Category Archives: Social/Political Observations

Paste Magazine Interview

Television Academy Hosts Daytime Emmy Nominee ReceptionCady McClain’s memoir arrives at a hugely significant time for women. Just a few weeks ago the social media movement #YesAllWomen launched as a response to the massacre in Isla Vista, California. While it’s difficult to say for sure what drives a person commit mass murder, it was clear to many people that Elliot Rodger was partly motivated by a set of misogynistic principles. Murdering My Youth is, on the one hand, about McClain’s complicated and often traumatic life as a child actress and soap star. But what makes it a more powerful text, is that—whether intentionally or not—it also reads as a critique of a dangerous society where men (including male relatives) feel entitled to a young woman’s body. Hollywood functions as an escape for McClain, but also as a predatory environment for the young actress. In sharing her story the author, no doubt, speaks for many others, but it has to be said that her journey is simultaneously, entirely unique. Pastecaught up with the Emmy Award winner to talk about this amazing story of survival and—in spite of it all—unconditional love.

Paste Magazine: I love that part of what you’re doing in your memoir is advocating for therapy. In your writing you mention that two of your therapists—Ron and Colette—talked you into writing more in general, and also writing about the trauma.
Cady McClain: I think it was really more Colette who encouraged me to write, but not as a form of therapy. She really believed that therapy is about the connection between two people, about talking and working through your relationship issues by being in a relationship with a therapist. She felt like the writing was very helpful for me just as a project. I’ve since done some research, and my new therapist has done a lot of work with veterans at UCLA. She actually pointed out to me as I was finishing the book that one of the techniques used with trauma victims is getting them to tell their story. The idea is to get them so comfortable with telling it—whether it’s recording it and listening to it over and over and over again, or if it’s writing it down and reading it—basically the idea is to help them own it. Owning your story is a way to release the trauma. I think it’s called immersion therapy.

Even more so. She told me a story about a woman who’d been raped in the military in a very violent fashion and she was asked to come and speak to other survivors. And the way she would calm herself down to prepare to go and speak would be to listen to herself tellthe story on tape in her car. In a funny way, it’s like when she’s reminding herself of what she was able to survive and to go through it reminded her of how strong she was. So she could move forward and help other people. Instead of feeling victimizedshe owns it in a creative fashion, and it ends up empowering you….

To read the rest of the article, CLICK HERE.

or copy and paste this link: http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2014/06/catching-up-with-cady-mcclain-author-of-murdering.html

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“Write What You Know” by Matt Rozsa

This literary aphorism may have been penned by Mark Twain, but it could have very easily been said by Cady McClain, the daytime television star (All My Children, As The World Turns, The Young and the Restless) whose memoirs, Murdering My Youth, were released on Amazon in April. Unlike many similar books published by public figures, Cady does not use this as an opportunity to indulge in celebrity gossip or promote future projects in her career. Instead she confronts a number of themes that forever simmer beneath the surface of her story – child abuse, the entertainment industry’s exploitation of young stars, female objectification – that, when they do bubble up, scald everything they touch.

While Cady isn’t the first writer to touch upon many of these subjects, her book is unique because of the degree to which it illuminates the whole by coming to an understanding of a small part. She doesn’t set out to preach or globalize her individual experiences, but simply to tell her story. It just so happens that, in the process of taking us on her own journey through memories that have “allowed me to negotiate this collective awfulness that we must sometimes call existence,” she winds up offering insights that will help her readers do the same thing.

​Take, for instance, this passage from the close of her book, where she summarizes the long-term effects of child abuse on its victims. Although lengthy, it deserves to be quoted in full:

“Adults from abusive homes do not easily trust others. We are very sensitive to criticism and have little confidence in ourselves. Our internal world generally vacillates between despair and rage. Joy peeks out sometimes with the help of alcohol or drugs, but it’s not a real joy—it’s a simulated one. It is a joy that can only exist because something is blocking the pain. Even in that state of manufactured aliveness, we are easily influenced by the ideas of others. We feel like freaks. We fear our own needs. We look to others: lovers, husbands, children, to help us change our lives or ourselves, and when they cannot we despair.”

There are many incidents of abuse to which Cady is referring here. The most heinous among them, of course, was the sexual abuse perpetrated by her father, who molested her when she was eight years old. This was naturally a formative event in Cady’s life, and she traces her evolving attempts to cope with the trauma – from confusion and defensiveness as a little girl and betrayal by her therapist to her struggles with her sexuality as a teenager and adult – with admirable candor. These sections are often uncomfortable to read (as they should be), but they are among the most courageous of her book.

​Beyond that is the abuse experienced by a little girl who was denied her own childhood. It is here that the dark side of a life spent in show business is drawn into starkest relief. We see Cady experience a grueling work schedule (and never get to keep the money earned from it), labor every day to support her emotionally unstable mother (both as a child and then, after she receives a breast cancer diagnosis, during her adulthood), and miss out on the fundamental developmental experiences that make childhood so wonderful. Even as she describes the upsides of this lifestyle – her ability to escape into the worlds of the fictional characters she got to play, to reach out to others who are as lonely as herself – one can’t shake the sense that, as such puts it so well, “Once youth is sacrificed to the movie gods, it cannot be returned.”

​Yet even many of the people most responsible for Cady’s childhood suffering aren’t robbed of all sympathy. Particularly poignant is Cady’s account of her mother’s heartbreaking ordeal after being abandoned by her father for a younger, more attractive woman. At one point, after her mother had assaulted her father’s mistress with keys in a blind rage, Cady recalls that “as my mother stood defeated and un-chosen, I had a deep pang of compassion for her. It was awful to see her so humiliated… fat and shaking and covered with blood and tears.”

​It is impossible to read this without juxtaposing it with the conditions Cady describes in show business, where women find their value inextricably tied to their beauty and are so often reduced to “shark chum.” The social standards that objectify women, which had left Cady’s mother broken and alone, had also helped Cady carve out a substantial career for herself – and yet also left her, if not broken and alone, then certainly wounded and struggling to come to grips with the meaning behind her scars.

​As the themes of child abuse and female objectification writhe and coil throughout Cady’s narrative, the importance of Twain’s earlier quote becomes clear: The story in Murdering My Youth may be specific to Cady, but its relevance is universal. Anyone who has been abused by their parents or other loved ones, regardless of the exact nature of that abuse, can understand what Cady means when she says “We feel like freaks. We fear our own needs.” No woman alive today can be insensitive to Cady’s determination, as well as that of her mother, to be viewed as a human being instead of the sum of her physical parts.

​When Twain urged authors to write what they knew, it was because he understood that the most meaningful stories are the ones that come directly from our own hearts. Murdering My Youth, ripped from the soul of its author, is exactly what he had in mind.

To learn more about Matt Rozsa and read more of his articles, click HERE Continue reading

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Lets Talk About Terrorism

Prayers for Martin Richard and his family

It’s here.  We can’t deny it.  9-11 wasn’t just a single, tragic and horrible event.  It was one in a series of events that has been visiting and continues to visit our country.

When I watch the images of the bleeding bodies on the streets of Boston, the photos of women praying on their knees at the blockades, the face of the eight year old child, Martin Richard, that was suddenly and savagely ripped from his parents lives, I feel like I am looking at a war zone.  A war zone in another country, but it’s not another country.  It’s the United States.  Only two hours from where I am shooting All My Children.

I first heard about the bombing from a news app I have on my phone, via the Huffington Post. Then I got a text from my fiancé, Jon, who asked me if I had heard.  Perhaps because I went through 9/11, living only 20 blocks from the towers, I tend not to follow war news too closely because the images are still upsetting, but I had to find out more.  I went to see Darnell and we quietly watched the news videos about it on my iPhone.  I texted my sister to make sure she was okay because she had just been in Boston visiting a friend.  In 2005 she just missed getting on the subway in London that was bombed.  Thank god she and everyone she knew was okay.

Everyone began to gather in the hallways when they had a break to listen to the news on a production assistant’s computer.  We heard they shut down cell service (bombs can now be set off with a cellular device) and knew would cause a lot of distress for the families trying to reach their loved ones.  We felt helpless.

This can happen now anywhere, to anyone.

Who did this?  Why did they do this?  There must be a message that the person who set those bombs is trying to convey or why would they do such a thing?  Bottom line, I imagine they want us to feel pain and fear.  I think they wanted people to suffer.

If it is an American, we need to talk about mental health like never before, as well as access to bomb making material.  If it is someone from another country who is trying to get back at America for perceived aggressions, then we need to talk about homeland security like never before.

I have the strangest feeling that no one is going to take credit for this bomb which could make this even more terrifying, because we will have an invisible enemy.  It’s hard to fight someone you can’t see, and it puts people in a state of fear and panic.  However, we must not allow that person or persons to take our strength from us.

As I watch the news I also see the incredible human spirit.  I see dignity, strength, grace, and resolve.  People who were running and innocent bystanders alike, people who came to Boston from all over the world, Americans and local Bostonians, all drawing on their faith and deepest resources to come to the aid of those in distress.

Terrible things may happen, have happened, will happen.  I think it’s important to remember there are things we can do.  We can comfort those in need, support those who are left without resources  with food and shelter, and not let ourselves be put into a state of fear.  We are strong.  We are resilient.  We will not be cowed by this weak and pathetic act of cowardice.

If you are suffering today, I pray for giant angels come down to wrap their wings around you to give you love and strength.  I pray that Martin Richard and his family and all those who have been hurt or affected by the Boston bombing also be deeply and tenderly comforted, whether by angels, or strangers, or by neighbors.  Because right now, we can all be angels to one another.

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An Important Video About the Sex Trade

Warning: graphic images.

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“Fighting for rights at work is never an easy matter. The very act of complaining about how one is being treated on the job, however unfairly, can elicit choruses of “you ungrateful whiner,” or “you are threatening us all,” from those who tend towards the unsympathetic. Unions, once the safe haven for heroes of the middle class, are currently mocked and shamed in the media, as if all unions are made up of characters from Boardwalk Empire. You know, mafia types with baseball bats and crooked noses. I mean, corporations, (the giant, uncontrollable, financial octopuses of our time) would never stoop so low as to take advantage of an employee.  How could I even suggest such a thing?”

You can read this entire article (and 139 comments on it) at Policymic.com, or just click the title of the article.

Or simply copy and paste this link: http://www.policymic.com/articles/19800/labor-laws-how-a-group-of-strippers-in-california-may-save-workers-rights

(Apologies, my theme is acting up and not allowing me to post links in the body of the post.)

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I am very proud of this article.  Matthew Rozsa and I co-authored it.  Our efforts on both articles was completely equal.  I am really enjoying writing with him.  He has an incredibly organized mind and a terrific writing style.  I hope you find the article thought-provoking.  Please feel free to comment here or on policymic.com

http://www.policymic.com/articles/13577/katrina-7-year-anniversary-in-new-orleans-the-times-picayune-faces-a-digital-revolution-that-most-residents-do-not-want-to-subscribe-to

Read more articles by Matthew here:  http://matthewrozsa.policymic.com/

At Policymic, we can only upload on one of our pages, even though we authored both articles equally.  We made a choice to post the Catwoman article on my Policymic page and the New Orleans on his, although it would have worked equally well the other way around.

Thanks for reading and for your comments!

 

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Click the link below to be taken to a fun new article I wrote with Matthew Rozsa.  You can check out more of his writing here: http://matthewrozsa.policymic.com/

50 Years of Catwoman: In Her Satin Tights, Fighting for Women’s Rights.

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