I keep reading and hearing about women whose husbands or brothers or male family members or bosses or strangers are telling them to chill out.
Sometimes this is thinly veiled code for “Oh My God, I am never going to have sex again.” Most of it is male cluelessness. Sometimes that cluelessness (I’m done mincing words) comes from a place of benign unawareness. Sometimes it’s more than that.
Before I delve into what promises to be the mother of all profane and rage filled rants, I need to clarify a few important things. My husband is a white male. He is categorically not one of these men. That is one of the many reasons he IS my husband. For the most part, the husbands of my friends are not these men either. There are always one or two, and for them, I have zero fucks left. Many of the men I interact with on a daily basis are not either. Some are. I see them, nodding along, inwardly hoping I shut the hell up.
I will not chill out and if you are a woman, neither should you. Nor should you chill out if you are a minority or an immigrant of a Muslim or LGBTQ. And please, if you are a man who is ready to put his money where his mouth is, you should not chill out either.
Other things you should not do: Apologize for being angry. Explain. Justify. Rationalize.
The US just elected, by a margin that’s so disgustingly small it pains me to think about it, a man who normalized sexual assault. To the point where it is apparently now a thing to grab a woman’s body and shout “We can do this now!” or to demand she open her legs to allow easier access (culled from first person accounts). It elected a man accused of sexual harassment by over ten different women. A man who, on 60 Minutes, said he has all intentions of nominating SCOTUS judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade. A man who has suggested that women who seek abortions be punished. A man who has surrounded himself with, surprise surprise, a cadre of old, white conservative men who care about three things: money, their dicks, and apparently, making the lives of women as miserable as possible.
You may say, “Oh, but he won’t do that!” To you I say, “Why the hell should anyone trust that he won’t do exactly that?”
So no, thank you very much, I will not simply chill out.
When someone starts creating nonsense legislation targeting penises, then come and talk to me. When someone starts slicing and dicing at health care plans and organizations which protect the health and well-being of penises, then you can tell me it’s not that bad. When someone starts normalizing women giving the old ‘twist, pull, twist’ on random male testicles, because “They can do this now!” then come and tell me we should just wait and see. When only men are held responsible for the upkeep of children, maybe then you can tell me to chill out. When, law after unconstitutional law is created which outlines and legislates penis upkeep and usage, then fine, we’ll talk.
Until then, uh-uh.
I am so weary of managing the emotions of angry, white men. Because let me tell you something. All those post-mortems and studies which show that the white, working class is angry about being left behind? Those are white, working class men. Do you know how I know?
Because women and minorities and immigrants have been working shit jobs for decades and getting left behind. And….wait for it…they’ve continually had their civil rights under threat as well! I imagine they’re pretty angry too. But I’m also fairly certain the white working class women who have been busting their asses in dead end jobs will continue busting their asses in dead end jobs. Because all those magical jobs which are going to fall out of the sky like so many manufacturing unicorns? They’re not going to be for women. Women will get left behind again. Including whatever margin of white, working class women opted to vote for ‘change’.
And they’ll still get told to chill out.
So now the rest of us have to stop what we are doing to manage the emotions of the white, working class male who is having an identity crisis as his role of sole provider is changing in a global economy.
Goddamn. And they call liberals cry-babies.
What do you think women who have been abandoned by their husbands, left alone to raise kids, forced to have kids by restrictive abortion laws, have had to do for the last fifty years? Women who have gaps in their work experience from staying home and supporting their husband’s law career? Women who never had work experience in the first place because they were told they’d be provided for…until they weren’t? What do you think ALL THOSE WOMEN have been doing? They take a crap job cleaning toilets or working at McDonald’s or in some office, where they then have to deal with some asshole groping them. They do it to feed their kids. They put their heads down and get on with it while they figure it out. And let me tell you, administration after administration left those women behind. And so they chilled out. And got left behind again. I imagine they’re pretty pissed off too. Substitute minority or immigrant in there for women and the same holds true.
One article I read suggested the white working class male felt hard done by. They felt they were being laughed at by younger professionals. Their pride was hurt.
Now the rest of us have to hold the line while white male identity figures out how to rebrand itself? We are here, on the cusp of having to fight another goddamn war over reproductive rights because men felt like they were being laughed at?
This is what privilege is. Privilege is bringing a country to the brink of cultural revolution because a white man feels like he is being laughed at. Fuck me gently with a chain saw.
Sure. You got left behind. Yes, the government should have done more. And yes, you should hold the government accountable. Hell, you should be angry. But you are not the only ones who get left behind. Yet you are the only ones who went and flipped the whole table over because if YOU can’t sit at the table, then by God, NO ONE is going to sit at the table.
So no, women do not need to chill out. What women really need to do is allow themselves the anger that they’ve been denying and supressing for years.
My mother told me about a show that studied the biological desire in males to conquer. How there is speculation that because there is so little left to conquer and explore, all that pent up energy has nowhere to go.
May I suggest the outer reaches of Russia? I think there’s a lot of space up there. You can roam around and shoot things. Or each other. Plant a few flags and deal with all the feels of manliness. If your pride gets hurt you can punch someone in the face.
Then if you’d like, come back where the rest of us have been carrying on doing what we need to do. Where we’ve been dealing with being laughed at, harassed, assaulted, groped, denied, oppressed, all the while still managing not to flip the fucking table over.
So don’t give me the spiel about how this is all about the white working class male regaining his pride. If the white working class male’s only way of regaining pride is by stepping on the necks and rights of others, than hell yes, I’m going to be angry.
And so should every other man, woman, immigrant, minority, Muslim and LGBTQ American that feels the same.
So no. You chill out. I hear Russia’s really nice.
15 Comments Add yours
100% agreement here.
Good because we NEED you guys on board. We NEED men who stand up and say, ‘No, this is not normal, this is not right, this is not ok”. And we are counting on you because this next stage? It could be bad. I hope more than anything I’m wrong, but we shall see.
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I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately: what am I willing to do? What a comfortable spot I live in when I can decide when I’m willing to help. Am I willing to risk stepping into a potentially violent situation? Am I willing to risk my personal safety for the safety of others? This week has pushed me into new place where I am willing to risk my insulated world to protect someone else. I can no longer hope that justice will be parceled out by the powers that be. In some ways it’s embarrassing that it took this election to get me here but I’m just glad to have arrived.
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It’s something I think about a lot too. You know, my initial gut reaction to his election was “I’m never moving back there while he’s in office!”. It took me all of a day to change my mind. Because it is just as much MY country as it is anyone else’s. No one group owns the narrative of what it means to be American. That was a major turning point for me. But I am here. Sometimes my voice reaches across the ocean, but I long to be there, on the ground for this. It really feels like a fight to me. A fight for what is right. Glad to have you on our side. I think it up to those of us who can absorb a little more to do the heavy lifting on this one.
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I think one of the things that has been holding women back is Fear. Fear for our safety, for the safety of our children. It is an emotion we deal with everyday. We are comfortable with is more than men. The night of the election I asked my very sensitive not typical older current white husband, Was he going to be able to protect me in this new world? I had drank a considerable amount of wine and was very emotional. He looked at me and said.” You have never trusted your safety to a man, Why start now?” I thought about that for a few days. I remembered something that happened to me in my 20’s.. A man, who was a friend of my ex husband, kept grabbing my breasts at a party in his home when his wife wasn’t looking. I hid for most of the night after saying no! I was cutting limes for cocktails and talking to a group when he found me. He walked up to the group saying lewd comments about my body. I picked up my pairing knife and threatened to gut him like the pig he was, and I would enjoy walking barefoot through his entrails. I told my then husband that I was hurt he didn’t stand up for me. He said. I should have waited and not made a scene. He was waiting for the right time. Anything he would say now would seem lame.
So many things to take from this story. 1. I am a Badass when threatened. 2. Probably have some anger issues. 3. Somewhere in my head I think a man should protect me better than I can. but I know it is me who has to defend my rights. 4. We really shouldn’t wait to for someone else.
I’m 46. Now a mom of a teenage girl. I have had enough experience to know that a pairing knife is not what I need now. I need a sharp tongue and a pen. Change comes not by just legislature but by enough voices saying ” Fuck no!!! ” in the authentic voice of the person using it. So I guess what I’m saying is keep up the fight and we should do it in anyway that feels good for us. Step out of our comfort zone to keep ourselves and our families safe.
Keep writing Wine and cheese doodles. I enjoy it. It makes me think and feel that I have community.
Maybe we should send the Donald some cheese doodles to powder his nose with? ( I stole that from a funny Joe Biden meme) -d-
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You know, every time I wonder if writing pieces like this are worth it (I could be reading, I could be cleaning, I could be doing a million other things 😉 ), I get a response like this and it makes it all seem worthwhile. You are one badass woman. Stay angry. We need you. And stay loud. And you DO have a community. There are millions of us. We just have to stick together.
There IS a community. And I think it’s getting stronger.
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you spelt it loud and clear here. I am writing my view to you . IF I could finish it as it seems to get longer and longer…
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I hear you. (I’ll read you too when you send it to me)
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fabulous post. The whole nation’s having an identity crisis, but more than that, it’s the white men who’re taking it with the most freaking out (and they’ve only begun to relax thanks to DT). I think you hit it on the head about the need to conquer something, that sense of showing their manhood to everyone else by entitlement plays. It sucks, and it is one of the things that made me too scared to try dating, because what if I picked one of those a-holes and ended up raped or groped? (Hence my sub-handle “recovering recluse.”) I keep hearing my dad say “we’re losing our country” and I admittedly wonder how much of that blame he’s secretly putting on women versus what he verbalizes (illegals, Muslims, corporations, etc.) Trump’s the white man’s last great hope right now, and they’ll hang on with their fingernails. I just wonder how much crap we’ll have to put up with for the next four years and change just so they can feel in control again.
Well, I fear we are going to have to put up with a tremendous amount of crap–I’d like to believe this is the death knell of the white patriarchy, but they can do a lot of lasting damage in the next few years. A lot. I hope I’m wrong (and I HATE to be wrong).
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Actually, Trump is the “great white hope” of a certain segment of the (US) population. But for every action, there’s a reaction. Which is what makes this election such a crap-shoot. Trump is not going to give his followers what they thought they were going to get. Where they channel their disappointment, frustration and rage will define this period, and the reaction by the government will define this presidency.
Aside of the election of Trump, I personally am extremely disappointed with the performance of the Democratic party. They ignored and took for granted a large part of the population that used to be their base. When politicians take their base for granted, bad things can happen. If the party is to regain any credibility, they probably need to go back to the grass-roots and redefine themselves. Bernie Sanders tapped into a pulsating vein of desire for change, and the Dems did their damnest to ignore it. The election should have been about who is best qualified to lead the country. Instead it became a two-year bitch session, with each screaming match retaining less and less semblance of any reason.
In democracies, government is (usually) the citizen’s counterweight to the corporations and the powerful. Democracies work as a delicate balance between powerful forces, with plenty of checks and balances designed to prevent usurpation of power. In this last election, enough voted to give the oligarchs the control over the very tools that were supposed to keep them in check. Worrying about gender equality may be one of the less important worries once this starts working itself out.
Am I pessimistic? Yes, I am. I was hoping that my children would have a better world, one where their contribution could be valued and validated. Instead, I see a dysfunctional citizenry at a cultural war with itself. We, the citizens of countries outside of the USA, did not sign up for this joyride. And yet, we will bear the consequences.
Well, the problem for me, as a woman, is the gender equality thing is pretty important. On a micro as well as a macro level. I keep seeing articles slamming the Democrats for forging ahead with identity politics rather than focusing on the economic issues–the problem I see with that, it the the two are not mutually exclusive. You can’t have economic policies in places without addressing the politics of identity.
I too was hoping that we would leave a more inclusive, diverse, equal nation to the next generation. I haven’t given up hope yet. The United States, by a margin of about 80,000 votes, chose the past over the future. Is it a death knell? I think so. But it could be a long, drawn out death-knell.
But I would like to address your concerns about the Democratic party. First and foremost, it’s important to note that more people voted for the Democratic candidate. By a wide margin–closer to 3 million than 2 now. That’s not something to sneeze at. While those people are concentrated in cities and on the coasts, the fact of the matter is, that’s is actually where the majority of Americans live. It’s unfair to categorize the election as coast vs. rural when statistically, more people live on the coasts. That’s just the way it is, and always has been. Also, the Democratic platform did not actually ignore the needs of the working class, which is why the working class voted Dem–what we are talking about here is the rural, white working class. Two different things. And as we delve further into the numbers, it appears that those whose top concerns were economic voted Dem, even in those rust belt states. It was the fact that for so many more, the top concerns were immigration and terrorism that she lost in many places. If that is true, than no amount of Sanders popularism would have countered it because his policies were similar to Clinton’s in those areas. But what we saw, over 18 months, was an election cycle which didn’t focus on the issues or on policy at all. It focused on personality. And let’s face it, Trump wins hands down for sheer volumes. But the media almost never covered the Dem platform. It covered emails. And revived scandals that never went anywhere. It’s hard to play a game when the rules change suddenly.
The Democratic party has a lot of soul searching to do, but they’d also be wise not to shift so far that they lose those voters they do have (and remember, that number is higher). Most Americans reside in the middle of the spectrum. And that’s where change comes from. The way I see it, there is room for both, as long as the goal is to shore up equality.
Until then, I’ll be over hear, shouting.
While the presidential race was one contest, there were many other contests that have also changed the “ground truth”, and I’m talking about the races in Congress, Senate, and state legislatures. It is the states that elect the president, through the electoral college. The states determine the rules of the election, and provide the electoral bureaucracy that channels the votes. And by no coincidence, it is the local races where the monied classes exercised their influence to effectively control the mechanisms of democracy. If good change is to happen, those are the battle-grounds where it needs to take place. In the local races, the Dems lost more races than they won. Understanding why that happened, and how, are the key elements in (perhaps) reversing the fortunes of the party.
There is also the question in my mind why is the fight for equality only a Democratic issue? Surely there are Republicans who care about this as well? And if so, how to strengthen their ability to effect change?
Very good, and important points!