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.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Lessons Gleaned from Dick Van Dyke

I know.  These are dark days  Parlous times.  We have a guy with a real (if slim) chance to become President who is such a huge racist that it almost... almost...obscures what a vile misogynist he is.  Fortunately, the hateful motherfucker umbrella is a big one and there's room to offend just about every class of people under it.

I swear I came up with that hateful umbrella metaphor all on my own, but when I did a Google images search for a funny gif to go with it, this turned up:

There is no new idea under the sun.

Except maybe this one.  I present to you that as shitty as things seem now, they are, in fact better than they have ever been before here in these United States of America. And for evidence, I'm going to tell you about an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show that I recently saw, called "The Lady, The Tiger, and the Lawyer."

The premise of this episode: a suave, handsome single man named (IIRC) Ted moves in next door to the Petrie's charming New Rochelle manse.  Laura decides she needs to set him up with someone because you know how women are!  Women be matchmaking!   But when Rob suggests perpetually single lovelorn Sally Rogers as a potential match, Laura demurs.  Sally is a little too... too... you know?  She thinks her single cousin, Donna, is a better choice.

Rob and Laura engage in marital hijinks (not that kind!  Babies still came via stork in 1965) and decide that the Superior Matchmaker component of the ongoing game, Marriage, has begun.  Dinners for Handsome Ted are arranged for the next two nights.

First Ted and Donna hit it off swimmingly.  They like all the same things, one of which is rocks (I don't know).  Rob is ready to throw in the Sally Rogers-shaped towel, but Laura insists he go through with it for the Honor of the Competition.  Whaddya know, Ted and Sally hit it off just as well.  Ted gets Sally.  He thinks she's hilarious. (She is hilarious, but maybe a little exhausting, right?  Same with Buddy.  Maybe just once stop with the jokes?  Just a little?).  The question of who is currently winning Marriage remains undecided.

By night three, Ted hasn't called either "girl" and Laura and Rob are just all kinds of twitterpated about this because Marriage demands a winner! As Rob and Laura begin to work through their scheme database to come up with  good way to find out which "girl" Ted has chosen, Ted knocks on the door!  

Ted wants to explain to Rob and Laura (noteworthily: not Donna or Sally) why he isn't going to call either "girl".

Are you guys ready for this?  Are you?

Turns our Ted's under psychiatric care and is only allowed to see a "girl" once. Because, you see, he's been married three or four times before and he has this problem.  He has a terrible temper and this unfortunate habit of hitting his wives.

Hilarious, right?  

It all worked out and neither Rob nor Laura lose Marriage, because it's all  down to Ted's little wife-beating habit!

Now, look, I know what you're thinking. I'm being a ridiculous anachronistic strident feminist killjoy because it was a different time.

But that's just my point.  

The endless navel-gazing of the Internet and social media in particular can be exhausting.  The constant interrogation of humor for sexism, racism, classism, etc may seem to suck the joy out of comedy. Donald Trump is VERY opposed to political correctness.  But there's no such thing as "political correctness."  We've just taken away asshole carte blanche from white, straight cis-men.  And this makes us better. It makes the world bigger and more open and funnier.

So when you find yourself descending into Trumpian despair, ask yourself this: if I could live at any point in history, but with no control over gender,  race,  able-bodiedness, or sexual orientation, when would you live? The answer is either now or GTFO.   
(The Dick Van Dyke Show was still pretty good, y'all.  And I love Laura's capri pants.)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Seriously, You Guys, Where is the Damn Carrot Peeler?

I always return from vacation cheerfully replete with good intentions.  You know how it is - you're all refreshed and relaxed and also you've just spent several days eating and drinking to vast excess?  (Right? That's not just me, right?) So I went to the store to buy some healthy food because a woman cannot survive on alcohol, sugar and fried foods alone.  I shopped with the full intention to embrace virtue, you know, gastronomically.

In the immediate present, though, I find myself sitting here in front of my laptop with a damn cut on my damn right wrist which I got scavenging through my damn kitchen drawers looking for the damn carrot peeler and I cannot, dammit, find it anywhere! Where is the carrot peeler, you guys?  Where did I put it?

I do not believe it is possible to become a woman who will put the carrot peeler back where it belongs. I know this because I wrote this exact same damn blogpost two years ago about tweezers rather than carrot peelers.

One of my post-holiday good intentions was to try and write more.  I had some plans to bloggily sort through my complicated feelings about the demise of Gawker.  I had a post in mind about how I think that while Donald Trump is an absolute joke he still may manage to foment terrorism from within the Crazy Motherfucker rank and file (Not all Donald Trump fans are Crazy Motherfuckers - but, man, a whooooole lot of them are and I am kinda low-key worried about the Crazy Motherfucker surfeit in America these days). I had a bloggy idea about familial competition (within my little family, we are weirdly competitive about who's getting the best cell service).  I had ideas is what I'm saying.

But they've been buried underneath a mountain of frustration because I cannot find the goddamn carrot peeler and I have no one to cast this annoyance unto but my own damn self.

Seriously, though, do you guys know where my damn carrot peeler is?  And if you do not know this (and why would you) can you recommend some sort of blog or something?  Not to learn how to be more organized (I will never be more organized), but with some advice on how to accept that it is OK to be a little disorganized and that, as it is possible to get a new carrot peeler for under $5, I should just, Jesus, you know, relax about it a little?  Because I remain all goddammity.

Sigh. I'm just going to have a beer and some cheese or something.