Tuesday, November 22, 2016

This isn't just politics. This was never just politics.

It's Tuesday, and I should be writing the Things That Piss Me Off post for this week and last, but the truth is that I'm weary. I just don't have it in me at the moment to rage at the level that would be required to produce a post like that one.

Maybe tomorrow.

I know why I'm quiet.

It's Thanksgiving week.

It always has this effect on me, and I've reached a point in my life where I have just accepted that part of my reality. Thanksgiving is hard for a lot of people. A lot of them.

Never mind that celebrating it in any form this year seems more wrong than it already ordinarily would because of what is happening at Standing Rock. If you aren't angry about the events taking place there, you aren't paying attention. The last few nights have been particularly egregious in terms of the violations of human rights taking place, all in the name of the almighty dollar, all for the benefit of a corporation.

We've decided as a society that people are expendable.

Here, in the supposed land of the free where we're all said to be equal.

The aftermath of the election has only really just begun, I'm afraid, and it looks a lot more like 1930's Germany around here than it did two weeks ago.

I feel like I'm a broken record these days, and I'm sick to death of saying it, but I'll put it here too. If you voted for him, you either support his and his running partner's racist, misogynistic, homophobic and Islamophobic views, or you're content to accept them as part of the package deal. I honestly don't care what your reasons for voting for him might have been. I know that you had to accept that those entire segments of society could be leveraged in order to do it.

This isn't just politics. This was never just politics.

I stood in a room this week on the Transgender Day of Remembrance, holding the name of a trans person killed in this past year for simply living their life. This has been the most violent year on record against the transgender community. I can't even fully articulate how eerily similar it was to my days working in an AIDS legal aid group, when the phone would ring every so often to tell us that another contact needed that box checked in the database. Another life, ended.

This isn't just politics. This was never just politics.

I have friends who are quite literally planning to leave the country. Not because they don't want to live in a country like this one, but because they're afraid they won't survive it. This isn't some passing grievance with the political system, this is legitimate fear of intimidation, of further oppression, of violence. Their lives are endangered simply because of who they are.

This isn't just politics. This was never just politics.

There are men and women saluting our new President elect in this new world order, proclaiming that the white nationalism movement is back and stronger than ever and ready to reassert its dominance. Their rolls have increased over 600% in the past few years. They're vocal and enabled now. They're hosting events in Washington, DC. They're the Klan. The Nazis. Neo-nazis. Stop believing that names like Alt-Right are acceptable. Call them what they are.

This isn't just politics. This was never just politics.

Though it appears that the ACA will survive, at least in some pieces now, it's become obvious that the GOP led Congress fully intends to rapidly move to destroy Medicare as we know it. Ironically, they want to move it to more of a privatized system, one that looks shockingly like the ACA that they've spent years trying to dismantle. This is a very uncertain time, and these are lives being discussed as if all that matters is the number on the bottom of a balance sheet.

This isn't just politics. This was never just politics.

While your future President was throwing a tantrum on Twitter about the cast of Hamilton asking his VP for consideration in the most respectable, most eloquent manner, the media largely ignored the fact that he just settled a $25 million dollar fraud lawsuit. Just like they've ignored the corollary to his tantrum, which is that he can't stomach criticism and wants to be able to determine what other people say about him, threatening libel lawsuits against anyone who doesn't please him. He and his followers rail against safe spaces, whine about how political correctness is ruining everything, but then they turn around and beg for the same thing in, as one of my friends so-aptly named the theater, the house that gay built? No.

This isn't just politics. This was never just politics.

The media has largely ignored the very disturbing backgrounds and views of all the old white men he's naming in his transition. Just like they've given him a pass on the highly suspicious contacts with the Russian government prior to the election. Just like they've given him a pass on the issue of using a cell phone to discuss unknown things with world leaders. Just like they've given him a pass that his conflicts of interest are many and multiplying. Just like they're given him a pass that he's already been negotiating ways that he can use his new position to profit. Just like they've given him a pass on the presence of his adult children in meetings they have no business being in. Just like they've given him a pass on his insistence that he lives part time in NYC and his wife and son intend to remain there, all at the cost to the taxpayers. He is supposed to work for us now, right? Not so much.

This isn't just politics. This was never just politics.

The media, the one he's worked overtime to convince people is biased and wrong and opposed to everything he does...they've normalized him and everything about him even as he's told large portions of the citizenry that they're somehow the ones lying about him. They've sat in the corner while he berated them and refused in large part to challenge him. They've glossed over the inflammatory things he said in exchange for sound bytes. In this digital age full of talking heads on television, the people of reason find themselves looking to Dan Rather's Facebook page for responsible journalism. This is wrong. This is all wrong.

This isn't just politics. This was never just politics.

The hate crimes in the past two weeks have been so simultaneously disturbing and so entirely predictable. Of course the racists would feel empowered. Of course men and even school aged boys would start grabbing women's and girls' genitals because they believe they have that right now. Of course children would start chanting "build a wall" to their Latinx classmates. Of course swastikas would start appearing all over the nation. Of course. Nothing about this is surprising when a candidate ran on hate and won. People too quickly forget that his entrance into politics was the creation of the birther movement, one rooted in nothing but racism. People don't seem to comprehend that his entrance into the Presidential race began with accusations about illegal immigrants that were entirely unfounded. Net migration from Mexico has been at or near zero for over a decade. This was just racism. And it worked.

This isn't just politics. This was never just politics.

I've come to see his selection of Pence as a brilliant strategic move. He's essentially impeachment insurance, because anyone who pays attention to politics understands that Pence is an existential threat to women and the LGBTQ community in particular, but he's quieter about it. He is a dangerous, dangerous man, and it's no simple coincidence that he is in the position he is, where he can appear to balance the chaos of the other. His mere placement beside Trump makes him appear moderate, centerist. His version of radicalism is normalized just by proximity. And it's frightening to think what might happen if he ever finds himself in that highest office.

This isn't just politics. This was never just politics.

This week is Thanksgiving, a holiday where we are bound by obligations to sit around tables with our family members, and this Thanksgiving is bound to be a difficult one. I've seen so many insist that we are supposed to set aside our differences, agree to disagree, embrace the opinions of others and tolerate them and love them anyway...but here's the problem with that suggestion.

This isn't just politics. This was never just politics. 

I wish you all peace this week. Keep yourself safe. If it's too much, don't go. You're not required to get over anything, sure as hell not because of a day on the calendar.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the election distraction edition

I promised myself last week that I would write something this week and that I would try my best to not make it election heavy, so we'll see how that works out.

Fortunately, I ran across a bumper sticker in the parking lot this weekend that gave me all kinds of material.


The Bumper Sticker
The bumper sticker, slapped on the back of a totally ordinary late model Toyota sedan, said this:

"Guns don't kill people. Dads with pretty daughters do."

As we walked towards the car and to the place we were headed, my teenage son and I both audibly sighed at the same time, which tells me that I'm doing something right.

Layers. So many layers to discuss here.

It's amazing how something containing so few words can communicate so much, isn't it?

I mean, first you have the whole "guns don't kill people" argument, one that tends to be a perennial favorite of the pro-gun folks. I really don't want to get into that entire debate here because, frankly, I'm worn out from pre-election arguing, but c'mon.

No one honestly believes that guns kill people. They are inanimate objects. This argument attempts to mock those who advocate for restrictions on the types of guns available for sale, insisting that somehow the guns themselves have nothing to do with the commission of any hypothetical harm.


Guns don't kill people, but they damned well make it easier to kill people. They make it faster and more efficient to kill people.


The second part of the sticker is really where my loathing begins to shine, though, because it is so very complexly layered with generations (okay, so really all the generations in recorded history, and in all likelihood all the generations before then too) of patriarchy.

Not just any patriarchy, nope.

The kind of patriarchy that treats women as property, daughters in particular. The sexuality of a daughter held up on some pedestal as her most valued asset, the one where the dutiful father serves are armed protector.

As if that whole thing isn't gross enough, this particular bumper sticker takes the misogyny one level further, implying that only the pretty girls are worth defending.



Fuck this shit.

It's disgusting, it's misogynistic. It implies that women aren't capable of making their own choices, that their fathers are the gatekeepers of their hearts and vaginas, but only if they're cute enough to be worth defending.

I posted about this on my personal page, and as I totally expected, I had people tell me that I'm wrong here. That it's just a cute joke. That all parents of all kids feel that way.

It's not a joke. Fathers actually kill the kids their teenage daughters date or attempt to date. There is a whole phenomenon in the days of social media where fathers with shotguns wedge themselves between their daughters and the boys who made the mistake of asking them to a dance, then posting that threat online with some "cute" caption about how "he'll do to him whatever he does to her".


So, we're all at once assuming that teenage boys are incapable of avoiding sexually assaulting girls, and that their fathers will repay that assault directly to the offending boy?

For real?

That's not how this works. That's not how any of this works!

If assault happens, it should be reported, and the legal system should take care of doling out the appropriate punishment. (of course this assumes that sexual assault is taken seriously by the legal system in the first place...) This isn't vigilante world, you guys.

As for the argument that all parents love their children and want the best for them and want to protect them, sure. I totally agree. Most parents do all those things.

But this bumper sticker doesn't say any of those things.


It says something different altogether.


A teeny bit of election ranting
Okay, so I lied. There is going to be an election rant, but this one doesn't actually have much to do with the candidates or the other things we are all voting on today.


It has to do with the suffragettes thing that is going on. The professions of love and adoration towards Susan B. Anthony on this historic day when women are voting for a woman for President of the United States and how we are all supposed to be wearing white pantsuits as some sign of solidarity.


White feminism in full effect.

This day is a historic one, and with any luck, the outcome of the election will be too, but as white feminists are oft to do, they've taken this whole thing and made it about them.

They've pushed aside the harsh reality that the 19th Amendment didn't really do what so many think it did. It granted white women the right to vote. It wasn't something that was truly extended to minority women in many places until the Voting Rights Act was signed.

Forty five years later.

Susan B. Anthony, like so many of the other historical figures we were taught about in school, was a problematic person. Sure, she accomplished a lot for white women, but she did so while deliberately excluding all the other women. The movement intentionally didn't encompass black women or women of any other racial or ethnic category, the movement intentionally excluded them.

As I shared on social media earlier today, we've only ever been taught about the positive aspects of these figures. We've been spoon fed the list of their accomplishments as though those achievements were enough to erase the harms they also perpetrated.

It wasn't until recently that I myself learned about Ida B. Wells. The child of former slaves fought to be included in the suffrage demonstrations led by white women, refusing to allow them to segregate her out. She wasn't just fighting for the right to vote either, she led movements against lynchings, and consistently fought for the rights of black women throughout her life. She was one of the founding members of the NAACP. In her final days, she even ran for office, fed up with the choice in candidates.

You may not have ever heard her name, and that reason is a simple one.

The history we were taught was whitewashed. The accomplishments of white leaders celebrated, the terrible things they did discarded. Everyone else, relegated to a footnote, if they were included at all.

Our history was written by those with a vested interest in making sure that only one version of these stories was told, and that history is disingenuous. It is incomplete. It is flawed. And it is extraordinarily imperfect. Perpetuating the belief that only the good should be remembered, that only the suffrage of the white women mattered, is wrong.

I'll be celebrating the history of this moment, certainly, but I won't be thanking Susan B. Anthony. I'll be thanking each and every woman who fought this fight so that we could all be here today, and I'm making damned sure that my children are told the full truth that I wasn't.

If that makes you uncomfortable, too bad. You've been raised to believe partial truths at best. Real history is messy. Learn it anyway.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the gratitude edition

Howdy, Hive!

How's everyone doing today? Still cramming candy in your mouth as fast as humanly possible? That's what I thought.

Anyhow, I'm trying to actually do the #NANOWRIMO challenge this year, which I'm virtually certain I will fail at, but hey....if starting things I won't finish isn't basically my mantra in life, I don't know what is.

That's self deprecating humor for anyone new here. It's also kinda my thing.


There's some candy to the left.

Holy logo, Batman.

Sorry, I'm trying out image sizes since I've gone and changed the whole layout of the old blog.

No, I'm not really sorry.

That was a lie.

Let's just get to it.

This is a weird thing to be ranting about, right???

It's the first of November, and that means that on all medias social, people will be writing the things that they are grateful for this month. Maybe they do it every day, maybe they do it once. Maybe those posts are deep and emotional and meaningful. Maybe they are shallow and material based.


Let people be grateful for what they are grateful for.

You know and I know what is going to happen, though.....eventually, maybe even today already, people started showing up in the comments of those gratitude posts to shit on whatever the original poster was grateful for.

For the love.

Leave people alone. You can do this thing where you scroll by all the shit that annoys you online. Honest.

And then, for a hot second, maybe think about why it annoys you that someone else is grateful for the things they have, the people in their lives...for whatever it is they're grateful for. It probably says more about you than it does about them.

Besides which, it's social media....the land of perfectly posed photos and people lying to themselves by lying to everyone else online about how great their lives are. You can only believe a fraction of what you read on Facebook anyway because most people aren't so forthcoming about the shitty realities of life. They only post the good.

WHICH IS FINE. They can do that.

Just don't let that distortion of reality creep under your skin.

Post whatever you want.

As for me, this was my first post for the month of gratitude.

Day 1: I'm thankful someone in the neighborhood was handing these out last night and that whichever house previously handed out religious propaganda on Halloween either moved or gave up. 

(p.s. they might not all be this snarky, you've been warned)

The Pipeline
Yeah, that one. If you aren't pissed about it, then either you aren't paying attention, or I'm just going to assume you have stock in the O&G industry.

It's routed through the places it is because white people were concerned about the effects of it on their water supply.

Social media showings of support are great and all, but they'll only do so much.

(and tbh I don't think any Native Peoples are really going to believe that the white people online have their back unless they do more, you know what I mean?)

Call your representatives. Email them. Tell them to stop the pipeline.

If you're able, donate money to the legal fund fighting the pipeline.

Stop Appropriating EVERYTHING white people
Yeah, I'm calling you out.

I see you. The people condemning the blackface costumes, but painting your face like a sugar skull for Halloween.

I see you.

I see you, those claiming to be "colorblind" (which totally isn't a thing, btw), and then wearing that cute native inspired knockoff jewelry from that large chain retailer.

I see that geisha "costume".

There is absolutely nothing in the universe wrong with learning about other cultures and traditions, with appreciating them. In fact, DO THIS MORE. Learn.

------hold on a second.

While we're at this point in the conversation, the one about learning....do it yourself. If you're reading this post, you are already on the internet and know how to use it. That search button opens up a whole big world of information for you if you're willing and able to use it. It isn't someone else's job to teach you what is and is not appropriate. It isn't someone else's job to unteach the history lessons you learned back in school decades ago and teach you the accurate version. It isn't someone else's job to teach you anything, and it sure isn't the responsibility of the groups you "borrow" from to do it. Do your own work. Do it every day.


Moving on.

I can't speak for other racial and ethnic groups, but I'd hazard a guess that most people probably wouldn't even have an issue with white people participating (to a reasonable degree and without centering it around them) in those traditions.

Some things just don't belong to you, white people. They just don't.

What you can't do, what you shouldn't do, what you totally have to stop doing, is taking bits and pieces of other cultures and claiming that you can just use them at will, for fashion, for costumes, for show.

Appreciate and learn.

Stop stealing.


The Damned Election
Well, by this time next week, by the grace of Thor, we'll have an idea who wins. Or at least I hope to Thor we do.

I sincerely hope that this fucking election doesn't come down to one state and fighting over electoral college votes and allegations of poll abuses.

I just want it over.

I've stopped looking at polls because it's making me anxious.

I've stopped trying to talk to anyone who has been convinced by certain members of the news media about what they should do.

I voted (though I haven't dropped it off yet because I WANT MY STICKER DAMMIT). And I did my voting like the dinosaur I am....with all the pamphlets and text of the propositions and my own goddamn research.

Oh, the swears.

Where is Key and Peele when I need them??? I really need to channel my inner Luther.

Correlation is not causation. CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION. 
Forget Luther, I'm going full Hulk now.

There are so many studies that have been released in the past few weeks about all the shit that new parents are already worried about. SIDS. Breastfeeding. Epidurals. Postpartum depression. Where babies should sleep and with whom.

There's a long damn list.

I so wish that the researchers could understand the potential damage they are doing with the release of these studies, particularly the ones that are small sample sizes, funded by someone with  horse in the race, and show tenuous connections that may or may not be attributed to an actual connection but could just be because this study is totally flawed.


Every time one of these studies come out, parents start second guessing themselves. Parents do this anyway, but imagine the following types of second guessing:

"I tried everything to breastfeed and it didn't work, now my baby is going to ________?" (fill in that blank with about a million things)

"What if that Tylenol I took when I was pregnant that one time caused her to have autism?"

"Have I ruined my child's emotional stability because I had postpartum depression?"

"Would my baby have died from SIDS if he was still in my room?"

Pretty awful, right?

Yeah. Pretty awful.

As archaic as it was, I almost long for the days when I was in grad school and most people didn't have access to every study ever published. When you had to peruse academic journals in university libraries and probably had a basic level of understanding about study design and statistics before you read anything. When you understood the conflict of interest inherent in study funding. By the time information about a study would become public knowledge, it'd have been interpreted already - and discounted or lauded by those who possess the ability to be truly critical of it. People weren't emotionally manipulated every other day by whatever became a trending story online.

Those were the days.

I really am a dinosaur.

Get off my lawn.

Oh, and before anyone starts in on me about this section, it really isn't me making an argument in favor of academic elitism as much as it sounds....it has more to do with responsible journalism and strenuous critique within the health care industry.

Birth Control
While we're at it, let's talk about the study for male birth control that was halted because the side effects were too bad.


For real.

And....before anyone starts to come at me with the stats on the suicide risks being elevated and how the study stoppage was legit because of that, I want to see your research on the emotional stability of women throughout history who used hormonal birth control methods with mental health issues that were attributed to something else.

I'd love to see that study.

The study on men was stopped because it could be. Men could quit the BC because they could.

Women have to deal with the actual physical consequences of pregnancy, so we don't get an out. We're supposed to be grateful that we're able to not get pregnant, and suck it up and deal with the side effects.

So, there's that.

Happy Tuesday.

p.s. That was 1500 words, so I'm counting this as my contribution to NANOWRIMO for the day.

Some of My Most Popular Posts