What the hell, y’all

So here we are. 2017. And so far, it’s living down to the expectations set by 2016: a year when we saw many celebrities earn a spot on the “In Memoriam” list, a year when Britain voted to be an island in every sense of the word, and a year when nearly 3,000,000 more people voted for HER but HE managed to get the Electoral College vote. In short, 2016 was pretty atrocious.

And then came 2017. The popular vote be damned, the least popular candidate on Inauguration Day installed himself and immediately began creating fresh hell on a nearly hourly basis for many Americans.

Do you like having health care? Well, he’ll fix that. Actually, you’ll still like having health care, but your access will be greatly diminished because the imperfect-but-better-than-what-we-had-before Affordable Care Act is being killed by 1,000 cuts.

Do you like a free press? He’ll fix that, too! From threatening the press corps with expulsion to revoking credentials for exceptionally well-established and highly credible news organizations, the press is being given a stiff arm any time it’s not being fed alternative facts bald-faced lies.

Do you like freedom of movement around the country and abroad? There’s an executive order for that! Thankfully, a temporary nationwide stay has been issued–stopping the unconstitutional order from being enforced…but it’s only temporary, and the Customs and Border Patrol defied regional/state-specific orders, so it’s hard to have much faith we won’t have a full-on Constitutional crisis any minute.

Do you like having a government that at least tries to regulate businesses on issues like pollution and predatory lending? He’s got an answer for you, and it rhymes with “suck goo”.

Color me unimpressed.

It’s been awfully hard to concentrate. I’m sure that’s part of the plan: obfuscate, confuse, frustrate, and discombobulate your opponent. And yet I have a clarity of purpose and emotion. I know that what’s in office right now is wrong, and I can’t wait to vote it out. So in the meantime, I’ll march. HELL YES, I WILL MARCH. I already went to DC and walked the hallowed ground of my birth with 500,000 of my best friends, as we made it perfectly clear that women’s rights are human rights. (I have pictures but, frankly, have been too busy with work and other stuff to upload them except to Twitter.)

And I’ll be out marching again on April 22nd for the March for Science, because science and fact are real things that we don’t just discard when our moral center has been surgically removed by a failure of the Electoral College.

I’m teaching my kids about the three branches of government and how they’re supposed to work together, why The Constitution is so incredibly important, and why the word EQUALITY should be what they always consider in their daily lives.

I haven’t written here lately because I’ve had strep and work and marching and more work and kid events and FUCK, I’M TIRED. And yet, the show must go on. Democracy is really hard work, and I’ve been a participant in it even before I turned 18. We won’t have the country we want by just wishing for it.

So here goes. Time to tell y’all what’s next. What to do. And in-between, make sure that you exercise some self care, like eating a favorite food, or just spending an hour playing with your cat/dog/{insert pet type here}, or watching a movie. But here’s what you do when you’ve got even an iota of stamina:

DONATE: to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center and/or your local food bank. If you don’t have a lot of cash, donate a small amount (even $5 can be a blessing). Or donate clothing. Go volunteer for a nearby charity, donating your time and energy. Then share that on social media to rally your friends to donate, too.

HELP: by calling your Representatives, Senators, and/or Governor. If you’re afraid to call your government because you’ve never done it before, here’s a simple script that needs only minor tweaks: “Hi, my name is {YOUR NAME} and I’m calling about {INSERT CAUSE HERE}. I want you to say {YES/NO} to {LEGISLATION/DECISION} because this is important for the future of our country. Thank you for your time.” Maybe calling Congress isn’t your thing; in that case, check on a family member or friend who has health issues and ask if you can run an errand, hang out with them, or bring them a meal.

ACT: by speaking up and speaking out for what you believe in. This is no time to plant your head in the sand. And yes, it may scare off friends who don’t agree. But are they really your friends if their beliefs deny your right to existence? I’ve had friends who I realized weren’t friends AT ALL when it became obvious that they only wanted to spew hatred, homophobia, sexism, Islamophobia, and other b.s. on my timelines. Decide how much hatred you can accept and draw a line in the sand. Sometimes you can educate, and other times you have to know when to walk away. This isn’t about bubbles; this is about understanding that some people may have put up a good front for years, and now it’s time for everybody to show where they REALLY stand.

Just do something. If not now, when? There may not be a “later”, if we don’t work as a team to make it clear that hatred, disdain for our Constitution, and bullying aren’t allowed to represent our country. There are many legal, positive ways to get involved; so pick one and get started. Then pick another and do that, too. It’s time. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

This election won’t bend or break me

I think we can all admit that it’s been one hell of a week. Regardless of who you supported in the election, there weren’t that many people that truly expected the electoral map to fall out exactly as it did. No one would’ve won this Powerball.

And now we have this situation that so many of us dreaded. I have to note that before anyone decides to go off about how I’m a “libtard” or a “bleeding heart”, please know from the depths of my heart and soul that I will NOT tolerate any of that bullshit, the comments on this blog are moderated to weed out spam and assholes, and if you can’t be civil, then STFU.

I have an immense amount of privilege in some areas, and a complete lack of it in others. I can camouflage. I can hide behind my skin color and others’ assumption of who I am because of it. I have a Western European background–primarily Anglo-Saxon–so I can masquerade and move silently through the crowds as though I’m something I’m not. But I choose not to.

I choose to be out as bisexual because bisexuality chose me and I will not be afraid to live as who I am. (Yes, I’m married to a man. Monogamy and bisexuality aren’t mutually exclusive.)

I choose not to hide that I’m a woman or pretend that I’m meek. I’m not meek. I grew up with examples of women on TV like Colonel Wilma Deering, Jaime Sommers, and Wonder Woman. I grew up idolizing a mother who worked full-time in management and was a full-time wife and was a full-time mother. I knew that if she could do it, I could too. I SHOULD. Meek is for mice.

I choose not to hide that I’m Jewish, although I must admit that I’m not and never have been an observant Jew. To those who hate Jews, though, that matters little. People have already been out on Twitter, loudly offering “tattoos and showers” to Jews. (If you don’t know how unkind this invitation is, do some research on World War II and you’ll see.)

So, what do I do with all my anger for an administration that’s pledged to roll back rights for LGBTQ people? What do I do with my frustration at so many people who think it’s okay that the President-elect has freely admitted to sexual assault of grown women?

I could be meek, but…nah. Fuck that.

Here’s what I do plan to do, and this action plan isn’t the end; there will be more.

  1. Renew my membership in the Southern Poverty Law Center. It’s always important to commit to stopping hate wherever it rears its ugly head, and given the number of hate crimes that have already occurred just in the first 48 hours since the new President’s election, they have a lot of work to do.
  2. Start donating to Planned Parenthood. In general, I try to concentrate most of my donations to food banks and children’s health, but things are about to get way worse for women’s access to healthcare, and Planned Parenthood IS the primary health care resource for many women across the country.
  3. Continue encouraging my kids to be themselves and not let others get in the way of that. Just because a bully has been elected to the White House doesn’t mean they have to be bullies. We always have the choice not to be the things we see that aren’t okay.

I know I lost friends along the way through this election. They took their leave or I dropped them out of my Facebook feed with impunity because this was real for me. I won’t cry for what I didn’t have in the first place. I trust my friends to have my back, as I surely have theirs. Actively supporting someone who has shown no respect for or belief in the humanity and equality of women, Black people, LGBTQ people, Muslims, Jews, or–really ANYONE who’s not from America shows that you don’t have my back. And I won’t miss you when you’re gone.

There’s been a lot of talk about people living too much in their own bubble, how those of us living in urban coastal areas (who overwhelmingly voted Blue) just don’t understand those who live in more homogeneous environments. Oddly enough, no one seems to want to turn that around with an expectation that those who live in less diverse areas try to understand what it’s like being in an area where people don’t look like you, don’t worship like you, don’t love like you. We are the only ones who have to change or understand. That’s utter bullshit. Either we ALL have to get out of our bubble or no one does.

I remember my first few weeks at college, when one of my roommates–who’d never met a Jew before–actually checked me for hooves. She didn’t realize Jews had feet. I’ve seen what that bubble looks like, and if those people don’t try to get out of theirs, they will continue to wallow in an ignorance that more than half the population rejects.

So, I’m going to be more active and work for a better America despite the election of a man determined to tear it down for his own personal profit. And I will teach my children to be better than he is (admittedly, a low bar to jump over). And I won’t be meek. EVER.

Reading a book is NOT the same thing as giving consent

There are some nice benefits of being one’s own Editorial Board, such as the occasional willingness to break the long-observed writing rule of “LIMIT THE PROFANITY HERE, PLEASE”. This is one of those times.

With the revelation that Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump had made comments 11 years ago stating that “when you’re a star” you can grab women “by the pussy”, that “You can do anything”, a slew of defenders have rushed to the aid of someone we already knew was a misogynist, someone we already knew disrespected women.

These mansplainers have come out with the argument that books like “Fifty Shades of Grey” sold by the millions, therefore millions of women must want to be grabbed by the pussy–or whatever it was that the titular dom, Christian Grey, foisted on the meek Anastasia Steele. Fellas, not just no but HELL NO.

Reading a book about sex isn’t the same thing as giving consent to sex. And reading a book about sex sure as hell isn’t the same thing as giving consent to touching from another person. It’s reading. In fact, the book in question–touted by Trumpers as justification for his assaults–is a work of FICTION. Fiction isn’t real. It isn’t necessarily what we want to happen, either. I just finished reading “The Man In The High Castle” and I have zero desire to live in a world where the Axis powers have divided up America and rule with an iron fist.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been sexually assaulted by someone. Too many damn hands go up. When author Kelly Oxford tweeted a request asking for women to post their stories of sexual assault, she figured she’d let it go if no one answered back. Instead, she got millions of responses. Our country has fostered and supported a rape culture of “boys will be boys” that makes it okay to touch, perpetuating the deeply flawed idea that women are property or they must “owe” something.

I still remember all too vividly the assistant manager at a store where I worked in high school–the one who walked me home when it was dark but then wouldn’t let me go inside my house until I kissed him.

I still remember the guy at the fraternity party who thought that my interest in seeing more of his fraternity house meant “I want to be groped” and not “I want to see more of the house.”

I know too many victims of sexual assault–date rapes, in particular–where hanging out with a friend cruelly morphed into someone they trusted to show respect breaking boundaries and violating them.

It’s never okay.

The argument of “But she reads stories with sex” is just another angle on “Did you see how she was dressed?” It’s still bullshit. It’s still unacceptable. It’s still someone violating societal rules that say KEEP THE FUCK OUT OF MY PERSONAL SPACE UNTIL I TELL YOU SPECIFICALLY IT IS OKAY TO BE IN MY PERSONAL SPACE.

We already know that Trump has no respect for the sanctity of marriage, otherwise he wouldn’t have broken his marriage vows with at least one woman he later married. Hypocritically, he beats with a verbal stick a woman who stuck by a husband who cheated on her repeatedly–while flaunting his own infidelities.

It doesn’t matter what women read or don’t read. It doesn’t matter whether they use the words “fuck” or “pussy” in casual conversation. Grabbing ANYONE by ANY part of their body without their consent is assault. Period.

Letting lies stand and perpetuating rape culture bullshit is unacceptable. I’m not surprised to hear that Trump said these things–even a decade ago–and it has no effect on my vote. What it does do, however, is remind me yet again how far we have to come in terms of showing respect for women all over the country. It reminds me that there are still too many people who hold the Neanderthal mindset that women are just two tits, a hole, and a heartbeat…and now these jackasses have Internet access.

People aren’t property, and this whole ridiculous misogynistic rationalization is just another sign that too many people live in a past we should have long since evolved beyond.

It’s on us–as parents–to teach our kids to respect other people and their personal space.

It’s on us–as adults–to call out inappropriate behavior and not let it pass without pushback.

It’s on us–as a society–to stop the marginalization and dehumanization of 51% of our country’s population.

It’s not about “Fifty Shades of Grey”. It’s about misogyny, it’s about rape culture, and it’s about fucking time we put a stop to all of it.