didn't tell anyone where she was going. If you would like to debate the issue -- whether it's hiding if you're not attempting to conceal your identity from certain lame law enforcement personnel, then that would be a polite debate. That's not what you did. What your post was is what has come (in my circle of blog-buddies) to be called a "drive-by." I must say, Tracey, I'm grateful for this opportunity to set the record straight here for all who might post in the future. Allow me be entirely unambiguous on this issue.

I see this over and over. Women are tearing each other down, speculating what makes a "good girl" and a "bad mother," as if anyone of us knows better than the other. Why do some women feel as if they have the right to set themselves up as the arbiters of decency, morality and good parenting at every opportunity? Just look at their prime targets. Womanhood. Motherhood. Daughterhood. We are lined up like those little ducks in the shooting galleries in Frontierland. Only we're also the ones doing the shooting. What's wrong with this picture?

"Well, she's just not a good person because I can't imagine doing what she did." "Well, she didn't breastfeed her baby the way I did, so she's not a good mother." "Well, she's a working mom, so she can't possibly be taking care of her children properly." "Well, she's a stay-at-home mom, so it's obvious she's over-involved with her kids." You're not the only one who does it, Tracey. You didn't invent this. It's become so reflexive, women don't even know they're doing it anymore. Hell, I still catch myself doing it from time to time.

Drive-bys are not permitted here. Ever. (I feel so strongly about that, I had to put it in color.) They pit women against one another and, in doing so, diminish us all. If, after reading that entire post, the most salient point you managed to hit upon is that Brandi wasn't very nice or good to her family for running off like that, then you not only missed the point of my post, but of Brandi's abrupt, unannounced departure seven years ago as well. A compassionate person might have attempted to step into young Brandi's shoes, imagining what being 20 and alone in a strange state, having to start from complete scratch, with no one and nothing to fall back on might have felt like. Or not. I'm just saying....

My other not-so-subtle point was that, had Brandi been a 20-year-old man, I doubt anyone would be so quick to imply that he'd done something vaguely criminal by leaving. But Brandi is not a man. Brandi is a woman, and as such, subject (as we all are) to being treated like an errant child who needs permission -- or worse yet, as if she were a very smart dog who's slipped her leash. I find this intolerable, not only for Brandi, but for me -- and for you, for that matter. Because, again, what diminishes one of us, diminishes all of us.

So we'll not sit in judgement of Brandi and whether she's a good little girl who minds her manners. Not on my watch. Not on this blog. (My house... my rules....) Now, the befuddled Texas Ranger who hasn't figured out how to use Lexis-Nexis and Dialogue to do a widescale name search.... Well, that's a high horse of a different color. Him, we'll sit in judgement upon. Why? Because anyone living in the 21st Century who hasn't learned how to use the computer properly should be mocked. But... mocked with compassion, of course. Always, with compassion.

So, are we all clear here? My house, my rules. Rule #1 -- Stick to the point (unless you're really funny -- then you have carte blanche). Rule #2 -- check your self-righteousness and religiosity at the door. Rule #3 -- wipe your damn feet. I just vacuumed.

~C~

PostScript

Now, perhaps I was a little testy with Miss Tracey. One of the reasons, I confess, is that she peppered her second post with little smiliecons. Happy face, happy face, wink, wink. This would be fine, if this were a light, airy little post about catnip or chai tea or SPF 30 vs. SPF 50. However, I think Tracey showed some gumption in having the temerity to come to my blog and tell me what she thought was what. No matter that she fucked with the wrong redhead. She showed some serious ovaries. I like that in a woman. And then she went and ruined it by sticking little happy faces and winkies in the middle of it. This is something else that women do that men don't. "Happy face... Just kidding... just a woman.... wink, wink.... don't take me seriously... you know how we get sometimes."

Sisters, we need to knock that shit off, but NOW!

~C~

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