BOOMERBROADcast

Baby Boomer's social commentary on life in OUR sixties for those who rocked life in THE sixties.


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Ivanka Trump. The real deal or deal me out?

Long before Donald Trump’s name rose from the swamp to become a contender for President of the United States, I was wowed by his daughter, Ivanka. Having watched her on a couple of talk shows and read her early book The Trump Card several years ago, I was impressed with the articulate, beautiful daughter of the real estate mogul. She won me over with comments that were critical of the sense of entitlement that was common among her contemporaries. She denounced the expectation of reward without working for it.

Ivanka Trump is a young, beautiful, intelligent working mother of three children. Educated and articulate, she projects sensibility in the midst of mayhem. One could say she moves serenely in the eye of the hurricane. Her vocal support of women’s business development programs and childcare issues is commendable but is our perception representative of the reality? Let’s face it, Ivanka is someone who may have been working for Daddy’s businesses when she was still in a training bra, MC’ing his beauty contests and walking around construction sites in designer jeans and jewelry, but she lives in a parallel universe. Her life is and never has been anything like what we mere mortals experience.

Ivanka Trump was defensive about her father’s track record on women’s issues.

I first experienced doubts about my faith in her when Donald Trump was campaigning. Ivanka appeared immune to the obvious examples of his shortcomings, the blatant lies, the sexism, racism and the incongruities. His cabinet choices of old, white rich guys speaks volumes. Understandably, she knows criticism is part of the package but she didn’t seem to be relaying these concerns to her father. Or, more likely, he wouldn’t listen.

She was invited by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to be a guest panelist at the 2017 W20 Women’s Summit in Berlin recently. When called upon to comment on her father’s disregard for women and minorities, Ivanka understandably defended him by referring to his track record of promoting women within his own organization. The resulting hisses and boos from the audience knocked her off balance for a mere split second. Then, she switched into full-on offensive mode, disregarding the perception of the majority of women.

The truth is self-evident. Trump does not hold women in high regard with the possible exception of his exceptional daughter. Notwithstanding the position of power held by Kelley Anne Conway within his organization, Donald Trump’s track record is dismal and verifiable. My opinion of Ivanka dropped like a rock when I witnessed her reaction to the criticism. When I saw the horror on her face at the suggestion he was a misogynist and how she immediately slipped into her own fantasy-based world of daddy-worship, I was disappointed, to say the least. Perhaps I was naive in hoping she would acknowledge he needs to listen to the criticism and work on improving his attitude and behaviours.

Trump’s statement “no one in the world has more respect for women than I do” is meaningless. His lingo, always delivered in sweeping superlatives is not backed up by fact and affirmative action. I was hoping Ivanka would be the voice of reason whispering sense into the ear of an unreasonable man. What I saw was life viewed by a disillusioned woman on the other side of a gold-plated one-way mirror. And it doesn’t look good for all the other women who are on our side. If we can reach her, we can only hope she will reach him. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

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Boomer sex . . . what’s your position?

It was definitely the start of something big.

Remember the good old days when Boomers had sex like we were rewriting the Kama Sutra? During the sexual revolution in the sixties, we became convinced no one in the history of the world had enjoyed better sex than we did. In the days before worrying about Aids, herpes, HPV and other STDs, our mantra was “Make Love, Not War” and boy did we make our share of love, steaming up the inside of cars and enjoying the freedom of having our own apartment for the first time. Although we probably should have been more careful, our biggest worry was getting pregnant. The introduction of birth control pills eliminated that obstacle so we made the most of being young and free.

Then, we got married, had children or we may have divorced and changed partners, though not necessarily in that order. Life became more complicated. Many of us found ourselves dating again in middle age or even later. But the playing field had changed. We no longer had firm thighs and upper arms or just one chin. The days of freedom from self-consciousness were also gone. Lovemaking required pharmaceutical intervention and we needed our glasses to read the instructions. STDs have become a blight and a barrier to enjoyable sex for everyone, not just single boomers. As if those libido killers weren’t enough, we are also faced with . . . well, how to face it. We’re self-conscious about our backsides, unhappy with our muffin top middles and underarm jiggles. If we’re on top, gravity makes our face look like a basset hound. On the bottom, our boobs settle down under our arms like melting ice-cream.

But, it can be complicated.

Not that our partners fare much better. Oh dear, no. Although most males are completely oblivious. Remember the scene from the movie Terms of Endearment when Aurora and retired astronaut Garrett have their first intimate encounter? Shirley MacLaine’s no-longer-young character Aurora spends the entire afternoon prepping physically and psychologically. She experiments with negligees, hair and lighting, generally trying every trick in the book to present herself in the best possible light. Jack Nicholson’s character, on the other hand, spends the afternoon drinking without a thought to whether he’ll be able to rise to the occasion. When the big moment comes, she’s a bit nervous but ready. He prances in wearing a giant, lecherous smile and a dirty old bathrobe which he gallantly throws open to reveal a hairy beer belly. Men are so blessed with self-confidence.

So, what’s the best approach to boomer sex? Beats me.  Let’s try to recall the summer of love, 1967. Put on the oldies music, drink copious amounts of wine or other mood enhancers and relive the good old days. To paraphrase Timothy Leary’s famous quote in 1966, “Turn on, tune in and let the good times roll.” Put on some Everley Brothers, Roy Orbison or Tommy James and the Shondelles. Get lost in the fifties with Ronnie Milsap’s In the Still of the Night. Just turn out the lights and ignore the jiggles.

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It’s not easy being a trophy wife

We definitely earn our keep.

Just ask Melania Trump, our club founder and honorary chief about how difficult it is to always be viewed as nothing more than arm candy. In her wonderful book I Feel Bad About My Neck the late Nora Ephron lamented the exorbitant amount of time and money required to keep ourselves looking presentable as we age. She reckoned the time factor alone would total a full-time eight-hour-a-day job by the time we reach our eighties. Which isn’t that far off.

The rising cost of personal maintenance as we age is something that is becoming increasingly difficult to bear and definitely something our husbands/partners don’t need to know about. The price of keeping up my “natural” highlights and trim is locked in the vault; the costs of quality makeup, skin care products and body creams are just too scary and embarrassing to share with anyone; my electrolysis appointments are made and carried out in secret. The price of vitamin supplements, probiotics, fish oil and all the other potions required to keep our gears oiled is enough to bring on early cardiac arrest.

Massages can be designated as therapeutic health care in the same way chocolate and fashion magazines can be called groceries. They’re in the family budget and the costs are easy to hide. The other day as I was making an appointment for a mani-pedi, I recalled the days when I performed those tasks myself—for free. The results were generally reflective of my skill level at the time but at least they didn’t require the vast cash outlays I’m now forced to endure. I won’t even start on the price of quality fashion designed to camouflage our so-called figure flaws. Which brings me to the cost of Weight Watchers, gymn memberships, tennis lessons and yoga classes. Not to mention having to subscribe to every fashion and decorating magazine currently in publication to stay abreast of what’s in and what’s out. It’s a lot of time and a lot of money. The work never ends.

Will I ever not care?

I’ve often wondered if I’ll ever reach the point when I’m living in the “home” surrounded by the urns of ashes from all my dead dogs, that I won’t care what I look like. Imagine waking up in a comfy flannel teddy bear printed nightgown, brushing your inch-long “pixie” cut and putting on a fresh pink sweat suit over your soft cotton undershirt and grannie panties. Finish the ensemble with fuzzy warm socks inside Tender Tootsies and we’re set to go. Wouldn’t it be lovely if our daily makeup routine consisted of just a slash of clear lip balm to prevent scabs, a few drops of Systane to keep our dry old eyes from crusting over, and we’re ready to rock n’ roll. No more probing in a 10X magnifying mirror for stray chin hairs, new wrinkles, age spots or suspicious skin growths.

The work to stay beautiful never ends.

My husband is either discreetly grateful or sadly indifferent to what it takes to keep me looking so fabulous when he takes me out on the town to McDonald’s or for special occasions like my birthday to Swiss Chalet. When I ask how I look, his answer is always, “fine”. Good enough seems to be good enough. And we haven’t even ventured into such premium procedures as Botox, fillers and cosmetic surgery yet. Keep those pension cheques coming—it isn’t getting any easier.

That’s why we trophy wives have our own Visa cards and bank accounts. This allows us to make discreet lump sum transfers from the joint account into our own account to skillfully bury the high cost of maintenance. Life’s just easier if he doesn’t know the details. Although, considering what it costs him to golf, by my calculations, I’m still a bargain. And with his handicap, he’ll have to be content with me being his only trophy. But, I’m worth it.

To order  I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron from Amazon.com, click here.

You’ll love it and it’s only $6.52

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From this day forth, all male citizens will be circumcised

Imagine if Parliament passed a law that required every male in the country to be circumcised. Or, what if getting a vasectomy required the written permission of the local Catholic priest, regardless of your religion. What would the reaction be if every male in the country was forced to undergo a rectal exam before he was allowed buy condoms. As bizarre as this sounds, that’s exactly the kind of obstacles and unwarranted control over their bodies that women in the United States are now facing compliments of a reactionary, misogynistic government.

There are reasons the original fathers of the American constitution insisted on separation of church and state.  Removing funding from Planned Parenthood has eliminated access for millions of women to assistance in health-related services like breast and pap examinations, STD testing, birth control and other counseling. Students, low-income women and minorities are not the only beneficiaries of services related to women’s health and particular segments of the population are totally dependent on them.

It’s difficult for men to comprehend the challenges faced by women on many levels in everyday life. We cope with lower pay, gender discrimination and general lack of support for “women’s issues”. Many men are oblivious and it’s our responsibility to educate and inform the men in our lives about the importance of fairness and equality. I wish I’d been more vocal when I was younger. If I had, I would have made more money and had a much fatter pension plan waiting for me upon retirement. But, it’s still not too late to make our voices heard.

This won’t hurt a bit. Trust us. We know what’s best for you.

Fortunately, as a Canadian, I live in a more enlightened society. We take care of our sick through universal health care and are more progressive in recognition of women’s issues than our southern neighbours. Canadian women are able to access maternity and health care services our American sisters only dream of.  Perhaps they should start lobbying for reciprocal restrictions on males in health, economic and social issues. Many health plans reimburse men for the cost of Viagra but do not reimburse women for birth control pills. Imagine the backlash if men earned just seventy-six percent of what women made? How would they react to being told they had to get the approval of a fusty old doctor before they could father children or alternatively, choose not to father children. The threat of mutilation or something physically invasive happening to their little boy private parts might get the attention of the alpha neanderthals running the country. Only then will they truly understand what it feels like to have a third party have the final say on what happens to their body, i.e. to be a woman. Religious dogma notwithstanding, men as well as women are the beneficiaries of freedom. America’s founding fathers understood this, but unfortunately the current government can’t read.

Tracey Ullmann captures the essence of women’s struggles brilliantly.

If you haven’t seen it already, you’ll understand the imbalance when you watch this YouTube Video by British comedienne Tracey Ullmann. Click here.

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Funny girl Amy Schumer serves up more than humour

amy1Amy Schumer’s autobiography The Girl With The Lower Back Tatoo” is her personal vagina monologue. Anyone who has watched her television specials or her movie Trainwreck” understands that Schumer’s humour isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. She’s smart, talented and totally unfiltered which not everyone appreciates. As a Boomer reading her account of growing up in a blended family where both parents had multiple marriages, we see her living and enjoying a moral freedom we did not experience growing up in the fifties and sixties. Our generation laid the groundwork.

Schumer’s descriptions of the progression of her thirty-something life cover the spectrum from innocence to humour to lessons learned and as with anyone’s life story, some pain. While her humour is obvious, her smarts and work ethic rise above. Top comediennes make it look easy but years of being on the road, living in uncomfortable conditions, working for little or no pay and enduring more than their share of insults and rejection go into developing a career in comedy. The title of her book refers to her regrettable decision while still a teenager to get a massive tribal tattoo on her lower back which ultimately became infected, left keloid scars and is lopsided. We all make mistakes. I once had kakki green hair but that was fixable.

One surprising piece of Amy Schumer’s life that she shares is her experience as a victim of domestic abuse. She warns that despite being a strong, smart woman, she was not immune to believing “It’s not abusive if they feel really bad afterward and promise to love you the rest of your life, right? Right? Wrong.”  Sharing her story and the conflicted feelings surrounding the experience will hopefully make other women aware of the insidious and dangerous path to abuse. This chapter was particularly enlightening and provides valuable insight into the issue.

Another topic worth reading about in this book is Schumer’s position on body image.  She condemns body shaming that drives innocent little eight-year-old girls to go on diets or should-know-better big girls to aspire to heavily Photo-shopped images of unrealistic, unnatural models in magazines and social media. I share her beefs in this regard and hope someday we will see a return to more realistic role models. She also had her only one-night stand with a guy who sounded a lot like Prince Harry (but he wasn’t).

And for anyone doubting the effectiveness of on-line dating, she has some good news. Her boyfriend of several years is a guy called Ben whom she met on a dating site. She and a girlfriend signed up on a lark, were members for forty minutes, got four matches and Ben was one of them. Don’t expect a joke book; it’s a memoir. Overall, I really enjoyed The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo. It’s a fast, easy, informative read written by a savvy, entertaining and hard-working woman. I had to wait a long time for my name to come up on the waiting list from the library, but it was worth the wait. If you don’t want to wait, click here and order it from Amazon or download it.

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What on earth was The Hudson’s Bay Company thinking?

A Canadian icon?

A Canadian icon?

All I want for Christmas is not Mariah Carey. The marketing people at The Hudson’s Bay Company should have their Canadian citizenship revoked. My sense of national pride has been replaced by outrage over their recent selection of American “superstar” Mariah Carey to unveil the new Christmas (yes, I said Christmas, not holiday) windows in their downtown stores at Queen and Yonge Streets in Toronto. Founded more than three hundred years ago as a fur trading institution, The Hudson’s Bay Company (the Canadian equivalent of Macy’s) is one Canada’s oldest national icons, ranking right up there with much younger Tim Horton’s.

Mariah f#$%#ng Carey? What’s wrong with hiring a genuine Canadian such as our own beloved Jann Arden, Drake or even Justin Bieber? And on the subject of cost, apparently they gave Carey one million dollars to lip-sync (that’s the rumour) two songs. Even Céline Dion might agree to lip-sync a couple of tunes for a million dollars. This marketing faux pas only exacerbates my ongoing beef with Hudson’s Bay Company about their serious and persistent lack of sales staff to help customers and the invisibility of checkout counters in their mall stores. Trying to find a sales associate or a checkout counter at a Hudson’s Bay store in any suburban mall is like searching for a healthy food choice at Timmie’s.

Where's the sales staff?

Could someone please help me? Where’s the sales staff?

Just imagine how many Canadians could have been employed to assist customers in their stores for one million dollars, not to mention the increase in sales resulting from said assistance. Hell, I would have put on a Canada Goose parka or striped Hudson’s Bay point blanket wool coat (depending on the weather) and my trusty Sorel’s (click here for great Canadian boot companies) and turned up to sing at the event for nothing. I guarantee that would have driven customers into the store faster than any blast from Mariah Carey.

Do I sound a little angry? Apoplectic is a more appropriate word. I’ve written numerous letters and emails to various Hudson’s Bay managers over the years encouraging them improve their approach to customer service but this one really takes the cake. I just wish they would consult me first on major marketing issues. You’ll get more than your fill of Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas” in every retailer’s P.A. systems before December 24th, to the point you’ll want to throttle her. Am I right or am I wrong in being angry?

Click below for links to previous related Boomerbroadcast posts about retail service:

Love their merchandise and provenance. Hate the way they treat customers.

Love their provenance and love their merchandise (as evidenced by my recently purchased Hudson’s Bay Barbie doll). Just hate the way they treat customers.

How to improve sales at The Hudson’s Bay Company

The solution for Canadian retailers is as easy as 1, 2, 3

Retail rant hits home

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Caitlin Moran celebrates feminism

Moran's bravado has made me feel more comfortable with my own "smiley face".

Moran’s bravado has made me feel more comfortable with my own “smiley face”.

Ya’ gotta love a woman who is so self-possessed, during an interview in front of hundreds of people in a packed auditorium, whips up her shirt and grabs her loose belly fat to make a smiley face, complete with eyes drawn on her bra. In the course of reading her book Moranthology (written five years ago) I viewed a couple of interviews on YouTube and Caitlin Moran did just that. One interview I watched was at our own Bluma Appel Theatre here in Toronto and the other was in Denmark.

British author, columnist, feminist and married mother of two daughters, Caitlin Moran is totally without guile and her strong views on feminism have me rethinking some of my own opinions. Growing up in a three-bedroom council house in Wolverhampton, England, Moran is the eldest of eight children of a disabled father and stay-at-home mother living on social assistance. In her family’s unique interpretation of home schooling, the children were banished to the local library twice a day to read and learn whatever they fancied. “I spent days running in and out of other worlds like a time bandit, or a spy. I was as excited as I’ve ever been in my life, in that library: scoring new books the minute they came in; ordering books I’d heard of—then waiting, fevered, for them to arrive, like they were the word ‘Christmas'”, she writes. Her experience alone is a strong justification for never reducing funding or closing local libraries, particularly in underprivileged neighbourhoods.  Fortunately for Moran, what her education lacked in the basics, she compensated for in a love of reading, learning and personal growth.

caitlin2Through a series of serendipitous events, Moran landed a job as a journalist at a very young age. You can read more on her fascinating story in her other books How To Build A Girl and How To Be A Woman. Moranthology outlines her philosophy of life. Her coarse, no-holds-barred delivery is not for everyone but she is totally honest and sincere and I admire her for that. She is committed to the greater good, particularly for women and minorities.

I’ve always been opposed to quotas in hiring of women and minorities as being a form of reverse discrimination but Moran’s argument has me rethinking my position. She writes, “But Cate—if you insist fifty percent of your workforce is women, and force employers to hire them, that means you’re gonna get women who are wildly ill-qualified desk-meat . . . . That can’t be right! . . . Well, it’s not right. It is, however, totally normal. After all, in an office that’s seventy percent men, at least twenty percent of them are going to be wildly ill-qualified desk meat . . .  People who are anti-positive-discrimination are ignoring the fact that we’ve been giving jobs to MILLIONS of stupid, unqualified people for millenia: men.” Boom! I never thought of it that way and as someone who has witnessed many unqualified men over the years being promoted to positions senior to me in business and making a lot more money, Moran definitely has a point. It was more common when Boomers were building careers than it is now to watch men being promoted to Office Manager, Bank Manager, Principal, Supervisor, Vice-President or even President when there were more qualified, capable women sitting in the wings and being bypassed.

caitlin3Moran also challenges young women who claim to not be feminists and casually dismiss the subject. She reminds them that unless they work in a sweat shop for barely subsistence pay, have been denied the right to marry whomever they choose regardless of gender, unless they are not allowed to vote or drive a car, or are denied birth control or the right to a legal abortion, then they should be thanking the feminists who worked on their behalf before them and therefore they are feminists. I share her frustration. There’s more work to be done in raising women’s salaries to equal that of men and changing the current laws that punish women who have been sexually assaulted or otherwise abused by men, along with a host of other issues.

One of the most fascinating aspects of reading Moran’s book for me, however, is how some women rise above circumstances that ordinarily would be considered dead-end or at the very least challenging to become successful beyond their social and economic origins. Moran likens the yoke of poverty to being “passed down like a drizzle, or a blindness . . . if kids from a poor background achieve something, it’s while dragging this weight behind them . . .  it takes ten times the effort to get anywhere from a bad postcode.” One of my favourite authors, psychologist Catherine Gildiner (author of Too Close To The Falls, After The Falls and Coming Ashore) is currently researching this subject for an upcoming book she is writing. Jeannette Walls author of The Glass Castle is another example of such a woman. None of Moran’s siblings achieved the level of accomplishment she has despite being raised in the same home, in the same circumstances by the same parents. It’s a fascinating subject and Moran is a fascinating woman.

blogger3Click the “Follow” icon to receive automatic notifications of new BOOMERBROADcast postings.

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