II had the most marvelous day.  I hiked with friends on a beautiful, sunny and improbably 40 degree January day in St. Paul.


We were near a nature center that has a raptor exhibit for educational purposes, and keeps birds that “are permanently injured or otherwise unable to be released back into the wild.”

We came upon a building that housed them, a type exhibit I had not seen before.   I stood and watched the bald eagle poorly depicted in this photo, neeaglever having seen one up close before.  It was a roomy place and that reddish dot is a warming lamp.  The eagle had a tether attached to his ankle, impeding his efforts to fly around his kennel other than to get on the perch with the lamp.  It was a depressing scene.  He would lift into his majestic wingspan only to get as far as maybe a foot above the perch.

Whatever keeps him from the wild, I question this miserable convalescence for a creature of flight as a reasonable alternative.  Who are we to intervene in this way?

My views on life center around quality and not quantity, and for humans choice is a major component of quality.  When we intervene for an animal that cannot voice such preference, just what are we doing?

My thoughts lingered on that sight today and this afternoon I heard the story at the link below (free listen) about Rayya Elias in the last year of her life, and her intense need to maintain what choices she could.  It’s poignant, raw and funny as hell.  I highly recommend a listen.

“You do not get to script this.”




LTYM Holiday Show

December 9, 2018

Last week I read a very difficult story at the first holiday Twin Cities Listen To Your Mother show.  I have struggled with alcohol most of my adult life.  In the last year, that problem escalated and began to enter my kids’ consciousness in a significant way.   My three children are in their younger teens, and they sat in the audience cheering on their LTYM programespecially imperfect mom.

I struggled mightily when my kids were  much younger.  Whenever I see parents feel that excruciating inadequacy, I often quip that I am happy to share my failings so they can confidently look down on me and feel better about their own parenting.  I laugh when I say it, but I am not kidding.

Over the years I have become downright evangelical in my desire to pierce the romanticized image of parenting, and any notion that becoming a parent makes us somehow better people.   Parenting is a hard enough load without carrying that lie around too.   It is in that spirit that I shared my story last week.

I have received so many kind words since the show, from friends and strangers alike.  They all say how brave it was.  I get that, but bravery does not seem quite relevant to me.

For me, reading that story in front of my children, my community, and a few hundred people I don’t know, was an act of self love.   To stand up and reveal the worst part of myself – to own it with neither shame or justification – is to accept myself where I am.  And that love extends to anyone mired in their own feelings of inadequacy.  It was an act of love toward my children, forever releasing them from any sense that they need to keep my problem a secret.  Addiction thrives on delusion, and secrecy and dishonesty bankroll delusion.

If I am able to address this problem effectively in my life, it is because I have grown into a deep enough love for myself that I am willing to tend to my deepest needs.   It is not unlike the mama bear reflex engaged when we believe our children are in danger.  We may take on risk, but not because we are innately brave.   Our bravery is rooted in the ferocity of our love.   The path to bravery is not drawing near to risk.  The path to bravery is to love oneself and our shared humanity so fiercely that we are unwilling to hide who we are, or stand idly by when we see injustice.


November 21, 2018

I have some experience with this. Awkward teen years. Married young. Divorced. More breakups.

They suck. They’re like the flu. You feel like you’re going to die, and then eventually… you realize you didn’t. You are quite alive, and feeling better feels so good.

My busy day unexpectedly paused as a much younger acquaintance shared with me his very fresh breakup. Anger and hurt spilled from him in words I could recite from my own history. I barely know this guy, but we were suddenly in his grief together.

Instinctively I felt deep faith he would be okay, a faith he can’t muster yet. It felt useful to absorb all that energy, just listening and allowing its discharge, as others have done for me. It reminded me that at some point, I have let go of similar things. Many times.


My body simply let go when it was ready. Until then, I did stuff. Healthy stuff. Unhealthy stuff. Stuff that drew tears. Stuff that tapped deep joy. Stuff that made me feel whole. Stuff that made sounds echo in my hollow parts. Healthy choices on better days. Unhealthy choices? That’s what forgiveness is for. Sometimes you have to forgive yourself for treating you like shit before you can forgive someone else.

I got home late tonight and the Internet bestowed on me an 11 year old episode of This American Life (episode 339). If you are in that anguished place, either from a small breakup to the nastiest divorce, listen to it. You’ll feel less alone. I promise.

The East Side of Town

November 5, 2018

Uncensored by Zachary Wood – never has a book spoken so deeply to my love of argument, and faith in it as a means of change.  How this man became driven to engage in difficult conversations at a young age is stunning.

UncensoredThe poor quality of our public discourse worries me.  Often political and moral debate ignores the dangerous kernels of truth in the opposing side.  Those kernels grow in people’s psyches, uncontested under a cloak of secrecy because we are afraid to discuss them. They fester and drive the horrid beliefs we never seem to eradicate.  This man’s relentless pursuit of debate and sound argument to combat destructive ideas embodies the power of intellectual discourse.  He is committed to understanding his opposition as a fellow human being.

In 1997, a close friend of mine was murdered in her home.  The crime remained unsolved, and baffled all who knew her and touched that investigation.  Last week, an arrest was made for the first time, based on a DNA match.

While still digesting this unexpected milestone, I saw The Hate You Give with my three teenagers. It depicts well how we apply the simplest explanations to the most complex problems, assume victims are culpable in their abuse, and fail to acknowledge suffering because we cannot handle the discomfort it stirs in us.

Over two decades ago, the shock and grief from my friend’s murder rewired my brain and changed my life, and my experience is only a fraction of the trauma inflicted on her family.  I did not find her in that state or witness the event. I had no reason to fear for my safety, though I did because the unknowns were so frightening.  My experience pales in comparison to living in an environment plagued by violence, fear, poverty and desperation. My trauma was nestled in a privileged existence, and I still walked around in a fog of grief and shock for the next two years.

With sudden access to a suspect’s name and face this week, I could not stop staring at the image.  Who was this guy and how did he come to be in her home that night?  What was his story that he could be capable of such violence?  Why her? It is just a photo, a mug shot even.  In it I see a dejected and sad man – not what I expected. Then I am trying to extract from a single photo answers that may never come.

Our social and justice systems sit entirely on the notion that violent crime comes from evil. “Evil” is a fantastic, unmeasurable scapegoat for all we hate and feel powerless to change. We have no public systematic understanding of mental illness, trauma and suffering as root causes – not for a hardened criminal, and not for a deranged president.  We throw violent criminals in prison, a hot bed of trauma, suffering and human degradation.  We have the opportunity to study their cases, interview them, provide mental health services to inform interventions in communities, but we don’t.  We could focus on rehabilitation, but we don’t.  We throw away the key with proud vindication, and sleep softly in our safe cocoons.

Don’t get me wrong.  Assuming this man is guilty, I want him in prison.  I want anyone removed from society who poses a threat.  But his incarceration will not bring her back.  Somewhere there are kids who will become like him one day, whatever “like him” means.  When are we going to work toward prevention on a massive scale?

Zachary Wood is committed to having uncomfortable conversations, and there is nothing more uncomfortable than viewing our worst enemy as a human being.  Once we dehumanize those we oppose, our delusion prevents us from understanding the problems we need to solve.

In the midst of processing all this, a friend of mine messaged me to proudly share having voted early, right down the legalize cannabis party line.  If you review the Minnesota ballot for Tuesday, you’ll notice multiple party names reflecting the legalize cannabis sentiment.  It is not a party line.  It is a mishmash of petulant, disjointed distractors.

My friend believes his vote will contribute to the dismantling of the two party system.  It is interesting to me that third party candidate history has the most impact on elections across the time in which we have become increasingly polarized, and yet too many believe voting for a party they know can’t win is the path to meaningful change.

Many people believe we should burn the system to the ground and rebuild it better.  In this climate, how could we possibly agree on how to rebuild it, and how long would that take?  This mentality turns a blind eye to how divided we are, and the significant risk a non-functioning government poses to the US.   To lean on simple answers and ignore the profound complexity of our government is irresponsible ignorance.

Want to dismantle the two party system? Reconstruct it from within rather than throw pebbles at the structure holding it up.  Consider a compelling argument for the impossibility of that effort, and more strategic steps to take.

Don’t throw away your vote out of exasperation.  People are suffering who don’t have the luxury of choice that you do.

Whatever your vote or your beliefs about where we should go from here, I hope you’ll consider the humanity of your opponent and the suffering in this country greater than your own. I hope you’ll consider the immediate impact of who is in office.  I hope you’ll go to The East Side of Town and see what is needed beyond yourself.

A Culture of Toughness

October 16, 2018

Last spring I had a whim.  I shared it with a friend, and it became a thing.  Somerset Maugham once said, “Every production of an artist should be the expression of an adventure of his soul.”  That is certainly the case for me on this journey.

My whim became Hard for the Money: Stories of Women, Work & Satisfaction, an evening of stories at The Parkway Theater in Minneapolis on October 9, 2018.  My comments wrapped a frame around the stories of 10 women.  Those amazing stories are not shared here because they are not my stories to share.

Sorry.  I guess you just had to be there.

But I had some things to say, and those things are here in three parts.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Meet the cast of Hard for the Money, and come hear their stories at The Parkway Theater Tuesday, October 9!

ROSEANNE CHENG is a teacher, mother of two, and author of two award-winning young adult novels, The Take Back of Lincoln Junior High and Edge the Bare Garden. She is the marketing director at Wise Ink Creative Publishing, where she helps authors share their stories with the world. Find her at teachablelit.com.

Roseanne Cheng

KHADIJAH COOPER is a stand-up comedian and co-producer of POC-People of Comedy, an inclusive showcase featuring the best comics in the Twin Cities (next show Nov 2 at Sisyphus Brewing!). Her high energy comedy and warm self-confidence made her a finalist in the 2018 House of Comedy Funniest Person with a Day Job Contest. She is also an adolescent sex educator and program coordinator at the Annex Teen Clinic, providing education and clinical services to youth all over the twin cities. Find her on Instagram at myblackisbeautiful_kdijah.

Khadijah Cooper

DAJON FERRELL is a Resiliency Coach and speaker with a passion for helping people live their best lives ever, in each moment. Her 13-year military career led her to her current journey of teaching other veterans, and she will soon be working with fellow soul-centered light workers and changemakers, after finding a common thread of determined souls committed to service. She has taught for the Department of Veteran Affairs and spoken at conferences for entrepreneurs and veterans. Her voice has also been featured on the Huffington Post, along with being a published author in the ‘Invisible Thread’ and ‘365 Days of Angel Prayers.’

Dajon Ferrell

LISA HARRIS is an author, poet, speaker, the founder of Fashion Meets Poetry and the visionary behind the brand, Unveiled Beauty. With Unveiled Beauty, Lisa has created multiple platforms for the every day woman to share her story of courage and strength. She launched her work in the women’s empowerment space in 2017 after publishing her first book, Unveiled Beauty: Handwritten Stories From a Poetic Heart (released: September 2016). Prior to, Lisa spent +18 years in corporate retail buying, strategy and product development for Fortune 50 companies. Today, Lisa’s goal is to provide opportunities for women to be heard and to demonstrate their Beauty + Bravery. More details and future events at www.fashionmeetspoetry.com Facebook: Fashion Meets Poetry

Lisa Harris

LESLIE JACKSON embraces challenges and feels they are learning experiences to mold her into a better person. She spends her leisure time racing her car on the dirt track, driving her motorcycle, or just hanging out with her Grandkids. As Leslie continues to emerge as a butterfly, she has recently started her modeling and acting career. You can find her on Instagram @lesliejacksonmodel

Leslie Jackson

COLLEEN KRUSE is a humorist and storyteller. She has appeared on HBO, VH1, Comedy Central and A&E.

Colleen Kruse

AUTUMN LEE is a vibration raiser and a merriment maker. She is a wielder of light and love. As a devoted believer in magic, moments, and miracles, she passionately subscribes to hope, helping, and healing all of humanity. Whether picture clicking, acting, modeling, teaching or writing, Autumn is all in with big energy and big hugs. She is a joy antenna that channels the very best in all of us. Like success scaffolding, Autumn’s expertise is ensuring every human is seen, valued, and heard. Autumn is currently working on book elevating the stories and regal images of drag humans. You can learn more about Autumn at www.theautumnlee.com and follow her on instagram at @autumnleestudios


DR. CLAUDIA MAY is a storyteller, author, poet, educator, spiritual director, children’s book author, consultant, and professor. As Program Director and Associate Professor of Reconciliation Studies at Bethel University, St. Paul, MN, she considers it a privilege to ponder the sacred stories of others, believing we can glean much wisdom from learning from the lives of those we encounter.  Her children’s picture book, a three-movement poem entitled When I Fly With Papa, explores how children and adults can co-create a liberating and emotionally transparent relationship with God. The central character in this book is a 7-year-old black girl called Winnie. When I Fly With Papa can be purchased at www.claudiamay.org.uk, where you will find further information about Dr. May’s work.

Claudia May

AMY QUALE is a start-up owner, thought leader, dream maker, and speaker. She began her career in book publishing in editing and production more than a decade ago, and has worked with large and small presses of all flavors. She went on to co-found Wise Ink as a blog in 2012 and Wise Ink Creative Publishing in 2013, where she collaborates with purpose-driven human beings to build books with soul. Amy has a master’s degree in English, for which she wrote her thesis on Fifty Shades of Grey and the paradox of female sexual empowerment with female oppression as it lives in the romance genre and in life in general (side note: her life only mirrors Anastasia Steele’s in that she’s a real-life English major who runs her own publishing house). She lives in the Twin Cities with her family and sweet-‘n’-sassy English cocker spaniel.


CARI TAYLOR-CARLSON has been a free-lance writer since 1985, publishing her first book in 1990. Her love of hiking, travel, and adventure culminates in her seventh and most recent book, Life on the Loose, her memoir of running her adventure hiking company Venture West. For over 32 years she has led eager hiking groups by trail, canoe and kayak through experiences from Michigan to Nepal. She currently reviews restaurants for Urban Milwaukee and is working on a second memoir.

Cari Taylor-Carlson

Hard for the Money

July 21, 2018

photo Hard for the Money banner landscape for webAs those close to me know, I’ve spent the last few months creating a storytelling show around the theme of women and work.  Hard for the Money: Stories of Women, Work & Satisfaction will be at The Parkway Theater in Minneapolis the evening of Tuesday, October 9.  It is already one of the most exciting and gratifying things I’ve done.  “Women” in this context is anyone who identifies as or whose work life has included being perceived as a woman in a meaningful way.

Ticket sales will begin in mid-August and 25% of our net proceeds will go to benefit Dress for Success Twin Cities.  More detail about their amazing work and why we want to support this non-profit will be posted in the near future.

Auditions are happening and we are so grateful to everyone who has or soon will share their stories with us.  We are still accepting submissions through July 31.  Please consider sharing your story.  If you know anyone who might want to share theirs, please spread the word.  Because this event is intended to amplify the voices of a wide variety of people, and Minnesota is more diverse than our Sven and Ole jokes would indicate, we especially encourage anyone who feels their story is not seen in the mainstream.

Have an inkling to join us, but not sure where to start?  Have questions before making a submission?  Contact me at sally_vardaman_johnson@yahoo.com.

“There is no greater agony than bearing

an untold story inside you.”

– Maya Angelou

March 24, 2018

March 25, 2018

I had fully planned to drag my kids out to march yesterday in the cold Minnesota temps.  Between the school musical, History Day, basketball practice and a funeral, that didn’t happen.  But much of what I saw yesterday gave me hope for the future…

At 8:15am I walked up to Roosevelt High School, where the district wide Minneapolis Public Schools History Day competition was held.   A woman just ahead of me was carrying six display boards, not a small load.  As I held the door for her I commented that she must be a teacher if she was carting that many projects.  Yes, she confirmed.  Her kids were taking the bus and it was windy.  She wanted them to only focus on getting there on time, not keeping their hard work safe on the journey.  I can tell you from my own three kids’ history day experiences, it was that teacher who has kept those kids on track for the last 3 months.

History Day allows for many media forms: exhibit boards, documentaries, websites, performances, papers – the gamut.  This year’s theme is Conflict and Compromise.  I cannot think of a more perfect frame for historical events, because that is how change happens.

One middle school student in particular was eager to make sure I knew the experience of gays and lesbians during the holocaust.  She wasn’t trying to impress we.  She was determined to educate me.


So many stories we know of just a little bit.  So many stories I’ve never heard.  Did you know about The Love Canal.  I didn’t.  Look at all these projects…

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My kids have spent the last many weeks preparing for their school musical, benefitting from hours of time from generous artists, teachers, parents and fellow classmates, learning to tell a powerful story of self-acceptance and decency through song and humor. 

This is what good education looks like.  Giving students the tools to know who we are, how we got here, and how we can be better.  In a world of social media and clickbait, teachers inspiring kids to dig deep into the stories of our ugliest times and greatest triumphs – that is education.

So when those students take to the streets to fight for a safe education environment, what does it say that the NRA mocks them as only being influenced by Hollywood and wealthy snowflake liberals? These kids didn’t get their critical thinking from Hollywood.  Hollywood may give them empathy through the power of story, but Hollywood also makes a lot of money through the glorification of violence.  How can the NRA mock such a source of wealth not unlike their own? Who of the NRA is afraid for their own life in the course of their day to day routine?  How can they be so desensitized to this climate, and their place in it?

No, these kids were taught critical thinking by the kind of teacher that gets up at 6am on a cold Saturday and lovingly hauls her students’ projects so their hard work can be rewarded – so they can have conversations about our history and the lessons we must learn, so they can enjoy the fruits of their passion for storytelling alongside their vast intellectual capability.

I reposted this from someone else on Instagram today, knowing my own middle school aged kids would see it.  When I became a parent, I never fathomed such an exchange with my children.  I both applaud its wit and ache for its reality.  How is gun control even a debate?


Look at the diverse groups fighting for change.  What does it say that the sole opposition is the NRA and the GOP, who have a financial interest in their resistance?  Kids are assessing our history, and driving a new narrative.  We need to listen and act.  It is not only the kids fighting for change, but it is they who have the most to lose or gain here.

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For My Birthday

January 6, 2018

My birthday is in a few days.

It is a social media thing to raise funds in celebration of your birthday.  I like it.  Facebook has hundreds of enrolled non-profits, and if I picked one of them it would be easier and more compelling for you to part with your cash.

But the organization I most want to support didn’t have a Facebook profile.  My hope is that pointing people to a small, ground level non-profit might garner more bang for the buck.  You won’t see those motivating Facebook totals.  But if you believe in this effort, you will know that your money went straight to a small and mighty warrior for women, and the brave staff members who keep its mission alive.

Pink House

trappedThis is the only remaining abortion provider in my hometown of Jackson, Mississippi – for that matter, in the whole state.  Despite wide praise for Willie Parker and his relentless pursuit of rights for women, especially poor and desperate women, this clinic still struggles.  Because it is the only one in Mississippi, thousands of women are dependent on its survival.

You can read about Dr. Parker’s compassion here.  You can donate to the Jackson Women’s Health Organization here.  And if you don’t want to do that, but you support the cause, you can also do so by buying Dr. Parker’s book here.








November 11, 2017


Louis-ckLouis CK has been telling us who he is all along.

Onstage he has said he feels trapped in his own perversion – a slave to it.  Just because a comedian makes you laugh about something does not mean he isn’t serious.

He put his most disgusting self on display and we laughed.  It was funny because we could relate to his suffering, and because we weren’t talking about the victim.  We weren’t even considering that there was a victim.

Once we saw the victims, it wasn’t funny anymore.

It took him a damn long time to admit there were victims.  Years ago, I saw him brought to tears in an interview as he described his admiration for Tig Notaro.  She has publicly pressured him to speak to these accusations for months, and he still didn’t do it.   Probably because he knew it would be the end of his career, and likely ruin his relationship with his daughters.  Can you imagine being a kid and having your dad be this public figure?  He has long said he would not respond to these claims.  I am glad he changed his mind.

Men like this run rampant in show business, and certainly in comedy.  It would be hard to find a female comic to dispute one word of Laurie Kilmartin’s experience.  But it also runs rampant in mundane industries.

My first experience of sexual harassment was from a CFO of a non-profit.  He was 70 years old at the time, and I was 22.  He had a warm, folksy, soft-spoken demeanor, as did his adorable wife.  If you met him, you wouldn’t believe me.  I know, because someone else accused him and I didn’t believe her.  Until it happened to me.  My shock was so substantial, my view of him so shattered, I couldn’t bear to be in his presence.   I suddenly had no idea what to expect from him.  By the way, I was the HR person.

If you are reading this and still don’t get how common this is, you need to wake the fuck up.

I love that women are coming forward and speaking out about men who operate this way.  Speaking out helps, because secrecy is the lifeblood of shitty behavior.  For every person brave enough to disclose such experiences, you are my hero.

But what can we do before it happens?

We need to teach respect for women in society and admit when we fail to have it in our policies and behavior.  Women and men have been saying this for a long time.  It is correct, but it is not enough.

Calling these guys monsters doesn’t work.  How they arrived at being an asshole of this level is not a healthy individual deciding to be a shitty person.  There are more out there.  There are teen boys jacking off in a shower right now who will grow into this kind of person.  What can we do to get them off this path?

What do we do with unacceptable sexual urges?  If you find a willing sexual partner to happily play your game, you are lucky indeed.  But if you don’t, what do you do with the longing?  And what do we call it?  Is it sexual deviancy?  I’m not sure that label helps.  Is it sexual dysfunction?  It sure seems to interfere with healthy functioning, so I say yes.  What does it say that we have a pill to help a man get it up, but not one to control where he puts it?

Few things are more taboo than discussing your weird sexual desires.   The comedian’s stage is a true exception.  Sex is an endless fount of comedic material.  People joke about their sexuality, often in horrid ways, but they get laughs.

But where are we allowed to seriously discuss it?   When a teenage boy is discovering his sexuality and the myriad of urges that come with it, who is there to guide him in managing those urges in a healthy way?    If having control over someone turns him on, who is there to help him recognize and deal with those feelings?   If he has inappropriate thoughts about children, what does he do?  What if such things crop up in his teens, fraught with awkward social interactions and hormones and insecurity.  Where is the safe path to deal with what scares you inside your sexual self?   I am not saying Louis is a pedophile, but there is commonality across predatory sexual behavior.

That kid may even have people in his life who are willing to guide him, but the taboo attitude around errant sexual desire is a major barrier.  Such feelings are vilified everywhere you look, and they should be.  But that doesn’t change the reality that what turns us on can be a psychological and chemical mystery.   Scientists make careers out of studying it.  It is not surprising if a boy struggles and gets psychologically off course.  Some people are going to have these urges, and they need a way to deal with them early.

Unless he is a narcissist or psychopath already, shame is the first to arrive.  When we feel weird sexually, our first instinct is to make sure no one finds out about it.   Then there is a super accessible, multi-billion-dollar industry with open arms, ready to surround that shame with a false narrative of sex.  Its expansive venue for exploring those urges in secret is an easy escape from dealing with the downsides of one’s predilection.  Whatever weird thing you’re into, porn is there for you.

Take this teen scenario and fast forward 10 years.  He’s probably had sex – if he’s lucky, a lot of it.  He may have fallen in love, maybe even more than once.  But where are those urges?   Has he discussed them with anyone other than locker room banter?  Has he faced the shame and the risk such urges could cause if gone unchecked?  Has he pressured a partner into having sex?   Has he pushed past a drunken lack of consent?  Is he on a path to healthy sexuality, or can he see it if not?

In that time of forming habits and getting to know yourself, there are ample opportunities to get off course in your psychological relationship with sex.  With each wrong turn, another layer of shame and false narrative and denial is added.  Add another 25 years, and you have a Louis CK finally admitting he’s a shit.  Decades of such denial is why perpetrators are unable to face the magnitude of their crimes.   No one wants to see that they’re a bad person.

If you are a man and genuinely want to be an ally, how can you influence this issue among the men in your life?  Yes, this behavior is rampant, but so are really good men with good intentions.  I see you and I’m asking you to consider how you can impact this issue.  Do you see glimpses of this in men you know?  Do you address it seriously?  If you don’t know how, research it.  Ask for help.  Learn to deal with this.  If you value bravery as a feature of your masculinity, then here is your chance to shine.

By middle age, more than a few men like this are in a position of power, and likely have people around him who share his faults.  Power is intoxicating. Only the most mature and self-confident have the self-awareness to even admit they are exploiting it, much less resist doing so.  Watch a child gifted with charm, good looks and social savvy begin to discover and capitalize on the social impunity that comes with those gifts.  It’s human nature.

I like a lot about Louis CK’s admission statement, but I don’t buy the notion that he didn’t understand the power he held when he did these things.  He was just too turned on by it to consider the other person’s feelings.

There are mental health practitioners who deal with destructive sexual predators.  You’d be amazed how many people are receiving such psychological services for the most severe presentations, in the county where I live alone.  By the time treatment is sought, though, things are really bad.  Very bad things have happened.  Major damage has been done.  How many more need such treatment?  How many men fly under the radar because they have these attributes to a lesser degree?

Are we going to vilify an entire gender, or are we going to see mental illness and faulty wiring in human beings and systematically deal with it?  We can call it sin and immorality and evil all day long, but look at addicts.  Shame and judgment don’t change them.  It takes a more complicated suite of mental health services for them to become a productive and functional member in society.

How are we going to teach our children, our teens, and all of humanity, to be brave enough to recognize and proactively address the disgusting things we find within ourselves?  This is the question we need to be asking.   When are we going to admit that this is common and that we perpetuate this in our society?

If we bring perversion and sexual dysfunction out from under the taboo umbrella, we can openly discuss that it is real and common and can be destructive.  Such an open recognition would support a safer space for victims to tell their story.   Each of us, of every gender or age or sexual orientation, needs a safe place to deal with our sexuality.

I love Louis CK’s comedy, even today.  Is he fucked up?  Of course he is.  He’s a comedian.  We cannot crack this joke and pretend that fucked up people don’t inflict damage on others.

I believe his contribution to comedy and social dialogue is important.  It has informed my thinking on this issue, and helped me question how we address it.

Now that his shit has finally hit the fan, he has a unique opportunity to influence a whole generation of men who need open and humble dialogue about this behavior.   He also has a unique opportunity to validate women’s experiences with men like him.  I hope his admission statement is only the beginning.  While his power has changed dramatically, powerful he still is.  It is not too late to use that power responsibly and influence this issue in a positive way.


Note:  As I express these thoughts, I speak in terms of men perpetrating crimes against women, because that pattern is rampant.  I recognize it happens in all kind of ways, in every direction along the gender spectrum, and everyone needs a healthy path to deal with any number is issues in our sexuality.  That is my whole point.