Saturday, December 31, 2016

That's Right, I'm Resoluting, My Bitches!

Happy New Years!

There's one house in my neighborhood that had a Trump/Pence sign.  It's also the one house in my neighborhood where the shades are always drawn.  I think this is a pretty apt metaphor for Trumplethinskin and his supporters: folks so afraid of the outside world that they choose to sit in the dark.  But the man they voted for and believe in so passionately is just an empty suit who doesn't hear any words except "Dang! The Donald Is So Sessy!" This is what he hears when you say "I had a bagel for breakfast" or "Build That Wall!" This is all he ever hears. But the forces acting behind him are eager to divest us all of our social security and our healthcare.  They're gearing up to throw dollars at the oligarchy and deprive our children and grandchildren of a habitable environment.  They're ready to put a SCOTUS in place that will not only rob women of autonomy of our bodies, but will also insure that rapacious corporate interests can carry on untrammeled for a generation, so the CEO of Wal-Mart can buy and sell a whole state (a good one! not one of those ones where no one lives) while Wal-Mart's shelves are stocked by 80 year old grampas who can't afford to retire.

Tump voters made a bad choice.  And one of my resolutions this year is to never stop letting them know.  This is not because I am eager to be right (good golly to the holy FSM I hope I'm wrong).  But it's because the American right doesn't get to keep screwing things up and blaming the American left.  You made this bed that we all have to lie in and I'm not studying on being humble and claiming equal culpability for these short sheets.  I was dumb enough to think he'd never win, but you were dumb enough to vote for him, which means I'm dumb but also I'm less dumb.  And as part of less-dumb America (the majority of America, not for nothing) we need to make sure we are all grown up enough to identify dumb when we see it.  I am resolute.

I am actually a resolving kind of lady.  I am allatime resolving.  I resolve just about every Sunday night to Do Better and Be Better.  I don't think this is a terrible thing.  The primary exercise of life should be to Do Better and Be Better. Here are some of the ones I made for 2017:

Be Involved
- I'm marching on 1/21 to let Trump and his supporters know that we're not going to "get over it."  I am stunned, actually stunned, by the number of people who believe like faith that this dubious electoral college victory to the most powerful post in the world is like a football game where nothing counts beyond winner and loser. What is wrong with these people?  Can this be diagnosed? Is it just general dumbassery or has something gotten into the water where they live? To quote Joe Biden: this is a big fucking deal and, no, I'm not going to sit back and say "wait 'til next year."  Trump has made his intentions amply clear and I plan to take him at his word and loudly object.

- I'm not going to stop calling my Senator and Congresswoman.  We should all be doing this at least three times a week.  Make your voice heard.  Bug those staffers.  It matters.

- I've signed up to tutor an immigrant on the Citizenship exam.  I'm actually super stoked about this and I start on Tuesday.  There's no better resistance to the xenophobia that put Trump in place than helping to welcome new Americans to this IMMIGRANT nation. Every time someone is an a-hole to an accented-American their dead great-granny up in heaven weeps on account of how someone was a likewise jerkwad to her back in 1923 and she never thought her own progeny would be so mean (note: as an Atheist-American, I don't actually believe in an afterlife, so treat this as a metaphor but be nice to an immigrant on account of how you don't want to make your ghostly great-granny cry)

Be Kind

Here's the late, great Kurt Vonnegut in meme form:

Yes.  Even to Trumpeters.  I plan to make a solid attempt to be kind to everyone.  If you want to get in front of me in traffic and you have a Trump sticker on I will probably let you (note: only if you've turned on your blinker. I am a blinker-absolutist.  Non-blinker-users get no traffic allowances from me no matter what your politics are).  I think we can call out bullshit where we see it without being assholes about it.  And I plan to.

Stay Mad
Oh boy, I'm mad and I plan on living in it. I know that when they go low, I'm supposed to go high.  And that's part of this whole "be kind" thing.  But that doesn't mean we shouldn't stay mad.  Mad gets things done.  Mad moves nations. You can be loving and angry. Martin Luthor King Jr was mad at racism.  Jane Addams was angry at injustice.  Injustice and cruelty should make us angry and our anger should inspire us to action.  I'm planning to stay mad.  The anger staunches despair.  Don't let anyone tell you to stop being mad.

I'm a bad cook and so I eat bad food.  I don't think I will ever be a good cook.  But I plan to be a less bad cook and cook some meals so I can eat less bad food.  I may even blog my cooking attempts because, you know, it can't be all politics all the time.

It's almost 2017.  Let's all try to Do Better and to Be Better.  And to get rid of Donald Fucking Trump - because he is the worst part of 2016 which is really saying something since 2016 is when we lost Princess Leia (who we JUST got back, dammit) and Prince.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

All I Want for Christmas is to Stay Here in My White, Hot Rage

Other people have written about this better than I will.  I like this piece from Kara Brown. I like this one by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie even more (by the way, have you read Americanah?  It's so good).  But, I'm just gonna take my own amateurish stab at it and tell you why I am not going to reach out to Trump supporters because I could not find a way to be less interested in reaching out to a Trump fan if I had a Trump map and a Trump compass (fun fact: the Trump compass points straight to the flaming pits of hell and then breaks).

One of my beloved cousins, who is so smart and so cool, told me that I couldn't just call 62m Trump voters racist.  And, I get that.  I really do. I get how it could seem unhelpful.

Except ... of course, I can call 62m Trump voters racist.  I'm pretty happy to call a solid 60% of the country racist.

I count myself among that 60%. I am not immune from feeling a shiver of fear when a black male walks in my direction on the street.  And I hate that.  I hate that I have that feeling. And I find myself constantly fighting the racist inclinations that have been bred into me as a white American through 240 years of white supremacy.  I think and hope that I am winning this battle against my own racism.  But I'm not optimistic enough to expect anything less than a lifelong fight.

Until we acknowledge that racism is built into the fiber of this nation and stop thinking that racism only comes in white hoods and burning crosses, we're never going to get better.  The first step to solving a problem and all that...

Remember during the first debate when Hillary was asked if she thought police had an implicit bias and she said "we all have an implicit bias."  Jesus, to think how close we came to having another grown-up in the White House.  It's just devastating.

But we didn't get a grown-up.  We got President Pussygrabber, who racism put into the White House.  And as such, we white folks need to focus on the people who will suffer the most from this devastating presidency.

And that's not white people.

People are scared of Trumplethinskin's presidency.  I'm scared.  But I'm not as scared as the Mexican kid who's afraid that her parents are going to be deported (by the way, it doesn't matter to that kid if her parents are here legally or not: she's picked up on the tone.  She knows what they mean).  Black men are scared that they're going to be harassed by law enforcement with impunity (here's a fun thought experiment: imagine a rich white dude getting stopped and frisked).  Black mothers are afraid that their sons will keep being killed and no one will care.  Women of all colors are afraid of forced pregnancies, of sexual assault becoming even more normalized. LGBTQ Americans are scared of being forced back into the closet.  Muslim Americans are terrified of being put on a registry and then...

And that's where our focus as Progressives and Liberals should be: the people directly and explicitly threatened by President Orange Julius Caesar. The only message I've got for poor rural, whites who voted for Trump is "Hey, you may want to google Paul Ryan Medicare or Paul Ryan Social Security."  That's all the energy I have for them.

And look, I don't wish evil on poor, white Trump voters. I want them to have jobs and healthcare and decent public education.  I want them to be able to retire at a reasonable age instead of spending their golden years stocking shelves at the Super Walmart that drove their hardware store out of business.  As a matter of fact, that's why I vote Democrat!

But if we focus our fight on the minority people who are living through this noxious cloud of visceral hate, if we push our political will towards them, we'll be OK.  We'll be better than OK.  Remember almost 3m more people voted for Hillary.  We won and we need to politic like we did.

Two more things: this is a white people fight.  We have been sitting around too long waiting for the Magical Negro to come around and make us better and then forgive us.  We have been putting the burden of fixing racism and for forgiving white people on black people for too long.  No more.

Second, never forget, my fellow Progressives: plenty of white people who aren't suffering from economic insecurity voted for that walking Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  This guy doesn't have any economic insecurity.  Neither does this lady.  They just know They're Supposed to Get More. And you know what?  Fuck those people.  I'm sick of them.  And I'm ready to be louder and angrier than they are.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Calling My Own Damn Self Out

So yesterday I wrote a post in which I complained about being called a "liberal elite" because I live in a city.  I made it seem that urban people are a lot better at not being racist than suburban/exurban/rural people.  And while I do think that it's easier to quell white panic in the face of black or brown people when you live among them, still...

See, I live in Chicago, which is a city in which over 600 people have been murdered this year already, the vast majority of whom were black men and boys. Much of white Chicago has convinced itself that these deaths are just an unavoidable consequence of life in some parts of the city.  But we all know the truth: if white men and boys were dying at rates like that, we'd give a shit.  We'd demand that law enforcement and the political powers that be do something about it.  We wouldn't just shrug our shoulders and sigh.

Donald Trump and his cartoon henchman, Rudy Giuliani, claim "they're killing each other" and that the only cure is to empower law enforcement to routinely harass black men and boys for crimes like walking down the street or having a public conversation. But imagine, my fellow white people, how we'd respond to that kind of humiliation.  We get angry when the cashier at McDonald's is insufficiently pleased to wait on us.

I grossly underestimated white resentment and white panic in America.  But I no longer will. This is what put Donald Trump in the White House.  And while we white people bear the blame for this, it's black and brown people who'll shoulder the burden.

We have to be better. All of us white people need to be better.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

One Day of a Social Media Drought

So, yesterday, I couldn't hardly muster the strength to do anything but bury my head under the blankets and watch Gilmore Girls.  (Thank you Gilmore Girls.  Thank you, Netflix.) Unfortunately, though, I couldn't stay under the covers all day, because I signed up to sell pizzas for a fundraiser at Laney's school.  I was there for a couple of hours and found myself feeling a little hungry (selling pizza coupons will do that) so I asked some of the kids there if they wanted me to get something for them to eat.  One of these kids was a 14 yr old transgender Mexican-American boy who is just goddamn delightful.  When I said to him, "Are you hungry," he didn't palaver about. He just said, "Yeah.  Let's go to Sonic."  I just love people who say, "Hey, let's go to Sonic" instead of "I dunno.. what do you want", don't you?  And then this kid jumped in the front seat and had a whole conversation with me about the election while we were driving to Sonic.

Lookit: I want to live in a place that is a home for transgender Mexican-American kids.  As a matter of fact, I demand it.

I returned to the internet today to see what the rest of the world was saying and feeling and have emerged somewhat energized and with an action plan. But first a categorical and then a qualitative objection to some of the things flying around out there.

Categorical objection: To the holier-than-thou left, do not claim that there wasn't real passion behind Hillary Rodham Clinton. And stop claiming she only won because she was the choice of the DNC.  She won because more people voted for her.  Because more people liked her and wanted to be president.  For millions of Americans she was the candidate of choice.  We were not "voting with our vaginas" (an expression, by the way, that needs to be taken out behind the shed, shot, and die a merciful death ).  Millions of Americans Were With Her.  Millions of Americans Are With Her.

I look forward to the modern musical masterpiece that Lin Manuel Miranda and Sarah Bareilles will one day write about how America treated Hillary Clinton.  It was shoddy and shitty and she deserved so much better. Her strength and grace are awe-inspiring.  She is my hero.

Qualitative Objection: Speaking of Lin Manuel Miranda, every time I read the words "liberal elite" in some thinkpiece I thought of the part in "Meet Me Inside" when Hamilton threatens, "Call me son one more time!" I was all "Call me an elite one more time!"  It's similar, you know, because when Washington calls Hamilton "Son," he's not being dismissive and is really trying to teach him something. And I know all those "liberal elite" thinkpieces are trying to tell me something.  But it's still runs up against something that I believe real passionately in and it pisses me off.  To wit: I don't live in my blue bubble of urban life because I'm hitting the symphony and then discussing those boorish Trump supporters over caviar and toast points.  I live here because it is vitally important to me that I don't live and, especially, don't raise my daughter in some racially, socioeconomically same-y environment. I don't want to live in a place surrounded by a bunch of white people where racism is only understood as some abstract evil.  I want to send my daughter out into the world where she understands that people who look different than her are people; not ideas, not cautionary tales.  Just people. And that is not elitist.

On the other hand, yeah, it's true: I've culled my Facebook feed down to likeminded people.  I'm going to keep it that way, though.  I maintain that no one's mind has ever been changed on Facebook.  Ever.

But I do think I need to change in real ways.  So here's my post-Trump action plan:

1. Beginning this month, we're sending $100/month to the ACLU.  This is enough money that it will hurt a little to give it. And I think we should all be giving enough money that it hurts a little.  I've picked the ACLU because despite the kind of horny passion the GOP claim for the Constitution, they're gonna beat it up real bad in service to their corporate overlords and we need some good lawyers defending it.  The ACLU has those.

2. I'm going to start volunteering some number of hours a month a group that helps immigrants. This push/pull between groups coming in and the "Screw you/I've got mine" folks that have been here a while is just how it is in a nation of immigrants (which we are, to our great benefit).  But I can't imagine how terrified immigrants are right now. I'm going to start helping.

3. I will not politely tolerate any quietly racist shit anymore.  If I see something, I'll say something. And the thing is, this doesn't have to result in a screaming pie fight.  When Auntie Alice says something about "those people," just point out that what she's said sounds racist. Don't say "Wow, Aunt Alice, you're a gross racist!" Instead say, "Alice, I think what you've said sounds a little racist.  Can you clarify since I know you didn't mean it that way?" No one wants to be a racist (well, some people do, but we're just going to have to leave them there in that basket of deplorables).  But we can tell our small-town, exurban, suburban friends what we've witnessed living in our "elite" cities.  We can teach them that BLM is not just whining or making stuff up.  We can make them understand that our white skin protects us in a way that is unfair and un-American.  This is what morality demands.

4. I'm going to get ready for 2018 election and support Democratic candidates in battleground districts.  And I'm not going to let anyone forget, for a hot minute, than the 2018 election is just as important as the 2016 one.

5.  Finally, I'm not going to sink into despair, I'm going to keep my sense of humor and I'm going to re-dedicate myself to being less of an asshole.  Pretty much my guiding ethos is "don't be an asshole." I think I tend to succeed reasonably well in most areas except one: I drive like an asshole.  I get irrationally angry at people who don't go right away when the light turns green, or drive too slowly down city streets.  But, you know what?  With Asshole-America running the show right now, we all need to curb our asshole instincts. So, in response to President Trump, I'm going to be nicer when I drive.  Isn't that a small thing? But small things add up.  I really believe it.

It's not the end of the world.  But it's bad. It's really bad.  I think our daughters have lost autonomy over their bodies (except in these blue bubbles).  I think immigrants are going to be abused.  I think our economy is going to tank.  I think Rudy Giuliani is going to institute his stop and frisk hellscape (remember white people, if you see something, say something).  But the worse America gets, the better Americans have to be. So let's all be better.  Work, and give and be kind.  

Friday, October 28, 2016


First things first:


OK, now that we've gotten that out of the way, I've got something to say about this thing I keep seeing on my Facebook. 

Last year, when Supergirl started airing on the CW, I thought that would be a show that Laney and I could watch.  But during the (charming) pilot, Laney kept rolling her eyes and saying "Why does she have to wear a skirt?"  And I'd say, "Maybe she likes to wear a skirt?"

The wearing of a skirt, you see, is not an inherently political act.

Supergirl isn't sexualized.  She isn't fetishized.  She has agency and intelligence.  Her skirt does not impede her heroism. But somehow her skirt made her suspect. Somehow my feminist daughter picked up the belief that Girl Stuff Iz Bad.  We had a talk about it.  The seeds are planted. But, goddammit, you guys: feminism doesn't mean rejecting femininity.

Which brings me to this facacta thing that I have seen on my Facebook roughly eleventy million times over the last couple of days:

Oh my god, you guys! Are we really at the point where we're gonna tell our daughters that it's better to be Batman (note: MAN) than it is to be a Princess? I get that the gist is supposed to be that this girl is an independent free-thinker.  But the "Batman"-ness of it cannot be ignored!  The fact remains that this meme asks us to celebrate the girl who aspires to a Man.

(And god, the worst man! Batman has been a tiresome, gravelly-voiced, self-important sack of no-fun ever since Michael Keaton hung up his cowl. Latter day Batman sux.  Bring it.) 

The girl who likes cosmetics and clothes is not doing Girl wrong.  The girl who likes superheroes and sports isn't doing Girl right.  There's no right or wrong way to Girl. Girls just are.

Femininity and masculinity are, on the other hand, constructs; things we choose to dress ourselves up in.  And the thing that's been historically and culturally associated with the ladieez isn't suspect for having been so.

There's not a damn thing wrong with a girl (or a boy) who likes a sparkly dress and tiaras!  Tiaras are fucking fabulous!  I wish I were wearing one right goddamn now.  

There's not a damn thing wrong with a girl (or a boy) who wants to rock the cape and a cowl (although, you might want to expose her to some better superheroes because, as been previously stated: Batman sux).

Now that's been said, LET'S GET SOME RUNS!!!


Monday, October 10, 2016

In Gratitude for Donald Trump

I bet you're thinking I'm going to write some sarcastically grateful post about how Donald Trump is practically handing this election to Hillary, whom I've backed since the salad days of 2015. Nope.  This goddamn thing could still turn on a dime so I'm keeping my cart firmly behind my horse.

This is something else.

When Isis (the Egyptian god, not the terrorist ratfuckers) tricked Ra into giving up his real name, she had complete control over him and was able to put her own son on the throne. When the Miller's daughter learned Rumplestiltskin's true name, she got to keep her child and her husband and all her wealth.  In Scandinavian myth, there are evil male water spirits who lure women and children into their lakes and drown them. They are only defeated when called by their true name.

And Donald Trump [consults Jezebel's handy Donald Trump naming guide,} that roiling cheez whiz mass, has given us his True Name, and the True Name of so many like him.

Pussygrabber (n): An old, unattractive, likely white man, whose entrenched male privilege causes him to seek pleasure by dominating women via inappropriate sexual advances.

That friend of your dad's who ran his eyes up and down your 15 year old body as he commented on how much you've grown? Pussygrabber.

That man you're waiting on at the restaurant who wants to hold your hand as he tells you he'll take real good care of you?  Pussygrabber.

The guy on the train who grabs your pussy?  Well, that one's a little on the nose.

Donald Trump, you narcissistic bowl of rotten gazpacho, you've given us such a gift!

The next time you walk into a crowd of guys and they're looking at you and laughing but they won't tell you why? You can make your eyes go big and say, "Oh, I didn't know you guys were all pussygrabbers!  I thought it was just Brody!"

Oh, Donald Trump, you sculpture your three-year-old made out of soggy ground-up goldfish snacks, by naming it, you've taken away so much of its power!

Pussygrabbers, through the years, have been sure they're members of a rare and privileged group; they've thought that all women wanted them and all men wanted to be them. But that name makes it a little harder to be smug, doesn't it?

Pussygrabber is not "male, chauvinist pig," which is what we called pussygrabbers back in the day.  That phrase was ladylike, easy to scoff at and claim feminine hypersensitivity in the face of.  But pussygrabber is happy to make you feel uncomfortable.  Pussygrabber means we know exactly who you are.

The emperor has no clothes and his name is Pussygrabber.  And come November:

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Menses and the Modern Gal

I know I've written about this before... but you know that episode of The Cosby Show where Rudy gets her first period and has "Woman's Day" with Clair?  Remember?  Rudy came home with her sweatshirt tied around her waist and then her Mom took her for ice cream and they watched Gone With the Wind at Rudy's behest (weird choice, Rudy, that movie is sooooper racist).  I planned at that moment in 1986 that if I ever had a daughter, I'd do the same (minus the racist movie).

But when it happened in real life, I found myself leaning away from Clair's lesson (and not just because all things Cosby are a little suspect) and leaning into my own: it became important for me to tell my daughter that periods make you strong.

Once a month, for years and years, girls and women go out into the world feeling not quite like ourselves.  We'll likely be in some degree of physical discomfort, if not outright pain.  Our emotional balance is a little off-keel.  And no one, outside of maybe your immediate family, will accept this as an excuse for not performing as per usual.   You're gonna have to go to that class, or sit in the meeting, or finish that project, or fly that plane, or swim in that Olympic meet, no matter how you're feeling because it can't be an excuse.  It can't be an excuse because it makes men uncomfortable. It can't be an excuse because it pisses other women off when you try to make it one.

This is a way in which women are inherently stronger than men.  Monthly we just deal with it and men have no idea how heavy that burden can be.

Donald Trump would take to his 2000 thread count sheets at the top of Trump Tower with a hot water bottle and a fucking binky, whining through that weird butthole mouth of his if he'd ever had to deal with the mildest of periods because Donald Trump is the weakest, tenderest set of dangling old man balls the world has ever seen.  He can take nothing.  He is insubstantial.

His veneer of machismo is so thin, so obvious a cover for a massive, trembly core of male fragility.

And yet the media obsesses over Hillary Clinton's health. They excuse Donald Trump any weakness (mental or physical) and accept his claims of power and mightiness because he's rich and has a penis (I assume.  Ew). But strong women don't fit neatly into our western narrative, which is just historically fucking lousy with "don't worry your pretty little head over it."  Somehow, as a society, we've decided we have to expose Hillary's weakness because women are weak.  QED.

Hillary Clinton has pneumonia.  She doesn't have consumption.  She doesn't have fucking pleurisy.  She has an illness treatable with fluids and a couple of days rest.  But because she is not allowed any sign of physical weakness, she tried to power through it and after 90 minutes in a 80+ degree weather, in a suit over Kevlar, she got woozy and the whole world said "SEE LOOK THERE!  WEAK LADY IS WEAK!"

Had Donald Trump gotten a case of the sniffles he'd be snuggled up in his aforementioned 2000 threadcount sheets, tweeting.

Hillary is a BAMF.  She is tough as hell.  She is a 68 year old woman who made a career for herself at a time when the world was viciously hostile to women having careers in the law.  She has birthed a child (which is way harder than laying your gross seed, Trump).  She has stood up to 30 years of focused attack by a press more interested in gossip than news. She's been accused of sneaky lesbianism; been called "castrating" (FYI, gentlemen, when you refer to a woman who is not Lorena Bobbitt as "castrating," that says more about you than her).  She's had her character assassinated by political enemies and lazy reporters.  And she spent 30+ years bleeding out of her wherever once a month without ever letting that get in the way of her life because that's what women do.  

Hillary Clinton is a tough broad. She has a brilliant policy mind.  She is a kind and decent person. She will be a great president.

Get on board.  And quit pretending that bombastic, trembling, gelatinous male fragility incarnate even deserves to be in the same room as her.  

He doesn't.