Dear Angry White Guys

Man shouting with chalk speech bubbleLet me start by saying I know a hell of a lot of white men across the board who do right every day, men who don’t just give equality lip-service, but show it in the way they live their lives.

This message is not for them. This is for the angry, white men.

I am so freaking tired of hearing and reading your rants and raves. It is difficult for me to dredge up even a minuscule amount of sympathy for what you are portraying as white, male oppression or indignant, righteous rage.

Spare me.

Even worse? As the cult of the angry, white male thumps its chest into the spotlight, YOUR anger is given a legitimacy almost never afforded the rest of us.

So, yes, spare me.

I’ve never seen such posturing on behalf of a group of people who, historically, have had the best of everything: laws, jobs, wages, life choices, education, privilege. Frankly, it’s been like watching my toddler pitch a fit in Target because I wouldn’t buy him the Lightning McQueen to go with the 25 other cars he already had at home.

So, yes, spare me.

Women’s anger consistently gets buried in innuendos of baby killing and femi-nazis, of whining and hysterical overreaction. Black anger gets buried in stereotype and misguided statistics, in using the actions of lone wolves to justify systematic racism. How about the anger of immigrants, or gays? Atheists? Muslims? It gets mired down in everything above it, the unspoken rule being if you live outside the tightly bordered box of ‘norms’ your anger is your own problem and probably your own fault.

So spare me the righteous indignation when even your anger gets more coverage, justification, and legitimacy. 

Look, I understand that things aren’t as great for many white men as they were twenty, thirty, fifty years ago. There are legitimate and immediate concerns. Suicide, addiction, alcoholism, job loss, class inequality, massive student debt. But these things are NOT going on because white men are being discriminated against or ignored.

And honestly, I resent the fact that a group of angry, white men think they are going to be the ones to ride in and save the fucking world. Because guess what? You’re the ones that got us into pretty much every, single mess we’re in right now. I resent the fact that Bernie Bros. own the discourse on economic inequality and wow, isn’t what everyone outside the box of white hetero male has known for years so shocking?? Where was that anger when white men stood unchallenged at the top of the food chain?

White men are not being discriminated against. It’s just that the rest of us, all those who make up the box ticked “OTHER” are starting to catch up.

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So spare me the righteousness. Angry white hetero men will be the ONLY ones left unchanged in terms of rights no matter who gets elected on November 8th. The rest of us–all those boxes ticked “OTHER”–we’ve had to make do with imperfect choices for decades. In many instances, we’ve had to choose the person least likely to literally kill us.

Spare me your tantrums, bros. Women, Black, Brown, Latina, Immigrant, Gay, Trans. Minorities have always had to adjust their expectations, adapt, change and make the best of a shitty situation, choosing between the lesser of two evils because there’s been no one looking out for us for most of that time.

Minorities don’t have the luxury of voting against their own survival.

So spare me the lectures.

You don’t own anger, and it should not be seen as more legitimate just because you’re a bunch of white guys ranting about social and economic injustice.

YOU want a revolution. I want change. I don’t want a revolution for one simple reason: The cannon fodder in a revolution? Not the angry, white guy, but all those boxes ticked “OTHER”.

If you want the rest of us to start taking your more legitimate concerns seriously–loss of identity, income inequality, anger at being squeezed out the middle class–start by listening to the experiences and concerns of OTHERS. Don’t insist that what is best for you is best for everyone. Don’t act like social injustice is suddenly validated because all of a sudden you saw it and lent your voice to it, or worst of all, don’t pitch a fit and dig your heels in to prove a fucking point when your life won’t change with the outcome.

screaming-manIf you feel misunderstood and marginalized, if you feel like you’re not being listened to, that your experiences are being invalidated?

Welcome to the club.

Quit your bitching, put your head down, and start working toward a viable solution that helps the most people, not just you. That is to say, what the rest of us have been doing all this time.

 

There Once Was a Man From New York…

There once was a man from New York
Whose antics of hate seemed to work
He foamed and he spit
A load of bullshit
We need to find a REALLY YUUGE cork

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There once was a pasty white Hoosier
Who fancied himself a bit of a bruiser
It was quite plain to see
By his misogyny
That he was really just a big Loser.

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There once was a far-right crusade
To undo the laws already made
Health care and choice
(despite a majority voice)
They really just need to get laid.

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There once was a man named Mike Pence
For whom the law made no sense
As Roe vs. Wade shows
And every woman knows
That choice was a right from thence.

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There once was a conservative male
Whose laws went beyond the pale
He tried to restrict
But a federal district
Said, uh-uh, The Constitution’s NOT up for sale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Crisis of Conscience

broken-world-500When I seven or eight, I saw a television commercial. The ad was meant to shock: emaciated bodies, starving children, a pleading Sally Struthers. I was inconsolable for days, sobbing into my mother’s lap. She likes to remind me I offered to forgo birthday presents to save the children. While I don’t remember that particular young girl nobility, what I do remember is being unable to understand. How could anyone watch such obvious suffering and not do anything? The very idea that there were children starving in the world, that people knew and weren’t doing anything –it blew my young mind. And it totally changed the way I saw the world around me.

It’s exactly the same way I feel now.

I’ve just returned from an extended stay in the United States during which I found myself in a crisis of conscience. Much like I felt about the world as a little girl, I felt about my homeland on this trip. The country I thought I knew is not the country I saw while I was there. My adamant liberalism, my dogged insistence of allowing all a voice, even when that voice is shouting the opposite of mine, was sorely tested on this trip. More than that however, was the realization that among my fellow Americans it is likely people I know are knowingly turning their backs on whole segments of the country in the guise of something else.

The realization didn’t just break my heart, it went a long way toward breaking me completely.

Not too long ago, when the party opposite mine took the form of differing views of finances and corporations, it was enough to agree to disagree. I could argue with plans to cut welfare. I could disagree with the idea of broader state’s rights. We could be on different sides of the fence yet I could still look them in the eye. I didn’t walk away from a conversation about social security reform feeling sick to my stomach.

The current incarnation of the Republican party is no longer simply the party of smaller government and tax breaks. It has made no bones about who it wishes to include in its idea of a ‘Great America’. In case the hateful rhetoric being splashed across television screens and front pages hasn’t made it clear, just look at what their stated, public goals are: teaching the Bible as American history, passing an amendment making sure marriage is defined as between a man and a woman, defunding Planned Parenthood, revoking a woman’s right to choice, and building a wall to keep out immigrants.

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How much are you willing to pay in an attempt to make some people safe or some better off? Are you willing to vote for a party which is fighting to make so many lives negligible, which is ready and eager to strip away long-fought for rights?

If you are voting for the GOP ticket because you believe in the party’s current platform, we have nothing in common. But if you are turning a blind eye to the violent, hateful flotsam and jetsam which will be the lasting aftermath for decades? I can no longer pretend it doesn’t matter. I can no longer attribute it to  ‘differences of opinion’ when it involves stepping on the already broken backs of others for the sake of economic reform or change or because of anger at the status quo. It’s gone beyond unpalatable for me, beyond even stomach curdling.

I simply can’t, on any level, justify supporting that. Whether one is doing it as a protest vote, a vote for change, a vote for economy, or safety or any other reason. My conscience can’t and won’t respect anyone who casts a vote for that much publicly declared hatred.

To those of you who identified with the Republican party and find yourself cast adrift, I will say this: I feel for you. To the Republicans I know who no longer recognize their own party, I am truly sorry. If the party I dedicated myself to long ago was as unrecognizable as the current GOP, I would be bereft.

But I have nothing left to say to those who are pushing aside any discomfort they feel to vote for the GOP ticket this year. I have nothing to say to those willing to throw their hat into a ring of hate simply to toe the party line.

In my bubble of safe, well-fed childhood, I eventually forgot those starving, emaciated bodies. Before long I went back to longing for Christmas presents, for Barbie dolls and roller skates. I forgot, but my mother didn’t. Years later she and my father sponsored a child; all because of that little eight year old girl who cried at how broken the world was.

american-flag-glassIn my bubble of safe, educated privilege, I could turn my back and forget once again. I could forget about my fellow Americans voting for a party which is building a platform of racism, of sexism and discrimination, of rage and exclusion.

But I’m grown now. I don’t have my mother to pick up the slack. I need to do it myself. And I refuse to live with myself by pretending it is ok, by pushing it aside simply because I can.

The world may still be broken. But that doesn’t mean I have to accept those who are working to break it even more.

 

 

 

Periods for Pence: The Revolution Will Be Uterized

849Out there in the nether regions of Facebook there’s a grass-roots movement called Periods for Pence. The group was one woman’s response to Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s decision to sign into law the most restrictive abortion regulations to date. Under this law, (since blocked by a federal judge as unconstitutional), women of Indiana would be required–among other things–to bury or cremate all fetal remains, whether aborted or miscarried, no matter how far along the ‘pregnancy’. At their own expense of course. Following the letter of the law, that means any menstrual period, by virtue of the fact that it could contain an  embryo, would have to be cremated or buried.

The anonymous founder began the page as a way for Indiana women to voice their anger and displeasure with the law. For months they’ve been tying up the phone lines of the Governor’s office to report on possible legal violations every time a Hoosier woman got her period. Women wrote testimonials and transcripts of their messages. And since Governor Pence seemed so concerned about their female health, was so interested in their female anatomy, they phoned in with concerns about menstruation and vaginas in general.

Now that Governor Pence is on the Republican ticket and there’s a chance he could become the next vice-president of the good, old U.S. of A., the site is picking up steam across the country.

It is, in every sense of the word, hysterical.

The site and the women (and men) who frequent it have been called ridiculous, silly, immature, and juvenile. But don’t be fooled. It may be satirical in nature, but the truth behind the page and those who contribute is anything but silly or juvenile.

The water simmering under the pot that is Periods for Pence, indeed under many American women themselves, has been on a slow simmer for years. With the announcement of Mike Pence for Vice-President, it may have just started to boil over.107365_600

Why now?

Well, we ARE DONE.

We’re done.

Personally I am so fucking done that the little buzzer that pops to tell me so is broken from overuse.

The Periods for Pence women, like me, are done apologizing for being women. We are done fighting for rights which are, at best, loosely guaranteed. We’re done begging for those rights when they are routinely stripped and limited and oppressed and denied.

Some of us are done explaining to you why we are fans of Hillary Clinton.

A lot of us are done explaining to you why it is ok to vote for her just because she’s a woman.

We’re done explaining to men–who don’t bear the physical, psychological or financial* responsibility for bearing and raising children—why abortion is not up to them. Or how restricting abortion is in no way helping women, nor is it going to make it go away.

We’re done explaining that having an abortion doesn’t mean carrying a lifelong scar or stigma or guilty conscience. Done explaining that sometimes it is a tough choice, but sometimes it’s not. And we’re done explaining over and over again that this issue was settled more than 40 years ago. We’ve moved on. We’re done.

We’re done trying to peacefully and logically explain why we still need feminism, trying to politely explain how sexism is still rampant, because if we are anything but polite, we’re accused of being hysterical and irrational.

We are DONE justifying our personal experiences of sexism to men who deny it, done listening to men tell us sexism doesn’t exist, as if the long-fought battle for voting enfranchisement ended everything and in now in the land of unicorns and rainbows everyone is equal.

We’re done explaining.

We’re done listening to presumptions that our votes shouldn’t count as much because they are coming from women, as if the only votes that truly matter, the ones that really count, are those of men (and predominantly old, white men).

This year’s spectacular mindfuck of a GOP ticket isn’t even bothering to court our votes at all, seeming to work under the false pretense that we don’t matter, we’ll go along with the tide, or they don’t need us anyway.

We’re done with half-assed laws which take away health care, screenings and funding. We’re done with unconstitutional laws which assume and assert we can’t make decisions about our own health, which refuse to allow us to make decisions about our own bodies.

We are done being told, in so many words, that the folks elected by women and minorities don’t count as much, because they’re not white men and therefore their abilities and achievements are somehow lessened through the filter of their very being.

We are done with apologizing and explaining.

GOPVaginaw377h2881Calling up the governor’s office or now the offices of the Republican presidential nominee to talk about our bodies may not seem like much. It may seem silly or ineffectual.

But make no mistake, it is so much more than that.

It is rallying the troops. It is making plans. It is getting ready to protest and demand and to vote.

Because if there is a bloody revolution coming? There’s a good chance it will be uterized.

*the financial burden of males is a choice–that is not to say it isn’t taken on happily by most men, but it is a choice.

Periods for Pence