Cognitive Dissonance

Shoes on a bowling alley rug, Malden, MA, 2017

Lots of blather, post the Cosby verdict, re “cognitive dissonance.” Male blather. So, guys, let me spell this out for you, okay?

Short answer: Those of us who identify as female know all about cognitive dissonance. Indeed, most of us have grappled with this profound and confusing and dizzying disconnect our entire lives. (We know about gaslighting, too. But that’s another story.)

I’ll elucidate: When you’re female, i.e. perceived as prey, it’s open season. No matter how old you are. Because hunters hunt. Hunters prey. Stealthily. With winks and whispers and sly smiles. Tragically, horrifyingly, these unwanted advances can be sexual; bewilderingly, they can also be simply a form of male muscle-flexing. But, nevertheless, still unwanted, still creepy. Believe me when I tell you, guys—believing women: talk about muscle-flexing!—that most females on earth have, in a private and secret and secluded moment, witnessed a well-respected member of our family or community being creepy. To us. Alone.(“Wink, wink.”)

So maybe now’s the time to roll out that useful F. Scott Fitzgerald quote: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” Yup. So here’s a Fun Fact: most females possess first-rate intellects since we’ve grappled with This Crap since childhood. Makes you think about Zelda’s mental health issues in a whole, new light, am I right?!

My own story? To my knowledge, I was never sexually abused as a child. Thank God I’ve never been raped. (My novel’s Jewell was, though.) Since childhood, however, I have had countless creepy, bewildering experiences with men. Overly-attentive men. Family members, neighbors, members of our church community. Often, alcohol was involved. (Child of the fifties, I passed around lots of canapés at my parents’ cocktail parties.) Pretty sure that one incident, alone in our rec room with a “Visiting Fireman,” who’d come to our house for drinks and dinner, was egregious enough that my mother and father asked the next day if “something happened.” No, they didn’t elucidate. They didn’t provide useful language, offer guidance about boundaries, touch. But by simply asking that (too-broad) question they tacitly expressed disquiet. Which matched my own. Confirmed my own sense of creepiness when a grown man with Scotch on his breath ardently whispered how pretty I was, how I’d break a few hearts, some day, while my parents were out of the room. (I don’t think he touched me.) My parents’ bumbling question allowed me to begin to trust my own disquiet, my own, wordless Ewww!  (As the mother of four daughters, I’ve schooled them to trust their intuition and if something felt creepy, get the hell out of there!)

To drive home my point re perceived prey, I want to end this with another useful quote, this one from Margaret Atwood: “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” 








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  1. Dear Patricia,

    Well, hello, there, Patricia, and greetings and salutations to you and to you AND FOR VERY ESPECIALLY FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, my so, so very FOR ALWAYS awesomely precious and dearly special soul sistahfriend Christian Quaker woman who you’re FOR ALWAYS so, so very much!!!!!! 🙂 <3 AWWWWWW, my so, so very sweet and empowering sistah, YOU made me cry such sheer joyous and blessed tears of joy being affirmed, acknowledged, supported, validated, and recognized as the sexual abuse survivor multiple times over and you give all of us as sexual abuse survivors such a voice my and our so, so very dearest and darling sistahfriend, Patricia!!!!!! 🙂 <3 I feel just so empowered here aqnd I cocnnect to my very agency and in also knowing that I'm not alone in that very many of us as sisters in our vast and blessed sistahfriend are strong and valiant survivors of sexual abuse in all of its vile aspects, sisterfriend of mine, Patricia!!!!! WOW, Patricia, WOW!!!!! WOW here!!!! What a powerful blog post article this is hereby absolutely FANTASTIC YOU, my so, so very brilliant and wonderful sistah, Patricia!!!!!! I so, so very much love and cherish YOU, sister, and so love here and cherish and truly appreciate how open you are with all of us as you very strongly with such courage share here how you faced, endured, and experienced when you were a young girl when some lewd, drunk, alcoholic men were so out of line and sexually harassed you, sistahfriend of mine, Patricia!!!!!!!! I just am riveted by your great sharing and declaring here how virtually all of us as women and girls have faced that creepy and horrific sexual abuse in all of its evil and ugly forms and that this is a state which we are very sadly as very, very many women and girls well-acquainted with, my dear, dearest, precious Patricia!!!!! I can so relate, sisterfriend!!!!! I've been raped multiple times when I was younger and I've also faced, endured, and experience very much sexual harassment and sexual abuse in all of its horrid forms, my friend!!!!! UGH!!!!!!!! I love your sharing and declaring on cognitive dissonance and I so appreciate how you share here about how we as women and girls are gaslighted by very many men and those who are also perpetrators of all of this terrible sexual abuse. I faced, endured, and experienced sexual abuse in all of its heinous ways from my family growing up like with both parents, two older brothers who are six and seven years older than I am, from older cousins, and I also was abused in every other way, too, by family. Often, my family would gaslight me about the sexual abuse and the other abuse in every way in general as well and act like I was the CRAZY ONE!!!!!! Even when I go to them for help and cry for them to help when I was raped, otherwise sexually abused and sexually harassed by perpetrators outside of my family they as my family would gaslight me and not help me and even accuse me of lying just like they did to cover their own abuse of me taking absolutely no responsibility for what they had done. I've been estranged from my family for decades because God has let me know that it is still not safe to be around them and that the potential for abuse is still there alive and well although I love my family dearly and forgave them decades ago however knowing that it is not safe to be around them. WOW, thank Goodness no family lives in Iowa where I live, my friend!!!!! WOW, Patricia, WOW!!!! WOW here!!!!! YOU have just masterfully composed here such a brilliant blog post article so ripe with such astute and acute sagacity, sistahfriend!!!!! WOW!!!!! I'm just absolutely disgusted with that Bill Cosby and he is definitely abhorrent!!!!! I us ed to like him like when I was a little girl in the late 1960s and early 1970s I loved his show I Spy and I so loved his cartoon, Fat Albert. My very heart is just broken by this vile man and what he has done multiple, multiple times to very, very many women!!!!!! That Cosby is a complete disappointment!!!!!! Sistah, I FOR ALWAYS believe all of the Cosby accusers and I FOR ALWAYS without a moment's hesitation or reservation believe all women and girls when they say that they've been raped and otherwise sexually abused and sexually harassed, my so, so very darling friend, Patricia!!!!!!! These so, so very dearest and darling survivors of that evil Cosby's abuse are just so, so very brave and I deeply admire them!!!! What courage it took for all of them to come forward, sistahfriend!!!!! Your very wise use of the quote from our creative genius F. Scott Fitzgerald is just perfect here and what masterful composition in the written word when you continue on as you speak such great volumes to such truth to power in declaring that we as women and girls possess first-rate intellects because we've been dealing with this for all of our very lives!!!!! WOW!!!!! I just so love, too, how you prepared your awesome four daughters growing up and protected them from being harmed in this manner and told them with such lovingly heartfelt and sensitively caring guidance what to look out for and how to protect themselves!!!! What a so, so very dear and wonderful Mom you are, sistah!!!!! WOW!!!!

    Margaret Atwood hsa hit the very stroke of genius with her very apt words in this brilliant quote by absolutely FANTABULOUS YOU, my sistahfriend, Patricia!!!!!! YOU'VE just hit the very stroke of genius,too, sister, with the very informative, eye-opening, and awe-inspiring title for this magnificent article here with an equally informative, eye-opening, and awe-inspiring blog post article in and of itself in all of its grand entirety. The picture which you've very graciously and generously feature and include here is very interesting and fascinating being such remarkable food for thought. Oh, how I so, so very much love how you've here once again as usual as always as ever very graciously and generously feature and include such marvelous links so chock full of such very vitally urgent, important, and so sorely needed information. WOW, what great food for thought all of these links provide and I just so love and enjoy reading through all of the info here and I appreciate how you add these very fine and excellent links to your outstanding blog post articles. WOW, Patricia, YOU are such a sheer joy and blessing and my very life's and eternal blessings!!!!! Sometimes I struggle with falling asleep and staying asleep(UGH!!!!!) so I thought that instead of tossing and turning to no avail that I'd feel better writing to absolutely SPECTACULAR YOU, Patricia, and your splendid blog!!!!!! WOW, Patricia, I thank-YOU and Spirit continually FOR YOU and FOR YOUR VERY PRESENCE IN MY VERY LIFE!!!!!! 🙂 <3 WOW!!!!! YAY for YOU, Patricia!!!!! WOW!!!!! YAY!!!!! YAY YAY YAY YAY!!!!!!! YAY for our very sistahhood and frienship, Patricia!!!!! WOW!!!!! YAY!!!!! YAY YAY YAY YAY!!!!!! Sistahfriend by the time you read this it'll be Wednesday so please have such a wondrously wonderful Wednesday, rest of your week and weekend ahead, and may all of your verydays be so, so very especially blessed, Patricia!!!!! 🙂 <3 Spirit so, so very much loves and cherishes YOU AND SO DO I A WHOLE BUNCH AND A WHOLE LOT, TOO, Patricia!!!!!!! 🙂 <3 Sister, YOU ARE such the very, very epitome of such overall awesomeness, Patricia, and such a joy and a blessing!!!!!! 🙂 <3

    Very Warmly and Sincerely FOR ALWAYS, my so, so very FOR ALWAYS awesomely special and dearly precious FOR ALWAYS soul sistahfriend Christian Quaker white woman who YOU'RE FOR ALWAYS so, so very much, Patricia, sisterfriend of mine, with My AND Spirit's VERY PEACE AND LOVE FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, sister of mine, AND with SUCH BLESSINGS AND SUCH VERY EVEN MORE BLESSINGS FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, friend of mine, 🙂 <3

    YOURS FOR ALWAYS soul sistahfriend Christian black woman AND FOR ALWAYS in the very great spirit of unity and solidarity, Sherry Gordon in Iowa City, Iowa 🙂 <3

  2. AWWWWWW, my so, so very absolutely BRILLIANT and WONDERFUL sistah and friend of mine, Patricia, I sure need to add some more of my thoughts, ideas, comments, and responses here to clarify even more, my absolutely AWESOME friend of mine!!!! Sister, I hadn’t read through all yet from your marvelous links-I’m still working on reading all of them through-what great food for thought. WOW, sistah, I just moments ago finished reading the eye-opening one regarding the so-called mental illness of our TRUE BRILLIANT CREATIVE GENIUS, Zelda Sayre, Fitzgerald. WOW, I’m glad that I just read this minutes ago!!!! SHE is the true gifted talent here and she was so grievously and egregiously wronged!!!!! So evident here that sexism, patriarchy, and misogyny were at work here in all of their pernicious pervasiveness. Once again we see here as to how our outstanding Zelda was so maltreated and not given credit where credit was due for her magnificent writing, paintings and other artwork, and all of her such sharp and vibrant, vivid creative genius, brilliance, and radiance that men are overly privileged and receive so, so much undeserved credit!!!!! WOW, I’m so, so very glad, thrilled, and overjoyed that I just read this article just to clarify even more my own thoughts, ideas, comments, and thoughts here, sisterfriend!!!!! Sistahfriend, your question is so perfectly apt here-YOU ARE right that for very many men and boys and other deniers and naysayers about the very validity of what we all know as women and girls with our first-rate intellects as you very wisely share and declare here that we’ve as women and girls-past, present, and future-have grappled with this Crap as you so brilliantly pinpoint this very telling point of yours here that we DO KNOW as women and girls because we deal with this utter creepiness as you very sagaciously say here and we know what it’s like to be gaslighted, to be disbelieved, minimized, thought of as crazy. WOW, our Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald was a so, so very right on woman who for sure deserves so, so very much better, sistah and friend of mine, Patricia!!!!! WOW!!!! WOW here!!!!!! AWWWWWW, my so, so very dear, dearest, precious Patricia, I thank-YOU so, so much for how you’ve as usual as always once again as ever very graciously and generously feature and include this awe-inspiring and eye-opening article about our superb Zelda and all of the other powerful links which I’m reading through with such reading pleasure as such great food for thought!!!!! Your making things plain in this very brilliantly and masterfully composed blog post article for the guys who as men may not really seem to GET IT or they disbelieve, minimize, or just don’t seem to plainly and clearly see with their male blather as you put so well what is quite apparent for us as women and girls just tells it like it is, sister, speaking to such great volumes to such truth to power, Patricia!!!!!!! 🙂 <3

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