The Male Gaze

Of course the Male Gaze (please give a few bucks to wikipedia–you know you use it) has been written about so very much. Google it, you’ll see.

the male gaze

Alas, the Male Gaze is as ubiquitous as rain in the northwest. So common that it’s easy to be desensitized to it. Is the male gaze getting some badly needed editing? Hope so.

The Male Gaze is about ownership, ownership expressed in objectification. I never really understood it quite so clearly as I understand it now.

The other night I was out with a friend, a guy I admire and like a lot and with whom I spar easily. He says to me, “You know I work out with a young woman, I like her a lot, but she wears a hoodie sort of like the one you’re wearing the whole time she’s working out.”

He pauses and takes a bite of pizza. Chewing he says, “I mean, it always seems like she’s hiding something. She’s got this bulky hoodie on and what is she hiding? She’s got a pretty nice body, after all.”

I was speechless. Not shocked or insulted or any of that, just…well, where to begin?

His whole perspective was about how her body was something for him to enjoy. That her workout wasn’t her workout, it was his in a way. That her body, her body! wasn’t even hers, it was somehow there to please him, to bring him pleasure.

Bless his heart, I love Larry. I do. We had a session, of course, but he checked his texts a couple of times while I suggested that possibly she felt better in a hoodie because of guys like him, and I could practically see the whole thing whizzing past him. Next time he went to the gym, I’m certain he would be less than pleased if she wore what she wanted, what she felt comfortable in.

After all, she’s got a pretty nice body.

PS: Keating’s mother in How to Get Away with Murder, brilliantly show-stoppingly good acting by Cicely Tyson, sums it up nicely,  “Men were put on this planet to take things. They take your money, they take your land, they take a woman, and any other thing they can put their grabby hands on.” Or their gaze.

Great vid from Huff post

I’m in a cafe downtown, a guy passes by and I think: Why don’t you smile more often, you’re so pretty when you smile.

You might also like: 80 Years of Subtle Sexism. Things guys never hear… so good.

I feel pretty
Oh so pretty
I feel pretty and witty and gay
And I pity
Any girl who isn’t me today
I feel charming
Oh so charming
It’s alarming how charming I feel

 

 

 

 

Seriously?

Long time no see. It’s not as if there’s nothing to write about. The completely not surprising news about the environment is that climate change is happening faster than most predicted, while evolution among republicans in our country is slower, much slower than anyone could have imagined. In fact, they seem to be going backwards. Still, I ride my bike whenever and wherever possible, still avoid my car if possible (still have the same car.), still garden and raise bees without pasticides, still like rock n’ roll turned up loud and danceable.

Anyway, I’m mulling a new year-long series. It’s called “Now that I’m invisible,” and would maybe chronicle the many, many benefits of being an older woman in our culture. And there are. Benefits, I mean.

Boomers aren’t exactly invisible. They never haven been and aren’t starting now, so I’m not suggesting that as a Boomer, I’m invisible, alas. I will likely draw my last breath being excrutiatingly aware that I’m part of a demographic without which there would have been no summer of love or Beatles or even Sally, the most excellent daughter of Don Draper. But mine is also a demographic that is loud, demanding, usually pissed off, self-absorbed and huge.

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Sally Draper, just getting started.

What most  people are unconscious about is that there are a billion ways in which women in the world across all generations are never invisible. They are instead objects to be controlled or even owned. Walking down the street, eating a meal, just minding their own business? Not invisible. Not possible. But for a while now, I’ve been feeling a certain Je ne sais pas…lightness? Freedom?  Something along those lines. I can pass…I’m an older woman, inconsequential and therefore…invisible. And dude?  I like it.

This is weird, right?

So, I may do this. It would be a way to chronicle this issue, from way back and everything engrained in me to this new freedom and how it manifests. It’s a curious subject. Curiouser and curiouser.

 

 

Embodied perception: sounds complex but…

I’m reading The Glass Cage by Nicholas Carr and really: if you deal with technology (and by deal with it, I mean use it, and so I’m talking about all of us) you need to read this book.

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For some time I’ve been weaning myself from a wee case of internet addiction. What can I say, I earned my livelihood being online since 1997, so it’s not too surprising it had an effect on me. From where I stand now, the effect of that near 20 year interaction is startling. My real creativity waned (I was an artist and writer at one time), my interactions with the world became goal-oriented, and my happiness took at hit. I was vaguely aware this was happening, but mostly I was charmed and amazed by each new clever shiny thing being offered up by technology, even as I was daily driven more by what a given program or device could do than I was by experiencing the process.

And here’s a true story from way back at the dawn of time when I worked at a now ubiquitous internet company. In those days, we slaved. Day and night, the company, the idea, the technology consumed us, captivated us. After a few dog years, some of us started to leave, as I did later. What I noticed was this: almost all the people were drawn to new professions, interests, occupations that involved the body. It was uncanny. Yoga, massage, environmental work, cycling, carpentry, art, you name it–they wanted somehow to use their bodies, their senses. Striking.

Fast forward to The Glass Cage and I finally understand what was happening thanks to one of the many ideas Carr is working with: embodied perception. We perceive the world around us with so many of our senses, sense we often don’t know are happily toiling away doing what they are meant to do. Many of these senses involve the physical experience and cognition of our environment. And automation has a tendency–by making things simple, easy and quick–to impede that vast cognition.

E. J. Meade, the Colorado architect, said something revealing when I talked to him about his firm’s adoption of computer-aided design systems. The hard part wasn’t learning how to use the software. That was pretty easy. What was tough was learning how not to use it. The speed, ease, and sheer novelty of CAD made it enticing. The first instinct of the firm’s designers was to plop themselves down at their computers at the start of a project. But when they took a good hard look at their work, they realized that the software was a hindrance to creativity. It was closing off aesthetic and functional possibilities  even as it was quickening the pace of production. As Meade and his colleagues thought more critically about the effects of automation, they began to resist the technology’s temptations. They found themselves “bringing the computer in later and later in the course of  a project….For the unwary and the uncritical, it can overwhelm other, more important considerations.

The book is full of studies and stories that clarify the instinct of my co-workers when they left the machine we were building, and no doubt most if not all of them use technology in their lives in a big way, just as I do. Carr’s questions, however, are valid. Are technology and automation tools that encourage us to go deeper, live more fully, or have we imbued them with more than they deserve, a creative, intelligent function they do not have…and have we outsourced those functions because we tilt towards fast and easy, even as we sense an urge towards an embodied experience of the world?

I’m happy to say that as devices and their functions have been somewhat demoted in my daily life, the process, rhythm, taste and feel of life itself have taken precedence. I still struggle with time-and-attention devouring devices, but since they have their place, let the struggle continue. Keeps me on my toes.

52 WoLP: #49-52, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Everbody

Early this pre-sunrise Christmas morning, we headed out into the park for a super quiet, super peaceful walk. We’d planned on parking ourselves at the top of the rise overlooking the Salish, watching the slow holiday ferries glide across the water, listening for the first birds, waiting for the chill winter sun to make a showing.

Instead, I got a hankering for a particular grove of sequoias that reach up so high they look endless. Lean yourself right up against one sometime and look up–squirrel’s eye view, you might say–and you’ll see what I mean. The trunk goes straight up into the sky, branches like a thousand spokes radiating out. It’s breathtaking, awe inspiring.

The sun came up slowly, fog hanging low, apricot puffs of clouds overhead and the whole hood just as quiet as could be. We’re so lucky to live in such a beautiful place. May we treasure it, care for it, and protect it for all who seek its tranquility and beauty. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everybody!

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52 WoLP has been a year long meditation and love letter to Lincoln Park here in wonderful West Seattle. Xoxo

52 WoLP #48: thoughts on nature in our parks by Denise Dahn

Denise Dahn artist, writer, and voice for urban nature has written an excellent and well-trafficked opinion piece in the Seattle TimesThe urban wild needs protection in Seattle parks. In it, she wisely suggests it’s time for the city to step and take a stand:

Seattle City Council should create an urban wild ordinance to permanently fund and protect natural areas in Seattle parks. The areas should be managed specifically for ecological processes — wildlife habitat, soils, water — but also to preserve an essential experience for people: the magic of the urban wild.

Anyone who has taken a walk through our forested parks knows why Dahn would suggest this: encroaching noise, off leash dogs, mountain bikes tearing up the trails. But what you may not know is this:

…most of us know that meaningful contact with nature tends to be slow, quiet and reflective. It’s easier on the nature, too. A Parks Legacy Plan survey found most people, 78 percent, use parks for simple walking….

Those of is who love our parks as a refuge know this is true, and that a simple 15 minute walk in nature can restore and revive a soul like nothing else. The vast majority of park lovers out there who do not know what they have, and will not know until they lose it, also need to step up and become aware of what’s at risk. Losing urban nature such as we have in Lincoln, Schmitz and many other seattle parks, would be a major impact on the character and legacy of Seattle itself.

One of the most significant and costly threats to park nature is recreational development. Dahn sites an interesting comparison:

We also pay heavily for recreational interests. Developed parkland is much more expensive to maintain than natural areas. Unlike Portland, where 70 percent of total parkland is left natural, Seattle is just the opposite: Eighty-six percent of our parkland is developed or landscaped. Only 14 percent is natural.

It’s a great essay, do check it out here

52 Weeks of Lincoln Park is a year-long homage to my lovely neighbor and friend LP. Xoxo

52 WoLP #46-47: things happen in nature

An amazing poem about another Park or maybe all parks everywhere, and all of us who visit them.

In the Park
By Maxime Kumin

You have forty-nine days between
death and rebirth if you’re a Buddhist.
Even the smallest soul could swim
the English Channel in that time
or climb, like a ten-month-old child,
every step of the Washington Monument
to travel across, up, down, over or through
–you won’t know till you get there which to do.

He laid on me for a few seconds
said Roscoe Black, who lived to tell
about his skirmish with a grizzly bear
in Glacier Park. He laid on me not doing anything. I could feel his heart
beating against my heart.
Never mind lie and lay, the whole world
confuses them. For Roscoe Black you might say
all forty-nine days flew by.

I was raised on the Old Testament.
In it God talks to Moses, Noah,
Samuel, and they answer.
People confer with angels. Certain
animals converse with humans.
It’s a simple world, full of crossovers.
Heaven’s an airy Somewhere, and God
has a nasty temper when provoked,
but if there is a Hell, little is made of it.
No longtailed Devil, no eternal fire,

and no choosing what to come back as.
When the grizzly bear appears, he lies/lays down
on atheist and zealot. In the pitch-dark
each of us waits for him in Glacier Park.

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52 WoLP is a year long witness of the lovely Lincoln Park in West Seattle. enjoy!

52 WoLP #44-45: early morning quiet

Recently I’ve had a few chances to head out for the park with in the early early morning with a thermos of sweet tea, bundled in a coat to watch and listen as the new day begins. I wait for the first birds, the soft light of sunrise spreading across the water, the sound of the tide coming in..it’s a gorgeous way to start the day.

A quote for your enjoyment:

“To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.”
― Terry Tempest Williams

52 Weeks of Lincoln Park (52 WoLP) is a year long visit with a beautiful place. Enjoy!

52 WoLP #39-43: to be among trees

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When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,
epecially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “it’s simple,” they say,
“And you have come into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

From The Thirst by Mary Oliver

52 WoLP #36-38: like catching up with an old friend

I’ll keep this brief, cuz summer isn’t over…yet. The Autumnal Equinox officially happens at 1:44 pm, September 22nd, and that marks the end, officially. I have a feeling we will be having many more glorious days before the sun slips too far to the south, and mega-doses of Vitamin are once again called for.

Until then, I am once again being drawn to Lincoln Park for morning runs and late afternoon strolls. And it’s like catching up with and old friend–the mornings are quiet and a little chillier, the paths are empty of playing and picnicking hordes, there are only a dozen fisher-peeps out at the point, the beautiful Colman Pool is shuttered for the season. As I run along the waterfront, there’s a palpable ease in quiet of the park.

One thing I’ve enjoyed a lot this summer is the big rock on the north side of the point, the one that has the stick sculpture on it. Now it has a bit of graffiti, but that doesn’t impact its message one whit–nor has the occasional dismantling or removal. It keeps coming back, again and again, and it seems like the enduring message of the park itself:

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52 WoLP is the chronicle of a year long love affair with Lincoln Park in West Seattle. Enjoy!

52 WoLP: #33-35: hot town, summer in the city….

A long time ago, eons it seems, I started blogging. It was great, the whole brave new world of Web 2.0 (sounds so antiquated now) was exciting. A little later I started playing around with Flickr, then Facebook, then twitter, then tumblr, then….well, then I started feeling a teensy bit addicted to the constant connection.

What has that got to do with Lincoln Park in West Seattle, you might wonder….good question. In the past couple of years, I’ve tried to stay offline for longer chunks of time now and again. Usually when I find myself mindlessly posting and surfing.

I’m feeling a little bit encouraged that others might be going offline when I see how traffic has dropped on all the usual haunts. This has happened every summer for the last few years, and this year seems to be a banner year for disconnecting. Don’t get me wrong, I still think the Internet machine is cool; I just also think summer is pretty hot, as in awesome,and we should all go where the energy is.

So….I don’t have a lot to say about Lincoln Park because I’m actually out playing in Lincoln Park…and various other parks, campgrounds, lakes, beaches, hiking trails, etc etc. And I pointedly have avoided posting, tweeting, uploading, commenting, or sharing online about most of it.

The fact is we are having the best summer in anyone’s memory up here in Seattle, and I as well as everyone I know can’t get enough of it. So much goodness, I’m starting to feel a little tuckered out by it all, but that won’t stop me from going full throttle till the rains come.

So my project, 52 Weeks of Lincoln Park, has taken a wee hit this summer, but it’s all good, it’s for the best possible reasons: summer this year is drop dead gorgeous.

I’ll close with a few things I’ve noticed and loved in the park the past couple of weeks: how the setting sun hits the coppery bark of the madrones; how everyone and their brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, seals, osprey, and eagles are out at the point fishing; how the leaves fall on the surface of the Colman pool as you swim down the lane, letting you know in the most poetic way what time of year it is; how the trails are dusty like they get after a season of hard play and warm temps.

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So, till the rains start, you’ll find me outside loving every last minute of this fabulous summer.

Enjoy!

WoLP #30-32: everywhere but here

So, the summer schedule continues in high gear, and I feel as though I’ve been everywhere but here–not complaining, it’s been a most lovely summer, but I do miss my Lincoln Park.

This past weekend they had runs and events that either started or finished in the park, leading me to wonder if last year’s genius idea of spray painting arrows and such on trees would be repeated this year. I’m so so so happy to report: as far as I can see after one walk through, it has not.

In fact, a run along the waterfront was bolstered with lots of arrows and encouraging words in CHALK on the asphalt–well done! That’ll wash off easily, no harm, and lots of enthusiasm shared.

A few new permanent signs in the park include arrows and the universal swim-unit giving info on how to get to the Colman pool, easy path, harder path. I had mixed feelings about them cuz I sorta like the pool’s uneasy access, but hey, people do get lost looking for it now and then.

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It was a lovely walk through the park, we are so lucky to live near such a beautiful place–the madrones, the huge maples and towering pines and cedars, gorgeous sunsets and salt scented air.

52 Weeks of Lincoln Park is a year long romance with the Gem of West Seattle. PS, I think I have the weeks off and we’re actually at week 32 or 33 but hey, what’s a week or two amongst good friends. Enjoy!

52 WoLP #28-29: from a different perspective

Alrighty then: the past two weeks I haven’t been in LP at all. Maybe a sunset walk or two, but that’s it. Instead, I’ve been in the University hood, mainly Magnuson Park, and second to that, Ravenna Park.. And I gotta tell ya, those are some awesomely awesome parks. Seattlites are so lucky to have some great parks to choose from.

A notable thing in Magnuson Park was the interest in and support of migratory and resident bird populations, right alongside all your standard recreation facilities. I wish, oh how I wish, seattle Parks would share some of that love with Lincoln Park.

One example was so easy, I imagine citizen birders could do this themselves: a simple sign at the edge of a field with clusters of branches forming a visual barrier, letting people (especially those with dogs) know that even though this field looks empty, there is nesting going on in the spring. Will it stop all four and two legged onslaughts? Probably not, but it will inform a percentage that might not otherwise know…

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The next cool thing I came across was an impressive interpretative installation telling about the resident and migratory birds of Magnuson –well done and interesting. I’d love love love! To see something like that in LP.

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I so enjoyed these parks, Ravenna with its most excellent system of trails, and Magnuson with its mix of recreational and environmentally minded activities and installations. Lucky us, and one of these days, maybe we’ll have something similar in Lincoln Park–we’ve got excellent trails and lots of recreational options. Maybe it’s time for the birds?

52 WoLP is the chronicle of a year long love affair with Lincoln Park in West Seattle. Enjoy!

52 WoLP #27: it’s that time again

Oh dear, it happened again. The week totally got away from me…here goes, better late than never.

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It’s that time of year when large herds of running youth thunder through the park, in some semblance cross-country tracks. As a runner myself, I’ve been impacted by a certain assumption that everyone and everything will make way for the herd, but that’s a temporary annoyance.

What’s not temporary, and what just showed up last year in all its garish and unlovely splendor, is spray painted signage. You’ve seen it: the neon orange and yellow arrows sprayed directly on trees, the exposed roots of trees sprayed with cautionary intent (begs the very question of cross-country, but hey).

It’s ugly, thoughtless, and lasts a long time. I’m pretty sure the people who do it aren’t even conscious of what they’re doing, so I suggesting if you see this happening, you go ahead and suggest to them that they spray paint a piece of paper and tack that to the tree. And then remove it after the event.

Easy peasy. We can help keep this stuff off our beautiful trees. After all, friends don’t let friends use neon spray paint in the park. Or anywhere else, IMO, but that another issue.

Thanks and see you out there!
52 WoLP is a years long jaunt through the loveliest of lovely parks here in lovely West Seattle!

52 WoLP #26: a Green Partnership

Well, glory be! another week totally got away from me. Such is life in the summer when being online gets demoted in favor of a zillion outdoor things.
Still, something came across the reader-board this week, before the bombs-bursting-in-air re-enactment took place in Lincoln Park and elsewhere: Green Seattle Partnership.

What they do is interesting, and involves a lot of our urban population that might not otherwise have an opportunity to interact with or basically give a second thought to our urban forests, such as Lincoln Park. Part of their purpose goes like this:

Now many of those big trees are nearing the end of their natural life, and the ivy – like a disease taking advantage of a frail, elderly individual – may speed the decline. The ivy is an invasive plant and over time it will kill the tree. It robs the tree of nutrients and creates the “sail” effect – high winds in the winter months can be caught by the ivy, helping to pull the tree over.

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To accomplish this humongous task, Green Seattle counts on lots of our help. Alas, sometimes that help is a little clumsier than nesting birds and other creatures might want, but the end goal of replacing an aging canopy with new life is pretty awesome. In LP, they’ve planted what could amount to a new generation of someday-mighty-trees. Involving our very urban population in the endeavor has many benefits down the road. All in all, Green Seattle is something to crow about.

52 WoLP is a year long contemplation of one of the loveliest city parks in the world, Lincoln Park in beautiful West Seattle.