The video is part of a larger multimedia campaign that pairs the lovable Sesame Street characters with the all-new Chrysler Pacifica and Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans for digital and television sponsorship as well as this amusing online video series.
Generation X Blog
As the #MeToo Movement gains momentum on Twitter and Facebook, I am reminded of two painful stories I’ve told about sexual harassment and sexual assault during my years as a blogger. The first one I shared in 2009, was about sexual harassment. I decided to share it after a difficult year in my career, when bad memories came home to roost. In 2014, I followed up with a commentary about childhood sexual assault for KOSU Radio.
June 23, 2009
Some stories take a long time to tell. This one about sexual harassment at school is one of them. I wrote it down in 2008 for my daughters, and for Mary, wherever she is.
In 2005, on her fourth day on the job, Jamie Lee Jones, a young computer tech working in Iraq for the popular U.S. defense contractor Halliburton/KBR, was drugged and gang-raped by coworkers. A judge who reviewed the case said this: “Sadly, sexual harassment, up to and including sexual assault is a reality in today’s workplace.”
In 1976, at an elementary school near the foothills of Pike’s Peak Mountain, Mary DuBueno fought off the playground assault of a dangerous boy named Shannon. He’d bullied her all year.
All the little girls and one sweet little boy ran away scared.
One second, they were third graders frolicking with jump ropes and monkey bars. The next second, Mary was pinned against a set of locked doors.
Tears streamed down her soft brown face as childhood bliss ran aground.
The sexual assault lasted for only a few moments.
It was abetted by the remaining boys who formed a little human boy wall the eight-year-old girl could not scale.
In the early 1990s, posted on a foreman’s desk in a dark corner of a federal facility, was a crude copy of a World War II poster — Rosie the Riveter — proudly going to work to support the war. Donning a cute red bandana, these words were scrawled underneath her beautiful and patriotic face:
“Shut up and work, bitch.”
I saw this with my own two eyes.
Sexual harassment is not about lust. It is the mean little cousin to sexual assault. It is about power, control and dominance over women.
Sexual harassment is a form of violence against women, and it leads to devastating consequences including physical and psychological injuries.
It prevents the integration of women in the workplace and reinforces the subordination of girls to boys, women to men.
It violates a girl’s dignity.
Sexual violence pervades the world and sexual harassment is just one of the first links in a long chain.
Sexual harassment is not someone’s personal dilemma. Sexual harassment is a crime.
Men (and boys) who sexually harass women (and girls) sexualize the workplace, classroom or schoolyard in an effort to diminish the role of females.
Sometimes, they succeed.
It is also true that men can be sexually harassed. It just doesn’t happen as frequently, but it is just as humiliating and illegal.
Years of experience, post-graduate education and impressive credentials do not serve as an inoculation against sexual harassment.
The research scientist is no more immune than the 19-year-old girl working at a Houston dry cleaner.
In fact, studies indicate that women who do not conform to gender stereotypes are particularly targeted.
In most cases, men sexually harass assertive, ambitious and independent women leaders.
Sexual harassment can be a dizzying world of he-said/she-said. In the absence of witnesses, complaints can become fodder for a dark fairy tale, Shut Up and Work, Bitch.
The men who sexually harass women know they can grope them in the elevator one minute and isolate them at the office party the next.
No wonder more women don’t come forward.
As if it’s not hard enough for women to secure equal pay, compete for executive positions and balance children and career, they must work with the knowledge that they are not adequately protected from unwanted sexual behavior and comments.
According to government and media, sexual harassment and sexual discrimination are both on the rise —despite— Jenson vs. Eveleth Mines, Tailhook, Anita Hill and so many more.
(In 2007, EEOC reported that the number of sexual harassment complaints had increased for the first time since 2000.)
And, it’s no big surprise. After all, according to sexual harassment law, there are no consequences for being bad when nobody is looking.
What it will take for our daughters to inherit a workplace free from these civil rights violations?
In 1976, I ran away from Mary DuBueno. It won’t happen again.
I kept the story about Mary DuBueno to myself 32 years. I shared it for the first time in 2008.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” –Joshua 1:9
The following post, The Amulet for Generation Z, was originally a commentary about some unfortunate events that occurred during my latchkey childhood. Specifically, childhood sexual assault. After it aired a friend sent me this quote from Maya Angelou:
“As soon as healing takes place, go out and heal somebody else.”
I appreciated that so much. Here is my story, told for you. #MeToo
June 23, 2014
A Brief Memoir: Latchkey Kids, Childhood Sexual Assault
When I was seven years old I lived on London Lane, in Colorado Springs. I loved playing with Topper Dawn Dolls, riding my banana seat bike and watching ISIS on T.V. She was an archaeologist with an amulet that turned her into a superhero who fought evil.
Like many Gen Xers, I was a latchkey kid. One day after school, I came home to an empty house and was sexually assaulted by a trusted friend of the family. He probably should have gone to prison, but we never told anyone.
We didn’t want him to get him in trouble. We didn’t want my father to kill him.
So, the child predator went on to become top military brass, and I crawled into a bag of candy, so I’d get fat and nobody would ever sexually assault me again.
My first pelvic exam was that year, 1975. I remember everything about that day. The doctor’s office had green metal cabinets and jars full of cotton balls. The doctor was gruff and the office smelled like cough syrup. The nurse was tiny and my dress was bright blue from Montgomery Ward.
I was so happy when the doctor said I was OK. This meant I wasn’t going to have a baby. I could ride my bike and run on the playground again. I had worried that if ran too hard, I would kill the baby inside me.
I’m proud of myself for loving that baby so much, the baby that wasn’t inside me after all. When I left the doctor’s office that day I was relieved. I thought I’d be able to forget everything that happened to me and be happy again, but I was wrong.
Over the years the predator’s name came up in conversations, pictures of him were strewn here and there in boxes and albums. This extended the trauma far beyond 1975.
I learned to smile when I wanted to cry, stay put when I wanted to run. It was a traumatic experience that ruined my life, but it’s not ruined anymore.
Heaven Shot Back
A few years ago the man who assaulted me re-invaded my world through Facebook connections. This was the straw that broke me, so I crawled back inside the back of candy. But, then one day Heaven shot back. I was lucky to be alive. That man with his shiny brass had so much to lose. He could have put me in a trash bag and thrown me down a mountain, but he didn’t, I am so glad for every day I have lived. I found the mercy in my situation. This gratitude makes me happy.
In 2007, I picked up a book on Generation X (13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail?) by Neil Howe and William Strauss. They said Generation X had an abbreviated childhood that was insecure and unhinged. This permanently affected the way we see the world.
That’s when I decided to start a blog about Generation X.
The other night we got Chinese takeout. My daughter Bridgette got a fortune cookie that said she had a secret admirer. She was ecstatic with this news.
She asked, “So, who do you think it is mommy?” Next month she turns seven, she believes in fortunes and magic and childhood because of me. This is the legacy of Generation X. Under-protected in childhood, we have raised the most over-parented kids the world has ever seen. We are the amulet for Generation Z, and for the lost generation that we are, I hope history will give us that.
For another story about childhood sexual assault and sexual harassment at school read by post about Mary DuBueno, another latchkey childhood memoir of sorts.
Some Child Abuse Statistics
Did you know there was a strong increase in all forms of maltreatment of children from the mid-1970s into the 1990s? After a short plateau, a decline in sexual abuse decline started in 1992, and the physical abuse decline gained momentum after 1996. The years of the increase occurred during the Generation X years of latchkey childhood, and then declined during the years Generation X began having children.
#MeToo and The Silent Children
In 1980, Lynn Sanford wrote a book called The Silent Children. It chronicles the widespread denial of sexual abuse of Generation X children and a stark unwillingness to acknowledge its significance. Victims, by the way, cut across all classes.
During these years, sexual abuse was never discussed. Children were confused by touches and manipulation. Instinctively, they knew it was inappropriate and damaging, but at the same time, didn’t really recognize it. Moreover, children were threatened with vows of secrecy, which left them more vulnerable to attack, depression, etc. They were without power, knowledge and resources.
Finally, I am a person of faith. God has healed me from many childhood wounds. Nothing has helped me more than The Bible. I like The Message version. I also love The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey.
Were you a victim of childhood sexual assault? If so, how are you doing? #MeToo
Today, my daughter Bridgy was an altar server for the first time. I posted a picture on Instagram to commemorate the occasion.
Church has been a part of my life since before I was born. The older I get, the more I enjoy it, but I still get nostalgic for the past. I miss how church used to be, or maybe I just miss being 11, and all the church people in their 70s and 80s. I miss their farms and the fresh eggs they brought us and the milk they poured for us when we visited them for dinner. I miss the music most of all.
A friend from Sulphur, Oklahoma, emailed me these pictures. She knows how much I love old church photos and images from the 1960s and 1970s. I wasn’t sure what year these 35 mm slides were taken. At first I thought they might be from the 1950s, but judging from the woman’s purse below — one of those wicker basket suitcase pursues — I think this was the era of the 1960s.
When I was in college in the late 1980s, churches began exchanging hymns for praise choruses. As a student at Southern Nazarene University, I followed a group of somewhat religion majors to a weekly praise service every week. It was held in a small white house near the campus, which is located in Bethany, Oklahoma. We all sat on the floor Indian style and lifted our hands in praise while we sang songs like My Delight by the Cadets. This was the first praise song I learned, and I loved it.
As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after thee
Thou alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship thee
Thou alone are my strength, my shield
To Thee alone may my spirit yield
Thou alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship thee
Thou art my friend and you are my brother
Even though Thou are a king
I love Thee more than any other
So much more than anything
These were rather strange times for me as I had never ventured outside the Church of the Nazarene. The religion majors — two Johns and a Peter — were in steady disagreement with the theology professors at SNU. I never really understood why and never wanted to ask. They were devout Christians – holy young men who dearly loved God. They subscribed to the doctrine of holiness, the Wesleyan Tradition, and all are involved in ministry today.
It was a difficult situation for me, as I loved our professors so much and believed every word they said. They were scholars in their own right. Some of them spoke multiple languages including Greek and Hebrew. I admired them above all others and they impacted my life in so many wonderful ways.
The two Johns and Peter were not Nazarene. They all attended a church called the Vineyard, which met in a hotel in downtown Oklahoma City. I went with them a few times, and although I cannot recall which hotel it was, it must have been the Sheraton. The services were held in a ballroom, and there was LOTS of praise music.
Ultimately, I was uncomfortable outside the walls of the Nazarene Church, and stopped going. Eventually, I became involved in inner city missions. I taught Sunday School to Hispanic kids at Central Church of the Nazarene, which no longer exists. One little girl I loved dearly was named Claudia. I used to pick her up for church every Sunday on SW 44th Street. I think of her every now and then and wonder whatever became of her. She would be in her late 30s now.
All in all, my college experience was quite different from Greek life at state schools and universities. Some might say I lived cloistered, but it really wasn’t like that. I loved every minute of my college years, especially my years in ministry.
Anyway, these old pictures of church in the 1960s bring back a lot of memories. All the old ladies I remember looked just like the ladies in these images. They have all died, now. I wish I had been nicer to them. They always wanted to hug and kiss me and it drove me crazy. I did have my favorites, however, and the best of all was Pauline because she french-braided my hair. May her sweet soul rest in peace.
In honor of Bridgy’s first day as an altar server, I want to leave you with a beautiful hymn, Jewels, which was written by William Cushing in 1856. This video is a must-see and hear. It features the Alaska String Band, and it is utterly captivating. If you’re impatient, fast-foward to 53 seconds, but don’t miss Abigail at 2:29. This is so beautiful.
When He cometh, when He cometh,
To make up His jewels,
All His jewels, precious jewels,
His loved and His own.
Like the stars of the morning,
His bright crown adorning,
They shall shine in their beauty,
Bright gems for His crown.
He will gather, He will gather
The gems for His kingdom,
All the pure ones, all the bright ones,
His loved and His own.
Little children, little children,
Who love their Redeemer,
Are the jewels, precious jewels,
His loved and His own.
The longer I blog about my generation, Generation X, the 13th generation of Americans, and the older I get, the more it feels as if I’m merely compiling a record of demographic nearly forgotten before it could be remembered.
Were we – are we – truly a lost generation like the nomads who came before us? I found an amazing scrapbook this summer at a flea market in Oklahoma City. It’s filled with pictures of the Lost Generation, those born between 1883 and 1900. Many of the pictures feature Army nurses and soldiers stationed at Ft. Sill Army Base during World War I. I’m still hoping to get all those posted someday. I think they would have wanted us to remember them, and I do. We do.
Every Halloween, I try to find new pictures of us, hidden in the deep recesses of Blogspot, one of the first blogging platforms. Many of those blogs are now abandoned, like literary wreckage. Stories told and seldom read.
I take the photos and post them here so we don’t lose them. So there is a record of our living, including these humble celebrations in the days before we succumb to all our fears and created a crisis of overparenting. We meant well, dear children of Gen-X.
I like the yellowing borders on old photos from the 1960s to the early 1970s. If you have photos like this, please don’t destroy them by uploading them to a digital format and color saturating them. We cannot auto correct our lives, so please don’t auto or color correct your vintage photos. It ruins everything about them that was authentic and special. Just my opinion, of course.
I hope everyone is enjoying these early days of fall. Happy Autumn!
My father lived for roadside attractions along the rural byways of America. He loved to take Sunday afternoon drives and he loved to take long trips across country.
Born in 1930, he was a member of the Silent Generation. He grew up during The Great Depression and hated the Interstate Highway system because he believed it killed off America’s small towns and businesses. When our family went on cross-country trips, he avoided the Interstate at all cost. It didn’t matter if we were driving a gas-guzzling clunker with bald tires in the middle of summer — or winter — we were not going anywhere near an Interstate.
Financially, this made no sense. We broke down on the side of the road and ran out of gas so many times. We relied on the kindness of strangers, which distressed everyone, especially my dear mom. My early exposure to horror movies like The Last House On The Left and The Hitchhiker didn’t help my psyche. In fact, the residual anxiety they created in me was not unique, but prevalent among Gen-Xers who grew up during the 1970s when the horror genre was popular.
News stories about child abductions also contributed to my roadside fears. Many of these stories haunt me to this day, but one that especially bothered me was the abduction of Russell Goudy. He was a 14-year-old boy who attended Los Altos High School in Hacienda Heights, California, where I lived from 1967 to 1974. Russell was born the same year as my brother Billy, 1962. In 1977, Russell was abducted and killed after hitchhiking home from Huntington Beach, a place I visited many times as a little girl.
Today, despite the stress of our wayfaring, I cherish my childhood road trips and all that I learned along the way. In addition to frequent stops at Stuckey’s, there was the occasional sighting of an iconic, roadside attraction. These included the Cadillac Ranch outside of Amarillo, all of Tucumcari, New Mexico, and the Blue Whale in Catoosa, Oklahoma.
Riding in the backseat of my dad’s jalopies, I killed time reading ‘TEEN Magazine. There were two special editions that came out in the early 1980s, and I read each one until the pages were smudged with my fingerprints. My daydreams were formed out of articles about how to rinse my hair with rainwater or pull it back with colorful combs. I loved the dreams adolescence ushered in, and they became my soul occupation during humble expeditions across America.
I may have been held hostage by my father’s convictions, but nobody owned my mind. I lived inside my thoughts, my head, and even when he insisted I put down the magazines and enjoy the ride, nothing could stop my preoccupations.
Still, the Mother Road, Route 66, made her impressions. One afternoon while winding through the Heartland, I looked up from my magazine at just the right time to catch a glimpse of a giant Blue Whale. It was the Blue Whale of Catoosa and it caught me completely by surprise.
“Did you just see that!?” I exclaimed from the bench seat as we trotted along at 55 mph. “We just passed a giant blue whale! Did you guys see that?”
My father glanced at me through the rear view mirror. “Sure ‘nough?” he replied, and kept on driving.
He had missed it. A giant blue whale structure on the shoreline of a swimming hole. There would be no additional look-see. Decades passed before I saw it again.
This story kind of reminds me of a story my college pal Joanna told me in the early 1990s. Her father had taken the family on a grand excursion from Arkansas through the Badlands to see Mount Rushmore. After 14 hours in the car with several siblings, they finally made it to the national monument. Upon their arrival, her dad told them all to look up. “There it is,” he said. And, he turned the car around and promptly headed home. If they’d blinked they would have missed it.
My daughter Bridgy and I took a road trip recently to Missouri for the Miss Maple Leaf Baton Twirling Competition in Carthage. Is there anything more American that Carthage and maple trees and baton twirlers? Bridgy took 2nd place in the mini pageant! The entire experience was a perfect slice of Americana that helped me reach beyond the rancorous disputes that pervade our world on and offline.
On the way home, we decided to take a side trip to see the Blue Whale in Catoosa. It was her first time to see it and it was just as amazing for her in 2017 as it was for me in 1982.