A Little Encouragement for my Kittens

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. I know because I aggressively bought my boyfriend a small box of chocolates to make him feel bad for never celebrating Valentine’s Day – it’s simply not his style (and I say aggressive rather than passive-aggressive because I was very clear about my intentions).

Anyway, neither fazed nor persuaded by my evil ways, Boyfriend took me to a sort of dance demonstration in the city, a flash-mob protest to speak out against violence, particularly against women and girls. He’s not much for dancing, and I’m not much for crowds, so we stood on the sidelines, watched the dancing, and listened intently to the speeches. Occasionally a word or phrase would ring so true that it hurt my heart and made me cry. Boyfriend held my hand, dried my tears, and ultimately showed me his most genuine love and support.

This experience obviously strengthened our bond, but moreover, it made me feel safer in my city. All those people dancing and speaking out, showing women like me that we are not alone – it was powerful, beautiful, and therapeutic.

Maybe this protest alone didn’t change the world, but it changed the world – in a small and significant way – for me, and assuredly, many others in attendance.

For a moment, for me, the public world felt a little less intimidating. Maybe a woman in an abusive marriage found the strength to seek help, or a teenage boy who suffered a sexual assault will be moved to tell someone and begin the healing process, and there are hundreds more scenarios I could list here. The possibilities are many and varied, they are the stuff of radical social progress.

So don’t be discouraged, my loves, if you look around and see the world falling apart. Focus on what you can do, and the many small actions will, eventually, with patience, add up to a revolution.

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “The moral arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice.”

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The Benign-Seeming Absurdity of Choosing Politics over Friendship: A Rant

Maybe you’re not racist. Maybe you’re not sexist. Maybe you’re not homophobic or transphobic. But if you voted for Trump or are otherwise chill with him being President (which is not a figurehead position IF YOU RECALL), you have decided that the outrageous things he’s said and done and the questionable characters he’s peopling his administration with are not a dealbreaker.

How nice for you.

I wish I could hide behind a veil of philosophical indifference when it comes to difference in opinion. I would love to pretend I’m beyond the petty squabbling of liberal vs. conservative, because I’m just that kind of tolerant, loving, easy-going gal, but I am not that person. I can’t be that person. Tolerable differences in opinion end where your opinion starts justifying police brutality against unarmed black people, shaming and silencing victims of sexual assault, ignoring the power structures that keep oppression alive and well, let poor people starve, and sick people suffer and die.

We’re not talking about disagreeing on whether to install carpeting or hardwood floors or whether it really is cool to like things before they’re popular. We’re talking about human lives. And once you decide that bigotry and hatred are not *that big* a deal for you, that’s the end of any friendship we could have. You cannot tell me, a bisexual woman of color, that bigotry doesn’t exist and expect me to still want to hear about your latest brunch misadventures.

Sorry, Sharon. I’ll be more tolerant when you decide my life is worth at least as much as yours.

Snaps for Ana Kasparian

I’ve long been a fan of Ana Kasparian and The Young Turks. I find her honesty and intelligence incredibly inspiring. Even when we don’t always agree, it is very clear that she thinks through her position before she takes it, she educates herself with both information and empathy, and she doesn’t take anyone’s crap. Catching up on the news today, watching an interaction between her and Cenk Uygur (of whom I am also a fan, as the case may be) hit a chord with me. It was like watching myself get into all too many arguments with men.

Ana Kasparian and her rage at this story is all of us, feminists, all of us dealing with people who don’t understand the link between “locker room talk” and sexual assault, all of us being interrupted by loud, arrogant men who only seek to defend their right to objectify and degrade women, all of us trying to get people to understand that violence isn’t always physical, and that physical violence is almost never random – it is built up and justified by centuries worth of toxic attitudes, spread by the majority to keep the status quo.

Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me it’s because their skirts were too short, or that they should tough up because this is the world they live in, that if you exist in the world as a woman, this is part of what you have to expect. Tell me that talking about women in this adjudicative way is not poisonous to the minds of men and women alike, the former as they learn – however implicitly – that this is okay, and likewise for the latter, who must submit to their bodies and lives being broken down into stats and specs so that some man can decide if she’s worthy. Tell me that that’s not how it is. Tell me I’m feminazi social justice warrior who is confusing society and that I need to get laid. Tell me I need to lose weight and shave my legs and wear makeup and straighten my hair and learn to cook. Tell me my experience doesn’t matter. Make my point.

A Short Note on My Periods of Absence

This post began as a comment on a Facebook friend’s post in which he asked (quite understandably, I feel compelled to add) how his newsfeed went from outrage about police brutality and gun violence to excitement over the new Pokémon game. It got a bit long and then I realized this should really go here, to explain my silence on the numerous recent tragedies.

I completely understand people seeking refuge from the constant onslaught of painful and violent news that dominates the media. I myself have recently withdrawn a bit from being a part of the public discourse, favoring instead to pass my time with simple and pleasant activities: perusing advice columns (I hope to write my own someday and am soaking up all the good work I can), drawing flags in my notebook, reading cheap thrillers that I get out of free-book bins, and letting the same episodes of Family Guy and American Dad run in the background.
 
I admit that my Borderline personality makes me particularly sensitive, and perhaps even more apt to withdraw when experiencing distress, but I can imagine keeping up with the news and the discussion thereof is overwhelming for many people right now, and for those in oppressed groups, even more so. When I even start to think about all the questions still left unanswered with regards to Brock Turner, Alton Sterling, Philandro Castille, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, the Orlando shooting, and not to mention the numerous dead in Iraq whose names will never have a hashtag. I can’t even list everything because it’s too much. It’s too much for a sensitive brain to think about and it’s too much for a sensitive heart to feel.

Orlando ♥

So, as some of you may know, I’m bi, and I haven’t posted about the Orlando shooting yet – and it’s not because I don’t support my LGBTQIA+ brothers and sisters. It’s because I’m still shocked. I don’t know what to say. I was still so shaken by the entire Stanford rapist thing, and before I could even sort through all those feelings, this Orlando thing happened.
 
Frankly, it’s overwhelming, and I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what combination of words would make any of this better, what appeal to reason or to the heart would be persuasive enough to someone who is dead set on hating anyone who’s different, on protecting their right to firearms regardless of the price, on finding any possible scapegoat other than lax gun laws to explain away how this shooting epidemic isn’t a shooting epidemic, even as the facts are very much stacked against them.
 
Finding the right words, the right argument, the right appeal, preparing statistics and syllogisms and pointing out logical inconsistencies… it all only works with people who are open to hearing that they are wrong (which most people are not prepared for) and on people who maintain some kind of relationship between reality and their worldview.
 
This is all so sickening. I’m too tired of all this to fight it right now. I am deeply saddened by the direction in which the U.S. is currently going, and I can feel the once blazing fame of my hope and optimism sputtering away like a dying campfire. I want to be angry. I want to be strong for you, kittens, but for the time being, I am shell-shocked and battle-weary. No more. No more.

Transgender genitals are none of your business… and other fun facts

So like, okay, so I’ve seen enough posts about the whole transgender bathroom issue, and I really didn’t want to add to it, but I just have to say something about this video some conservative guy posted about how easy it is for a man to walk into a woman’s bathroom… trying to prove it’s very easy to walk in to attack a woman, I GUESS.

Let’s unpack this a little bit. This might unsettle some of you, but most women’s bathrooms do not have bouncers. A number of men’s bathrooms don’t have them either – I’ve been in a couple myself for various reasons… the bathroom was being cleaned, the long-ass line to the women’s restroom was particularly nope-worthy, and in one instance, I worked at one place for a year and always used the men’s bathroom because I didn’t even realize there were two bathrooms. I assure you all that in all of those cases, my intentions were pure.

Yeah, so there are no genital scanners at the entrances of public restrooms, there’s nobody standing at the door checking ID’s, and a person of any gender can easily walk into whatever bathroom they choose, and that’s a good thing. Barriers to entry is not what anybody needs when nature calls, okay?

Next point: people don’t decide that it’s time to be transgender because they feel like getting their rocks off in Target’s bathroom. Being transgendered is something you’re born with, it’s something you live with; it’s not some kind of loophole people use to sexually assault women. I mean, look, there are a shocking number of cisgendered men who sexually assault women and do not ever get arrested, charged, convicted, or jailed for their offenses. Most of them get away with it. From the women who have come forward, rape kits are piling up and collecting dust, their lawyers warn them about the violative nature of pressing sexual assault charges, and the first question out of the mouths of many is still: “What was she wearing?”

Caring about violence against women is, of course, a very good and important first step to STOPPING violence against women… but you can’t stop an epidemic that doesn’t exist, see: transwomen attacking cis women in restrooms. The news isn’t there, because it isn’t happening. I see there have been a couple of men putting on wigs and tutus and harassing women in bathrooms, but that does not make them transgender, and it does not mean that society now has a free pass to punish innocent people who just want to pee without getting hassled.

If you want to combat violence against women, educate yourself about how and when and where and why it happens, volunteer in a battered women’s shelter, learn how to stop rape culture in its tracks, learn the red flags of abusive behavior, and stop harassing women who are trying to use the bathroom just because you think you have a right to police their genitals, because, you know what? Trying to keep women from using the bathroom in peace, regardless of their assigned-at-birth gender, is… kind of violent.

Knock it off.

I can’t even believe we’ve had to have this talk.

Un-fucking-believable.

A few reasons why women/LGTBQA+ people/POC/etc. need safe spaces…

1. Not because we are afraid of radical new ideas, but because too many people don’t understand the radical idea that we are people in deserving of respect.
 
2. Not because we are too sensitive for the big, harsh world, but because the world is even harsher on us than our more privileged counterparts.
 
3. Because as a woman, it would be nice to go somewhere where I don’t feel like everyone’s staring at my chest or trying to figure out how to sleep with me.
 
4. Because as a woman of color, I need a place where I don’t feel like someone’s fetish.
 
5. Because as a bisexual woman, I need a place where people aren’t constantly asking me to be part of a threesome.
 
6. Because as a woman with a mental illness, I need a place where people aren’t telling me to “get over it” or to “toughen up” or who hypothesize that I don’t *really* have a mental illness, but rather that I’m simply “quite sensitive” or “a little different.”

7. Because my need to feel safe is mocked.

8. Because you think you know better than me what is best for my well-being and emotional health.

9. Because the world is not a safe place for people like me. I’m not afraid of learning new things or hearing opinions that are different from my own. I am afraid of being objectified, I am afraid of being belittled, I am afraid of being attacked.
10. Because racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic/ableist/fat-shaming/slut-shaming/etc. language is considered a valid opinion rather than hate speech.

Instead of mocking people for needing a safe space, try to make the world safer for people of all kinds. Your mockery is part of the problem. Your mockery is what I need to escape from. Even bloodthirsty feminist warriors such as myself need a break from fighting the patriarchy sometimes, but… it’s everywhere. It’s in ads, it’s in institutional policies, it’s creeping out in microaggressions from the mouths of my friends and loved ones, it’s shouting at me as I walk along the street.

When you mock the need of some to go to a safe space,  you are part of the problem, not the solution.

No Means No, Fucker: Entitled Bastard Drastically Mishandles Rejection

In the course of my outspokenness when it comes to feminism, I’ve come across a not-insignificant number of people who don’t think my activism is necessarily, well… necessary, people who think I take social justice too seriously. I would love to live in a world where I don’t need feminism, but unfortunately, I do. I really, really do, and I don’t believe I know anybody who doesn’t. I don’t know anybody – man, woman, child, transgender, cisgender, no gender, all genders, uncertain gender, and anyone I’m forgetting – who hasn’t been somehow, sometime negatively affected by sexism, traditional gender roles, ideas of toxic masculinity, the strict adherence to the typical gender binary, etc.

Take, for example, a woman’s right to say no. Even though women, of course, have the right to say “no” to sex, in practice, it doesn’t always work that way. Some men do not know how to take “no” for an answer, and sometimes react extremely – with physical violence or verbal abuse – to a rejection. Unfortunately, not everybody wants to believe that, and chooses instead to blame the victim – for the way she dressed, for her drunkenness, for giving  unclear signals, and the list goes on.

As many of you have experienced firsthand, I am very vocal about the faulty logic and general awfulness of victim-blaming; in social media and in face-to-face conversations, people have asked me to give examples, to provide proof, usually to challenge me to admit that “Jk! I made it all up!” I mean, I don’t know what they expect of me, but I guess that’s one option.

The great – and terrible – thing about the Internet is that people write down their horrible, misinformed, and hateful opinions so that there’s written proof that yes, real people think like this. By request, I am going to begin posting some evidence of this phenomenon as I’ve experienced in my daily internetual operations (I would also post – anonymously, if that’s what you’re into – similar logs from anyone else, if you’d like to send them my way).

So without further ado, a conversation I had over a popular dating site (It starts with O and rhymes with “No way, stupid.”) with a man who would not leave me the friggity frack alone even when I – at first, politely, and finally, excruciatingly directly – turned him down. For a little context, I still have a profile on the site where I’ve listed myself as “seeing someone” (a wonderful, wonderful someone) and as “looking for friends”, since I have met some cool people there, although I pretty much never go on it anymore. At the time of the conversation in question, I was more active, listed as “single” and was looking for “short-term dating, long-term dating, and friends”. Note that I did not have “casual sex” listed there, although it is an option on the site. The photos I use are all super boring and tame – nothing I don’t probably have posted on Facebook somewhere. The man who messaged me had absolutely no reason to think I would be interested in his suggestion. That being said, I’m not generally against someone on the site asking, as long as they politely accept when I politely decline, but as of this writing, that has not happened yet; insistence followed by indignation seems to be the norm. What follows is the English translation (translated by yours truly), but if you do speak the Sprache der Liebe (or are learning!), the original screen shots are linked below. Also, los!

(In both the following translation and the screenshots, identifying information is redacted to protect the very, very guilty).

Him: Hello, beautiful lady, I’m [redacted]. Very nice to meet you. You’re looking for a man, and since I really like you, I would love to meet you. How would it be with the two of us?

Me: Hi, I’m Linda. How would it be with the two of us? That depends. Tell me something about yourself. Where are you from?

Him: I’m looking for a woman to spend some lovely hours with. And I’m from [redacted].

Me: And you think I’m such a woman?

Him: Well, one could always just meet up with someone for sex, right?

Me: Sure, one could.

Him: So, do we want to meet today?

Me: No, we don’t. I’m sick.

Him: That’s too bad that you’re sick.

Him: What do you have, exactly?

Me: The flu.

Him: Oh, my poor thing.

Him: Can I come by and take care of you?

Me: I’m okay.

Him: I have no problem with your flu, my love. Do we want to meet for sex today anyway?

Me: No.

Him: But I really like you figure, and I absolutely want to fuck you. 🙂

Me: I don’t want to. I don’t even know you.

Him: Why don’t you want to? Sex is something beautiful.

Me: I don’t know you at all. And do you think that would be a good idea for me? Get a message from some guy online and meet him for sex?

Me: And secondly – as I’ve already said – I’m sick and I don’t want to have sex.

Him: It would be something like a one-night stand, where two people normally don’t know each other. Let’s have sex. In this way, we could get to know each other.

Me: No.

Him: Oh, come on. Trust me, you won’t regret it. 😉

Me: No. I don’t know you and I’m sick. The answer is no.

Him: Why would you have to know me to have sex with  me?

Me: Because sex is really personal and I would have to feel safe.

Him: I would give you more than enough safety in my strong arms.

Me: I already feel unsafe since you apparently don’t understand the word “no.”

Him: -_-

Him:  Hmm, not only is this app shit, but the “women” here are also totally retarded. Then go fuck yourself,  you frigid piece of shit. I don’t need to beg someone for meaningless sex!

Me: Apparently you do, since you’ve been annoying me this whole time just to have sex with me. I am not a frigid piece of shit, but you are an ugly fucking pig and I wouldn’t fuck you if you were the last man on Earth. Have fun alone with your hand – I already have pleeeenty of other men I can fuck.

Sorry, [redacted] no longer has an account.

(Author’s note: I totally recognize my closing comment is quite harsh, but I had run out of politeness and nice words at this point. I also bent the truth just a little – while there were plenty of men, women, and other people of various gender identities around me that I could have had sex with, there were shockingly few that I actually would have had sex with. If you have an opinion about that, do me a solid: write it down (please be sure to use good penmanship and proper spelling/grammar), fold it up real nice, put it in a clean envelope, and send it to your nearest recycling bin because I don’t give a fuck. Later, haters.)

As promised, if you are so inclined: Let me peep dem screen shots in the original German, fam.

Be Kind, My Kittens!

In the winter of my sophomore year of high school, I spent two weeks in a mental hospital for severe depression. It felt more like juvenile detention than help for an illness; the staff often treated us like we were bad, bad people who were there to be punished. It wasn’t a good experience, but neither was school at the time, so I didn’t mind being away.

When I returned, I was mostly met with awkward silence and avoidance by both peers and teachers. Nobody knew what to say to me, I guess, or they were afraid my mental illness was contagious, and they wanted to stay far away. I don’t know.

So, I was that weird kid with no friends, who always sat alone, who dreaded every single day – a loner to be avoided by everyone. Almost everyone. The day I came back, my German teacher – a very strict German lady who everyone complained about (and who I had also given my fair share of trouble) – gave me a hug; a soft, pink teddy bear; and the offer to always listen if I needed someone to talk to.

This is how mental health issues should be handled. We need more of this in the world. Please be kind to others, kittens. You don’t always know what someone’s going through, and for all you know, a small act of kindness will make the world worth living in for someone who’s ready to give up.

Vielen lieben Dank, Frau Carty – ich hab so viel von dir gelernt, und ich werde deine Freundlichkeit nie vergessen.

7 Things People Ask Victims of Rape and Sexual Assault – and What They Should Ask Instead

  1. What they ask: “What were you wearing?”

    Some people operate under the false assumption that a person’s attire has something to do with their attack, such that a short skirt or dramatic cleavage can “provoke” an attack. Let me unburden you of this false assumption; people are assaulted all over the world no matter what they are wearing, and how insulting is it to men that we assume they can’t see someone in a short skirt without losing their control? Super insulting.

    What they should ask: “Do you need a ride to the hospital?”

    A sexual assault is a physically and psychologically traumatic event. Medical attention is necessary.

  2. What they ask: “Were you drunk?”

    If rape were always the natural consequence of getting drunk, nobody would ever have a drink. Also, forget the fact that you can’t legally consent to any kind of sex when you’re drunk, nobody wants to hang out with the kind of person who forces drunk people into sexual situations they aren’t prepared to say “yes” to. Don’t be that guy.

    What they should ask: “Let me buy you lunch. I could order Chinese?”

    This question has it all: a kind offer to pick up the tab, a concern for the other person’s well-being, and most importantly, Chinese food.

  3. What they ask: “Were you flirting with the guy?”

    Flirting does not equal consent. Flirting is a common and natural human interaction that, most of the time, doesn’t lead to sex, and it certainly shouldn’t lead to rape. So cut that shit out. Nobody is “asking for it.”

    What they should ask: “Can I get you some tea? Or are you more of a hot chocolate person?”

    Warm drinks are always a yes.

  4. What they ask: “Have you had a lot of other sexual partners?”I know this one’s going to be hard for some of you to accept, but no matter how many people a person choose to have sex with, at no point do they give up their right to say no. A person who’s had a lot of sexual partners isn’t “okay” to rape. It’s not okay to rape anyone. Am I getting through to some of you?

    What they should ask: “Have you gotten tested for STDs and pregnancy? I know it’s scary, but it’s important, and I can come with you. And we can get sushi after.”

    Not fun, but also important. Get tested so you know what you’re dealing with. It’s unfair and it sucks that you now have this problem to deal with, and I am sincerely sorry.

  5. What they ask: “Yeah, but did you secretly like it?”

    I can’t even – the fuck is wrong with you, asking questions like that?! Get the fuck off my blog. I don’t want readers like you. Go find Jesus.

    What they should ask: “Do you want me to sleep over tonight?”

    As a survivor of rape/sexual assault, it can be hard to be alone. Sometimes, it’s really good to have a friend there to make you feel safe. Of course, if your friend really wants their space, you gotta respect that, too, fam.

  6. What they ask: “Did you fight back?”Discussing the details of a sexual attack is about as fun as writing this post (I’m really pissed off that I have to), so don’t force people into it. They’ll have enough of that to deal with if they decide to pursue legal action.

    What they should ask: “Do you want to watch the new Spongebob movie?”

    Fun, fabulous, and no scary rape scenes. A+ suggestion.

  7. What they ask: “What were you doing alone in a bar at night?”There is nothing wrong with treating yourself to a drink, nothing wrong with going out on your own if none of your friends are down for it. We live in a free society. A woman should be able to go out for drinks without having to fear sexual assault, right? Right.

    What they should ask: “Do you want to talk about it, or if you want, we can just sit here and watch Netflix and basically ignore each other?”

    Sometimes, this is all the socialization you can handle, and that’s okay.

Note to society: Please get your shit together. I do not want to have to write anything like this ever again. I’m truly horrified.