On December 30, 2016, Publisher Ben Sclair posted my Westside Story – Saint or Sinner? in The Suburban Times. The same day, I received a copy of Ms. Dana Holt’s article from the AAUW online Tacoma Branch monthly newsletter.
AAUW is an acronym for an organization of women called American Association of University Women. The Tacoma Washington Branch of AAUW was founded on May 12, 1907. If you travel over the internet to the Tacoma AAUW website from my link you might well find the local history of AAUW to be quite fascinating. I do.
Additionally, my link to the AAUW National website will provide interesting information regarding AAUW’s history and purpose beginning as far back as 1881. After I reviewed the easy to read history slide show, it came to mind that AAUW should consider changing their name to AAAUW which would stand for Amazing American Association of University Women.
Historically in order to be a member of AAUW a woman had to possess a Bachelor’s degree from a four year college. In 2005, after much local and national debate, AAUW modified their membership requirements to include women with two year Associates Degrees. Dana Holt, who graduated from Pierce College with an Associates Degree, was the first woman to take advantage of the new rule. She quickly became a board member and has now served for some years as President.
My wife and I thought it intriguing that Two Writers, Ms. Holt and I wrote a similarly themed message on the same day. We do not know each other. We did not collaborate before our writing efforts.
My writing was uncharacteristically succinct for me, when compared to my normal Irish verbose writing style. None-the-less, short as my article is Ms. Holt’s message can be found in my article.
Without further ado…
by Dana Holt, President, AAUW
I have to admit, I’m a little worried. I find myself concerned about the oddest little things sometimes, yet it seems that somehow, somewhere down the line, these odd things unexpectedly become valid items for worry.
Case in point: Reality TV. Herein, I will reveal to you, with a tingle of embarrassment, that yes, I regularly partake of the TV “drug,” and here are the programs from this genre I’ve found myself mildly invested in: “America’s Top Model” (the first several seasons), “Chopped,” and “Top Chef.”
Yeah, I’m a sucker for a cooking show in spite of that fact that I myself cook purely out of necessity. “Top Model” I can’t really justify except that it’s a show about young women working toward a legitimate, if highly selective and unlikely, career path. I found the hidden “mechanics” behind modeling interesting and enlightening, and some of the contestants quite fascinating. I could have probably done without the purposely-generated and overly-scripted squabbling inherent in this type of programming, but I tolerated it.
In spite of being somewhat drawn in by this phase of television “entertainment,” I have indeed, from its inception, found it worrisome. Its basis is too often focused on fighting. Back-biting, vicious personal attacks and ignorant comments/views aired without embarrassment or regret, usually set within a family, friendship, or retail business dynamic, are the drivers behind many of the most popular programs. Rudeness and put-downs are the order of the day.
Another feature, one that goes hand in hand with fighting, and the aspect that originally attracted me, is competition. What an idea! Make fussing, duplicity and nastiness part of a game show! What do we get? “Survivor!” I know I’m not the only one aware of the connotation that survival is a life or death matter. The implication is that those other than the survivor, die. I drew the line on cooking shows when they came up with “Cutthroat Kitchen.” And “Cupcake Wars”? Really?
Believe it or not, I was once an athlete. I played softball, basketball, soccer. I bowled and shot firearms competitively and played pool for fun. Call me old
fashioned, but I believe in sportsmanship. My philosophy about trash talk is that any negativity put out by an individual is carried inside them.
Any vitriol spewed at one in the heat of a match, as a tactic, is generated within the individual putting it out. That’s where it lives and festers. How would that ever affect me more than the person harboring it? Plus, why tear someone down when there’s a chance that s/he might wind up being your teammate one day? As for winning, yeah, it’s fun, butt there’s a big difference between competing with someone skilled on a fair field of play and beating them, versus having them make a mistake, scratching on the eight-ball for instance, and losing. That’s not victory. That’s luck. Admittedly, one thing I lacked when it came to sports and competition, was the killer-instinct. I always PLAY for FUN.
So, here we are, heading into a new year, perhaps a pivotal one. Are you worried?
We have a reality television icon preparing to take office as the President of the Unites States. I think it’s time to set aside our penchant for titillation in the face of THIS reality. Our prurient interests could truly wind up being our downfall if we don’t make the choice to stand against the incivility, cruelty, vile behavior, evil in our neighborhoods, our society and our politics. Negative rhetoric must be challenged. Do we really want a nation where only the strong survive, where the deck is stacked in favor of those willing to participate in cutthroat behavior, to cheat whoever they must in order to “win”? Remember the concept of citizenship?
AAUW is an organization striving for the idea of a fair shake. We play to win, we stand on the shoulders of those who came before, we raise up our fellows; we don’t tear them down just to take the lead. There’s nothing frivolous about fighting. This is not a game! We fight the good fight and it’s the only thing worth fighting for.