I joke a lot here about using my anger for good. Not just because I wonder whether I’ll ever step the whole way out of my younger, nicer, good girl’s shadow–though I do. But because for all the badass transgressive pleasure I’ve had sloshing around in the metaphorical mud–I can build a head of steam, spit nails and boil my blood with the best of them–it’s pretty damn exhausting. Is it an adrenalin thing? Bad stress management? Beats me. The bottom line is I don’t want to spend any more time with myself when I’m angry than I have to.
This is a problem when you like to write about things that matter to you.
So you haven’t seen my posts about the four OB-GYNs in Congress whose unofficial leader proudly proclaimed themselves, ”Southern, conservative, and pro-life. Loudmouthed and red-necked is also a good way to describe us.” Yes, it is lovely that they’ve delivered thousands of babies, and yes, Phil Roe does admit that most OB-GYNs advocate the use of birth control, and yes, it is probably wrong-headed to assume that they are either lying or doing a heck of a job of ignoring their patients’ feelings if they’ve never ever come across a case where they felt their beliefs about abortion challenged fundamentally. But still … Seriously??? Not one woman made ya’ waver for a moment, Phil??? Are ya in there?
Likewise, you haven’t read my posts marveling at the GOP’s newest members of the Flat Earth society–the unfortunate souls tasked with the job of those famous monkeys: covering their eyes and their ears (and holding their growing noses) while they say, “What War on Women?!” as state after state–and old(ish) white governor (yes, you, Scott Walker) after older white governor (Phil Bryant)–decides women’s wombs are theirs for the punishing.
But then I came across an article by British classicist Mary Beard. Beard, who is now my hero, wrote and hosted a documentary about the Roman world on BBC-2 called Meet The Romans; and for her efforts, she had her looks ridiculed by a male reporter. (I’m enjoying the small-time satisfaction of not naming him. Hmmph!) Beard wrote a rebuttal to the laddish lout that is nothing short of sensational. She invokes the Greeks and Romans, folks who really did know how to do revenge right. She oh so casually mentions how many degrees she has and how long it was before the college she studied at deigned to allow women to take degrees and not simply tag along to do all the work and all the learning for none of the recognition. She wonders why the laddie boy reviews her teeth and hair color and forgets to mention her show.
Best of all, she reminded me of something I must have forgotten somewhere along the way–the grown-up’s rules of engagement. She writes:
I do wonder, if he met me face to face, would he be prepared to reiterate the insults he has heaped on me in print? Somehow I doubt if he would have the guts.
I am often asked to review books in newspapers and I always make it a rule never to write anything critical in a review that I would not be prepared to repeat to the author face-to-face — a basic tenet of responsible journalism.
I don’t doubt that it’ll be easier said than done. But it’s a good place to start.
Jodi is a freelance writer and recovering academic with more enthusiasm for sports than athletic talent and a prodigious taste for the health food known as dark chocolate.