Con Dios

Proof that a personalized plate can be clear in meaning, yet still difficult to understand.

Proof that a personalized plate can be clear in meaning, yet still difficult to understand.

Is it sad that some of my best ideas happen in my car? Never mind. It’s a rhetorical question. It happened again, is all. The impetus this time? A license plate reading “Con Dios.”

The car wasn’t going very fast–an interesting idea in itself as God hasn’t shown much speed since creating the world and universe in only seven days. More importantly, however, was that the plate was in Spanish. And this is only important because I could actually read it. Yes, I can read in Spanish. I can barely hear it when spoken, but eventually, I do catch on.

How nice of this driver, I presumed a woman, to be wishing me to go with God. That’s a nice thought. I felt warm inside, despite the soul-zapping cold outside. I smiled to myself and hummed along with the radio, thinking back to my recent trip abroad where I impressed a Jordanian member of the “tourism police” with my (limited) Spanish speaking capabilities. He’d never met a bilingual American before and asked me to speak in Spanish to prove I knew how. I gladly obliged by asking him if he’d like a beer (and then laughed silently in my head knowing full well he didn’t drink). Ah, good times.

It’s a sure sign of my own hubris that I so easily amuse myself.

I glanced over as “ConDios” turned off to the right. Go with God, I thought silently wishing her well. Of course, I mused, technically that would be “Vaya con Dios.” Yes, the plate was missing an action verb. In fact, it was kind of missing a verb altogether.

I gave the short phrase a fair shake, grammatically speaking. If one took it at face value, it really only said “With God.”  I had assumed the predicate relationship, entirely. I’m sure the driver had good intentions when buying the plate. On the other hand, without an action verb, or even a helping verb, the preposition created a singular statement of being. The driver was with God. Not me; just she.

Wait a minute.

It could be that my mistake was one of semantics: a classic case of two people using different words or phrases to say the same thing. “Con Dios” could be an abbreviated greeting for brevity’s sake. That idea held for a few minutes as I clung to my ideology that most people are good and want good things for others.

Then, I thought about what I know of other people.

Perhaps, my mistake was deeper, text-to-language, language-to-language, or the classic different-language-text-to-other-language-translation. Lost in translation, i.e. hermeneutics. I love the subtleties of meaning and nuance. Was this a nuanced license plate?

My hubris deflated. Maybe I didn’t get it, after all. It was very possible the driver was making an important distinction, which I had glossed over by translating poorly. In proclaiming her status as “With God!” she was, by contrast, denouncing mine. Maybe the value interlaced therein was rife with judgement:
“I am; you’re not.”
“I have God; you don’t!”
“He’s on my side; not yours!”
“Heathen!”
And then she turned to the right!

Good Lord! I’d been following the Tea Party!

I was near the office and had almost worked myself into an unrecoverable state of righteous indignation. At this point, I had to let it go. It was just a license plate, an overblown bumper sticker.

I’ve never been a big fan of the personalized license plate, primarily because it costs some serious cash. I don’t have extra moolah lying around. Besides, if I’m going to put my money where my mouth is, I need a lot more space. It sure as hell won’t be a license plate.

It’ll most likely be a blog.

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Intergalactic

Have you ever pulled up just short of your goal? That’s exactly what happened to Urb and Morg when they were careening through Earth’s atmosphere–

(Urb and Morg aren’t their real names. As I have no idea how they communicate, or if they even have a language, I am clueless how they refer to one another.)

–careening through Earth’s atmosphere when Urb suddenly pulled up on the brakes, stopping them mid-dive. As the atmosphere cooled around their ship and the flames died down, Morg awoke from cybersnoozis.

“What’dya do that for?” he huffed at his cabin-mate. Then, he cocked his wappadoodles–

(Again, as I don’t know how they communicate, I don’t know what they actually call the things on their extremities that interpret sound waves.)

“What is that horrible sound?” Morg granulated.

Urb retracted all five wappadoodles. “Dunno. But, I can’t take it!” he said through clenched siphonatics. “It hurts.”

“It’s a constant whelmatica. Ahhh! What can it be? Does it constitute as ‘life?’ Should we fotondrunda back that some form of life occupies this planet?”

“I’m not sure I really care anymore,” Urb replied. “Let’s get out of here.”

He threw the ship in reverse and jettisoned back into open space.

I thought about Urb and Morg this morning on my own commute, albeit one shorter than the aliens’, when a new song came across the World Classic Rock radio station.

This is the album cover for the Beastie Boys' album that featured the song "Intergalactic Planetary."

This song I like.

“What is that horrible sound?” I asked myself. “It hurts.” And I turned it off.

Normally, I like certain kinds of loud music. But this particular song, for whatever reason, sounded like tinny cheese-grater jingle bells dragged across mismatched guitar strings overlaying poorly constructed harmonies. I couldn’t help but wonder if I were the only one having such a reaction. In fact, could any species, anywhere, endure such a noise? What if all those sound waves floating about in space were to intersect across the audio palate of an uninitiated life form?

I surmised it would likely be off-putting.

And what ramifications would there be if two such creatures really did stumble upon our planet and…left immediately? Well, for one thing, I thought to myself as I drove alone in my car, we’d have to give our theology a much closer review.

I’m not quite sure how I moved from bad music, to alien invasion, to the existence of God; but isn’t that the purpose of art, after all: to inspire, cause wonder, see the world as one might not have seen it before and be moved to question?

I threw my mind into reverse and jettisoned back to my Philosophy of Art class so many years ago. I nodded at memories as I continued driving.

Then I leaned forward…and turned the song back on.

Oh, for the love of Sport!

The other day, my girlfriend swung by my place unannounced. She walked in, plopped on the couch, asked after my children, then began a brief assessment of my current state of being.

“What ya listening to?” she asked.
“Um, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam–I was in a grunge sort of mood,” I answered. I had just loaded up my CD player.
She nodded appreciatively, then cocked her head. “You sure you know what year it is, Chief?”
I just stared at her.
“Fine. So, whatcha wearing?”
I glanced down at my Eddie Bauer slacks and fleece pull over. “Just stuff. Why?”
“Un-hun.” She didn’t seem impressed. “And you’re drinking Starbucks, naturally.”
“Naturally,” I confirmed.
“I gotta tell ya, it’s a little too Seattle for me.”
“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding!” I started to laugh. I lifted up my fleece to reveal a navy and orange  tee I’d just picked up at Target the day before. The head of a Bronco with flaming mane embossed the front.
“Oh, much better!” she smiled.
“All that just to confirm this?” I asked, pointing to my shirt.
“Okay, okay,” she relented. “I just wanted to see if you’re coming over for the Super Bowl, or not.”

Professional football players for the Denver Broncos in orange uniforms celebrate their win of the AFC Championship.

The Broncos celebrate after winning the AFC Championship against the New England Patriots.

It’s everywhere, this hype and hoopla. It’s the Rocky Mountain Routine. I have a friend adding up his annual leave to determine if he can work half day on Friday just to drive Denver Bronco Boulevard and sign the sidewalk in spirit chalk.
“Oh for the love of Pete!” I said when he told me his plans.
“They have three for ten t-shirts!”
“Never mind that,” said another co-worker. “Get your clingy-thingy.”
Wait, my what?

Ask a stupid question…a quick search on-line revealed special United in Orange-Bronco Mania-Time to Ride window decals. They are available, free, from KUSA, Denver news station, at a retailer near you!  Pinterest is pinging me with dip recipes, Facebook is loaded with taunts and challenges, and commercial vendors are sponsoring Superbowl related tweets ad nauseum. My phone runneth over.

Facebook taunts = good times.

FB fun: This one was called “The Four Remaining Quarterbacks.”

And for what? For fun, I guess. For something to look forward to, for something to crow about. For a reason to jump up and down and cheer and get really excited. Speaking of that, our local police department has already issued a warning that over exuberant celebrators will not be appreciated.

Like most people, I love the thrill of competition. I try to keep it under my hat–or my pull-over fleece–but once in a while, it escapes me. And I mean that literally and figuratively. Literally, my own excitement bubbles to the top and I start planning appetizers, finding parties, and buying beer. Or, I get inspired and start running or biking again.

But figuratively, the philosopher side of me ponders the psychology and the deep-seated need we all seem to have, to crave. We want our champions. We build up our heroes. Why? Why in this day and age do we still need the motif myth of the Greek (or Roman!) god (or goddess!)? What gives?  After all, if we’re going to chase after Platonic forms, I’d think they should be somewhat beneficial.

All my life I have shunned the purchase of jerseys, particularly the jersey with some famed athlete’s name across the back. That I flat out refuse. I have my own name, dang it. I’m not so willing to sport free advertising on my own person. And what’s with the autographed “thing from the guy in the place?”  I know, sometimes stuff like that is worth a lot of money. Then again, why do signatures become a thing of value? I know people with basements full of that kind of merchandise. Do we really want Someone Else’s accomplishments crowding out our own identity in our homes?

Hmpf. Apparently.

Empirically, I do get it. I do understand that hullabaloo builds business, creates opportunities and frees us up for a good time. The ritual of “something to celebrate” is a mainstay in human culture.  But “mania” also implies a lot of lacking discretion. Individuals might be smart or savvy; mobs and crowds are not. Yet here we go, again. The frenzy unfolds, forthwith.

We’re flinging ourselves into the debauchery of sports mania, tossing common sense to the wind, whooping it up, and hoping for a win. That kind of crazy is just…contagious. Damn it.

Count me in.

Bias, Equality, and the Dumb Stuff We Say

“Hey, Kara, can I talk to you a minute?”

My youngest son examines mannequins at the mall.

My youngest meets mannequins at the mall. We learn our biases early. Some are subtle; others not so much.

I swung 180 degrees from facing the computer to the window in my office. It was still morning. I spun 90 more degrees to look across my desk. Manny sat down opposite me. He looked upset. I guessed I had time.

“Yeah. What’s up?”
“It’s just,” he paused. “Geez. Ya ever get so frustrated with other people?”
I laughed. “All the time.”
“I mean, why do they have to keep bustin’ on me for bein’ Mexican?”
“Oh, man, that sucks. I’m so sorry. That should not happen.”

I felt immediately concerned. I wasn’t a manager or anything, but I certainly had a voice in the organization and I wasn’t going to stand by and let someone be treated unfairly. He had my attention.

“Yeah, it’s okay. I just wish I could get past this,” he said.
“The stereotype?”
“Yeah. I don’t think they know what they’re doin’. They don’t get what it’s like.”
“They think they’re funny?”
He smiled wryly. “They think so.”
“I get it,” I looked him in the eye. “I’m pretty sure I know how you feel.”
“You do? You’re white!”
“True. But I’m also female. Don’t shake your head. I get it. I mean, when’s the last time someone told you you were no good at a sport just because of what you are–not who you are?”
He scoffed. “Never. I was always good at sports.”
I nodded. “Okay. When was the last time someone said, ‘You can’t come with us. No Mexicans allowed.'”
“I’d kick their ass if someone said that to me.”
“Right. As you should–well, not literally.” I smiled again. He didn’t. I wasn’t connecting. I needed a better example.

“Okay, I’m going to tell you something I haven’t told anyone here.” He looked up from his hands to my eyes.
“The first time I hit the glass ceiling, I was only 23,” I explained. “I got told I couldn’t have the next job up; that, in fact, I would never have the next job up because I was a girl. Not a woman, mind you: a ‘girl.’ I was pissed.”
He whistled softly. “No way. Someone said that to you?”
I nodded. “Even worse. The someone who said it to me was my friend. Still is, actually.”
“Why would you still be friends? Why didn’t you bust him on it?”
“It wasn’t like that.”

I paused briefly. I had been like that. What was I trying to say?

“The thing is, I knew my friend, my boss, my mentor, wasn’t trying to be discriminatory. He thought he was just being honest. I worked in comic books at the time. He told me, as a girl, I didn’t know comic books ’cause I hadn’t grown up reading them. As a result, no writer or artist would respect me; so it wouldn’t make sense to make me an editor.”
Manny nodded. “Oh,” he said. “I guess that makes sense then.”

A small volcano started to bubble up in my brain. I breathed in through my nose and exhaled slowly.

“No. It didn’t. It didn’t make sense.”
“But what he said was true. Girls don’t know comic books so no one would respect them if they gave orders about comic books.”
“Manny, that’s like saying Mexicans can’t be managers. Because they’re Mexican. And they didn’t grow up seeing Mexicans in charge, at least not in this country.”
He glared at me. “That’s bullshit! Mexicans can be managers!”
“I KNOW! And girls, women, can learn comic books and become very good at editing them! It’s a dumb-ass stereotype and it sucked. What he should have told me was I lacked experience, which was true, that I should learn more and work up to editor. But he didn’t say that. He said ‘never’ because I was female.”

Manny was still fuming about the ‘Mexicans’-can’t-be-managers’ example, shaking his head from side to side. But, I felt I was getting close, so I pressed on.

“Look, you have a daughter, right?”
“Yeah.”
“How would you feel if someone told her she couldn’t do something just because she’s a Mexican-American–or a girl?”
“That’d piss me off. And I hate the way her teacher talks to my wife. My daughter is frickin’ smart!”
“I know. I’ve met her. I bet your wife feels like I felt when my old boss told me that. Is that how you feel when the guys on the line tell Mexican jokes?”
“Yeah. It’s not okay. I hate that.”

He looked up from his hands, which he had started wringing, absentmindedly. “So, what did you do?”

“I kept talking to him. I didn’t get defensive. I asked if I could gain some more experience, editing some books on my own, just a few. He agreed.”
“And? Did it stop? Did they stop treating you like a girl?”
I rolled my eyes at the irony.

“Well, no, not exactly, but I did kind of get the job, or part of the job. Just not the title or the pay. Any pay.” I laughed. It had been my first “real” job. Like everyone does at the first go-round, I’d worked for peanuts.
“It’s lousy when people are like that.”
“Absolutely, but I did need the experience and it wound up being really good for me. I learned a lot. It’s just, well, the judgement crap sucked and I had to be patient and work with people on it. Still do.”

Manny was bobbing his head up and down. He placed his hands on his knees like he was getting ready to leave. Had I made the connection? Had I related and helped?

“I just wanted you to know that I know how you feel. I get it. As a woman, I get judged on sexism crap all the time.”
He gave me an appraising look. “I didn’t know that stuff still happened for women. I thought it was better.”
“You know, it is in some ways, but that’d be like me saying to you, ‘well, times have changed and people aren’t racist anymore.'”

He scoffed again. I wrapped up. “I just want you to know, you’re not alone and I get it. And I promise I won’t ever do that to you.”
He visibly calmed down as he moved to stand. “Thanks, Kara. And I’m sorry that happened to you, too. I think you’re pretty smart and would make a really good manager.”
“Thanks, Manny!”

At just that moment, a piercing itch at the bottom of my foot radiated up my leg. Immediately, I bent down, slipped off my sandal (it was summer) and scratched ferociously at my heel.

“Whoah!” Manny chuckled uncomfortably. “Don’t go doin’ that! It makes your boobs totally bounce together and is really distracting!” He was standing, looking down at me, kind of laughing.

He winked.

The volcano started boiling again in my brain, an eruption of verbal evisceration about to break the surface.
I sat up.
“Are you for real? GET OUT!” I pointed to the door.
“What?” he shrugged as he left.

I bent back down and kept on scratching.

That’s Rich, or is it?

Image

“How could you tell we’re American?” I asked the shop keeper leaning back against the wall of his store, casually smoking a cigarette.

 
“You look like rich people,” he said. 
 
No one had ever called me rich before. At least, not to my face. Then again, it’s not often that I get out of my own country. Now, here we were, my mother, husband and I, half way around the world, finally getting a decent cup of coffee in the Arabic quarter of Old Jerusalem, stretched out around one of Faris’ umbrellaed market tables.
 
Just then, a group of 30 fair skinned, tall and similarly dressed people, many with their own cigarettes, crowded by. They were followed by another pilgrimage, equally white and tall, but with slightly more European brands and definitely more soccer (excuse me: football) jerseys. 
 
“Russian, German.” Faris nodded as each passed by. He smiled. “But not American.”
 
Faris and I had a good conversation that night and the following Thursday when I swung by his shop again. I could fill blogs and blogs with his insight and experience—and maybe I will some day.  But my thoughts—and my ego—have yet to escape that one annoying stereotype: he thinks I’m rich!
 
I kept talking to him because I wanted to justify myself, but I never got a word in edgewise. He had a lot on his mind that first night and had stumbled upon a willing Western audience. Maybe that happens to him a lot, but it doesn’t to me. So, for once I let someone else do the talking. I listened and learned.
 
Faris taught me about being Palestinian, about what it really means to live and work in Old Jerusalem, the beauty of Islam, and even some of his own family history—he was newlywed with an infant son (we shared iPhone photos). We talked a lot about Israeli-Palestinian relations and the persecution his family and others like him had endured. His family had owned this city block in Old Jerusalem for generations (four or five by his count), but recently had to sell to the State. As a Palestinian in Old Jerusalem, he cannot move, he cannot travel. He has his shop and his home and his family. 
 
But they sold a city block. They had owned a city block. I let that sink in.
 
Poor I understand. Years ago, I visited colonies of people living in the gigantic land fill of Tijuana with rotting boxes for homes. For me, that inspired a lifetime of service-on-the-side. I’ve seen absolute poverty.
 
But what does it mean to be rich? I’ve never owned a city block. But, I own my own home, with help from the bank. I also own a lot of useless crap (much of which I try to lose by donating to someone else). And, obviously, I was on an international trip. That I did not (and actually could not) pay for it myself doesn’t negate the fact that I had come to Faris, not he to me.
 
So what does it mean? Hundreds of years ago, if your friend had a horse, well, she was rich. Sometime later, you judged her wealth based on how she lit her home: was it electric? Then came cars, then televisions, then personal computers. Today, right now, some large portion of the world’s population has international internet access via a smart phone. Not a cell phone, mind you, a smart phone. I read somewhere more people own these than have ever owned televisions. 
 
That was evident in Jordan where we saw Bedouin shepherds out in the dust and the heat with goats and tents —and smart phones. Were they rich? Not by many definitions–although there is definitely something to be said about the richness of their history, community and family values. We visited Jordan before Israel, so, the notions of “rich” and “wealth” were already knocking around in my head days before I met Faris and heard his pronouncement.
 
Look, I know there are studies out there from the World Health Organization, the UN and many others examining this exact question. There is even an international definition and established standard. But most people wandering about in the world do not refer to these  when they begin a conversation. When strangers from different cultures meet each other, sum each other up, and decide to try to talk to one another, they immediately form and categorize standards of their own—effectively judging the other person. 
 
Forget what’s been researched. When it comes right down to it, the matter of wealth is used to determine worthiness. It’s absolutely personal. 
 
Faris had accused me of being rich. In my world, my subculture of Americana, being rich isn’t cool. It’s spoiled, wasteful, lazy, sheltered and lacking “real world” experience—think Jamie Lee Curtis as the working girl examining Dan Aykroyd the neophyte’s hand in Trading Places:  “Soft hands,” she says. “You’e never done a hard day’s work in your life!” Tsk! Tsk!
 
Where I come from, that’s the stereotype. So, without knowing it, Faris had insulted me. Of course I kept talking to him. I was hoping to prove to him that he was wrong. I’m not the things the word ‘rich’ implies; I’m a hard working, equally suffering, fair and kind worthwhile person.
 
So, I wound up not explaining myself. I sat down, shut up, and listened. Would a rich and snobby person sit down for over an hour  allowing himself to be so educated—then come back for more? My own stereotypes and judgements screamed: no! I kept my word and returned to Faris three days later, seeing him one last time before I left his country—probably forever (I doubt I’ll ever be able to afford to go back).
 
The fact remains: Faris was right. On an international macro-economic scale, I am rich. Even the lower middle class American is still in the top 1-5% of wealth on a world-wide scale. Unfortunately, the American stereotype around the world is probably closer to my own personal stereotype of a rich person. (Ironically, I know this because Israel was not my first international trip–oh, the hypocrisy!) 
 
Yeah, most of the world thinks Americans are rich, i.e. dumb and lazy. That doesn’t mean we have to be assholes about it.
 
I desperately wanted Faris to see me differently. I wanted us to be equals: two-middle class people commiserating about the state of the world, hearing one another and becoming allies.  
 
I hope by listening, I proved it.
 
 Image
 

Why I Hate Gear…and Other Excuses

I’ve got to get back out there. It’s just one of those things. But weekend after weekend, I find myself curled up in my leather chair with a cup o’ tea, a book, or my laptop.

Back in the day my coach would say, “Visualize it and you can do it.” Oh, I visualize it: There’s me swooping down a slope at A-Basin being chased on my snowboard by my oldest son who, I might add, I have slowly been teaching to ride. There I am again slogging through mud on my mountain bike. Nice. Oh, and look at me zipping around the rink on my skates as I actually put a biscuit in the basket. Okay, maybe I’m pushing it a little on that last one, but still–I can see it.
 
I’m just not out there doing it. My snowboard desperately needs a tune and my boots are so old I get boot bang something fierce whenever we go up–which is less than often. My bike is attached to the kiddo tag-along and they both have flat tires. I had bought a pump for the bikes and all the soccer balls while I was coaching little kid 101, but the balls, the bag, and the pump have disappeared into the black hole my husband insists is the winterized garage.  I don’t even want to get into the details of my hockey bag. All the clothes  could use a wash (but smell like roses, really). Plus, have you ever put on hockey stuff after it’s been outside? It’s flipping cold.

In college, a friend of mine switched from cycling to running because he preferred the simplicity of relying just on himself. “I don’t want to be dependent on a machine,” he said. “It’s just one more thing to break down.” He wanted to eliminate that which would hold him back.

Yes. Exactly. All this gear, this look, this style–all this hoopla just takes time away from the pursuit of sport. It’s the wanna-bees who buy the right shoes and the Under Armour and the name brand and the top of the line.

On the track team we used to say you knew who the real stars were because they looked like hell. The girl with the stained and faded t-shirts and the ratty shoes? She was the one gutting out the miles, doing the drills. And it showed. “Earn your look!” we’d yell and head out on “adventure runs” through the California hills, rag-tag and feeling fabulous.

Other times, I’d ride my bike to where the trail ended, sling it over my back and hoof it up some slope too rocky to navigate from behind handlebars. Bike hiking. I got grease everywhere and tore the crap out of my shirts. It was awesome.

But see, that was easy. Then, I’d just throw on torn clothes and go. Now, I’ve got nice stuff and it needs to be maintained. I can’t go until things get tuned. And some of these sport fleeces I’m still not sure how to wash properly.

Owning gear equals time-suck. Look at my husband: it takes him at least 45 minutes to get into his hockey gear every single game. It takes another hour or more to get out of it–wait, that might have to do with beer. But, regardless, who’s got that kind of time?

So, yeah: I’m not out there. Maybe next year when the kids are a older. But for now, trust me, it’s the gear.

 photo of self and kid looking down what we just climbed up
See what I mean? Gear for this hike: camera, winter clothes, glasses, Camelback, boots, lunch and a kid.

Sporting Equality: Is There a Smoking Gun?

The last week of January, Gayle Trotter, a lawyer from Washington D.C., made headlines with her testimony to Congress favoring gun-ownership. Her argument sparked more flares in the gun-control debate. She concluded: “In lieu of empty gestures, we should address gun violence based on what works. Guns make women safer.” (See the whole testimony here.)

This might be old news to many of you considering it broke “above the fold” almost two weeks ago. But, I’m not completely smitten with our “gimme now!” 24/7 news cycle. I like to ruminate a bit. I’m a thinker. And here’s what I’m thinking about Ms. Trotter:

REALLY? Guns are “the great equalizer” for women? Whatever.
 

I have two problems with this testimony: 1) That’s a big logical jump from “what works” to “guns make women safer.” In her treatise she offers one anecdotal example and then a lot of what we’ve already heard from the NRA;  2) The implication of her argument. Her reasoning implies that unless a woman owns (and presumably knows how to properly use) a gun, she is “less than.” Disagree with me? Then check out the headlines after she testified. Is that how we’re starting our new year, with the “women are the weaker sex” argument? Good Lord. Can we get past this already?

Let’s tackle my first objection. Her argument is fallacious–i.e. not logical: it’s a straw man. She’s setting up a “fake” target (women need an equalizer!), knocking that down and using that knock down as “proof” of her unrelated point (no stringent gun control!). More simply put: she’s telling you to “look at the monkey” while she does something else entirely with her other hand.
 
Trotter sets up the “straw woman” example of a lady with a baby defending her home against a bunch of bad guys by firing a gun. That’s the story. It’s enthralling. But, so what?  So one woman lucked out. The success of that one woman in that one specific scenario is not proof that a gun in the hand of every woman in the country will give them, as a class of people, safety, or the bigger stretch, equality. It’s a huge jump.
 
Where’s the stuff in the middle? The claim is women are unsafe, and therefore, unequal. What does that mean, exactly? Women aren’t safe compared to what? Rabbits, flies, men? She doesn’t say. Further, I’m trying to figure out how and why a gun makes me, a woman, safer and more equal.  Is there a study somewhere about women’s equality in subject A when they do own guns vs. their lack of equality in same subject A when they don’t own guns? If there is, it’s not referenced in her testimony. She jumps to “guns make women safer.” Again: safer than what? Besides, as far as I know, I, a mere woman, already have the right to own and carry a gun.
 
Don’t get me wrong. I understand what she is trying to argue. I don’t like violence against women, either. It’s bad. Violence is bad for lots of classes of people. What does that have to do with the “women equality issue?”  Instead of pulling her argument together, Ms. Trotter cherry picks a very narrow slice of that broader topic, serves it up as a whole meal, and concludes that we’re sated. 
 
We’re not. We need to have a full course of evidence to determine that gun ownership and all it entails will indeed “level the playing” field for women.
 
Second objection: women’s equality is a really big field! More specifically–and let me pull over this box to stand on so you can hear me above the crowd–quit implying that women are weak! Trotter’s argument seems to say, “Oh, I’m just a defenseless woman who can’t possibly protect herself unless I have a big strong gun.” Excuse me while I throw up in my mouth a little. 
 
am a strong woman and I do know how to take care of myself.  Most of the time, I am safe (a few of my own poor choices notwithstanding). I know how to defend myself. I also know how to take care of my children, my family at large, my home, and my career. I most certainly do not need a gun to do any of that. Much of it comes from my own initiative, but there have been some helpful regulations and laws enacted along the way supporting me as a woman–none of them a “smoking gun.” 
 
As evidence of this, I’m happy to bust out the list of things that have made my success as a woman more “equal” than, say, the career success of my great grandmother nearly a century ago. Because, that’s what we’re really talking about when we use phrases like “equality,” right? We want women and girls in American society to have the same opportunities as boys and men in American society, right? So where is mention of the 19th Amendment, or Title IX, or the Family Friendly leave act? None of that is in the testimony.

This might be a long shot, but I suspect Ms. Trotter wants to argue for the right to bear arms to continue unimpeded. Then why doesn’t she make that argument, outright?  I agree there are some specifics in this topic that could use ironing out, but don’t muddy that already murky water by dragging equality for women into it.
 
Then again, if it is women’s equality she really wants to discuss, if her interest really is finding an “equalizer” for women, let’s have a frank conversation about that topic. Here’s some starter questions:
 
What sort of access to higher education do women have?
Do American girls do better, the same, or not as well as American boys in math and science? 
What is the percentage of poor women compared to poor men in this country?
How much does motherhood impact a woman’s ability to make money compared to a man’s abilities once he becomes a father?
What are our country’s policies on women’s health care? Are there similar policies governing men’s health care?
What is the average woman’s salary for a job compared to a man’s average salary for that same job? Do they match?
What is our culture’s main line on female sexuality (force to be reckoned with or marketing exercise)?
 
And let’s be damn sure to recognize the accomplishments American women have right now, accomplishments safe and sound women are driving home today. Right now, we have the largest percentage of women in the House and Senate ever. The entire political delegation from New Hampshire is female. Women just got the pass to serve in combat positions in our country’s military. It was  women who brought home the most gold medals for the USA in last summer’s Olympics.
 
None of them needed a gun-in-hand to make those accomplishments. None of those women needed a gun-in-hand to walk to their office, their car, or the gym as they worked on making those accomplishments. As for women in the military–heck, we’ve now got an entire Department of the U.S. Government saying out loud to the world that they want women in their service to have guns. So what is Gayle really going on and on about?
 
I’m pretty sure it is not women’s safety, nor our equality. If that really interested Gayle Trotter, she has a wealth of strengths and weakness from that topic on which to expound.  No, unfortunately–and ironically–she is doing women’s equality a disservice. She’s using it, devaluing it, making it “less than” in order to be sensational and win some points for herself and her personal agenda. 
 
She is distracting Congress from the gun control matter at hand by playing the damsel in distress. 
 
Boo. Shame on you Ms. Trotter! You’re a lawyer, for crying out loud. One would think you’d know how to make a more bullet proof argument.
 
–KLL