Typically narcissistic blogging.

Really?

Animal

Hey, kid.
Hop off your tricycle.
Listen.
It’s never too soon to know what you are.

You are Black.

You are.
Black.
A diversity statistic.
A token.
A shoplifting risk.

You are.
Potential trouble.
Definitely trouble.
Going to be suspended.
Not a job prospect.

You are a tangible threat.

Terminology is essential, so keep these in mind:
Y’all don’t rally, you riot.
Y’all don’t assert your rights, you resist arrest.
Y’all don’t find, you loot.
Y’all are not persons fighting for equality, you’re animals.

Animals.

Hey, kid.
Don’t worry.
We’ve got your back.
Three squares a day.
Once we manage to pack you away.

Hey, kid.
Hands up!
Just kidding.
That never works.

Hey, kid.
Nice trike.
Now tell the truth:
Where’d you get it?


Fitting Rooms

For various reasons I am not going into right now, I lost a little over 30lbs over the course of the last several months. End result, simplified? My knees hurt less and my pants don’t fit. I should note that, as a person who will never, ever be “skinny” and never plans to be, I find myself caught between two body weight dogmas. The first tells me I am just buying into systemic fatphobia and the diet industry. The second tells me I should lose weight because pretty=skinny.

Neither is true for me, but it makes me profoundly self-conscious about a personal decision I have made about my body and what I choose to do with and to it. But that’s not why I have decided to write this post.

I have decided to write this post because people keep talking to me as if this weight loss is the Accomplishments of Accomplishments. They exclaim over it with greater enthusiasm than they offer over the fact that I have a law degree, that I know Latin, that I am brilliant, hilarious, and great in bed. Okay, I do get some outright skepticism over that last claim, but whatever. Ladies, you can approach that claim scientifically if you like. My number is [redacted].

I hate being told that I should be super proud of my weight loss. I hate people acting as if it’s the best fucking thing I have ever done. I hate people asking how I feel, as if they have just handed me a fucking Oscar and I am supposed to make a fucking speech.

You know how I feel? Fat.

You know how I would feel if I lost another 30lbs?

Fat.

It has nothing to do with my weight, you see.
fat hearts

The fact is, I’m pretty much okay with this. I’m okay with being fat. I’m less okay with how society has made me feel about being fat. I realize this is something of a contradiction. If I am okay with my body, then why the issues? It’s complicated; I’m a multifaceted Whiskeypants. Let’s leave it at that for now.

What gets me is how much people are not okay with it. How eager they are to praise me for my recently pronounced cheekbones and the fact that I can barely keep my pants up, even with a belt.

What gets me is how they say, “Sweet! You can go shopping now!” —as if all of my body image issues have disappeared and standing in a fitting room no longer sets off every single  issue I still have, no longer fills me with anxiety, no longer makes me wonder why designers won’t even acknowledge people above a certain size. As if pride in my body is directly correlated to my weight loss. (Hint: It isn’t.) Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of what I have accomplished, here. But not because I look 30lbs “better” according to society’s fucked up standards.

What gets me is how they think that my reward for losing weight is getting to wear smaller clothes. Shopping for clothes. Trying on clothes that were designed for people 1/2 my size and never my shape. Buying the clothes that look the least stupid on me.

23NOc6p
Yeah. Tell me more about how I should be excited about that.


Death and Social Media

Not too long ago, my Facebook feed was suddenly peppered with vague posts about the death of somebody who was part of a broader (but quite small) community of which I am a member. People refused to post the name of the person who died.

I was immediately filled with fear and anxiety that I was out of the loop on the death of somebody I might know and care about. It had happened to me with Sparkly (learned about her on Facebook, by accident), and I had been the person filling in people who were out of the loop on Donovan (learned he was in a coma when I was, without warning, added to a Facebook group to discuss it). And what I learned from both of those tragic events is that:

1. It totally sucks to learn these things via Facebook;
2. Learning these things via Facebook is inevitable;
3. Nobody, nobody should be out of the loop when somebody in a close-knit community is seriously injured, near death, or dead;
4. We need to take a serious look at how we handle tragedy on social media.

In the most recent circumstances, a small but very visible and active group within the larger grieving community seemed to think that not naming names would protect privacy, even as they posted details about his death that were far more invasive than his identity. This group was also inclined to criticize those asking for more information. When my very dear friend Rachel, who has lived through more brutal loss than the vast majority of the people I know, finally demanded that people name names, another friend commented, “If you are frustrated by not being in the in club over grieving with us, consider yourself lucky.”

Now, I understand that grief totally kills our communication skills. And this is why not a single one of us called him out on this comment. However, the essence of that comment should be addressed, because Rachel was not the only person who was essentially accused of being a vulture for asking.

I think we need to start with the assumption that nobody actually wants to be in that club. Nobody. If you really think somebody wants to be in that club, it’s time to do some unfriending and maybe look into a temporary restraining order. Okay? So let’s start with that foundational premise. Nobody wants to be in that club. If people are going to glom on for drama, that will become readily apparent, and they will not be anybody’s problem but their own.

I think we should continue with the general awareness that people die. I know, it’s something nobody really wants to think about, which makes all of these discussions about death much more difficult. Rachel’s response to the accusation of wanting to be in the mourner’s club nailed my reaction to this series of vaguebook posts: “Our community is very high risk, and I have lost more friends than I have digits to suicide, drugs, and motorcycle accidents. I found out in a million different ways. Because of this, fear strikes my heart EVERY TIME I hear ‘motorcycle casualty on the 880′ or any time [people] are posting about some unnamed tragedy.”

Marisa filled it out: “I’ve known too many quick-and-deads to ever, ever think that ‘if I knew them, I would know.’ I found out last week about a dear friend…via Facebook. But at least names were named. [...]Creating this kind of stress and anxiety in this incredibly high risk group is rude. It’s not telling anyone how to grieve; it’s asking for basic consideration.”

I’m not sure I know more than a tiny handful of people who have not been affected by tragedy and/or sudden death. Hell, just in case you think I am being insensitive, I have been struggling with depression and suicide ideation since I was a child. To top that off, I ride a motorcycle. In reality I–or any of us–could die any day. Every day. So many of my friends are similar: they suffer from extreme depression, are risk takers, get into accidents, and some of them have died. We are high-risk. With regard to the death of loved ones, I have not always been in the immediate loop. Nor would I expect even my closest friends to be in the event of my injury or death. Too many breaks in communication can happen. So assuming:

A. that everybody who should know does know is wrong.

B. that not naming names has no effect on those who didn’t know the individual is wrong.

C. that people who ask for the identity of the deceased are just social media vultures is—you guessed it—wrong.

I think we also need to think about how we handle information. Talking about a death in the community, not naming names, but offering other extremely private details is kinda like creating a really screwed up guessing game and it protects nobody’s privacy, ultimately.

For the record, when people understandably don’t want to guess, calling them vultures for asking for information is going to result in some ruffled feathers, especially when you have given just enough information to create the need to ask for more. You are hurting. I get it, and I have been there. I am so very, very sorry for your loss. But freaking out a bunch of your friends and then slapping them down when they ask for information is not the way to handle it. As my friend Normal pointed out in an analog example, “I don’t go to Lucky 13 and yell ‘one of us died and I feel sad!’ and then walk off to the bathroom without expecting a lot of follow-up upsetness.”

fat amyNorm gets a gif for that, because she nailed it.

We have all lost people. We are extremely aware of how truly fragile are the lives of our friends, family, and loved ones. And when somebody in a close-knit community feels the need to say that somebody who was a part of the community died, but not who it was, it does far more harm than good.

If you are going to withhold information out of respect to families and partners, consider withholding all of it and finding a more private forum for your initial response. In examples I have seen and heard of, some folks refused to name names publicly but explicitly offered to if contacted privately. It turns out I didn’t know the deceased, and I had the amazing and unfortunate privilege of getting to struggle with a feeling of intense relief even as I watched people I care about grieve.

I have read everything his friends have posted about him, and I have let those posts give substance to the person my friends have lost. This post is not about the fact that I don’t care; I do. This post is about the fact that people need to know, even if just to learn that their hearts won’t be breaking, this time. 


Different Lenses

Not too long ago I was in Mexico, at a beautiful hotel with a beautiful view. And I took pictures, and posted various photos and experiences to Facebook. And I was told by more than one person to put my phone away and just enjoy my vacation.

My gut reaction, which I did not share with anybody but my girlfriend, was: “Fuck you for telling me how to enjoy my vacation.”

middle-finger-x-ray_large

I’ve been thinking about it since then. Sure, there are the workaholics who really should try to leave their work at home, who can’t stop themselves from responding to work emails, reading up for the next big meeting, doing final edits on memos, briefs, and other shit nobody should be doing on their vacation (on the other hand, work at a beach > work at an office, so it’s still an improvement). But I wasn’t doing any of that. I was merely doing something I find fun no matter where I am, and I can’t for the life of me figure out how posting pics and articles to Facebook was ruining my vacation.

It didn’t stop me from enjoying poolside cucumber margaritas. It didn’t stop me from spending hours on the balcony hammock, watching sunsets and pirate ships. It didn’t stop me from enjoying the ridiculously tasty food. It didn’t stop me from interacting with and talking to people.

I enjoy the shit out of social media. I love having platforms on which I can be my usual opinionated self and where people can quietly block me if they are tired of my voice. I love having a place where I can share my experiences, thoughts, pictures, blog posts, and found material with my friends. I don’t think of social media as some kind of addiction holding me back from experiencing life. I think of it as a place where I can show people I love what I am experiencing, how I am experiencing it, why I am experiencing it that way, etc. Before social media, and some of the people reading this may remember it, I did this via mass email. Without social media, I’d find another platform to do all these things. It’s just part of who I am, and being able to share what I share, how I share, and when I share it makes me happy and ultimately enhances my experience.

I’m reminded of a complaint that, if memory serves, came from the ridiculously talented Audrey Penven, that people too often tell photographers to stop taking pictures and just experience the moment. I’ve seen such comments before and I have always wondered why people cannot realize that, for some, being behind the camera is experiencing the moment. We all see and share with the world through different lenses, and some of us come equipped with extra.

2013-07-23 20.42.10Yeah. How can I ever appreciate this sunset if I take a second to click a button on my camera?
VACATION RUINED.

Now, here’s the thing: I don’t care what you think about the evils of social media. I don’t care if you think it’s a blemish on society, if you think it’s ruining our children, if you are tired of selfies and pictures of cats. I don’t care if Obama himself appointed you the Sheriff of Phoneville and the Minister of Social Media in one. I don’t care if you are the fucking King of Twitter. I don’t care if you see pictures of people on their phones and heave great big sighs of disappointment that tech has ruined EVERYTHING. I don’t care how many shitty smartphone-related anecdotes you have to share with me. I. Don’t. Fucking. Care.

I don’t care that you would choose to experience your vacation differently. I don’t care that you think vacations should = a lack of online connectivity. I do care if you decide that you are the expert on the Whiskeypants Experience and that you need to tell me what I should be doing to enjoy my life. I do care if you decide that you are the authority on when and how I can use my phone*. Because here’s some fair warning: if you do, I’m going to tell you to shut the fuck up. I’m going to tell you it’s none of your goddamn business. And I’m going to do it on Facebook, with hashtags, in all caps, just to make it even more fun for me.

Got it? Good. Have an A1 day.

*Note: This is about quiet, non-invasive use of phones, not the I’M GONNA TALK REALLY LOUDLY IN THIS PUBLIC SPACE LIKE A COMPLETE ASSHOLE use of phones that is just obnoxious to everybody.


Freedom from/of Religion

whiskeypants:

This is something that happened. And it’s not cool. Please, if you are in the Bay Area, consider taking voice lessons from my amazing friend. And/or pass this along to your friends.

Originally posted on No Inside Voice:

As my heart is reeling from news of being laid off from my regular church today, I go back to a story. These all start with a story, all rife with feeling and promise. This one’s about a church.

In August 1999 I returned from New York. My mother had been dead a year, I was recovering in turmoil from a recently broken relationship that I had thought would last forever (I was 23. Of course I thought that.), I had been put through the wringer. It was January of 2000 before I licked my wounds enough to get back in the game. I needed more money than my DayJob provided, and I wanted to earn it by singing. But where to start? Where any tenacious, operatically-trained career rebel starts – the yellow pages. (For the younger folks in the audience, this was a book of businesses listed by type…

View original 1,462 more words


Why So Quiet, Son?

At some point, the word “feminism” took on ugly connotations. So ugly, in fact, that women will distance themselves from the term, claim not to be feminists. While that seems incredibly problematic to me, so is the fact that “feminism” somehow no longer means “advocating equality for women and men” but somehow means becoming stridently obnoxious about women’s rights, or requiring cheesy hippie approaches to womanhood, or that women hate men (something I’d like to generally avoid, as men can be quite charming and really rather awesome).

feminist

This is unfortunate on a number of levels, and I think there needs to be a general redefinition of “feminism” as something that both women and men should want to take part in. Definitions aside, I’ve noticed something about how things get shared and handled on both Twitter and Facebook that I find incredibly shitty.

  1. When I share or tweet an article about rape, the only people who share, retweet, or comment? Women.
  2. I wrote a post about misogyny. 1 guy ‘liked’ it. 2 guys commented, to make jokes.
  3. The post about misogyny was in response to a guy I called out for comparing his irrationally bad mood to PMS in women (thus perpetuating the stereotype that women are irrational and continuing to give license to men who, when they don’t like a woman’s behavior, would like to complain about “that time of the month”). I had my say and his response was, “ok.” Maybe he thought I was being irrational—just like a woman? All I figured was that dude was too cowardly to admit that he’d fucked up.

Well, fuck that. Fuck all of that.

Dudes, bros, come on. Where is your feminism? I am not asking, by the way, where your love for women is. Saying you’re a feminist because you love women is like saying you are Jewish because you love hamantaschen.

Okay. For the sake of this post, let’s create a loose definition of “feminism” with some very basic concepts:

  • Recognizing that women are just as capable as men are.
  • Recognizing that women deserve equal pay to men.
  • Recognizing that stereotypes about women are bullshit and should be avoided: let each woman define herself; don’t define women.
  • Recognizing that women don’t exist for others to desire/use/fuck—even if being desirable or fuckable is something they do and enjoy.
  • Recognizing that double standards with regard to sexuality and enjoyment of sex are ridiculous.
  • Recognizing that rape is an issue (and yes, I know that women can also rape, but the majority of rapes are committed by men, and that majority is gigantic. I also realize that men can rape other men and do regularly, so just standing up against rape in general is a Good Thing—all right?)
  • Using your voice to emphasize all of these things, to help pass on the message, to share, to do something as simple as retweet.

feminist1

Why are men leaving the discussion about feminism, about rape and rape culture, up to women? Why is it only their job to fight for their rights, to stand up to rapists and abusers? Why, when men send rape threats to women who have stood up for themselves, don’t their friends say, “Dude. Not cool.”? Why, when a girl is sexually assaulted and her assaulters share the photograph of the assault, don’t people rally around the girl, why don’t they support her, why aren’t we teaching teenagers that bullying is bullshit? We have had two suicides in rapid succession of young women who experienced such intense bullying after being sexually assaulted that one of them couldn’t even move schools without it following her. Why are teen boys not telling their friends, “No way, dude. Leave her alone.”?

I don’t understand.

I don’t understand why people are still sharing posts about how women can avoid being raped, about the times they can walk alone outside, about how they should wear their hair and their clothes—thus leaving the victim-blaming discussions wide open (I mean, really, did you see what she was wearing?) and making it so easy to blame women for not being careful enough. I don’t understand why there aren’t more discussions about teaching youth about rape—discussion about sex is so taboo in schools that it’s left up to parents who are apparently in denial about the situation or think their kids are too young to learn about it. Well, guess what? They are old enough to rape, they are old enough to learn why rape is unacceptable. I don’t understand why we aren’t teaching young men to love and respect young women.

And learning it from only women is also unacceptable. Men, you need to add your voices to the arguments for equality. It’s easy to say that women should obviously vote, because that’s a right they already have. It’s more difficult to stand up for equal pay, for removing double standards, for cutting out casual misogyny (like unnecessary comments linking irrationality and women). It’s more difficult to let go of your privilege when a woman points out the rampant misogyny in gaming and at conventions, and support her. It’s more difficult to stand up to your friends when they misbehave. It’s difficult for teenagers to go against the social flow—high school is a breeding ground for cruelty and insensitivity—and it’s difficult for us to teach them that standing up for women and taking a stand against rape is necessary. But if you really genuinely believe that women have just as much a place in the world as you do, then you have got to. It is fucking necessary.

And if you don’t believe that, I don’t want to know you. And don’t get me started on the so-called Men’s Rights movements, which are nothing short of delusional.

So men, where are your voices? Why so quiet, son?

goslingfem


Privilege II: Yes, You Have Privilege

Since I posted “Privilege“, I’ve had a number of discussions with clueless folk about the privilege they do not believe they have or would like to discard because they are tired of being called out on it.

First, I am going to go over some basics in a list that is not comprehensive (please note, I am offering examples of experiences on a systemic level. Just because you, personally, have experienced something different doesn’t actually negate what I am saying below):

Congratulations! You have privilege.

White people: You have privilege. You aren’t immediately flagged as potential trouble in stores and airports. You are more likely to get a job than the more melanin-enabled. People don’t assume you will be lazy, or late, or trouble on the streets. You don’t get extra targeted by cops. There is no such thing as Driving While White. You get to wonder why the brown people are upset about racism in movies and tv, because it’s just entertainment.

Men: You have privilege. You don’t worry about being sexually assaulted if you go out alone. You don’t have to automatically wonder if that guy in the elevator with you is a creep. You get paid more than women. Nobody assumes that you don’t know what you are talking about professionally just based on your gender. You don’t have to sue companies for promotions, universities for tenure, newspapers to be allowed to get out of the researcher/secretary pool. You get to wonder why women get so upset when you approach them on the street.

Rich folk: You have privilege, and everybody knows it. You get to wonder how families can possibly live on only $250,000/year.

Straight people: You have privilege. You don’t have to constantly fight for the legitimacy of your intimate relationships. Your right to marry is not up for a vote. Nobody says things like, “I’m not heterophobic, but…”. You don’t have to wonder if your state will let you adopt a kid, or if you will have any parental rights over the kids you are helping to raise. You don’t get bullied, beat up, maimed, or killed for being openly straight. You get to wonder why the queer folk want to deal with the misery and complications of marriage.

Cisgendered people: You have privilege. You haven’t had to go through an extensive (and expensive) medical, psychological, and emotional process just to feel like your body is your own. You haven’t faced bigotry from every single community around you because your outsides don’t match your insides and you need to do something about it. You don’t get bullied, beat up, maimed, or killed for identifying as a gender that does not match the one on your birth certificate. You get to say stupid shit like, “That’s so weird. I would never put myself through that.”

Educated people: You have privilege. You have never had to have somebody read a document to you because you cannot. You have never faced the embarrassment and shame that our culture heaps on the uneducated. You aren’t stuck in jobs that nobody else wants because you never had the opportunity to finish grade school, let alone high school and college. You have never been without a voice. You get to wonder about and mock all the godawful grammar on the internet. (Approximately one in seven people in the US can’t even read this post I am writing.)

Able-bodied people: You have privilege. The world is basically designed for you. You don’t have to worry about elevators being out, people getting bitchy because you take up more space and time on public transit, or aisles being too narrow. You aren’t limited to specific jobs, specific forms of entertainment, or even specific locations. You get to complain about your inability to use handicapped parking spots.

Tall people: You have privilege. Just kidding! I know it sucks to be able to reach everything.

Second, I am going to make a point I seem to have to make repeatedly, but never seems to get taken to heart:

tumblr_lo6twkrWwN1qgy0fio1_500

The lack of one kind of privilege does not cancel out all other forms of privilege.

Grew up poor as shit, but still straight, white, cisgendered male? Guess what? You still  have privilege. Grew up poor, brown, gay, and male? Guess what? You still have privilege. Poor, brown, queer, female with an amazing education? You still have privilege.

I can keep going with the combinations until this looks like an LSAT question, but I won’t, because the LSAT sucks. (I get to make that shitty joke because I get to claim educational privilege.)

Third, I am going to expand on what I discussed in “Privilege”:

meme-privilege

It’s just something you have.

No, you didn’t ask for privilege. You aren’t necessarily looking for the special treatment you receive because of it. You may not even be conscious of it. That’s all well and good, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have it.

The thing about privilege is that the benefits are automatic and not always visible to the privileged. Which is another way of saying, you don’t notice you aren’t being discriminated against. Men don’t notice that they aren’t on constant alert against being sexually assaulted on the street. Straight people don’t notice that they aren’t being treated differently when with their partners.

When you get called out on  your privilege, nobody is telling you to change it. Nobody is telling you that you are a bad person because of it. Nobody is saying that it’s your fault. What you are being told is, people who do not field specific kinds of discrimination have a very different perspective on the world than people who do. What you are being told is, what is an intellectual exercise for you may not be for somebody else.

What you are being told is, take yourself out of your privileged shoes and put them in somebody else’s (let me guess—they don’t fit. Kinda uncomfortable, right? You’d like to take them right back off, right? Yeah. That’s what people are talking about when they call you out on privilege). This goes back to my initial post. Because ultimately you need to recognize that you have it. You should acknowledge it. And while acknowledging it doesn’t change the fact that you have it, it does go a long way toward helping you understand where people are coming from when they say, “Dude. You realize you just spilled a bunch of cold unpleasant privilege into my lap.”

In conclusion:

Don’t be afraid of those uncomfortable shoes. Seek them out. Walk in them for a minute, if you can. Marvel at the blisters and bruises. So that when you put yours back on, you can appreciate how well they fit, and how comfortable they are. That, metaphorically, is what you should be doing when your privilege is pointed out to you.

ETA: Since enough people have the need to make this argument, I feel it ought to be addressed. There seems to be a new “solution” to the use of the word “privilege” that seems to have been created by people who are deeply afraid of the word. I have tried to unpack it in this post, but I guess I can’t stop people just reacting to it instead of seeing that. So please let me state: calling discrimination “human rights violations” instead of using the word “privilege” changes absolutely nothing about the above post. All it does is try to shift focus and say, “I don’t have privilege, these people are simply being wronged.” Not only is the use of “human rights violations” a bit overwrought, it doesn’t work that way. People are being wronged, it’s true. But it is on a systemic level, and thus it is what actually creates privilege. The fact that people are suffering from various kinds of discrimination and lack of safety on a systemic level is the very reason that people who do not suffer—on that same systemic level—experience privilege. Taking the focus off of the privileged for these discussions does nothing to change that, it just makes those who are uncomfortable with it and think people who are using it are calling them bad people feel a little better in the moment. My suggestion is that you stop reacting to the word and start really considering what it means in this context.


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