I remember vividly, age 10, and Dad taking me on vacation. In Houlton, Maine, where we lived, school started in mid-August so that the last week of September and first two weeks of October school could close for Potato Harvest. I had lots of friends who picked potatoes. I never did. It was a good excuse to stay with my mom for a week or two in Massachusetts. But this year, Dad decided he would take time off and take me to Boston and to see my Grandparents (his parents) in Worcester. He got tickets to see The King and I with Yul Brynner. He had the lead in that play forever, playing the King 4,625 times. I was not impressed with his acting. Clearly that part was too familiar to him. I couldn’t understand a word he said. (A theatre critic at age 10, who knew?) He’s also the guy who filmed a commercial about the dangers of smoking before he died that went something like “‘Now that I’m gone, I tell you: Don’t smoke. Whatever you do, just don’t smoke.”
During this trip, we also saw my first 3-D movie, some strange western. 3-D tumbleweed rolling toward us. The point of this whole trip was really to show me Boston. Dad loved Boston. He grew up in Worcester and to this day loves every Boston sports team. That is a story for another day. He spent a good amount of time teaching me the importance of offensive driving in a city. While I was 5 years away from getting my license, he wanted to show off his city driving skills. He also drove me through the “combat zone,” explaining what all the XXX signs were about. At one point, we were crossing the street and he pointed to a woman and said “that’s not actually a woman.” Who knew back then that I’d be advocating for transgender rights as part of my work?
Suffice it to say it was a memorable trip to Boston, mostly because my Dad was so passionate about it.
A few years ago my brother and I spent two nights in Boston seeing the Dave Matthew’s Band at Fenway. We did all kinds of touristy things like the Duck Boats, tried to figure out the T, took a pedi-bike after dinner, ate on Newbury Street, walked along the Charles. It was really fun. We stayed on the Cambridge side at the Hyatt Regency with a gorgeous balcony looking over the city.
Two days after the tragic Boston Marathon bombings, I feel like I cannot write about anything but Boston, even though I want to write about how sad I am that we live in a world where people want to kill each other, where people want to slaughter innocent people to make a point about something or to express their own anger and rage.
I often tell my students and my friends that I don’t watch any of those CSI shows (that often have strong female characters) because I cannot support the culture of violence. These so-called detective shows are all about women –mostly– being murdered. I don’t need to spend my day dealing with rape on my campus and then come home to watch women be murdered. Real life violence is too much for me as it is, I don’t need to veg-out on fictional violence. I don’t watch horror movies either. These movies always slaughter women.
So maybe we should take a pause from these events in Boston. Stop wondering who is behind all this and ask ourselves, what have we done to promote, ignore or remain apathetic to a culture of violence in our world? Yes, someone needs to take responsibility for the killing and maiming of hundreds of people, but we live in this world too. We need to look in our own mirrors and think about the ways we promote and support a culture of violence. What do you watch? What do you read? What video games do you play? How do you talk about people? Do you say about a hot young thang, “I could hit that?” That’s violence. How does your language perpetuate that culture? How do you support a culture of violence? Mull that one over.