Monday, March 31, 2014

"That whore was all over Steve at the club. Slutty bitch needs to get her own man."

I overheard a conversation with this disgusting dialogue. Two women. Two women talking about other women. I've never understood derogatory name-calling, hateful bashing of a race or gender. The words used in their dialogue made me cringe, turned my stomach.

We probably all name-call in a moment of frustration. It's a result of feeling powerless at the moment. But when done repeatedly, it's also a sign of insecurity and fear.

What made the woman "all over Steve at the club" a bitch, slut, or whore? She was a woman out at a club to meet people and have fun. She liked the looks of Steve. Steve might have liked the attention. It happens. In any relationship, however long people are together, there are moments when someone will come on to one or the other involved. We're sexually charged humans; we feel attractions. It's not wrong to like someone.

So how did this woman in the club become a victim of hate? Steve's partner or wife or girlfriend became jealous upon hearing someone else found Steve attractive. Instead of saying to Steve, "Of course she found you attractive. You are attractive!" she lashed out, feeling threatened. Was there a reason to feel threatened? Possibly if Steve wasn't the faithful type. Possibly, if instead of feeling a boost in his confidence, Steve felt the urge to try someone new. Possibly, if Steve did it out of spite or to make her jealous.

Is that woman at the club at fault? Is she a whore because Steve isn't trustworthy or wanted to cause insecurity in his relationship at home? Who is at fault? Maybe Steve is at fault for letting things go too far at the club. Steve is at fault for making his partner feel insecure. Or the speaker of these words is at fault for not coming to terms with her own jealousies and insecurities. She is at fault for her own negligence in the relationship.

The woman at the club is her own person with her own life; in another circumstance, she might have been, not a bitch, but a friend. Women don't steal other women's men. People can't be stolen. An attraction between two people can develop into a problem, absolutely. But it's not because women out there are any of these hateful labels. It's because, like men, like you or me, people feel lust and attraction and the thrills of new relationships. Maybe the speaker of these words could have asked Steve how he felt? Maybe she could have remembered a time when a guy at a club came onto her?

I don't want to hear those words anymore. I'm sick of hearing women contribute to their own diminishing. I'm tired of misplaced blame.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Erotic Ghosts Haunt New Short Story Collection

Excerpt from "At the Carousel Stop"
Available in Like a Chill Down Your Spine on Amazon

    Despite the plush chair’s comfort, Mrs. Sanchez sat at its edge, her fingers half in her purse, prepared to grab at something any minute. Working mom, Patrick thought. Always ready to move to the next thing that needed doing.
    “No kids?” he asked. She’d insisted on a two-bedroom, but claimed her kids were grown and out of the house. He asked again because when she’d entered his office, she’d been looking behind her as if someone were following—or like she wanted to be sure they stay put.
    Besides that he’d smelled cannabis when they’d spoken outdoors—though he had to admit he didn’t now that they sat together in the office. He’d had a moment’s doubt; maybe she was sneaking in a boyfriend, a dealer. But she was clean, neat, and pleasant, if a little nervous. She would be working and coming home to sleep. An easy tenant.
    Pushing the apartment key across the desk, he smiled. He’d rather welcome her than be suspicious. “Welcome, Mrs. Sanchez. I hope you like it here.”
    As she reached for the key, she shot a quick glance over her shoulder, then looked back apologetically. “I thought—”
    “It’s the glass case,” he said. “You probably saw my reflection.” Decorative cherry wood trimmed the curio cabinet, and chopped his reflection in half, but he saw himself sitting tall, his complexion warmly Irish. He’d gotten his hair trimmed close and neat. He felt presentable. It had been a rough week, but wasn’t it always?
    She stood. He almost wished she’d had a kid or two, a college guy maybe who’d laze around the small pool—glistening sleekness soaking sun, legs spread casually either side of the lounge chair. Patrick pushed the thought away and extended his hand.
    “Welcome, then.”
    “You have a lovely smile,” she said. “It’s in your eyes.” With that she left. Had he been smiling? In the curio cabinet he saw only a carousel of unicorns. And that reminded him that the collection needed dusting. He was the one who had said, “Don’t throw them away,” and now he stared at them every day, pointed reminders.