Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Politics of Powerlessness

There are many times when the personal and the political cross paths in life, leading us to seek answers to deal with individual and/or collective grievances. Less seldom though comes the opportunity to quickly understand the roots and solutions in a way that's immediately helpful and enlightening - allowing you to think outside of the box by realizing a paradigm shift that's actually practical and useful.

I was lucky enough to have one of those moments today.

The idea of writing about the politics of powerlessness struck me after posting what should have been a rather benign personal admission on my blog yesterday in reaction to Budget 2007.

I wrote:

I hesitate to add this because some might think it's selfish or that I'm unable to see the impact on society of some of the larger measures announced but, as a mid-40s woman on permanent disability living well below the poverty line, there's nothing I can see in these announcements that will have a directly positive impact on my daily life or standard of living. It's been that way every year for a long time now. I think too many of us are too often forgotten...

Now, I'm not naive enough to believe that, as a poor person, I could write something like that without being attacked for it. You see, the only people who have the right to comment on government budgets are those in the business community, the middle class, CEOs, financial consultants, politicians and anyone who pays taxes. They are the acceptable spokespeople who have that right in this society. If you are poor and sick, somehow you forfeit that right and any comment coming from you constitutes whining and ingratitude, especially if you live on a social assistance program provided by the government (regardless of how pathetic the amount may be.)

That attack came in the form of insults from someone who knows me personally - someone who hasn't said anything they included in their now deleted comment to me in real life. Someone who is in a position of power over me. That is being dealt with privately.

I was already feeling crushed by powerlessness last nite after writing about the 4th anniversary of the Iraq war - a war that those with governmental power seem in no mood to end anytime soon. I'm a strong person. I'm also antiwar. I had thought that when the Democrats regained power, they would move as quickly as possible to use the power that they had in every way they could to end that illegal and immoral war. They haven't. So, when insult was literally added to a pre-existing injury on Monday nite - that feeling of despair was compounded. It was agonizing. Yes, I do have weak moments. We all do.

That brought the intersection of politics and powerlessness that I've grappled with the last 24 hours.

In the Budget 2007 thread, one of my regular, invaluable and very knowledgable commenters named Scotian expressed exactly what I was feeling:

I can relate, oh how can I relate. While my medical condition is different than yours the overall similarities you and I both experience in the referenced quote above is basically identical. To look at me one would not know aside from the fact I walk with a cane that I had much wrong with me since all the damage is to the soft tissues and the nerves and circulatory system. I just love when people start trying to tell me they know how I feel because they had a surgery, or some minor long term disorder, why is it some people feel the need for pissing contests as to who has suffered the most pain or is the most impaired/disabled/etc? I mean really, what is up with that? I am sure you know of exactly what I am referring to in your own life.

A week without pain, eh? These days if I work up without feeling any pain I'd be terrified I was dead, it has been my constant companion for so long. Seriously though, I know what you mean. Watching the way these budgets leave people like you and me to fend for ourselves is not exactly a comforting feeling, is it. Like yourself I never asked to be incapable of working/providing for myself, and I hate having to accept "charity" from the taxpayers, but it is either that or literally death for me, so what else I am supposed to do? Yet that is enough for many to brand me as some sort of parasite and a waste of tax dollars, which is one of the reasons I rarely mention my own health issues. It is not worth the grief.

I am so tired of having people tell me I should be so grateful I get to live without working, that I am so lucky. Well, they should try living what I term a standard of existence (not living, that is much better than mere existence) or being a single person living on 7,000 a year or a married person on 12,500 a year and then they can tell me how privileged I am and how lucky I am. Blogging and being able to keep my mind active via the use of the internet is really all I have going for me, and my health is one of the main reasons why I can be so sporadic at Saundrie and indeed overall online. There are days that while I can handle the reading I know better than to write because the pain I am in will infect my work/writing and that to my mind does me no service/favours.

He knows my challenges because they are his challenges too. Reading those words was like reading an echo of my life. We share the same frustrations about those who somehow seem to think they know by osmosis what it's like to live in our bodies on a daily basis. They have no idea. And, you see, we're not supposed to talk about it because a) people think you're just complaining; b) don't want to hear about it; and then c) think they then know regardless about what's going on in our lives based on what they're able to see.

It seems that unless you have a large, visible wound or a tumour you can flash on an x-ray, they simply cannot accept that you might actually suffer from pain and other equally annoying symptoms every day. And, even if we did have those things to show them, they seem to always come up with a story - either theirs (which is not similar) or someone else's (like Lance Armstrong's amazing feats, for examples) as proof that you should just get over it, rise up and live a normal life. You're either a loser or a hero. There is no middle ground. Oh, and the fact that you can write a few words on a blog is apparently proof of your power to have a career in journalism or professional writing. (Little do people know about the agony that intermingles those blog posts).

They're wrong.

The effect that sort of attitude has is the infliction of oppression. That's the broader topic here - that there will always be those with more power who use it to demean and attempt to control others.

As I struggled with this today, I came across a free online book called PowerUnder: Trauma and Nonviolent Social Change by Steven Wineman which I've begun to read because it deals with both of the issues that brought me down: the personal and the political effects of powerlessness.

This is a psychological and political place from which we are incisively aware of the ways in which we have been acted upon, victimized and harmed, but from which it can be difficult or impossible to gauge the impact of our enraged behavior upon others, or even to maintain our awareness of the core humanity of those defined
as Other.

As someone who has closely watched the Amercian big blog scene, I have had several online conversations with people who have been shunned for various reasons as being "other" than. People who are seen as too liberal, too radical, too ideological for thinking that non-violence and an end to war are actually possible. People who don't fall into the privileged, middle-class white man class. Women who have been marginalized and written off as being hysterical. Latinos and African-Americans who have been ignored or horribly slighted and offended. Foreigners, like myself, whose opinions on Amercian politics are unwelcome. Poor people - well, just look at what happened to the people who suffered in NOLA after Hurricane Katrina to figure out how they are seen. You'll notice that they're conveniently invisible again. People of faith, especially Muslims, who have been lumped together in monolithic groups for paranoid, hateful people to loathe and mock as belonging to a death cult.

Others.

And when those others dare to have an opinion, those who need so desperately to maintain the status quo because they believe their very survival depends on it (see the outcry against same sex marriage, for example), the knee-jerk reaction is that they must be suppressed and oppressed to keep the balance of power - a power that destroys cultures.

So, where does all of this come from and what's to be done about it? That's what was on my mind today.

Wineman's short book reminds us that we are all victims of trauma in our lives to varying degrees - yes, even those middle (and upper) class white guys who hold most of the power. We know that there comes a point in life when those who have been oppressed by someone else will either continue to be a victim, will become a perpetrator or will choose to do everything possible to heal. What's harder to distinguish, however, is who will choose (subconconsciously or consciously) which path to take.

He uses the example of the effects of what happened on 9/11 as a partial example of how trauma affects people differently. We all saw the outpouring of sympathy from the world bestowed upon America after that horrible day. But we were also witness to how those in power reacted when they decided how to deal with it. (Who knows what previous traumas people like Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld might have been playing out once they found themselves with the ultimate power to exact revenge in a situation many felt could have been dealt with as a police action). They launched their wars. They assumed they'd be victorious. They became oppressors. They perpetuated more trauma and powerlessness and refused to allow a terrified Amercian society to heal by continually reinforcing that everyone ought to live in paralyzing fear of the other who might show up to blow up their shopping malls or their childrens' schoolbuses. There was no opportunity to heal - not while America's sons and daughters kept dying for a lost cause in far off countries. So, there was trauma compounded by trauma. And it served a very useful purpose by those who held the power because they were then able to use that oppression to strip away civil and legal rights as they slowly tore up the constitution. The traumatized, the fearful were kept in a convenient state of shock and terror to enable that process. That wasn't an accident.

Those of us who refuse to take that path of revenge, who actually believe in things like the courts (the open courts), justice, human and civil rights, diplomacy, the power of dialogue, the understanding of root causes, the need for peace, the use of reason over might, quickly became the radicals, the traitors, those who gave comfort to the enemy. We became the enemy. The Other.

What Wineman tries to point out in his book is that we all need to recognize our life traumas and how they impact the choices we make every day.

There has been a lot of discord in the American left recently due to tensions surrounding the seeming inability or unwillingness to address the crimes of the Bush administration.

Wineman writes:

Understanding trauma can help us to overcome divisions that chronically plague progressive social change movements. The left has been repeatedly weakened by internal divisions and fragmentation,[16] both in the form of in-fighting within social change organizations and through the inability of different oppressed constituencies to form robust and sustainable coalitions. There are many reasons for these divisions that have nothing to do with trauma. These range from principled ideological differences to unprincipled power struggles; from the complex ways in which multiple oppressions create divisions in our society to the divide-and-conquer strategies utilized by forces aligned with the status quo in the face of unrest and social change activism.

I believe we could benefit from adding trauma to this list, not as a competing explanation but as one that is typically ignored to the detriment of social change movements. If we can recognize that social change movements and constituencies are made up largely of traumatized people, many of the difficulties we encounter dealing effectively with difference and conflict become much more understandable. Internal conflicts blow up and become unresolvable in part because we lack a common language and framework for recognizing the effects of trauma, and lack practical tools for managing the traumatic rage that we all too readily direct at each other.

When trauma is unnamed and unrecognized, its presence – at once palpable and invisible – can cause an enormous amount of damage. We need to develop shared understandings of the politics of trauma that bring awareness of trauma into the room in the same way that feminism has brought awareness of power relations involving domination into the room. By this I mean an awareness that people may carry the effects of trauma – victimization, subjective powerlessness, traumatic rage, and so on – into any situation: any meeting, any organizing effort, any coalition-building project, any conflict.

It is only through the emergence of consciousness and a common language to describe the politics of powerlessness that we can create possibilities to interrupt and counteract the damaging effects of trauma within our social change organizations and movements.

I agree and I think that Wineman's perspective is vital to the success not only of progressive movements but to the advancement of individual healing as well.

The idea of the "politics of trauma" is new to me. Ironic, since I've been dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for over 10 years now. The focus of that healing, however, has been personal and there was a connection missing with relation to how that affected my political dealings and beliefs in a broader sense - except that I always knew that my compassion for powerless people came from a strong, personal identification of that status in my own life due to my personal experiences which I've had to explore and come to terms with.

I'd recommend that others read Mr Wineman's book and ponder how it might apply to the many conflicts we are all trying to deal with in such a hyper-charged political atmosphere. As I've written, he notes that all of us - even those who have power - eventually express various aspects of our lives according to those unresolved or unrecognized traumas that continue to haunt our current decisions and actions. It's not easy to have compassion for people who so obviously abuse their power but if we're going to move ahead with any sort of clarity, we need to at least be able to understand them. That's one of the hardest challenges, next to acknowledging how we express power and powerlessness in our own lives.

I believe that everything happens for a reason - in everything there is a lesson. I'm grateful to Mr Wineman for making his book available free online so I could find it when I sorely need it. It's helped me to find at least a measure of peace. I don't know anything about him besides what I read on his site today. I suspect there are political ideas we disagree about. Regardless, his ideas about trauma and powerlessness have helped me to move outside of myself and my anger and that's been invaluable.

I've also been reading another, older book recently: Skid Row: An Introduction to Disaffiliation by Howard Bahr. As someone who used to work with homeless addicts/alcoholics, I found Bahr's examination of various "skid rows" across America very insightful. Even though much of his data came from decades preceding the 1970s, he writes about disaffiliation and "internal colonialism" in a way that still, unfortunately, applies today. It seems social change in some circles moves at an absolute snail's pace - especially for the invisible people. I doubt anyone would disagree with the idea that a society is judged by how it treats it weakest members. Making the leap to actually rectify the wrongs however is an ongoing struggle of massive proportions. The powerless cannot be continually ignored without consequence. That is the lesson that still needs to be learned.

As I'm fond of saying: compassion is not a vice.

Related: For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence by Alice Miller. Excellent book.
 
(crossposted from my place)
 

51 comments:

sjct said...

(((((hugs)))) Catnip

You know I know what it's like to live in daily pain and carry the burden of poverty. Before I got married, I was living in public housing and got a SSDI check for $480 per month plus $80 in food stamps. Wasn't I lucky to have subsidized rent and utilitues that left me a hundred a month to buy incidentals like shoes and public transit passes?

It stunned me when I encountered people who thought I CHOSE to live that way out of laziness. I really don't think anyone has more right to have an opinion than those who are directly affected by government policies of callous neglect and willful disparagement.

DavidByron said...

I have to say you come across as very whiney here catnip. If you really wanted to criticise the Canadian budget then you lost the plot when you started making it all about little ol' you.

And this feminist nonsense about "power". Good grief you have more power in your life than most of us catnip. Most people have to bend and scrape and work every day and have to do what they are told for their daily bread. From what you are saying here that's an experience you don't have. That gives you a tremendous amount of power IMO.

Plus when you go on about banning people you're such a hypocrite.

But if you want to politicise and make public your own life then I'd be interested. Do say. How do you figure you are below the poverty line? It seemed like the table you refered to was based on incomes for families who are working for their money. It's not clear how it could be used in your case.

Presumably you get your housing and living provided for you leaving you to do whatever you want every day. Doesn't sound too shabby.

You feminists always try to pretend to be the victims don't you?

DavidByron said...

I had thought that when the Democrats regained power, they would move as quickly as possible to use the power that they had in every way they could to end that illegal and immoral war.

LMAO. Droll.

alohaleezy said...

Can we have a vote to get rid of this horse's ass?

ms_xeno said...

Say it ain't so, aloha. If he wasn't perpetually johnny-on-the-spot with his piggish, small-minded case of the verbal runs, we might eventually come to believe that the existence of such people is complete myth;Cooked up by FOX just to sell ad space. Don't think of it as trollery. Think of it as an edjamacational experience for the lurkers who might have been fortunate enough so far in life to not encounter the stench so up close and personal. Yet.

Rave on, catnip.

ms_xeno said...

Also, aloha, remember that those who wallow in their own victimhood while whinging non-stop about how mean the targets of their abuse are to them, well-- they have what can only be described as Highlander Complex. THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE !! For you see, there is (in their eyes) only a finite amount of compassion in the world. Which means that every time someone like catnip selfishly taps into the store, she is robbing the poow widdle boy of his rightful amount.

Interestingly enough, catnip mentions NOLA and I thought something similar reading certain newsboards after the initial shock of the disaster was wearing off for the general (ie -- White) public in the U.S. Almost everyone was frantically shouting about how the displaced and impoverished were perversely demanding sympathy and resources that they hadn't earned, and they should just shut up and get on with it. After all, that's what "normal" (ie-- White) people do.

It would be easy to hate these racist morons, but I try to read their screeds and denial with the knowledge that deep down they are scared shitless and that fear is the foundation of their hatred. Not just fear of the scaaaaaaaareeee poor Blacks maybe moving in down the block, but also of the very mindlessness of natural disasters. They can strike anywhere, anytime, and nobody is 100% secure. Particularly those who are not affluent. When I think of the screed-generators that way, it is easier to avoid hating them. I pity them instead.

DavidByron said...

"Whiney" was catnip's word. Actually I think it's a bit worse than whiney.

those who wallow in their own victimhood while whinging non-stop about how mean the targets of their abuse are to them, well

Feminists in other words.

The problem I have with feminist whinging is that they steal the legitimacy of genuinely disadvantaged groups which leads to the stuff that you were talking about re. NOLA for example.

I know I'm going out on a limb here but I'm guessing by catnip's daily presence on-line that she isn't exactly homeless and income-less. Nevertheless she sits there going about how much power a homeless man has over her. Yes it's silly princess-mode feminism. Like the story of the princess and the pea a true feminist can bitch and kvetch about a single pea brusing her royal hiney if she has to sleep on one with 50 matressess in between.

Reminds me of the way Cady and Stanton claimed that women needed the vote more than blacks did post-Civil War. Because rich white women with their awful life of leisure are sooo much more oppresed and down-trodden than former slaves.
-----------------------------

I agree it's not a question of gratitude and I agree she has as much right to talk about it as tax payers (or as much right as men have to talk about feminism should I say?) but "whiney"?

Big time.


ps. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Ms Xeno. I'm going to guess you didn't stick up for me at Ms Magazine though.

ms_xeno said...

[snerk] Oh, Davey. Truly we are nothing without you. [sputter]

The Word From Mose

BTW, catnip, do you actually describe yourself as feminist ? I was trying to sum up your blog for somebody the other day, but I couldn't remember whether you identified as such or not.

Anyway, back to work. Feel better.

catnip said...

BTW, catnip, do you actually describe yourself as feminist ?

Absolutely and I've been one ever since I knew what the movement was about. Here's a post I wrote a while back about 5 things feminism has done for me. That was my contribution to a blogburst among Canadian bloggers and the response blogosphere-wide was quite incredible.

catnip said...

It stunned me when I encountered people who thought I CHOSE to live that way out of laziness. I really don't think anyone has more right to have an opinion than those who are directly affected by government policies of callous neglect and willful disparagement.

You'd think that's the way it would be in a democratic society but, as we all know, those who exist just to pursue more power have absolutely no interest in listening to those without it because it doesn't fit into their self-serving agendas.

ms xeno raised an important point as well: the fact that more and more people are realizing that they are only one paycheck or one disaster or one illness away from finding themselves in the same boat as the poor. The denial really is astonishing, even after having seen how something as simple as a hurricane can change ones very existence in a matter of minutes. It's one of those "if I don't think about it, it won't happen" attitudes. Fairy-tale thinking.

catnip said...

As for DB's posts here, which I will not respond to, he is a classic example of someone who has been victimized and has made a conscious choice to become an oppressor.

scribe said...

Testing..

scribe said...

(this thing is so screwed. Haven't been able to post here for days)

Anyway.."Whew!" to catnip for one HELL of a piece of good writing, and one that has all my synapses firing at once, so I must wait till they settle before I can respond in a lucid fashion!

And another "Whew" to you, DB, who, if there is any justice in this Universe, and if it's possible we get more than one lifetime, will need to spend at least one of your coming ones as a low income woman before I will able to grant your opinions of us one tiny shred of credibility AT all.

Preferably two, in fact: one as a single mother, and another as a single woman with disabilities. And I'd also have you experience being a financially poor OLD woman who was a widowed single mother, who worked for 45 plus years, and then became disabled! Yeah. That oughta do it: then we could talk , and I'd really want to hear what you had to say. Because then you;d know what the hell you were talking about!

This is why you don't hear me critiquing YOUR life or YOUR choices. I've never lived a life as a white male in this society, and wouldn't presume I could possibly know what challenges or experiences you've had that have shaped who you are today, or your perspectives.

I hope, for your own sake, you will choose to look for whatever motivates you to do this to women.

DavidByron said...

scribe: I can't help thinking that you were meant to get back to me on something from a few threads back. Maybe a week ago. So you've not been able to post here? I did wonder if I would have to post at Everyone Comes From Somewhere, which I am reluctant to do.

Anyway.....


Scribe you seem to go back and forth on whether you are willing to judge others (me) and their lifestyles or not. You are inconsistent. On the one hand part of you realises it's wrong. On the other the feminist in you just cannot help it.

You do not know my experiences yet you see fit to lecture me on what you feel they must be. You claim that men should have no right to speak - simply because of how they were born. That's a fascist opinion and also a vile and sexist notion. But then your non-feminist half figures out it's evil to say such things and you retract. Sort of.

I've never lived a life as a white male in this society, and wouldn't presume I could possibly know what challenges or experiences you've had that have shaped who you are today, or your perspectives.

Indeed you have no experience of being anything than what you are. By your own sexist logic you therefore have not a shred of credibility.
---------------------------------

You all ought to be suspicious anytime anyone starts saying that only certain people should be able to speak up.

DavidByron said...

WTF?

As for DB's posts here, which I will not respond to, he is a classic example of someone who has been victimized and has made a conscious choice to become an oppressor.

LMAO.
What is that? An entry for the most succinct piece of feminist nuttery?

(1) you did respond, and will respond
(2) victimized? you don't know shit about me
(3) oppressor? just another whiney feminist piece of victim-talk. Am I raping you right now catnip? Am I sexually harassing you by replying to you? beyond pathetic, this behaviour steals the legitimacy of genuine victims.
(4) "conscious choice"? mindreader now?

DavidByron said...

I note that catnip is unwilling to back up the main claim that she made and I challenged (her position of power that she denies). {Shrug} Didn't expect anything else.

That's the way to shut up these people - the right way. Allow them to talk as much as they want but if they make claims you make sure everyone knows they are bullshitting by challenging them. They always back down.

Only the bullshiters need to censor people or say only people of one sex, or whatever criteria it is, have a right to an opinion.

note how catnip has to self-censor now. She's still wittering on but she can't make the same substantive claims again.

supersoling said...

What do you all think? Our own personal lab rat is responding as expected, eh? LOL

ms_xeno said...

Actually, catnip, the level of denial isn't all that astonishing, if by that you mean that it's uncommon. It's actually incredibly common. The first impulse by a great many people who hear of misfortune is to immediately distance themselves from any thought of the misfortune spreading. The quickest way to do that is to invoke a sort of moral talisman: To find some behavior that the unfortunate person engaged in that "invited" the misfortune. It doesn't have to be real, and the person who suffered the misfortune does not have to have freely chosen their "bad decision." The decision itself = power, which means that the unfortunate person forfeits his/her right to complain.

I have always been fascinated by those who proclaim that any acknowledgment of power-over relationships in society indicates that the complainer is HAPPY about being the loser in the relationship. The fact that I see this daily in spaces like this does not make it any less interesting. It's as if self-awareness were a contagion, and if one hears discontent borne of self-awareness he/she will "catch it," and never be able to be at peace again.

I never quite get used to it. Much less the to idea that nay-sayers are entitled to a diet of nothing but perfect happiness and thus becomes angry at she/he who points out injustice, NOT at the people/systems that create and perpetuate injustice in the first place.

Where did they ever get the idea that complaining about injustice and acting to END IT were mutually exclusive ? Bizarre.

Also, I will check out that earlier piece of yours later, when I have some more time. Cheers.

ms_xeno said...

But, supersoling, I rather like the word "wittering." Don't know if it's a real word, but it's kind of like "twittering," only more witty and less twitty.

Or something like that.

If we have rats in-house, we ought to have a cheese party. I'll bring the Gruyere. I love that stuff, especially the smoked kind.

supersoling said...

You've got way more culture that I, ms_zeno. I haven't a clue what Gruyere is. I'm strictly a Velveeta kinda guy :o)

But twittering sounds like a word that an oppressed English butler might use when complaining the lady of the house' kitchen about how hard he's worked all his life whilst this woman does nothing and lives the life of ease and luxury. Someone who would use a word like that is definetily a downstairs person who wishes to live upstairs, but could never quite make it :o)

Me, I live in a ranch style house ;o)

DavidByron said...

I have always been fascinated by those who proclaim that any acknowledgment of power-over relationships in society indicates that the complainer is HAPPY about being the loser in the relationship. The fact that I see this daily in spaces like this does not make it any less interesting.

Yes. Are you thinking of the way I was told that I desired to be banned by several people here? They see the power-over relationship where they are the oppressor and react by saying their victim is asking for it.

But what's this got to do with catnip who hasn't identified anything in her life where she could reasonably be considered powerless?

ms_xeno said...

First Oreos, now Velveeta ? super, if anyone can turn this space into a major ad-rev generator that would put the Kos Empire to shame, it's you !!

Wiki (who else ?)
explains it all, about Gruyere, at least.

scribe said...

You claim that men should have no right to speak - simply because of how they were born

I said no such thing, David. Passing harsh judgement on other's lives, when you have no way possible to know what they've been like, is what I am not interested in listening to, because to me, it lacks credibility.

You know what, I really don't want a conversation between us hijacking Catnips excellent thread. If you care to continue it's scribe40@aol.com

DavidByron said...

scribe, you did say such a thing and it's not the first time. You have repeatedly stated your view that certain people -- men -- are not fit to speak up on certain topics. That's a disgustingly sexist view. It's also an authoritarian / anti-liberal view. everyone has the right to have an opinion and you feminists need to quit trying to control people.

Since the original post was about people with power trying to silence others because of the group they belong to I'd say your statement was pretty damn relevent.

You have said before that possession of a penis can make someone unworthy to listen to and that the only way to remedy this disability is to become a woman.

Here:

if it's possible we get more than one lifetime, will need to spend at least one of your coming ones as a low income woman before I will able to grant your opinions of us one tiny shred of credibility AT all.

Preferably two, in fact: one as a single mother, and another as a single woman with disabilities. And I'd also have you experience being a financially poor OLD woman who was a widowed single mother, who worked for 45 plus years, and then became disabled! Yeah. That oughta do it: then we could talk , and I'd really want to hear what you had to say. Because then you;d know what the hell you were talking about!


How would you react if someone told you that your opinions were worthless because you're not a man? Don't you see how sexist your feminist position is?

You know what, I really don't want a conversation between us hijacking Catnips excellent thread. If you care to continue it's xxxxxxxxxxx

I'd hate to have my maleness stinking up this nice thread pretending that poverty and powerlessness is always about being female. I'm sure you all know that women are worse off because unlike me you've all been both male and female, right? I must go and ask a homeless guy I know about how powerful he is. Oh that's right of course it only works one way doesn't it? Only men have to have experienced being women; women can make assumptions about mens lives all day long.

ms_xeno said...

Fascinating though it is to watch DB have these conversations with the imaginary people in his ever-inflating head (certainly the version of catnip in his head bears little resemblance to the actual in-person catnip or her arguments), I think I'll pass on further involvement. Think I'll go heat up a little Indian food and kick back with a cold beer and a disc of The Singing Detective.

If you need any ice cold drinks after running the treadmill with DB for another fortnight, scribe, you know where to find me. :)

scribe said...

1) I gave up treadmills: kept tripping over my walker. 2) Plus, for some #@!*#! reason it takes four to six attempts to get a damned comment posted here at all and 3)David, if you want further discussion with me, you've got an emial addy you can use.
Nite all!

catnip said...

scribe,
Maybe I can help you sort out the posting problem. Drop me a line.

canberra boy said...

catnip, I was sorry to read that you were attacked by a personal acquaintance along the lines that you outlined.

Your observation there's nothing I can see in these announcements that will have a directly positive impact on my daily life or standard of living. It's been that way every year for a long time now. I think too many of us are too often forgotten... struck a chord with me.

I think what you are describing is the general pattern in the anglophone 'liberal democracies' over the last few years. Here in Australia, we've seen multiple rounds of tightening up on eligibility criteria for most forms of social security ('welfare') benefits. At the same time, middle-class welfare in the form of income tax cuts, family tax benefits (for dependant kids or spouse), child care tax rebates etc etc extend benefits to those who are actually earning enough to pay significant taxes.

I can't offer a definitive explanation for this in other countries, but I'd venture to suggest that in the 'parliamentary democracies' (Britain, Canada, New Zealand in addition to Oztraylia) it is a combination of governments appealing to:
a) middle class voters in swinging electoral districts;
b)the prejudices of a population fed by junk TV 'current affairs' reporting of welfare 'rip-offs';
c) the prejudices of the media punditocracy/commentariat (which although somewhat liberal is nonetheless middle class and comfortable);
d)the interests of media proprietors, who are a strong subset of the ultra-wealthy ruling class which wants lower taxes and an underclass of desperate cheap labour.

This view has some (unsurprising) parallels with your observation that the only people who have the right to comment on government budgets are those in the business community, the middle class, CEOs, financial consultants, politicians and anyone who pays taxes. They are the acceptable spokespeople who have that right in this society. If you are poor and sick, somehow you forfeit that right and any comment coming from you constitutes whining and ingratitude, especially if you live on a social assistance program provided by the government (regardless of how pathetic the amount may be.).

I sometimes find that I cannot help myself when people talk about government programs in terms of whether measures/spending can be justified to 'taxpayers'. I always point out that it is the whole nation/community which owns the nation's budget. The majority of the population, and a very substantial proportion of voters, do not pay income tax. But it is their government and their budget just as much as anyone currently paying tax.

I almost forgot feminism. While there is almost no need to say this (for it will be self-evident to most readers), strong women, and women-centred women, are very important to this blog.

Most men who blog here accept an analysis that sees how women are disadvantaged and oppressed as a gender by the power structures of society, and as individuals in many personal relationships with men.

Lastly, thank you catnip for pointing to Alice Miller. Very interesting, and I will explore more.

DavidByron said...

cabana boy,
I'm sure you would prefer some "strong women" but women who spend their lives pretending they are victims of everything are not strong. Catnip is a professional complainer. A sort of philosophical panhandler with sexism thrown in everywhere. Constantly whining is not exactly my idea of strength.

This fantasy world that liberals inhabit where the most privileged people in the world have to be pandered to as if they were the real victims and people with both their legs blown off in Iraq or people starving to death in Mozambique were just pretenders --- it's a cancer on liberalism. Sure enough once they believe these absurdities the attrocities follow.

If you wanted to be a true friend to catnip you wouldn't enter into her sick fantasy world but remind her of how powerful a position she enjoys. On the contrary the poor girl has now decided that holism dictates that everything in the world must now be seen through the lense of her "victimhood". Garbage in, garbage out.
---------------------------------

Oh catnip? I have the same problems posting - if you come up with a solution. Do you need me to e-mail you too?

alohaleezy said...

Ok guys, how long will we put up with this troll? Ban the fucker so he can move on. God knows he won't do it on his own. He and MT would be great pals. Maybe they can insult each other or tell each other they should "die you fucking pig"and leave the rest of us alone.

Arcturus said...

Ban the fucker

yanno, personally, this is more offensive to me than any of DB's tripe I've wasted time to read - scroll on!

alohaleezy said...

Why?

DavidByron said...

I'm also surprised you'd say that.
Why not just go with the flow?

How did you feel about the girls who decided to delete my posts because they were allegedly "sexually harassing" them? or because they were allegedly "libelling" them?

ms_xeno said...

cabana boy >!?!?!

Saucy !! :p

scribe said...

testing

scribe said...

Powerlessness. Such a long, ever changing relationship I've had with that word, since I first heard it used in an AA meeting they dragged me to, when I was near death from alcoholism. What?! You want ME..to admit "I"M" powerless?! (Well! Fuck you and the horse you rode IN on!)

Took another few years and a lot more liver damage before I got it. By that time, there was NO more denying I was indeed powerless over the booze and pills and no way in hell could I give them up on my own. Had others not intervened, hard, and gotten me to to decent help and and had I not finally been able to ADMIT powerlessness over this thing , I'd not be here today at all, much less with 25 sober years under my belt.

So I know that the concept of powerlessness has a positive role in accepting things, which can lead to dealing with them, or findind some way to live in peace with what one cannot change.

I continue to run into things I am powerless over: getting old for example! Am injury that led to disability that took me out of my profession far before age would have,for another. The freakin weather! And other peoples behavior!

And people,society in general, DID change how they interacted with me, drastically, once a) I no longer had "professional status" b) I no longer had the nice big house and new car, good insurance, and all the other material "proof of sucess" needed to be seen as credible and worthwhile in this land of ours. It is a stunning, difficult adjustment to make. One day you are "one of them," and the next you are..yes...an "other."

YOU know you're the same person you were, but so many people act as if you'd lost 50 IQ points somewhere along the way and probably become deaf as well. You, so used to being respected and listened to, find your words dismissed, ignored, and discounted, and yourself being talked down to as if you knew NOTHING. It takes time to adjust to suddenly becoming "invisable" and more or less "voiceless", even as you are speaking.

It take courage. One hell of a lot of it too, to live in a world that regards you as an "other" of lesser worth, and NOT allow it to make you into a victim. You don't just need to grow a GOOD self image, you have to build one made out of tensile steel, in order to have a decent life. You have to learn a whole new way to walk in a word that can't/won't see you or hear you. You have to become a warrior, and accumulate a full set of shields and armor and protections,just to stay ok inside and to "rise above" this stuff.

Sometimes, you get weary, espcially when, on top of living in a world that seem to not only not value you, but seems to wish you'd go away, you also live with serious chronic pain and/or other health conditions people cannot "see for themselves". You get weary, and you have some damned bad days when shit piles up.

But you soon learn to be very very careful who you tell about these bad days, because you know there is likely to be someone eager to pass judgement on you, for acting like a "victim". For being "whiney." For not appreciating the fact we don't have it worse or for forgetting there are others lots worse off than we are.

You want a feeling or powerlessness, DB? Try explaining chronic illness to a healthy person. Try making abled bodied people who LOVE you even, understand that what is a short walk to them, is Mount Everest to you. Even when they love you, they still cannot understand the costs involved..or the pain involved..and you feel like crap because you can't do this stuff with them anymore..etc.

There are those that call this "whining" and you are among them, DB. So to you I say, I will stack my strength, my courage, my power, my love of life, my joyousness, and my productivity up against yours or anyone elses, any day of the freaking week and have a fair chance of winning the match.

And if you were to every be brave enough to call me a victim or a whiner to my face, I'd deck you. (ex psych nurse with a nice solid titanium knee)

I don't know what it was you thought I was mad at you about before, I couldn't think of what it could have been.

But I am damned mad at you now.

To wade into a thread like this one, DB flinging your judgements and negative labels around like grenades, is at best, the ultimate in insensitivity, and at worse, downright cruel.

You don't have to even read Catnips postings if you don't like her or or respect her. There is only one possible outcome for this choice of behavior, in response to a diary like this, and that is to cause pain to someone else. Is that the kind of person you are? Or want to be?

If so, then I do indeed wish you'd go away, David.

DavidByron said...

You're lucky I caught this post; don't usually go back to an old thread after the new one starts. That seems to be the way it works here.

In your comment above you are making up crap about me and then pretending that I am the one with shit in my hand. I didn't say anything that you accused me of in that diatribe. I don't know who you think I am but apparently you are happy to fill in the blanks with the nastiest stuff you can think of. Mad at me? You'd have to know me first.

I like Catnip just fine. She's the one that has said she hates me not the other way around. She's the one that doesn't respect me. She the one who endlessly insults and flames me.

I disagreed with her.
I'm allowed to do that.

The topic of physical pain didn't even arise. Catnip did not say whether she is in pain and I didn't ask about it or refer to it. She did quote someone else talking about it but that was a small part of a very wide ranging and long piece that was trying to pull a lot of stuff together. Far too much I think.

Do YOU think her main thesis was correct? That life is all about being a victim? All about people pissing all over other people from a basis of "power-over"?

You interpret me as going to the opposite extreme and saying that nobody can ever have a valid claim of being powerless. That's a strawman.

Generally I don't have much patience for folks who pretend they are angry because of someone else's supposed emotional hurt when that person hasn't given any indication of said trauma. Just sounds like one more excuse to beat on someone. Just one more excuse for censorship --- like the several times so far on this board I've been told I was "sexually harassing" someone - with nothing said by the supposed "victim".

However in this case after writing the comments above I did read on another blog catnip said she was feeling pretty lousy around the time she wrote this essay (ie nothing to do with me). Had I known that I would probably have defered commenting. But on the whole if someone goes to the trouble of putting that much effort into a piece I think they want some feedback on it.

Besides which I am also very interested in this topic and disapointed Catnip refuses to engage substantially.
---------------------------------

Are you still ok with me e-mailing you? I'd be interested in your observations of group dynamics, especially the comparisons you made between western groups and the native american (Mexican??) group you were in for a while.

You, so used to being respected and listened to, find your words dismissed, ignored, and discounted, and yourself being talked down to as if you knew NOTHING. It takes time to adjust to suddenly becoming "invisable" and more or less "voiceless", even as you are speaking.

That also sounds interesting.

I would really rather you posted something about it though.

Well sadly I seem to have fallen into your bad graces again. Nevertheless I stand by the commitment I made to you the other week when you seemed readier to give me the benefit of the doubt; namely I'll take your advice to heart on how to handle my posting here should you decide to offer criticism.

If so, then I do indeed wish you'd go away, David.

You need only ask.
But it's not so, no.

ms_xeno said...

Go, scribe ! 8)

Have a nascent chronic illness myself, and a partner who has battled bouts of depression. So I think I see where you're coming from.

DavidByron said...

Well who doesn't have such a story Ms Xeno? Isn't that what Catnip was complaining about when she said,

And, even if we did have those things to show them, they seem to always come up with a story - either theirs (which is not similar) or someone else's

Your saying that you are ill too is seen as an attack by Catnip as if you are minimizing her condition by saying "your condition is not special and nothing to comaplain about".

Naturally you just saw your comment as empathising.

This is part of the problem I have with the whole culture of victimhood.
----------------------------------

By the way -- has anyone else actually started reading that book she recommended? I've got through about 1/5th of it and I'm not sure if I should bother to continue but I did see Catnip was still flogging it at MLW so she must see something in it and therefore want the rest of us to look at it. It looks like 2 of the latter chapters might be better (one on the part of traum in the dynamic of progressive movements and one on the part it plays in politics).

scribe said...

Yes, you can still email me.

You ask: "Do YOU think her main thesis was correct? That life is all about being a victim? All about people pissing all over other people from a basis of "power-over"?"

It depends on where one is placed on the power pyramid, David. Perspective depends on ones placement on all of the power pyramids that make up how America organizes itself at ever single level of operation. The only people who seem unable to acknowledge that this is indeed how we sort people out in this society, are (naturally!) the ones at the top!

People are placed according to how well they do at "suceeding " according to the mainstream definitions of success, and the prevailing "values" such as wealth, status, youth, fitness, advanced education levels, nice homes and cars and clothes, etc. If you do not or cannot compete well acquire and KEEP, enough of these material things, you will quickly slide down the sides of these pyramids, and eventually end up at the bottom of them, where I live now, after having spent the first two thirds of my life clawing my way up as far as I could get, like every else around me!

Because I happened to be BORN onto the lower half of the pyramid. Female, born to blue collar folks in a 1940 world that was rabidly sexist, and totally run by religious fundamentalist dictators. Rent the original "Stepford Wives" David, for a birds eye view of from when I came. And how I spent most of the first 45 years of my life: taking care of others like good women do, you know. My own dreams for my life were dead in the water before I hit my teen years, and I spent the next 30 years "in service" to others as the "good wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, and faithful Christian woman I was taught to be, by the white men who ran the church and the world I was born into.

Does that make me a "victim"? I know I sure felt like one for many years, (but of the rageful variety, rather than the "defeated kind".) I only know that whatever word one wishes to use to describe a life like that, I don't wish to ever repeat it.

So yes, I do agree that this reality exists, for women, for minorities, for the poor, the chronically ill and disabled, and the elderly in America for everyone who lives lower down the pyramid of "sucess" as defined in todays terms. It is a fact of life in this country for countless millions of Americans, that many try to deny and dismiss via labeling it"victimhood."

Yet from my extensive hands on exeprience among the "lesser Americans", both in my personal life and 45 years of professional life, I have seen that the percentage among us who truly do "embrace their victimhood" and won't let it go, are most definitely a minority. It is the observation of this minority of us, that the "haves" choose to use to paint us all with the same ugly colors.

You don't know about the rest of us because we are not that visible anymore, remember? We were discarded, and our credibility withdrawn, once we weren't productive or materially acceptable enough to fit the mainsteam values.

And we are very busy people too, embracing and enjoying a whole different set of values that those of mainstream America. The intangible kind you can't invest on the stock market. We build wherever we land in a bunch, collaborative, effective "families" or "communities" based on strong relationships that allow us to watch over and care for each other: to share resources freely, as we know out own turn may come to need them. Here, we know we will find ourselves valued and accepted for who we are, and how we are, not what we "have" of how much we can "do" or "accumulate" to prove out "worth". We don't have to prove it here: it is assummed.

This is why, when I landed in the community of poor urban Native Americans I felt I had finally come "home" because these have ALWAYS been the core values inside of me. And because by then, my own white culture had completed rejected me as a lost cause: a hopeless drunk, and had turned away. They didn't.

The time I spent in the Mexican American Culture a few years back had be reduced to tears within a week. I literally couldn't handle the culture shock of being treated the way they treat the elderly and disabled; with such incredible kindness and HONOR, as if we were elevated beings on some sort. I had never ever experienced this in this upper midwest white world, where I was nearly invisible on good days, and an irritant in busy people's way the rest of the time.

I may be white, but not for one minute since I was born, have I every really "fit" into the white culture and the societal power structures of this country, altho I about killed myself trying to.

The style of communication you use, David, that you were apparently taught along your way, is the same style of judgemental, dismissive, condescending communication I have always received from the men who shaped the first 50 years of my life. In my earlier years, I would not have been able to tolerate you for one second, without giving into the urge to try my best to verbally castrate you! Yes, the rage gets that big when held in for lifetimes.

Yes I understand where Catnip was coming from. And yes I got mad at what seemed to me to be yet one more man presuming the right to dismiss and demean the words of another woman I know to be a "victor", not a "victim". Once again that old voice rises up and says HOW DARE YOU?! You will continue to get that reaction from women, as long as you continue to use the style of communication you choose to use now. It is a given.

If this is what you want, to have fights with women, then you have it down pat. But if you truly want honest dialogue with women, you will need to change it, David.
See the need to, first, then want to, second, then decide to, third.

So now over to you. What DO you want in terms of your posting in places like this, where you know in advance what kind of reaction your current communication style engenders, apparently everywhere you go, from what I read here!

So I ask you directly, David, without presuming I know. What ARE you here for? In your heart, I mean. Are people right in seeing you as some kind of misogynist troll who gets off of creating havoc everywhere you can? Deliberately trying to get yourself banned for some reason or another?

Tell me who you really are, David, if you really want me to know who you are.

DavidByron said...

I can't respond to this now because of the stuff going down at Marisacat's place. It's getting very ugly indeed and IMO the cancer at the heart of all this is feminism and the fake victim-me man-hating exceptionalism (in the same sense as in the phrase "American exceptionalism") of the feminist view.

I am not accusing you of anything but I do know that a discussion of this topic is very difficult at the best of times because it causes suspicions and hostility --- and this isn't the best of times.

Also although on the general question of communication and community I do respect your view, on the question of feminism specifically as you know we disagree a lot and I think your opinion of my communications on this topic suffers from the beam in your own eye.

However, if you did not intend to frame your question within the context of feminism then I could answer it.

Arminius said...

I haven't read the entire thread yet, after almost having a stroke over Byron's asshole comments at the top. He should be banned.

But I just want to express deep warm feelings of gratitude and solidarity toward catnip. I vaguely remember that she and I have exchanged sharp words on the nets in the past, with me having no idea of her circumstances. I'm sorry for that.

I don't want to get into my own personal and family story here, but let me just say I deal with the same issues, and I truly understand.

Arminius said...

scribe, I hope you won't mind if I comment that I very greatly appreciated your comment above (10:35 on 3/23, last night).

I first joined AA almost 30 years ago and was sober for most of that time. I'm not in a deep relapse, and I seem to have lost the key. Not asking for help. Just hoping to beam a little spot of love in your direction.

scribe said...

Thanks arminius, can't have too much of that love stuff floating around..:) Beaming a bit back atcha too. I got my start in AA, but found it necessary to move on to more secular type supports, in time. Kept losing my key too, (I thought)but turns out I just misplaced it. :) Write anytime.

scribe said...

About beams lodged in ones own eye, David: thats one of the aspects of aging I've found incredibly freeing: being finally ready to DO more of that, in my own life. Amazing all the splinters I found floating around in mine, in so many areas, including my concepts of feminism, racism, all sorts of "isms" that get so imbedded we can't see they are even there. Self awareness is a never ending, quite fascinating journey.

catnip said...

But I just want to express deep warm feelings of gratitude and solidarity toward catnip. I vaguely remember that she and I have exchanged sharp words on the nets in the past, with me having no idea of her circumstances. I'm sorry for that.

Thank you.

DavidByron said...

scribe,
that get so imbedded we can't see they are even there

Right. Although I think the way Jesus explained it is too accusatory. It makes it sound as if it's your fault if you have something in your eye. In reality the way the human brain is made up it functions better with a more black and white system of belief. It actually makes more sense in the long run to believe things a little more than the evidence would warrant much of the time.

However if you want to get at the truth this system of over-confidence and the tendency to apply new knowledge always in terms of the existing patterns so as to enhance old thoughts instead of challenge them is a serious problem.

While there are things you can do to try and keep an "open mind" (all that lateral thinking stuff by de Bono for example), the best approach appears to be to keep the single human brain on the natural (and usually more efficient) over-confident approach (I don't know if you could change human nature even if you wanted too) and compensate by surrounding yourself with alternative opinions held by other people, capable of articulating their view.

Whereas an individual finds it hard by nature (and inefficient) to contantly consider and re-consider all sorts of opinions, collectively that becomes a lot easier.

Jesus says you must remove the beam in your own eye first but that's not a good plan because it's too hard. He's wrong here (although he is one of my favourite philosophers) You need to get someone else to help you do it because as you said, by definition almost, you are not aware of your own "blind spots".

Unfortunately the way the blogs operate to create narrowly focused groups of people who agree with each other generally and specifically are often constrained to pretend to agree with each other even more.... this sort of collective truth finding mechanism is largley shut down.

Therefore we say that "free speech" is a virtue, not because of the rights of the speaker to have their say, but because of the rights of the listener to hear alternative perspectives.

thats one of the aspects of aging I've found incredibly freeing: being finally ready to DO more of that, in my own life. Amazing all the splinters I found floating around in mine, in so many areas

Well that sounds a bit odd because I wouldn't predict that aging would help. Unless there's a more proximate cause such as (1) after you retired you got a chance to talk to different sorts of people you hadn't before or (2) after you left the group or culture you'd been deeply atuned to earlier in life you no longer had the need to censor opinions that were not characteristic of that group.

I think the fact that I am almost universally hated around the blogosphere gives me an opportunity because I can't get into a position of feeling I have to defend any particular group's values.
------------------------------------

In bringing it back to feminism I would say that feminists as a group tightly control what view points are acceptable for them to hear, and for others to hear by labeling any dissent as "misogynist". This is also an effective attack. It's the same as Zionists calling people "anti-semite". It's usually for one or both of those two reasons I get banned everywhere.

If I am correct then it will be impossible for anyone here to point at what I say and show why I must be a misogynist. I earn that label merely for my dissent. The term "misogynist" is feminist for "outsider".

scribe said...

David writes: Well that sounds a bit odd because I wouldn't predict that aging would help. Unless there's a more proximate cause such as (1) after you retired you got a chance to talk to different sorts of people you hadn't before or (2) after you left the group or culture you'd been deeply atuned to earlier in life you no longer had the need to censor opinions that were not characteristic of that group. (end.)

Neither are so. In order for me to not croak from end stage alcoholism, I had to stop running and face myself. Head on. Dive into my own inner cesspools. Clean them out. Dump all the sewage others had dumped in there when I was too young to stop them and the stuff I'd added and dumped in there myself along my way. This is how I got to where I am now. Aging, time to ponder and think.. has somehow broadened my ability to see past so much I thought I "knew for sure" before, and almost all the way past the limitations of the kind of black and white, either, or patterns of thought. "What if THIS isn't really so?" is a favorite question I play with a lot. Or..what else could there be to this I have yet to see?" It's like taking blinders off I didn't know I was wearing..and seeing so many layers to things that were really always there, but since I could only see surfaces, who knew?
My mind feels like it has been set free after a life sentence in a cell where everything was black or white, and my duty was to judge everything and every one according to those dual standards. Now it gets to discover all the shades of color that truly exist. Which meant I am ever changing with each new thing I discover, about me, about others, about the world I live in. Nothing is static anymore. Everything is about seeing more colors, more layers, not wanting to miss any if I can help it.

Maryscott OConnor said...

Catnip,

This is some of your best work ever.

As you may know, you and I are in the same boat, physically. I, too, receive disability income, but am lucky enough to have a husband whose employment suffices to support me, our son and himself in relative comfort. So I cannot imagine that added pain of financial hardship, and for that I am truly sympathetic toward you.

You really did a terrific job of conveying the infuriating helplessness -- powerlessness -- of living with chronic pain. And how so few people truly can understand what it's like. Even my husband, patient and loving though he is, is basically clueless when it comes to this. Unless I am willing to constantly WHINE about it, give him hourly updates as to my pain scale status, he FORGETS.

Honestly, it's maddening -- after 7 years of this, you'd think he would have SOME idea of what I live with, day in and day out; especially given the copious quantities of opiates and muscle relaxers and trigger point injections and emergency room visits and MRIs and X-rays and new doctors and new referrals...

Anyway. Despite our current animosity, I wanted to drop the armour for a moment and let you know how much I appreciated this post.

Maryscott OConnor said...

And DB,

Dude. You picked the WRONG topic to pick on Catnip about, man.

You don't GET it. You simply do not GET it. And your callousness in response to her poignant relating of what it is like to live in constant, intense pain AND constant financial fear -- it's mindboggling that someone could be that cold, man.

DavidByron said...

Maryscott you don't know my circumstances do you? I would think that alone would give you pause but I guess like so many it doesn't.

You really did a terrific job of conveying the infuriating helplessness -- powerlessness -- of living with chronic pain.

In fact catnip didn't even mention pain as an issue (she only quoted someone else doing so -- I have already had to point this out once before in this thread). You read exactly what you wanted to into this piece. No wonder you agreed with what it "said". Now if you stop to read the words then there's a lot of problems with what catnip said.

Problems she isn't prepared to defend. To my mind if you aren't prepared to defend your words then that's a strike against them.