On Horace Mann

This is an incredible article (though a tough read) about sexual abuse at Horace Mann. There are a few really good things to note–how the grooming plays out, the mixed feelings survivors can have, how a cult of personality can develop around the abuser, and even how the abuser justifies his abuse by framing it in the context of his larger actions, which are about helping the child.

But the thing that really struck me is how not only was nothing done, there was just a sense that there was nothing that could be done.  Even the guy in the story who’s all like “It was the 60s” is bumping up against a truth. There has been a massive cultural shift about what children should be expected to tolerate and what white men could do without criticism.

But it also kind of explains why all these institutions are getting hit with all these accusations now–the paradigm has shifted. Sexual molestation isn’t considered “a sad secret thing that inevitably happens to some children, but what can you do? It was a white dude with authority.” anymore. Now it’s widely accepted as wrong.

But it must be strange for those white dudes with authority, who don’t seem to have realized that our culture is tired of them abusing our children (at most) or failing to protect our children from their peers who abused them (at least) and that we’ve changed.

This, honestly, is a good example of how white male authority as wielded in our culture is so damaging to white men, too. It’s a pyramid scheme. Shut up and endure it and some of you will get to be put into positions where you can force others to endure your fucked-up-ness. But, of course, there aren’t enough positions for all the kids fucked with. And no consideration of how damaging it is to fuck with kids. The bargain it demands men strike is one that hurts men.

And now the reckoning is here.

Argh–Project X

I could barely sleep last night. I can barely concentrate right now. Today is the big art discussion. And I’ve been looking at websites of the artists in the collective and they are so talented. I’m so excited and nervous.

And I am nervous and excited because this week I hand the manuscript off to K. for a final quality control check and polish. Not that I’ve been doing this a lot, but I’ve realized that I really need two things that fall under the broad category of “beta reader.” I need folks to read it when I think it’s done (which, for the record, was at the end of December) who can say “Um, no, this doesn’t work. This is wrong. Whoa, I liked this part. etc.” and then I need someone who has never seen it before to both do that and make sure that my grammar and spelling and word choice makes sense when I yet again think that I’m done.

Because I feel like my other beta readers and the project manager now all know what I’m intending. So, I need someone who’s meeting it for the first time to tell me if what I have now makes sense, without the bias of knowing what I’m trying to do.

Ha ha ha. The advice I’m trying to give without actually being in a place to give it is this–deploy your beta readers where and when you need them. If you only need three to triangulate what is wrong with your first final draft, don’t ask the fourth, who will, in all likelihood, just tell you what the other three are saying, but in a slightly different way, because you can use that fourth person when you have your second final draft. Fresh eyes, fresh ideas about what’s not working. (Keeping in mind that I’ve been hashing and rehashing a lot of stuff out with the Project manager at this stage, so it’s like having two in my second set of beta readers.)

Okay, now I have to run around all excited. I’m bringing my camera, because I am determined to be a tourist in my own life. It’s funny. I have heard people say “Don’t be a tourist in your own life,” meaning, don’t just do the things everyone else does, but actually engage and be present in your life. Don’t miss out.

But I kind of want to be a tourist that way. I want to soak this strange place in and see everything there is to see and be open to adventure and not knowing what comes next.