Last weekend, my sister and I went to the Orchid Show at the NC Arboretum. As those of you have been following me for the last several years probably remember, I am a big fan of Orchids! I went to the Orchid Show at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens every year. I thought it was the most wonderful show I’d ever seen!
I was wrong. The NC Orchid Show was the most amazing flower show of any kind I have ever been to ! It was 2 or 3 times the size of the Cleveland show, with exhibitors from as far away as Ecuador, and local and regional growers and exhibitors.
We had not intended to purchase orchids, but could not resist the offerings of Peach State Orchids and came home with two gorgeous specimens.
I hope you enjoy the photos!
(all photographs by Barbara Mattio, Copyright 2017)
A recent Washington Post profile of Second Lady Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Mike Pence, uncovered an interesting detail about their extremely close relationship. Pence reportedly told The Hill in 2002 that “he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side.”
This tidbit caused a small uproar on Twitter, with some praising Pence for respecting his wife and his marriage…
…and others pointing out that, perhaps there are reasons outside of a sexually or emotionally untoward encounter to go out to dinner with someone. Maybe you have a friend who isn’t the same gender as you! Or maybe you work with people of different genders, and you sometimes attend professional dinners with them!
The way Mike Pence and his wife mutually define a respectful marriage is up to them. But there are two reasons that this revelation about the Pences’ relationship set off such a firestorm online. First, the religious guidelines that govern what “respect” means to the Pences are part of a system that works to prop up male power and keep women subordinate. And second, VP Pence is not just a man with a wife, he’s the second most powerful person governing the nation ― which means that the way he views women in his personal life could have bearing on the way he sees American women writ large.
The most famous provision of the manifesto called for each man on the Graham team never to be alone with a woman other than his wife. Graham, from that day forward, pledged not to eat, travel, or meet with a woman other than Ruth unless other people were present. This pledge guaranteed Graham’s sexual probity and enabled him to dodge accusations that have waylaid evangelists before and since.
The provision, which came to be known as The Billy Graham Rule, allowed Graham to use his dashing looks to his advantage without cultivating an over-sexualized persona that other evangelicals might not have taken kindly to. (There are some Muslims who adhere to a similar only-dine-with-wives-and-relatives guideline, though one can assume such a disclosure would not elicit such a strong defense from the right.)
This history makes it all-the-more clear that this do-not-dine-with-women rule is predicated on the idea that the company of women is always first and foremost about sex.
There is nothing disrespectful about a committed person having a meal with a friend or colleague who is not the same gender as they are ― unless one is to assume that any interaction not under the watchful eye of a spouse would inevitably lead to infidelity. In this worldview, men have no self-control, and women are either temptresses or guardians of virtue.
The underpinnings of this belief system are what allow men to view women as “other” rather than equal. They allow some to rationalize that female victims of sexual violence “asked for it” because they wore “provocative” clothing, and others (including our president) to believe that assault is a natural outcome of putting men and women together in a high-pressure environment like the military. These belief systems are what create male-dominated work environments where women are viewed as sexualized distractions or cut out of the office culture altogether.
Is the Vice President of the United States able to see any woman as his contemporary, rather than a potential threat to his marriage?
The ability to refuse to be alone with someone who is not the same gender as you and still climb the professional ladder is a privilege that is simply not afforded to women. Imagine if Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris or Nancy Pelosi refused to attend political functions where alcohol was served without their husbands in tow to supervise them. Imagine if they never took one-on-one meetings with potential campaign managers or fellow lawmakers who happened to be men. These women’s careers would have been over before they started.
To be a successful woman in an industry where men still make up the majority of power brokers means working with men. It means fighting for a spot at the table, and accepting that, sometimes, you may be the only woman there.
Can he have a professional lunch with Kellyanne Conway or Nikki Haley or Ivanka Trump without viewing it as a marital betrayal? Is he open to hiring women into positions of power on his staff ― specifically positions that require consistent contact? Is the Vice President of the United States able to see any woman as his contemporary, rather than a potential threat to his marriage?
I don’t doubt that Pence has a deep regard for his wife. What is worrisome is the idea that the principles that govern his marriage could be used to govern the country.
Let’s say PC no longer means political correctness–it’s Powerful Consideration. Proactive Compassion. Cuz that’s what we’re all trying for.
But to the likely surprise of the actress’ politically correct fans, Dunham has previously advocated standing up to political correctness. Back in 2016, during an interview with alleged comedian Amy Schumer, Dunham said she gets “really crazy about … this new world” of political correctness.
“The other thing that I get really crazy about is this new world in which women aren’t just supposed to be protected from actions, they’re supposed to be protected from language,” she said. “Women are so strong. My ovary has basically exploded in my stomach twice, and I was pretty chill about it. You think I can’t listen to some short comedy loser say something dumb about rape?”
In another interview with Vulture, the Girls‘ creator said she tries to separate politics from her social justice activism and other projects where she “turns off political correctness and judgment.”
“But I really think about that or making my podcast as a totally different activity than writing a book or writing a story for Lenny or making a show. There’s a part of my brain where I turn off political correctness and judgment and there’s the part of my brain where I try to think like an activist and advance a cause.”
From Vietnam through Watergate and Exxon Valdez, and in my first newsroom jobs after college, reporters were roundly regarded as truth-tellers, and the power of journalism was considered incontrovertible.
Today huge swaths of the country distrust the media. From the bully pulpit, the president brushes aside stories he disagrees with as “fake news,” and recently called the media “enemy number one.” Truth has become subjective, and a top White House spokeswoman, in coining the term “alternative facts,” is telling the country that it’s all right to repackage reality to serve a political narrative.
Yet just as we did when Walter Cronkite covered Vietnam, drawing on dispatches from embedded reporters, we need great journalism to explain the world to us and to hold our government accountable to its citizens.
The need for independent, investigative news is especially clear when it comes to the issues that matter most to women. “Women’s issues” have been championed for decades by both political parties, but more often than not used as a wedge to divide citizens, not unite them. The fact is, there’s much more consensus on issues affecting women—and the need for continued action—than politicians would have you believe. When it comes to women’s rights, more than 80 percent of women and men say it’s important for the Trump administration and Congress to advance gender equality, according to a poll recently released by nonpartisan firm PerryUndem.
People gather for the Women’s March in Washington
Family planning is often described as controversial, however, that same poll revealed that 85 percent of voters want to ensure women have access to quality, affordable birth control; 67 percent oppose nominating a Supreme Court justice based on their belief in restricting or eliminating women’s right to an abortion; and 71 percent oppose taking away funds from Planned Parenthood that are used for birth control, well-woman care and cancer screenings for low-income women.
Surprised? We have grown so accustomed to the narrative that we are a divided nation, we don’t realize that actually, when it comes to women’s rights, we’re almost entirely united in supporting them.
Even among those who voted for Trump, the majority do not fully support the agenda he aggressively advances on these issues. Actually, the gulf between what women in America want—and the mandate the new administration takes on their behalf—is glaringly wide.
We know that women hold a lot less power in the U.S.: they make up less than 13 percent of police officers nationwide; they publish fewer than 20 percent of newspaper op-eds; they hold just about one in five political seats around the country, and they are much more likely to be poor, and raising children alone.
Yet there is a competing narrative brewing among some women in America who reject these facts. This narrative hinges on personal experience, and perhaps a culture of personal resilience and independence. While millions of women marched on January 21, others called them out on social media as privileged, silly or feeling sorry for themselves.
But personal experience is not a wide enough lens to understand discrimination in America. For that, we have to examine the facts. And the facts are that countries with strong support for women’s rights also have more prosperous economies, stronger national security, less corruption, less poverty and lower spending on defense.
We need journalists to report on these facts, and in particular, we need journalists focused on women’s issues.
The power of media to speak truth to power is as strong as it has ever been. I remember when a single photo printed in the Washington Post turned the tide of public opinion against President Nixon. It was of Rose Mary Woods, Nixon’s secretary, demonstrating how she had accidentally erased 18 minutes on Nixon’s private taping system. She was pictured extended sideways in her chair, one heeled foot reaching for the machine pedal below her desk and one arm flung overhead to the telephone button she claimed to have pressed in error. It was plain to this then 11 year-old that the contorted “Rose Mary stretch” was a whopper.
Truth is often uncomfortable—but there’s no viable alternative. And just as we did in the ’70s, we still rely on journalists to discover and report it.
It is important to stay aware of issues that effect women in this political climate. Why? Women are one half of the worlds population. The other half may not approve of all the time. They want to control us, what we think and our bodies. To take care of ourselves and our daughters, sisters and granddaughters we need to be alert for what is happening that will negatively impact women and women’s lives.