07.07.22 Publisher’s Desk

I’m a sucker for a story about strong women. “Miss Saigon’s” Kim, Fantine from “Les Miserables” and Rebecca Pearson from “This Is Us,” to name a few. All of these characters suffered pain yet stayed strong and sacrificed greatly for their children.

Of course, these aren’t true life examples, but my experience tells me that life is more difficult for women. So, when I see a Norma Rae or an Erin Brockovich, I stand and cheer.

Just this past July 4th weekend I asked a family member, who has a full house, if he puts posterboard on the wall with a chore schedule for the house to follow, like my mom did when we were kids. He laughed and said his wife tried it, but it didn’t take. It didn’t take in the ‘80s when my mom tried it either. She worked all day, then came home to take care of a house with five kids and three adults.

Y’all, I Uber Eats 75% of my meals because I don’t want to cook anything after a full day of work and it’s just me and my husband. Laundry will sit in our dryer for days because folding laundry sucks. I don’t know how she did it, especially when we weren’t showering her with gratitude.

The hard work of strong women extends far beyond the household. It’s the fight for equality where so many women can be seen. Names like Patty Sheehan, Debbie Tucci, Maggie King, Nadine Smith, Gina Duncan and state Reps. Anna V. Eskamani and Michele Rayner. These are women who look darkness in the face and fight the good fight, with all of us on their shoulders.

If women are so important to our society, why do those in power consistently knock them down? I could write a dissertation about the abuse of Hillary Clinton, arguably the most qualified and deserving presidential candidate of my lifetime. Let’s just acknowledge that the mistreatment of her has certainly helped land us where we are today.

Civil liberties took a hit recently when the Supreme Court’s decision reversing Roe v. Wade was announced. This is devastating to women and we should acknowledge that. No asterisks, no bullet points to follow. A marginalized community now has less control over their own human life and it is disgraceful. Period.

In this issue of Watermark, we were scheduled to talk about mental health but decided to address the Supreme Court decision immediately. We will run the mental health story in a later issue but felt this needed our focus in the moment. The Supreme Court wasn’t the only catalyst for this story swap. In May 2022, Bill Maher ended his New Rules segment of “Real Time with Bill Maher” on a rant about the LGBTQ community. In it he suggested that the LGBTQ community shouldn’t be a focus on the abortion debate and took on the dubious honor of telling the LGBTQ community that everything isn’t about them. We will tell you why he is wrong and why we are very much involved.

I was a big fan of Bill Maher when his show “Politically Incorrect” first aired on Comedy Central in 1993. I liked that it would call out talking points with humor. As I entered the theater department at Mars Hill College, I used to joke with people that I would one day take over for Bill Maher when he retired. That’s the level of fan I was.

Sadly, this feeling started to wain as the trans movement started to grow. It started out with Bill Maher suggesting Democrats would fair better if we didn’t include trans rights on the platform. How many times have we heard, “This isn’t the right time?”

His comments grew increasingly anti-trans. I started paying closer attention to his jokes and it seemed he couldn’t get through a monologue without a dig at the trans community. After his comments about swimmer Lia Thomas, I had decided his show was no longer for me. Soon after I got a notification on my phone about his latest rant referenced earlier in this column.

I don’t like to use inflammatory language, but it was up there with some of the most condescending bullshit I’ve ever heard. I couldn’t believe that a guy who I admired for destroying talking points, was using them. Yet another attack at trans people, focused on women. When your commentary suggests haphazard genital surgery on an 8 year old, you can’t hide behind comedy anymore.

So, for me, I’m done. I don’t advocate he be canceled, just as I don’t advocate the banning of books or telling people what to do with their own bodies. I thank you, Bill Maher, for the inspiration behind this issue of Watermark and I hope your tirade gives birth to a generation of trans advocates and supporters, but new rule: I don’t watch “Real Time” anymore.

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