Sunday, November 23, 2008

Gold-Diggers

Now I ain’t sayin’ she a gold-digger, but she ain’t messin’ wit’ no broke, broke.

Ah, the wistful complaints of a generation and a half retasked to greed. Actually, I don’t think old Kayne was far off here, thematically. It is true that using the word “gold-digger,” male to female, has invariably become a mirror on “whore” to the feminine ear. The notion’s more recent adaptation ‘ho,’ as now also heard when one utters the term “gold-digger” adds a smattering of gully racism to the already sexist vibe therein meant. Expressing that some one is a gold-digger, specifically a woman, is today like to elicit responses of an intensity one might use to verbally thwart off a rapist or to steer a rocket ship full of mental health consumers careening into the sun. Very much in opposition to the politically correct speech continuum, “gold-digger” runs that fine line between being both cuss-free and an arbitrary insult. It’s a PG-13 bullet. The word is never uttered in the positive and while then fully negative, is still a sort of cast-off wording as aspersions go like baldy, shorty, diva, blondie, yahoo, wing-nut, or peon. Kayne ain’t sayin’ it. I ain’t sayin’ it.

I, of course, do not believe that almost any woman is a true gold-digger. Yes, I still have my penis. Traditionally the term is understood as a woman who chooses to marry for money, big money, in the absence of all love, maturity, self-respect, and couplehood. That’s pretty harsh. Yet, as harsh as it may be, there are one or two people out there who’ve done it and pretty much ruined the romance game for everyone else. (I’d make an Anna Nicole joke here, but it’s in poor taste to speak of dead boobs.) Still, the modern take on the word “gold-digger” has evolved far beyond its original affronting intent. So, while no woman deserves to be referred to in such a sexist way, it might also be incumbent upon an intelligent woman with relationship interests to know all the new permutations the notion has taken on.


Why? Well, to explain that, let’s look at a far more despicable word like “bitch” to illustrate. I am going to take it fore-granted that all readers agree as I do that a woman should not be called a bitch. It is a word originally meant to compare a woman to a female dog whose job it seemingly is to immediately bend over and acquiesce to sex as it is dished out, no conversation, no strings, no complaints. Bitch is a morbidly demeaning word in its linguistic heritage, an insult timeline that includes both the typical American tendency to insult through sex words and the typical European tendency to insult through comparison to lesser animals. It is a word used to subjugate, to battle, to goad, and to sometimes reassert a fictional manhood all too fragile to withstand fair debate. Given its origins, it is little wonder why in a society striving for equality we ponder as to the term’s usage at all. Any man worth his salt has set forth a pattern in life to either minimize, eliminate, or to never in the first place find function for the term. That said, and heard resounding in the ears of all the women out there who’ve actually found themselves a good man, have any of you ever wondered, despite how infrequently your man speaks it, how often he’s thought it? How many times has your man, in his head, thought you were a bitch? See, coming to the near collective agreement that the word “bitch” is bad to say, we never truly attacked the root of the issue, perception. We never really considered how much worse it might be to be thought of as a bitch than to be called one once or twice in a lifetime. Both are bad, yes, but is not the thought worse? Is not the word only a reflection of the thought and therefore a revealing of the true self, the underlying barbarian, the invisible demon within? Your man may have never called you a bitch in the entirety of your relationship, but I guarantee even the most evolved among us has thought it on occasion and amongst a small minority even been convinced of it on the regular. Asking does no good. Most men deny it. Those who will not deny it can’t really talk about it now that we’ve labeled the curse off-limits. Admitting this fault for a man is admitting the beast from whence he comes and topples all other hopes at his civilized efforts. He could solve world hunger, but his wife might never let him live down the one time the B-word slipped from his lips as he muttered in his sleep. Plus, let’s face it; nobody can control what another person thinks. It’s just not doable, nor is it ethical.

So, what can be done? Nothing? I disagree. If you work in I.T., for instance, and are thought of as the go-to tech guru of Cinnabon Corporate, but are trying to break the ceiling into management, there are actions you can take. You can change people’s perceptions of you. You can refrain from certain practices, conversation, even projects and engage in newer tasks and interactions shaped to highlight your leadership attributes. “China needs sweet cakes!” It takes a lifetime commitment on your part, but such an outcome is very probable. Well, the same holds true for the perception of you, even the vastly false perception of you, as a “bitch.” Perhaps you are content in the word not being uttered. That’s fine. But if there is even the slightest desire in you for others to never reach that false conclusion, you can change practices in much the same way. You can gain control. You can positivize people’s perception of you, leaping thoughts out from the stagnant realm of cusses and insult and into the domain of mutual respect, perhaps even admiration or hero worship.

Should you have to do that? NO!!!! Not for the pea-brained morons who’d think you a “bitch.” You should not have to change anything about yourself to curtail these bleak prejudgments. After all, the word “bitch” only contains what power you give it, and not any power the speaker wishes to lend the term. But just because you should not have to change these perceptions, does not mean that you cannot. Seizing control is an option. If you had been somehow academically availed of all the practices that lead your husband or your boyfriend or your lover to draw that faulty conclusion, it would be in your best interest to address those points. Mature people will address them in conversation, some in arguments. Others might seek third party psychological help for the man to address his issues. Yet, for those women who might also wish to help the process along, to take responsibility for an outcome that is not her burden to bear, well a neat list of practices that lead to false perception would be invaluable. A tidy database of all the now different male definitions for the word “bitch” would come in quite handy.

I still say “bitch” is off-limits. It is somewhat insulting for me to even suggest that a woman take on the burden of changing another person’s sexist mind. The term is just far too off par to be a genuine behavior-changing motivator. “Gold-digger,” on the other hand, is a far less heated label. Perhaps there are one or two women out there who would actually welcome a useful list of all the ways in which modern men secretly jump to the conclusion that their wife is a gold-digger. Sexist ways, yes. But I am talking about an otherwise secretive mental fact, not a method whereby to defend the unjustified thought. Wouldn’t you like to know what your man thinks? Moreover, wouldn’t you want to change what he thinks if it were to prove unflattering? Asking or ordering him to refrain from a thought is not going to change squat. In fact, most people when told not to think something, picture that something all the more lucidly. Quick, don’t think about a panicked chameleon on a plaid shirt.

What follows here is a compendium of how the term “gold-digger” has socially evolved in the U.S. Each time a woman engages in one of these practices, she runs the needless risk of her husband jumping to a false “gold-digger” conclusion about her. Most do not even fit the idea’s main construct, but it would prove a grand mistake to assume that this popular, figurative definition is the only explanation and to ignore these very common permutations. The list is mildly comprehensive. Given some of the stretches herein to make sense of a male’s sometimes animal mind, each item on the list should probably have a separate name apart from “gold-digger,” but let’s face it; if this were a list of 2000 practices, that would be 2000 more insults we’d have to coin and then overcome anyway. Yes, we’ve a faulty, sexist lexicon used to depict men as well. Bum, deadbeat, slacker, loafer, scrub, small, mooch, leech, couch potato, are among our favorites. Yet, only men can work the change in a woman’s perception of them, just as I here hope to aid women who might choose to do the same. “Gold-digger” is a truly loaded thought. It can be pre-empted.

He’s at fault, yes, but you can still refrain from poor practices nonetheless. Outside of the label “gold-digger,” any person of any gender should understand that all the practices which follow are destructive with regard to relationships, sometimes lives. Do not think that because somebody close-mindedly molded your gender into these faux-pas that the insult taken would justify you continuing the action. For many of these, there is responsibility on both sides of the misogynistic characterization. I reiterate; he does not get to call you a gold-digger based on any of these. Period! Yet, you should perhaps not be engaging in almost any of these practices regardless, and if how you might be perceived mentally, daily, by your husband is motivator enough to change what you are doing, I simply spell out the truth of our unevolved male thoughts here. Check them out. A few are somewhat surprising.


What Modern, Married Men Mean By "Gold-Digger"



Any woman who fits the original definition above, whether or not she is married to the man in question.


Any woman with a career of her own who refuses to contribute equitably or equally to the household expenses, particularly the bills.


Any woman who bounces checks.

Any woman who refuses to work out a household budget.

Any woman who refuses to adhere to a household budget.

Any woman who cannot discuss household finances without the discussion ending in an argument or tears. Both are a means to change the subject from even approaching a remote tangent to her spending habits. The truth is that, even if anger and tears are involved, it is incumbent upon both in a couple to work all the way through to good financial decisions. This is a conversation that doesn’t end at all. It is one that starts and continues on or gets revisited all throughout life together. Ending the conversation, by whatever means, is, in effect, the same as never having had the conversation in the first place. Just as judges will take into consideration who threw the first punch in a case, it is wholly important to realize that whoever ends a conversation about household finances first is usually in the wrong.

Any woman who does not keep an accurate and balanced check register. Not-knowing is a guilt-assuaging tactic used by very small minds.

Any woman who considers bankruptcy as any resort other than the final one. She doesn’t want to do the work to fix the problem; she just wants to throw in the towel and start over, dragging the entire family, unethically, down with her.

Any woman who insists upon opening a joint savings account and who never contributes funds to that account. These tend to be the same women who deduct from the account regularly, even if their spouse never makes a withdrawal.

Any woman who has any untreated addiction, especially a shopping or gambling addiction. Getting help is the first step. If one is unwilling to take the first step it indicates and possibly outright proves that she is willing to do NONE of the work to fix anything.

Any woman who shares a car or cars with her partner and who regularly visits the gas station, but only fills the tank part of the way. These tend to be the same women who insist that men always fill the tank completely, who never count the cost of gas in a household budget, and who consume the majority of both the gas they’ve purchased and the gas their spouses have purchased. These also tend to be the same women who will lend a car to friends or share a car with a spouse while always leaving the gas gage on “E” when others need the car.

Any woman who makes the claim, “If I was a gold-digger, then I wouldn’t be with YOU.” Such is a comment on how “little” money you make in her eyes and an expression of her desire for you, not her, to make more. Yes, she doth protest too much.

Any woman who reserves the right NOT to go camping with you, but additionally dislikes the fact that YOU are going camping. Many women do not like camping simply because it is dirty and time consuming and difficult. That is their prerogative. But when those same women do not want YOU to go camping, it is for a much deeper reason. They will claim that it’s a desire to spend time with you. That’s false. They could have spent time with you while camping. Some women do not want you to go camping because they do not want you to realize that minimalist living can be perfectly doable and involve much happiness. They do not want that notion to even enter your head. They are phobic of you finding truer happiness in simplicity and the basics.

Any woman who lies about birth control.

Any woman who jokes about trying to get pregnant so that you’ll have to move to a larger home.

Any woman who insists she’s only slept with one man, making a baby, but for whom DNA testing proves otherwise. Interestingly, we rarely hear the sexist term “gold-digger” for these few because the label gets buried under the somewhat more sexist term, “slut” when this occurs. Forget not, however, that failing to know a baby’s father is an altogether common mistake. The lying insistence that she’s only been with one man, on the other hand, is a deceitful attempt to entrap a particular man’s skills and bank account and father potential.

Any woman who asks for a very expensive gift, even for holidays, and then never or almost never uses the gift.

Any woman who wishes to go green or to reduce a household’s carbon footprint by cutting back, reducing, reusing, and recycling, but only does so in a way that impacts the spouse’s belongings and not her own, the spouse’s pleasures and not her own, the spouse’s needs and not her own.

Any woman who does not know her net income off the top of her head.

Any woman who insists that her spouse work overtime when his boss does not and when she, herself, does not work overtime.

Sort of the inverse of the immediately above, any woman on salary with a partner on hourly wage who would prefer that her partner spend LESS time at work. While this can be a legitimate concern, for instance, when the partner is a workaholic; it can also be a negative practice. In some cases, the only way for that family to achieve a greater income is for the person on wage to work more hours. The salaried person will hold earnings steady over the year. If income is the family concern, the wage earner, given a high enough wage, should perhaps milk their job for more time. Short of finding new jobs at higher pay, or additional jobs to the ones they already have, allowing the wage earner to max out his time is the only short term solution to boosting income. Asking him to be home more often to help with household duties is fully ethical, but really stupid when it comes to income decisions (doubly so if in debt). This would seem to run contrary to the “gold-digger” notion, but it is not. By asking for this time at home, one is attributing an exact dollar value the man’s personal time. If the man would have earned an additional hundred dollars per week by working said hours instead of coming home, you are directly stating that the loss is worth it. You are directly stating that his home time, rather than being priceless, is worth one hundred dollars per week (one hundred dollars per week you now do not have and cannot get). Attributing an exact dollar value to one’s family time, even accidentally, is demeaning and begins the speaker on the shaky path to affixing a momentary value to everything else that is intangible. His sex is worth twenty bucks, his compassion a few Benjamins, his hopes and dreams a cold, plug nickel. Once a person unwittingly starts along this road it is not a far journey from gold-digging. “He should write that cookbook he wants to write because we can sell that easily, but he shouldn’t be spending his time exercising at the gym because it produces no monetary return.”

Any woman who unilaterally makes the decision on how a couple’s joint income tax returns and refunds will be spent.

Any woman who complains about her income tax returns having been larger as a single woman than as a married woman…as if that were the husband’s fault and not the fact that two completely different formulas are applied by the government. By the way, the same perceived, but not factual, “loss” holds true for the husband as well. These tend to be the same women who insist upon monetary recompense (a larger share of the return) to make up for their fictional “loss.”

Any woman who cannot sit down with her partner in a single session having produced the original of every current bill she has. At least some of these women feel that doing so is a trust issue. They feel they should simply be able to tell their spouses about amounts owed and to which accounts. They feel estimates and guesstimates are legitimate data. Sadly, without account numbers, full disclosure, proof of that full-disclosure, interest rates, payment plan details, and a breakdown of costs and fees within arm’s reach, no legitimate plan can be made to curtail debt, save properly, or cut back on expenses. In so doing, the woman will have left that burden to be fully dependant upon the man to resolve, sometimes without even half as much of the data any person would need to do so. Hence, gold-digger.

Any woman who refuses to have any of the household bills in her name.

Any woman who insists upon having ALL the household bills in her name.

Any woman that wants you to finance her parking and moving violations, either directly with cash/credit, or indirectly by cutting back on the household groceries and needs in order to pay her tickets.

Any woman who cooks two separate dinners regularly, one for each partner in the couple. This is a practice that frequently masquerades as benevolence in that it looks like the woman is going out of her way to please the husband. In fact, the masquerade is a simple one to pull off because a great many spouses do, in fact, make a different plate for her/his partner simply to be altruistic. There are a rare few, however, who cash in on this perceived benevolence when deep down, they, themselves were too self-righteous to eat something the husband likes. Those few usually do this believing that a grocery budget is for the birds.

Any career woman who chooses a single household chore that she fulfills on the regular and mentally offsets that chore against multiple expectations she harbors for her husband. For example, a woman who complains that her man should do the dishes because she cooks, but who also insists her man should scoop the litter box, because she cooks, and who further uses the fact that she cooks in every chore discussion that crops up. This is an over-estimation of either what her one chore is worth or what her career time is worth as compared to her spouse’s. It is a devaluing of her spouse’s time, income, and status in the home (even if he makes more, works harder, and completes more) that sets her up never to be satisfied with any chore the man achieves. It is the foundation of a power vacuum, the woman never satisfied and the man never able to do enough to fill that void. Inevitably he always works harder and more in futile hopes that simple money will turn the emotional tide. (Incidentally, number one complaint in couples therapy made by women… “He has no ambition.” Number one complaint in couples therapy made by men... “Nothing ever satisfies her.”)

Any woman with access to free job search tools, services, and materials before she quits who does not take advantage of them until after she quits.

Any woman who conducts job search from a couch.

Any woman who only applies to one job at a time, waiting to hear back before going on additional interviews.

Any woman who cannot stand a husband being out of work, but who thereafter also complains about which job the husband lands and the strictures of said job, despite the fact that those strictures are out of one’s control.

Any woman who leaves money in pockets in hopes of being surprised when she finds it later.

Any woman, at any given moment, who has more shoes than dollars.

Any woman that has ever mentioned aloud that she HAD TO buy something because it was on sale.

Any woman who cannot go a month without making a purchase.

Any woman who frequently buys two similar items with the understanding that she will simply return the one that doesn’t work out. This is baseless overspending on purchases, on gas, and on time.

Any woman who keeps buying batteries, but never uses her rechargeable ones.

Any woman who’ll accept a gift without a card, but not a card without a gift.

Any woman who plans free calling to your cell phone from hers, but then frequently calls your cell from her landline and frequently calls your landline from her cell, quadrupling costs.

Any woman who has multiple phone numbers, but who regularly fails to pick up any of them. The multiple numbers presume the need for and the ability to contact her, but ultimately waste the caller’s time and money as he will have to make multiple calls for every one piece of information he’s trying to exchange. An added layer of waste occurs when the same woman fails regularly to check her messages.

Any woman who doesn’t pay her bills on time.

Any woman who creates rolling late charges and fees, mitigating the new delinquency costs as a split responsibility between the she and her husband.

Any woman who welches on bets, financial in nature or otherwise. Her willingness to make a bet, but not adhere to the outcome, is a win-win for her and a lose-lose for the other. These tend to be the same women who cannot adhere to a household budget. It’s a fear of future money needs as if one cannot plan ahead.

Any woman who buys the household groceries, then marks off items the husband is NOT permitted to touch, and who finally helps to consume the remaining items while her “safe” stuff goes uneaten. This is a practice that guarantees that “her” foods last while the “shared” goodies go twice as fast. The result is that the husband perceives his wife always having something to eat while he does not.

Any woman who buys milks out of sync with cereals, sandwich contents out of sync with bread, and main ingredients out of sync with ancillary ingredients. This is an unconscious attempt to both stretch food supplies beyond the next planned grocery trip in hopes of affording more exciting food stuffs and an attempt to increase the regularity of eating out. Eating differently and eating out should simply be decided upon via agreement in a couple. If no such agreement can be made, a woman cannot hope to trick the situation into existence with underhanded tactics.

Any woman whose household brings in more than three times the divider amount that is the national poverty line, but who stands up and claims you are poor. One’s poor handling and decision making with money IS NOT the same as the act of making too little money. This declaration is disgusting.

Any woman who simply cannot save up for a major purchase.

Any woman with a credit rating in the toilet.

Any healthy woman who cannot remember most of the gifts you’ve given her.

Any woman who gives you more sex and/or better sex when more money is coming in.

Any woman who would pay for something she could get for free.

Any woman who uses time that could be spent at work clipping coupons, and then allows the coupons to expire.

Any woman who will organize things at work, but not at home where she doesn’t get paid for it.

Any woman who asks her husband to purge belongings for space, sometimes more than once, and then rents a storage unit to fill with her stuff.

Any woman who has more dollars on her than her children have had books.

Any woman with more credit cards than will fit in her wallet/purse comfortably.

Any woman who thinks comfort is a priority.

Any woman who thinks comfort is a basic necessity.

Any woman who takes sick days from work to do something fun and/or costly, but who goes in to work when sick.

Any woman who, if she were to die today, would leave her husband with marital or secret debt that he could not afford.

Any woman who cannot stand for her money to be in one of her husband’s accounts or portfolios, sans access, even if that money is earning more of a return than she ever could or would. Again, we see a marital trust issue here. The problem is that the perception of her husband not being trustworthy with “her” money can only stem from her own secretive dealings with funds. It’s psychology 101.

Any woman who insists that while the husband earns more money than she does, he should pay a greater share of the household expenses, but who does not or can not do the same when she suddenly makes more than the husband.

Any woman who doesn’t pay taxes.

Any woman who defrauds the government to get checks.

Any woman who has raised one or more frivolous lawsuits.

Any woman outside of the entertainment and intelligence industries who has multiple aliases.

Any woman who’ll wear clothes that the husband likes while she’s out at work or out with her friends, but that she’ll never wear for more than a few minutes while at home with her spouse. While this speaks more to a feeling of dejection in the man, the practice often mentally qualifies in a male’s eyes as “gold-digger” pursuant to how it seems as if the woman is putting on airs, building a fa├žade. He sees it as an indicator that her home life is not good enough to be dressed nicely, ever.

Any woman who CANNOT leave the house without make-up. Men jump to the conclusion that this indicates a gold-digger simply based upon the stereotypically feminine attitude that accompanies the act. Men give little nod to a culture that demands appearance driven professionalism. However, the deeper root of gold-digging here is the woman’s treatment of the make-up musts as normal, somehow balanced and on-kilter. Look, “balanced” is a way of saying, “all things being equal.” Well if all things were equal, even allowing for forced cultural mores, there would still be some days with just as much chance you’d leave the house without make-up as days when chances were you’d leave the house with make-up. It wouldn’t be 50/50. Almost nothing’s 50/50. But, whatever the chances, the “equal” chances over time, non-make-up days would occur. They would happen. They would take place and the woman would be okay with them. If non-make-up days NEVER occur, it shows then all things are not equal. It is an overt display of the mental control a woman exerts to negate any chance of being seen without make-up. It prominently tips her hand and shows how she thinks. She is under a perpetual delusion that she should ALWAYS look better than whom she actually is. It’s the ALWAYS that speaks to gold-digging. Always having make-up will cost the most money possible. Always needing to look better is to never feel good about your natural self to be satisfied. In search for greater satisfaction with one’s self, there will be endless related purchases over a lifetime, few or none of which will bear the fruit of contentment.

Any woman who, in practice, fails to treat her partner’s belongings or the household assets with care and respect. The simple, nitpicking peeve of maintaining ones belongings has a direct bearing on finances, both past and future. A cavalier attitude that undermines or negates this maintenance therefore speaks directly to a frivolous belief that one can always buy and consume more. That attitude applied only to belongings not exclusively her own is a further devaluing of the husband.

Any woman that destroys or discards bills, statements, check copies, passbooks, notices, contracts, agreements, and other documents before they’ve been totally reconciled. This practice reads a little bit in a relationship as “destroying evidence” and, at the very least, indicates the woman’s knowledge that what she is doing is in some way incorrect.

Any woman who will not sign a pre-nuptial agreement based on the fact that it is a pre-nup’ and not based upon the document’s content.

Any woman who believes her job search is open ended, but that her husband’s has a limit to time and date.

Any woman who does not consider the gift of tickets a “thing” because tickets are not a perpetual, physical object that she gets to keep. Most women, I think, do in fact like the gift of tickets, but those few in this rare category tend to expect or insist upon another gift in addition to tickets to be pleased.

Any woman who always chooses the most expensive of all available options.

Any woman who always or almost always chooses the second most expensive of all available options “to save money.” You are not fooling anybody.

Any woman who refuses to revisit spending decisions of the past in order to readjust spending decisions in the future. This is usually a practice highlighted with short fight-ender statements like, “That was two years ago,” or “What does that have to do with anything?” One can only learn from the past, even with finances, and a failure to do so is a simple, foundationless hope that money or a financial solution is going to fall into ones lap before death.

Any woman who reserves the right to be a homemaker, but disallows the same option for her husband.

Any woman who gives her spouse gifts that aren’t remotely within the realm of what he might like or want. Such will sometimes tend to occur naturally after couples have been together for many years. They “run out” of gift ideas. It does not change the fact, however, that some men view this as gold-digging, especially (though selfish) if their own gift choices to her still go over well in kind. Where it is the thought that counts, a woman gifting presents that her husband would never want shows the lack of thought therein. No thought indicates that she hoped the cost of an item would be the sole impressive instrument between them. It might further indicate that she expects the same expense in her gifts, like them or no.

Any woman who relies consistently upon her partner for donations to charity or church.

Any woman who only “volunteers” when paid to do so.

Any woman who doesn’t want you playing in a $5.00 poker game because it costs money, but who would ask you to take her to a $200 dinner.

Any woman who buys or receives electronic equipment that she never learns how to use.

Any woman who talks about passers-by in the negative based upon appearance. This is a self-aggrandizing practice not always exclusively related to bigotry, fashion, humor, or narcissism, but increasingly to a comparison of taste expressed through cost in modern times.

Any woman who will not sit down with a financial advisor.

Any woman who will dismiss multiple candidates from becoming financial advisor to a household based upon the advisors disagreeing with her poor money management.

Any woman who sends her husband constant email links, pictures, videos, and texts of things the couple cannot afford, but that she would have the husband buy out of his own pocket.

Any woman who plays the lottery regularly, but has not paid her bills.

Any woman who PLANS on winning the lottery.

Given a lump sum or repeated payout on a lottery win choice, any woman who finds fault with the husband for choosing the option that she would not. This practice is actually engaged in most frequently by women in couples who’ve never won the lottery.

Any woman who spends more on her portion of wedding payments than she pays in household contributions in the first five years of the marriage combined.

Any woman who cuts back on necessities to pay a bill, rather than cutting back on what the bill is for.

Any woman who uses multiple payment types and sources without ever consolidating the results into an itemization of what she spends overall.

Any woman who cashes bonds early and pays penalties when she doesn’t have to.

Any woman who invests time, money, and assets in herself, but not her relationship.

Any woman who argues, delays or ignores her half of the responsibility (when present) for the cost of couples therapy, pre-Cana, household financial advisory, rent, mortgage, insurance, or vacations.

Any woman who refuses to include yearly or one time charges on a household budget because they are a seemingly lesser concern than monthly charges.

Any woman who refuses to include line items on a household budget because to her they are invisible or intangible like insurance, student loans, gas, car repair, interest, internet access, taxes, fees, entertainment, dues, club membership, subscriptions, mass transit, charity, tolls, heating oil, landscaping, child care, medical co-pay, online purchases, tips, and so on.
Any woman who cannot make it from work to home on the regular without making a stop or purchase in between.

Any woman who regularly commits to meeting her husband at a certain time and is instead regularly or always late. Again, while this might not seem too much like a gold-digger offshoot, it screams that time is money. A husband waiting, she’s forced you to push off all other things that might have gotten done had you been uncommitted to the time slot. This, in turn, builds up and collectively impacts a person’s maximum possible work schedule, not to mention long term earning potential. When this happens on the regular, husbands WILL make less money, not only less money than they could have, but less money than they should have in their current positions. They will get less sleep, get fewer chores done, get fewer errands run, acquire fewer opportunities to make extra money, land fewer opportunities to properly network, have less effectual mental time, be on a tighter resultant schedule; cleanliness will suffer; caring will suffer; personal time will fly out the window; stress will increase…all because one’s wife does not value his time. All of these negatives accumulate and spill over into one’s work environment. So, if a person is going to make LESS money, why does it qualify as gold-digging? Because anyone who values her own time significantly more than her chosen partner’s time is just selfish enough to still expect that the husband perform up to his maximum potential despite the collective obstacles she’s inflicted. He can’t put in the hours, but she expects him to bring home the same check. Men view women who always make them wait as gold-diggers simply because men value their time more than they value their own money.

Any woman who talks about what would be a second, complimentary purchase to the single purchase she is making at that moment.

Any woman who does not take an overt, unprompted, verbal interest in her husband’s day and career.

Any woman who, on the regular, talks about something she’d someday like to buy before asking about her husband’s day.

Any woman who continues to dream about being someplace else after she’s moved several times.

Any woman who has to go out every single weekend or travel every single month to keep up her self-esteem.

Any woman who refers to shopping as a meditative state or a stress reliever.

Any woman who nostalgically prefers the freedom of her youth, as afforded by funds from her parents, to the idea of making her own living or living up to the vast responsibilities of her current relationship.

Any woman who would take over the household finances by having her husband hand over his paycheck each week, but who would not hand hers to him if the tables were turned.

Any woman who mitigates cost/value via quantity as opposed to quality.

Any woman who enjoys getting flowers from her spouse “for no reason,” but always waits for an occasion to purchase niceties for that spouse.

Any woman whose finances are so out of control that she needs to skip gift-giving occasions with her spouse or children even if her spouse does not.

Any woman who calls her husband’s work number to check that he is at work. While some of these cases have to do with suspicions of infidelity, others are actually a direct attempt to control when the man is earning money and at what times. The latter scenario is the rarer of the two, and of course men cannot tell outwardly which is which in any given phone call. Some calls might be just to see how he is doing or to tell him that he is loved. However, the caller DOES know the reason for her call. She knows if she’s checking up to make sure he’s pulling a paycheck or working hard. If she is somehow unaware of her own intentions, she is the one, the only one, who can and must examine her inward motivation. Have you ever called your husband just to see that he was working?

Any woman who thinks that actually going bankrupt is okay so long as she is not going spiritually bankrupt.

Any woman who makes a mess that outpaces her capacity to clean it. This is an addiction of sorts that once again demands of the spouse excess time to correct her mistakes, time that could be better spent with family or earning. It not only falls into the “gold-digger” category for the same reason as some of the “less money” practices above, but also because a select few selfish women out there have additionally forced this issue as a medium through which to hire a housekeeper or to move to a larger abode.

Any woman that is incensed by any time or effort her spouse spends entering a contest, but who insists upon half of the winnings when the husband hits the jackpot.

Any woman who votes based on looks. This is a power hunger that speaks secondarily to money.

Any woman who frowns upon her husband improving himself by unpaid, non-career means. This closed-mindedness covers a wide range of practices, everything from women who can’t allow a man to read more than a few pages of a book without interrupting, to more complex doings like finding fault with a man’s quest to climb a mountain or to reconcile with an adversary. Women in this category show no qualms about a man improving himself in a bankable way.

Any woman who simply cannot play a game with built-in limits. I’m put in mind of a game we used to play. It was a little, conversational question about what three things you’d want if you were stranded on a desert island. For a select few ladies, three was a limit with which they could not feel comfortable. Those women could not stick to the one parameter within the question. In fact, the discomfort of having been imposed with a limit was such a huge burden to some, that they would refuse to play despite the fact that the game was complete fiction. I’d never again seen such a frightening indicator as to how some women feel limitlessness is the only way to think.

Any woman who would keep a teaching job she fell into when she doesn’t know about the subject being taught.

Any woman who wants to be well off enough to move to a country wherein she would not learn to speak the native language.

Any woman who finds fault with her spouse’s personal decision to not want riches or fame and the inherent problems that come with them.

Any woman who uses any amount of money given to her for child support on any purchase or payment that does not support the child.

Any woman negotiating a divorce settlement who defines “the lifestyle to which she is accustomed” in terms of a lifestyle she had with a different man or in terms of a lifestyle she hasn’t yet achieved.

Any woman who would accept alimony, but under inverse circumstances never pay alimony.

Any woman who insists that her husband not set bad examples of any kind as a father, but who would teach her child, by example, poor money management habits.

Any woman who outstretches her arm and leaves it extended, waiting, in an attempt to hand her husband an object while both of his hands are already full. While this is not a practice that might readily force your man to jump to the conclusion that you are a gold-digger, it is an indicator. Build up enough indicators cumulatively over time and their indirect nature may eventually and directly lead to the same false conclusion as other poor relationship practices on this list. This particular practice is a forceful attempt, on the woman’s part, to unburden herself of whatever she has in hand, even if it lends triple the burden to her husband. Such can additionally be viewed as the woman exercising license to remain completely oblivious to the man’s state while insisting he recognize her own state. Both give rise to the gold-digger indicator. A great many American woman actually engage in this tiny practice to an addictive extent without realizing it. Culturally, this gesture derives from older, feudal cultures wherein women were stuffed into impossible clothing, made to balance on precarious footwear, and fed so little that they were physically weak if not all out ill. Plus, at times, they were generally looked down upon for keeping fast to any possession, possessions to which a female frequently did not have the legal right. Pre-pocketbook, men held and carried anything that would not be tied onto a woman’s garment. Note how very many other historical cultures did not show this to be the case, the woman’s doll-like lot. Females from northern hunter-gatherer tribes in the Americas did all the work, for instance, chewing every inch of seal skin ever slaughtered in the bitter cold of the arctic to soften the material for domestic use. Women of polygamist, communal sects in this nation sling 60 pound bags of feed over their shoulders, dig wells, prep entire sides of beef. Tribal Amazon women of the mid-to southern Asian continent are described as having purposely severed a single breast from their bodies to give them superior accuracy with their warring bows on horseback. Try moving up the corporate ladder or getting equal pay for equal work if you are a woman in modern day corporate America. No, women in almost all cultures have always carried the brunt of the nastiest, most laborious tasks. So why do women today socially look so longingly back to one, solitary, feudal example? Why do they idealize the only culture that did not exhibit their strengths? The example has been romanticized. If you were a woman stuffed into a corset, it was “romantic” for a man to realize that and to help you carry. If you were so weak you could not lift a pea or even bend over to do so without getting dizzy, it was “romantic” for a man to understand your circumstances, particularly a handsome stranger. This minority of women receiving such treatment, however, was of the court, walking trimmed gardens and frequenting secure, stone dwellings. It is neither to the greater populous of the Italian Renaissance nor to the throngs of feudal serfs that modern women reach for this false romanticism, but to the ever so tiny court culture. They peer back to perhaps one of only a handful of social settings wherein men made it proper for men to help women in this way. They look to a time where only the richest women with the richest clothes and the richest expectations would need hand off a balance-impacting trinket. They look so steadily and with such a fixed eye to the tiniest “romantic” pocket of all the cultures that have ever been that they’ve unwittingly preserved a gesture from second-class citizenry which no longer has any factual gravitas.

Any woman who will risk a $65.00 parking ticket to save a quarter.

Any woman who before marriage looks at all the couple’s possessions as divided into “his possessions” and “her possessions” and who after marriage looks at all the couple’s possessions as divided into “marital assets” and “her possessions.” These women are mentally practicing the very same archaic notions that once legally banned women from ownership.

Any woman who borrows luxury items on more than just special occasions.

Any woman who has never changed her vision of a perfect life, even once, since junior high school. Dreams are fine. Inflexibility is not.

Any woman who does not take an active part in even one of her husband’s hobbies when invited. While hobbies usually have little to do with finances, most of them cost at least a little doe and a significant amount of time. Not taking part in any single one when invited, the woman shows that she wishes to use that potential together time, instead, on a separate hobby of her own. Not always, but in some rare cases, this translates in a woman’s mind and demeanor to “For every hobby he has, I should also get one.” That attitude can be costly. He should take part in one of yours. You should take part in one of his. This will decrease the number of household hobbies by two and save dollars. Otherwise, the problem is a practice that ignores relative cost and instead compares the number of hobbies in a 1 to 1 ratio, as if that has any bearing on life.

Any woman who cheats. While this too gets buried under the other comment, “slut,” the ire that results in a man’s response is a “gold-digger” sourced ire. When a man cheats it is either about sex or having been dehumanized in his existing relationship. When a woman cheats it is because she wants more than she already has, whether that’s more sex, more money, more understanding, or more love. She’s mining for gold from another mine.

Any woman who demands that her husband literally write her a blank check or checks to save time. Again, this sounds like more of a trust issue with regard to what amount the woman might fill in on a blank check, but the fact is that the woman has squandered her valuable time to the point where the mere moments it would take to write down a few numbers and words is a concern. It is once again the husband bailing the wife out of a sticky situation in a way that requires no trust or risk on her part, but both trust and risk on his.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Just stirring up some local shit

This was to be a comment within a tiny disagreement going on with some NOLA bloggers. It just kept getting longer and longer, so I didn't want to clog anyone's comment section with it.

The dialogue was started with a little rant from jeffrey at Library Chronicles about the Hornets Faith and Family Night at the New Orleans Arena. There was a response from Drive-By Blogger. The following is a response to the latter in defense of the former. And it all started with this:



To get the full story, you'll probably have to read all of it. Sorry about that.

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D-BB:
You said,

It is chic to be anti Christian but it is not chic to hate Jews, blacks, Arabs, gays or NPR.
I'm going to leave blacks and gays out of it because race and sexuality aren't (usually) religions. As far as I know one still chooses their religion. Maybe I'm just not as chic as I think, because I can't stand NPR, so I'll leave that out, too.

No invoking the Constitution, either. Jeffrey's post didn't try to prohibit the free exercise of any religion. He just didn't agree with the Hornets attaching religious propaganda to a basketball game. If anyone wants to try and hit him with freedom of speech, there really isn't anything there, either. One does not have to treat any religion or anyone's speech with any respect whatsoever. One simply has to refrain from suppressing either.

As far as hating the Jews and Muslims:

I thought it was OK to hate Muslims. Wasn't that the point of attacking Obama's middle name? Then, you know, the Jews just want to be left alone. They aren't out there trying to push their religion (I'm sorry, "values") into law like a lot of Christians and Muslims. Unless you're in New York, California or Florida, it's difficult to find a Jewish person that really inspires hatred. Not to mention there just aren't enough visible or outspoken Muslims or Jews for anyone to really get the hate on. I also don't know of any Muslim or Jewish bands, crappy or otherwise, to ridicule.

The event may have been called Faith and Family night instead of Christian Night because one couldn't call it "Christian Night" so as not to explicitly exclude anyone of another religion (or their money), but we all know what "faith" means. Everybody knows that whenever somebody in the United States says the word "faith", they mean "Christian faith" or, more specifically, "Protestant faith".

Even you. You stated,
It was Faith and Family Night you dumb fucking douche bag. Not “Christian Night”!
It's interesting that you totally ignored your earlier statement,
It was a night for all Christians of every faith, creed, color and sexual oralentation to come together...
Chalk it up to misspeaking if you'd like, but I see it as subconscious assumption of the point in my previous paragraph.

Add to that the Christian persecution complex (War on Christmas, anyone?) and the general disdain that the most visible and media savvy Christian apologists (Worldnet, One News Now, AFA, Bill Donohue and CHUCK FUCKING NORRIS! REALLY?!) have for anything not Christian. So we're seeing a backlash. Big deal.

Think of it as a market correction. There's been a general upward Christian trend in the US for a few hundred years. It's been a great value investment. The last 20 years or so has seen a definite bubble, though, especially in the fundamentalist sectors. A crash was almost certain, but, as usual, few were prepared for it and a lot of investors with Christian holdings have started to panic unnecessarily. There's been a lot of call for bailouts and new legislation to prop up Christianity, but that won't help in the long run. Just hold on to the steady and reliable performers while letting the more volatile corporations self-destruct. Trust me, it will work out better for everyone. You may even want to diversify. Check out some of the industry's other options. They've been around for longer than you might realize. Historically, these smaller players have not really been recognized as strong positions and have struggled a lot. In recent years, though, most have shown steady growth, are now severely undervalued and set to make a strong push.

Aside from that: In N.O., one isn't used to seeing this kind of thing. We're usually a live and let live city. To see this kind of thing start to insinuate itself into our culture is a little scary. Sure, Shinn's done a lot here. It's no secret, though, that he'd bolt to OK if he could. (I think the Yellow Blog has some links about that). And now he's putting a (Protestant) religious stamp on a very public event in a decidedly "Catholic, but not really" city. It's enough to draw some negative attention and even a little ire. This should not be unexpected.

BTW, there's no liberal asshole here. I'm a conservative Republican as well as an atheist. Trust me when I tell you that it pains me to agree with jeffrey on anything.

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jeffrey has already defended himself quite ably in a post you should read before commenting:
It would be quite a stretch to conflate my antipathy toward some crappy band playing the Jesus angle or towards George Shinn's appropriation of Christian imagery to sell his new-agey self-help/business management literature (or his basketball team for that matter) with some sort of blind disrespect for individual religious freedom.
I just wanted to hit it from a "respect for religion" angle.

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I have to seriously recognize Doug from New Method, the band that got caught up in this, for having some perspective on the whole thing. I just thought that was cool.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

National Protest Against Proposition 8

New Orleans, Saturday, November 15th, 12:30 PM at City Hall: 1300 Perdido St, New Orleans, LA 70112

For information on protest times and locations in your state, check Join the Impact!



Gays, Lesbians, Transgender, Their Families and Supporters Unite
Large Scale National Protest Planned For November 15th


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 11, 2008

Media Contact:
Brandon Williamson (310) 439-9488
e-mail: marchforequalrights@gmail.com

Over the last week, tens of thousands of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community and their Supporters have taken to the streets of California to show their outrage with the outcome of California Proposition 8. Prop 8 provides for a Constitutional Amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage rights; Similar amendments and propositions were passed in Arizona and Florida. The outcome of these propositions has angered the national gay community and their supporters. Many feel as if they are now second-class citizens, but, according to the No on 8 Campaign, the fight is not over. The final statement released by the No on 8 Campaign stated, “Victory was not ours today. But the struggle for Equality is not over.”

On Saturday, November 15, 2008 the LGBT community and their supporters will take to the streets in what could be the largest organized Protest / Movement since the Civil Rights Movement. To date, more than 250,000 individuals have pledged to take part in the nationwide event, in which they will descend upon the City Halls, State Capitols and the Nation’s Capitol to make their voice heard. Signs, posters and numerous websites have already been created and the word is spreading quickly throughout the nation. Jointheimpact.webpaint.com lists protest locations in all 50 States and the District of Columbia.

The message is simple, yet loud; Equal Rights for All. Signs seen at the many protests that have already taken place in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago and Salt Lake City read: “No More Mr. Nice Gay – Equal rights for all people”, “Fight the H8”, “Teach Acceptance – Not Hate”, “I am now a 2nd class citizen”, “I am a victim of H8”, to name a few. The organizers of this nationwide event have stressed that it, like the protests that have taken place over the last week, will also be peaceful demonstrations. “Let’s move as one full unit, on the same day, at the same hour, and let’s show the United States of America that we too are United, citizens equal in mind, body and spirit and deserving of full equality under the law.” The Protest / Movement is scheduled to take place across the nation at the same time: 1:30 PM Eastern, 12:30 PM Central, 11:30 AM Mountain and 10:30 AM Pacific on Saturday, November 15th, 2008. Those interested in attending this historical event may find their local protest location by visiting: jointheimpact.wetpaint.com

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Just When You Thought Corporations Couldn’t Get More Evil

JPMorganChase has made much press this year. In addition to being one of the sole global financial institutions that almost completely sidestepped the sub-prime mortgage crisis, it also, at the government’s behest, merged with Bear Stearns as they were going under, many months before Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, and AIG tanked and before Wachovia and Merrill Lynch began publicly waffling. In fact, JPMC did so with such vitesse and expertise, they had plenty of spanking room left over to proceed with the long rumored take-over of Washington Mutual just months after buying Bear. Unlike other organizations, JPMC offers those who’ve lost their jobs pursuant to mergers an astounding barrage of high-end, professional services to help them get resituated in new jobs elsewhere. How sweet. Also unlike other organizations, their no-holds-barred CEO, J. Dimon, has been plastered all over Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, and Fortune for months on end if for no other reason than speculation as to what move he’ll make next.

In this light, JPMorganChase certainly seems like a cowboy in a white hat, a good guy amidst disappointing failures all around. And, for the most part, the press reflects that. But let’s call a spayed duck a spayed duck. JPMorganChase is no stranger to the very greed, questionable behavior, and ruthless decisions exhibited by all the other corporate banking giants. They were just strategically lucky this time. It was not so many years ago that in a public address to his employees upon newly accepting the head honcho position, J. Dimon referred to all of HR, for example, as a “bunch of maggots and cockroaches.” His attitude seems to have changed little since and as a mouthpiece for his organization, it should be noted that this style of communication is an underpinning of bank practices at large.

Kudos to JPMorganChase for giving so much to charity over so many years. Cheers to them for sponsoring so many of our well-known and widely enjoyed sporting events and competitions. Yep, give them points for having more ATMs than Canada has snowflakes. Do these things really offset twisted business ethic?

Offset might be the wrong word. Actually the good they do rather seems to bury or adequately hide many of the nastier goings-on. For instance, as of November 2008, JPMorganChase has implemented a new, mandatory invoicing procedure for all external service providers. No hitch there. Service providers are now to invoice through an online system only. No hitch there. All such providers will be required to do this regardless of the service type provided. So, the company that restocks the water coolers is thrown into the same boat with the shoe shine guy and the $1000 an hour commodities consultant. Perhaps no real hitch there other than the regular corporate tendency to make sweeping decisions without so much as a humane wink toward the macro or the micro. Yet, in true corporate fashion, JPMC has tagged on a new and creative slap to the face that has certain service providers wondering if it is just a big, fat joke. If you wish to be paid on your invoice on time, JPMorganChase will now charge you 4% of the money you earned. You heard it! Buy your money! If you get paid in any way from JPMC and are not a direct employee of the bank, you now must pay a fee to get your money in fewer than 60 days. Some might say, “Well, 60 days, 8 weeks, that’s not really a concern to most service providers.” Some might be lucky to get paid that “quickly.” Well, I think I need not mention what that does to Mom and Pop shops, especially straddled over the fiscal year’s end. But this hardship isn’t relegated to only the small businesses around town.

Consider, for the moment, that at any given time, JPMC has a strong percentage of people working in their offices, every day, who are not direct employees of the bank. The supposed global authority in fiscal prudence didn’t want to take them on at a decent wage or pay their benefits. So, though full-time workers for the bank, they aren’t actually employees. They are temps and contractors and consultants and associates and interns of every type and level. We are not talking about the schmuck who delivers the bagels in the morning or the window washer with the peg leg. We are also not talking about an elitist jet-set or a self-proclaimed mogul salon. We are talking about a set of workers, doing the bank’s work, who show up every day, for a full day, sometimes more, with no overtime in certain cases, no job security from one day to the next, no corporate earned recognition for their deeds, but whose only difference between themselves and an employee is the lacked label, “employee.” They live from week to week, sometimes hand-to-mouth, and depending upon their situation, may already be waiting a four week lag time between hours worked and the specific check used as recompense for those hours.

By JPMC switching to the 60 day standard, pseudo-employees in this title-less cage have but two choices. Pay good money to get their due pay in a normal amount of time or wait double the time they might already be waiting. Why is either significant? Well, to pay money to get your money is a matter of poor principal, poor business ethic; so much so it would be illegal to inflict this very practice upon regular employees. It reads kickback. If you think paying ATM fees is a killjoy, at least ATM fees provide you with a choice. Imagine, instead, if your employer forced you to give her/him 4% of every paycheck before receiving your check every week. Freakin’ Ebenezer Scrooge wouldn’t even do that.

As for the doubled wait time, a wait period that’s already been doubled from the standard 90’s Chase practice of a two week wait, the negative impact is a little trickier. When one considers the fact that these folks already waited an entire payless month at the outset of their being brought on to JPMC, the existing four week lag time, it makes another month wait seem devilishly inappropriate. Yes, they will get paid eventually, but for at least a few, that’s going to constitute two full months without physical pay in a given calendar year. I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty hard to withstand for a lot of folks. Honestly, what would your opinion be about people asked to work full-time for a year and get paid, at the outset, for ten months of that work?

Secondly, given that the notification went out to certain folks in this group during their unpaid vacations, notification warning with less than two weeks prep-time, well that’s then a ten week wait without pay for some. Again, this “some” is people who show up and work every single day.

Thirdly, lump onto the above the sometimes two week processing span it takes to register a person in the new online system, and you can be talking about an up to twelve week wait without pay. Work done on October 1st for instance, wouldn’t be paid until the following year. Yes, once the lag time has abated, such workers will get a check every week thereafter, steadily. Yet note how few people in the world actually get paid every OTHER month or every THIRD month. It usually doesn’t happen because that is not how bills and rents and mortgages are set up. Monthly is usually the least palatable tier of payment possibilities. Even at that rarity, such a paycheck would be for a whole month of work, a larger check. This potential eight to twelve week wait only starts payments again with a check for a single week’s work. Ugh! JPMC should not be allowed to get away with this based on the idea that it is only a single lengthy wait and not a regularity. Face it folks, it is no mistake that a brand new 4 to 8 to 12 week lag time goes live in November, just in time to be penniless for the holidays! Nice move JPMC. I guess if you wish to feed your children on Christmas, you have to give 4% to the Grinch who stole WaMu.

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Ready Or Not: Obama Wins

I am registered as non-partisan. I belong to no political party. I think it is no secret that I tend to idealize left, but I hope to do so in a way tempered with more reason than I can rightfully afford myself as party to any particularly competing or politicking group. That said, I tried, and to a large degree succeeded in, making my views on the campaigns take shape bereft of racial implication. For a good deal of the last year, the notion never entered my mind. I never hoped Obama would win because of his skin color, nor did I truly fear that he would lose for the same. I never presumed McCain kept company with racists nor did I close my ears to his views whilst secretly rooting for some visual underdog. I heartily focused issue to issue, debate to debate, character to character as McCain and Obama squared off. It was nice. It was nice to finally have a Presidential race that remained positive for a good deal of the run. It was nice to see clear differences in our candidates and issues that were genuine concerns taking up most of our air time. It was nice not having a Bush or a Clinton on the ballot for the first time in 28 years. The choice felt free again.

Regardless, however, of how hard I may have tried, succeeded, or even perhaps failed in the end at ignoring race as a potential political shapeshifter, I could neither before the election nor now deny the historical significance of what has become an unprecedented achievement. Skin color is not a reason to vote for a president. Skin color is not a reason to vote against one. Once elected, though, it is a key element thereafter to the immensity of the historical feat. Race, after this election fact, but before the world leader litmus test, is at once a symbol, an achievement, a proof, an indicator, a wonder, a surprise, a passion, a leveling, a coming-together, a change, and a statement. While just any old member of any old race would not have done, Obama was the right candidate for his party. Race did not make him the right candidate, but being the right candidate allowed for a linchpin moment in America wherein his race must be part of that moment’s description.

So, basking in America’s ability to come together and to care about voting again, I would like to take this moment to talk about that which cannot be ignored today…race. Not racism. Race!

Whether you picked it up on the media or languished over the idea in conversation with your loved ones, there was always this question throughout the campaign season as to whether or not America was “ready” for a “black President.” Both candidates were smart in steering clear of the question. Forget the wisdom in avoiding the query because it is an inflammatory question with several inflammatory answers and explanations. They were smart to do so because the question has no heft. It cannot be answered. It is completely made-up. There is no factual or empirical criterion upon which to measure collective mental and emotional readiness for someone else to do his job. What means we are ready? What flawless indicator could a person possibly point to as an answer one way or the other? What could you have in your pocket today that you didn’t have yesterday that could identify you as prepared for a “black President?” Essentially, it’s just another way of saying, “Do you think America is still filled with a majority of racist swine?” By recognizing the question as immaterial and avoiding those inflammatory possibilities as a fringe benefit, look what happened. It opened the door to talk about the subject rationally.

When “reverse” racist allegations and evidences were piling up against the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Obama walked through that door, calmly, intellectually, and talked about race. Not racism, race. In fact, presumably running the risk of jeopardizing his entire campaign, he spoke on the topic so truly, openly and precisely, his words may well prove one of the greatest speeches on race our national history will ever know. At the very same time that regular Americans were unconsciously contemplating whether or not they were “ready” for a “black President,” as prompted by media and naysayers, literature and maybe even inner demons, Obama walked out and shared with them a whole bunch of details about race in America that they already knew. He reinforced their belief in their own goodness. He ingratiated himself to like minds without pandering. “Hey, I am actually thinking what you all are thinking.” He just had the bravery to say it and the clout to influence folks to listen. He didn’t have to answer the question of whether or not America was “ready” for a “black president,” because a hard-worked win would answer that question for us.

Inspired, I too wish tackle new ground. I would like to try to theoretically answer the unanswerable question. What did Americans have in their pockets on this Election Day, whether they voted Democrat or Republican, that they did not have a few years ago? What allegedly made them “ready?”

The obvious responses go without saying. America had the right candidates. McCain supporters never had to worry about that great man, their representative, showing up in a KKK photo or any serious gaff reel in black face. Obama supporters never had to worry about a Tawana Brawley-like association or a pubic hair on a Coke can popping out of the man’s closet. In primaries and campaigns past, one side or the other winding up with the “wrong” candidate, we always spent inordinate time pointing out the multiple flaws in that person’s character. It left little room to probe the minds, beliefs, and issues for which the loud-mouthed finger-pointers stood. As a result, we’re going to elect the occasional out-of-touch rep. or racist or bigot or racially motivated numb-skull, almost by accident. Choosing the right candidates is a vote to talk about what is actually going on, everything that is going on.

Also an obvious pocket pal indicating why we were “ready” was a lame duck administration effecting the campaign environment. Perhaps Chris Rock put it best in his HBO special, Kill The Messenger when he said, “Bush made it hard for a white man to run for President.” More accurately put, it might be that Bush was viewed as having bottomed out so far below even the minimum expectations of a Presidency, that by comparison, any issues the general populous might have had with race seemed small and petty. Like W. or hate him, the particular class of decisions he and his cronies have made over eight years in office is unlike any in our lifetime. The list is long, yes, but each item on that list has additionally a blockbuster ramification. You may not blame W. for all of them, but even when you cut the list down there always seems another two pages of bad. Unbelievable! All a person of any race should have had to do to get in the primaries door was to point at W. and say, “I disagree.” Obama, skin color and proud multiple heritages aside, maybe said it most eloquently when he phrased our disillusionment as, “Enough!”

Outside of plain sight, at least theoretically, I think we have fuller pockets than just what’s offered above. What else made us “ready?” Mindset. Mindset is key. If the fake question, “Is America ready for a ‘black President?’” really asks, “Is America filled with racist swine?” and if the election outcome is overwhelming proof that America is not; what changed, motivated, or brought the balanced mindset to the surface? What made these existing, shared ideas of equality an election reality? Well, let’s look at the last several years of pop culture. What’s been out there in the public mainstream? TV, movies, fictions many.

You’ve had a show called The West Wing, an hour-long weekly drama centered on a fictional, Democratic President and the behind-the-scenes running of The White House. Those who followed the program got very into the high-energy, challenged ethic, quick-to-quip go-go-go pace of the fictional administration. Perhaps Obama’s administration cannot achieve that precise and speedy White House repartee, but we all knew for certain when watching the show, Bush’s White House definitely did not, could not. The show was what we wanted in direct contrast to what we had. That is a seed of change.

We had a program called American Idol, a show that let the country vote and vote and vote as often as they liked, assured they were making a difference each week, each season in selecting a winner. Each season that they did so, new groups of competitors showed up on our screens and in our living rooms, real people, not sitcom characters. These people were African-American and European-American, Asian, Australian, you name it. The voting results not only showed great acceptance among all those groups, not only showed that the show was about singing talent above skin color, but it also gave us weekly results that reinforced the general absence of race motivators in those tabulations. Our opinions came to the surface and were shared with the nation, weekly. Who knew, until they were televised, that there were so many of us who could look beyond race and vote on talent?

Is there any other epoch you can think of that could see droves of Americans crying out to declare English our national language at the same time our toddlers are watching Dora the Explorer, Go Diego Go, Ni Hao, Kai-lan, and other language-boosting, educational cartoons in good parental faith. This is a brilliant dichotomy that allows both notions to exist simultaneously. It is, in and of itself, a plurality and one that, like those above, is in our minds and at our dinner tables each day. We support our children learning languages early and we support the idea of nationalizing a language pick for commonality’s sake. ESL classes crop up everywhere for those who want to learn English at the same time every noisy Fisher-Price toy you buy speaks English and Spanish and German and French. Agree or disagree, there is enough mirth in the two practices to conclude that there is plenty of room in this country for both acceptance and function across heritage lines and language barriers.

The recent list of mainstream fiction that jumps over a few real life prejudices and complications to otherwise familiarize our mind’s eye with new possibilities seems endless. Chris Rock made an excellent comedy feature called Head of State in which he ran for President and won. Geena Davis starred on an ABC TV series called Commander-In-Chief in which she played the President. Glenn Close, as Vice-President in the film Air Force One, has to stand up to a War Room full of brilliant men to run the nation while her President, Harrison Ford, might be dead or incapacitated. Morgan Freeman’s career alone, in part, consisted of an escalating string of films wherein the characters he played grew more and more ranked. In Glory he was a Union Sergeant. In Outbreak, he was a Brigadier General. In Deep Impact he was President of the United States. In Bruce Almighty, he was God. Notice, all consummate characters that were highly believable in the settings given despite the actor's skin color. The 2005 Academy Award winner for best picture was a film called Crash, one that employed a very diverse cast and a Six Degrees of Separation feel to describe the state of conscious and unconscious prejudice in modern America. Russell Simmons’ fantastic recurring HBO series Def Comedy Jam and Def Poetry Jam significantly mainstreamed large chunks of hip-hop culture and art into hometown American culture while celebrating diversity themselves. Sex and the City popularized cosmopolitan women. Big Love examined polygamy. Oz captured America’s attention looking at violence and racism in the nation’s underbelly, its prisons. The Matrix trilogy gave all human races a common enemy, galvanizing them in faith of a savoir prophecy. The Sopranos showed what American society looked like through the eyes of organized crime, encompassing the same tribulations as mainstream America, but always walking that fine line between proud, Italian-American heritage and the unacceptable violence within “the family.” South Park, an adult, comedy cartoon series, includes a single black character named Token, as if to point out and ostracize our past practices of including “token” black characters by underscoring just how ridiculous that was compared to our modern sensibilities. The House of Sand and Fog is a wonderful cultural character study which won a great deal of Academy nominations and awards. A comic strip, The Boondocks, which centralizes around a young African-American of pseudo-militant mind is the first of its kind and subject matter to win widespread appeal and acclaim. Will & Grace allowed us to laugh in a gay lawyer’s living room. ER took us to a place where everybody has common concerns and the human interest never stops. By the way, they also took us to the deep, rural, American south, to Croatia, to Africa, and beyond. Frasier caricatured elitists and intelligentsia. On a given DVR night, we might have had to decide between watching Queer as Folk or Queer Eye For The Straight Guy. Real life American judges of every heritage started to land show after show on daytime TV. True Blood, the books from which it is taken and the cable TV series that carries the title, lets us examine real life prejudices through fictional vampires. We are suddenly no longer afraid to look back and pen a period piece with a real life bias component or even a present day piece with our own societal drawbacks. In what other generation could you get such a plethora of serious film pieces grown from bias and struggle like Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, The Last Samurai, Lackawanna Blues, Freedom Writers, Luminarias, Stand and Deliver, The Crucible, The Green Mile, Gangs of New York, Moulin Rouge, Spanglish, A Time To Kill, Medal of Honor, Ray, The Passion of The Christ, American History X, Dreamgirls, Amistad, Erin Brockovich, Men of Honor, and A Bronx Tale?

Sure previous generations had a play or two, a movie here or there, a mini-series that caught the public attention. Race, bias, injustice; they have always been concerns and therefore have always made great drama, even comedy. But never before was the backdrop of bias and the list of ways in which to understand it and deal with it so centralized in the mainstream public eye. People could most recently afford and did purchase thousands of TV channels instead of accepting one of three network choices on the public airwaves. People now had computer access at home, in school, at work, in transit, at the coffee house, or while camping. People could generate enough disposable cash to see every summer blockbuster and every Academy Award nominee at the multiplex before reviews even hit the papers. Just one generation ago you had a people, a fair-minded crop living amidst an activist youth culture, that sincerely went from watching propaganda films and silver screen classics to hailing Roots as the best miniseries ever. That generation made the transition from watching Jimmy Stewart in what seemed like every film to seeing their kids watch What’s Happening and Diff’rent Strokes in constant, back to back reruns. For them, that was an enormous change. For us, it’s the lesser artful beginnings to the theme of our entire pop culture lives. Inclusiveness and acceptance within our ranks and masses meant the arts would reach out and tell us more, replicate these driven ideas of equality and explore them with the audience in more interesting detail. We went from three choices of network, in short order, to multimedia choices numbering in the thousands. We went from thinking that sitcoms casting black actors were for a target audience only, to shows that everybody loved, like The Cosby Show, to a veritable effluvium of never-ending entertainment, education, and information far too vast to fill with only one norm. A strong majority of entertainment never deals directly with bias or even illustrates it as a backdrop. Most shows are simply about other things. Having such a monster volume of entertainment choices, however, naturally increases the “lesser” number of shows that will deal with that distinct notion in all kinds of ways. Does having all this fiction solve racial tensions? No. Does having them around even alleviate, in any direct way, the problems of the world? Absolutely not. What these entertainments do is allow us to talk about it. It might be hard for any two people to talk about a difference in perception of skin color, say, but they can both talk about what happened on Oprah yesterday. It might be uneasy or even heated to discuss racism around the water cooler, but everybody has an opinion on Danny Glover’s performance or Margaret Cho’s jokes or Ellen coming out. Fiction is an ice breaker to the future.

Yes, fiction helps, but it cannot win out alone. During much of the same time all these stories, laughs, and “what-if” cultural exchanges were taking place, the world of fact rolled on. DNA tests started to get precise enough to determine the ancestral heritage in a person’s biological build. It goes without saying this would mean something positive to groups who’d had origins robbed from them. Charles Barkley toured the nation talking about how he felt that not only African-Americans were undervalued by the U.S. government, but Latinos and poor whites as well. He was obviously not the first one to speak on this, nor to extend the implications across color lines, nor even the most succinct, but he was hero enough to sports fans to reach a great many new minds. Bill Maher got fired from his own show on ABC, one having been brought over from HBO called Politically Incorrect, for saying something considered politically incorrect post 9/11. The Dixie Chicks similarly lost a huge percentage of their fan base when country music stations boycotted their albums after one member of the group publicly expressed a feeling that didn’t jibe with the pro-Bush sentiment of the day. A black man, chained and dragged to death by a white man in Jasper, Texas gave rise to a court battle that saw the first white man ever to be put on death row for the murder of a black man in that state (with the exception of an 1854 crime where one slave owner killed another’s slave in what was essentially tried as a property crime). Shock jocks were getting fined and fired nation-wide as people once afraid to call them on remarks that were sure to incite division decided to speak up. Denzel Washington and Halle Berry won Academy Awards in the same season in their lead actor categories, the first time both those slots had gone to African-Americans in the history of the awards. They accepted on the same night that Sidney Poitier received the Lifetime Achievement Award. The Olympic Games broke out from their regular four year pattern to alternate summer and winter games every two years. With NBC landing the rights to carry the broadcast, not only were we treated to views of peoples and talent around the world twice as often, but under the incomparable sports-casting umbrella that is Bob Costas’ genius, the proper time was taken to cover all major names and teams. Our country found itself no longer rooting only for the U.S.A., but for global underdogs and sometimes even the home team in many a nation. Condoleezza Rice became U.S. Secretary of State. SNL had two female co-anchors to its Weekend Update segment for the first time in the show’s history. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, following in the 1960’s footsteps of Star Trek the original series which had an episode that would showcase the very first interracial kiss on network television, in the 90’s offered up the very first, dramatic same-sex kiss on network television. George W. Bush promised supporters that if they elected him to a second term, he would seek a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a sacred union between a man and a woman, thereby disallowing same-sex marriages on the federal level and failing to extend marital rights to the LGBT community under the law. Hurricane Katrina lead to the levies in New Orleans collapsing, waters flooding the entire city, literally uncountable deaths, and an embarrassing American spotlight on the great divide between middle class and poor. Kayne West went “off-book” on his testimonial during the live Katrina relief effort and alleged, among other claims, that the President of the United States hated black people. The West Wing TV series finished off with a whole season geared around two new campaigners for the U.S. Presidency (Alan Alda and Jimmy Smits), not only examining the angles of a Latino man’s run for that top seat, but also making television history by broadcasting a live, unscripted debate between the two characters as if they were real candidates. A change in Popes saw Pope Benedict XVI announce that secularism was the Roman Catholic Church’s true enemy. Reality TV took a foothold in the public eye, many incarnations of which created competitions with contestants purposely chosen for conflicting or even racist views. Janet Jackson’s one breast was a topic of conversation for over a year after it, pasty and all, was removed from her clothing during a Super Bowl half-time performance. In New York City, under Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a total of 14 UNARMED black men were shot by police officers, many of them killed, including an immigrant whose name became synonymous with this string of unpunished wrongful deaths, Amadou Diallo. Bruce Springsteen concerts were boycotted by police and he was protested at police rallies after writing a song about Diallo that included the victim’s name.

While fiction certainly asked us “what if;” facts, good or bad, structured the dinner table conversations in a way where folks would talk about, “How could we get there from here? Given the perils of today, how could we make that fantasy a reality?” The frequency of both kept this intercourse and these thoughts going. There was always something to discuss, a new hallmark from which to move on, to grow. While this has been true for all previous generations, what differs in ours is the infinitive number of conduits for factual and fictional information to pour into our wisdom. In 1963 you could just turn the TV off, put the paper down. Today entertainment and informational sources are constant reminders, almost in-your-face calls to expand thinking, to readjust on the fly, to speed the social evolution along. They are in your pocket, on your laptop, on a cell phone, bolted to the wall on a large screen TV with a billion satellite channels. They are on XM radio, cable, FIOS, air waves, DVD, Blu-ray, iPods, Sidekicks, RSS feeds, websites, blogs, vlogs, books, eBooks, periodicals, mass mailers, email, presentations, Podcasts, electronic billboards, spam, on screens in taxi cabs and elevators, and even phoned in with a robot. If you’d always felt there was so much more to know, superlative access to information was always the way to get there. The more one knows, the broader his or her thinking can become. That speaks to mindset. It prepares you. It makes you ready for anything.

President-Elect Barack Obama is not a phenomenon. There are plenty of people fluent in plenty of languages backed with plenty of ideas and with skin colors as varied as the 64-bit setting on a PC in our America. A staggering number of those people exhibit all the fine attributes Obama seems to exude. They are gentlemen and gentlewomen, proud parents, decent politicians, educated, great speakers, authors, hard-workers, exceptional fund raisers, deep thinkers, good joke tellers, and people all with hopes and dreams. Again, he is no anomaly. The anomaly is a civilization that just 8 to 16 years ago was collectively stupid enough to try to answer an unanswerable question with a very loud and determined “No, we are not ready for a black President!” That very civilization instead came to the conclusion, in less time than it takes for a bond to mature, that it is simply okay for these two guys to run. Suddenly, very suddenly, either of them was eligible to win and we didn’t really have a problem with that. Obama’s win may be astounding history, but that history is our prize.

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