Showing posts with label wtf is wrong with people?. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wtf is wrong with people?. Show all posts

Monday, April 14, 2014

Rep. Holmes is not a racist and he doesn't hate transracial families. Just stop it.

Are we, as a population, just no longer capable of understanding context and applying logic? The country (in a furious charge led by the patriots at Fox News) has lost its collective mind over statements made by Rep. Alvin Holmes of Alabama about transracial adoptions. At first I thought it was just a few right-wing, reading-is-for-dummies types jumping on the Fox News ‘He Must Be A Racist!’ train. Then Jezebel published an article about it, and I realized lots and lots of people are idiots, regardless of political affiliation.

Rep. Holmes said "I will bring you $100,000 cash tomorrow if you show me a whole bunch of whites that adopted blacks in Alabama," he said then. "I will go down there and mortgage my house and get it cash in $20 bills and bring it to you in a little briefcase."

Was this statement clumsily made? Yes, probably. But is it wrong? No. No it’s not.  

In 2013, about 21 percent of domestic adoptions in the US were transracial. That’s up from 8 percent in 1987, which was the last “official” estimate, (and it was 1 percent for white couples adopting black children). And the increase may have to do with the fact that black/minority children cost less to adopt. Also, starting in the late 1990s, the use of racial preferences in adoption agencies that receive federal assistance became more heavily regulated because 60 percent of the children waiting in foster care at the time were of a minority race (which does not match the general population breakdown).

Rep. Holmes’ statement came up in the context of an abortion debate (probably a very polite, reasonable discussion, since it was being led by white male Republicans in Alabama /s), who were trying to argue that abortion should be eliminated because adoption. Holmes also pointed out the “my abortion is valid, hers is not” dichotomy of white conservatives, which comes up so often.

While the argument that adoption negates the need for abortion is wrong on so many other levels (the woman still has to carry unwanted/unsafe pregnancy to term, the woman still has to incur COST of unwanted/unsafe pregnancy, etc.), Rep. Holmes was still RIGHT. It’s not a catch-all solution because minority children – PARTICULARLY black children – are still significantly less likely to get adopted than white children.  

Calling Rep. Holmes a racist or claiming he hates interracial families is just so obviously wrong it makes my head spin. This is the man who introduced legislation to make interracial marriages legal in Alabama. In 2000. Because there was still a statute on the Alabama books in 2000 banning interracial marriages. As in, this century. That’s the Alabama we’re dealing with here.

Interracial families should be championing this man for (albeit histrionically) calling attention to the fact that there are still huge race disparities in our foster and adoption systems in the US.

The only mistake Rep. Holmes made was saying so in a way that was so easy for Republicans desperate to detract from their own stupid statements  to misconstrue.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Arizona's right-to-discriminate bill

Oh Arizona. You just couldn’t let Kansas have all the bigotry fun, could you?

If you haven’t been paying attention, the Republican-controlled Senate and House in Arizona have passed legislation (SB 1062) that would allow anyone claiming a “sincerely held” religious belief to discriminate against anyone they choose (notably LGBT individuals) in any “action or refusal to act.”

To be honest, this is even scarier than various media outlets are making it out to be. Any “action or refusal to act” means the nebulous claim of “but I really believe…” can actually supersede “the enforcement of state action.” Just the claim of a religious belief could actually trump state laws designed to protect the public. It means a “religious” doctor could allow an unmarried pregnant woman to die in front of him, because he sincerely doesn’t agree with sex outside of marriage. It means Catholic bank managers could refuse loans to divorcees. It means Muslim men could refuse access or services to any woman not wearing a burka.

This bill gives an awful lot of leeway to cry “religion!” when actively seeking to harm someone who doesn’t adhere to your specific religious doctrine. Of course, when you put it that way, it sounds a bit like sharia law.

The bill is in flux at the moment as the nation waits anxiously to find out whether everyone’s favorite hexenbiest Jan Brewer will sign it into law.

To be honest, I hope Brewer does sign it. I hope she signs it and it gets challenged all the way to the Supreme Court. I hope Arizona loses millions if not billions in tax dollars and business revenue and tourist income. I hope the Supreme Court strikes this down on the basis of equal protection, which then sets the precedent for marriage equality in Arizona. In short, I hope this epically backfires and the bigoted, hateful monsters trying to destroy Arizona end up being the catalyst for actual progress in the state.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Free speech on Republican terms

I’m so sick of Republicans and their mindless, slavering, hate-mongering, idiot minions who can’t be bothered to pause Fox News long enough to recognize how blatantly evil the religious right has become.

How does one deal with the amount of cognitive dissonance it takes to vote Republican these days? Jesus says ‘love thy neighbor.’ But apparently that’s only so long as thy neighbor is white, male, Christian, straight and blindly agrees with everything Rush Limbaugh says.  

I’ve seen so many stupid images of people “protesting” A&E over the suspension of the Duck Dynasty ZZ Top-reject and decrying his lack of free speech and claiming he’s being persecuted. He had plenty of free speech. He said something hateful and bigoted and terrible, and he wasn’t thrown in jail for it. Free speech satisfied. Full stop.

You do have a right to free speech – but you don’t have a right to whatever speech you want without consequences. See: Yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.

Sadly for the gay-bashing, women-hating right, society is changing, no matter how desperately they cling to the glory days of open racism and persecution and inequality. Thanks to New Mexico, marriage equality now exists in 17 states. In just thirteen years, since Vermont became the first state to extend equal marriage rights to gay couples, we’ve seen a HUGE reversal in US opinion toward marriage equality. That’s progress. And no bleating cries of ‘but JESUS!’ are going to drag us backwards.

You don’t get to try to invoke your first amendment rights in the battle to deny someone else their first amendment rights. Because the second part of that first amendment people are so determined to defend protects the rest of us from having your convoluted religious pseudo-beliefs forced down our throats. Funny how that works, huh?

Oddly enough, these knuckle-dragging bible thumpers who are up in arms over the Duck Dynasty issue were surprisingly quiet when Martin Bashir lost his job for calling out Sarah Palin's idiocy. Wasn't that his right to free speech? They weren’t particularly outraged either when the Dixie Chicks were slammed for criticizing Bush. Wasn't that their right to free speech?

Oh wait, I see. Free speech is only important when it's the free speech to be an ignorant, intolerant asshole who shares your ass-backwards view of how you think Republican Jesus would want the world to be.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Republicans lack empathy - that's the real problem here

Charming and I are fortunate: Despite the fact that he’s a federal employee, and therefor furloughed indefinitely, the shutdown isn’t hitting us that hard. We both have savings (which we were planning to put toward things like ‘vacations’ and ‘retirement,’ not ‘Republican temper tantrums,’ but you know…) and my paycheck is enough to cover the mortgage, bills and food. Depending on how long this lasts, we’ll have to scale back on personal purchases and eating out, but it’s certainly not the end of the world for us.

But the thing that separates liberals from Republicans is – I am capable of recognizing that millions of Americans are not so lucky. I have this ability to feel empathy – something Republicans truly seem to lack.

On September 30, before the shutdown had even gone into effect – before we knew there were small concessions, like active duty military still getting paid – Sean Hannity said “this doesn't impact me mentally… I'm not afraid of a couple of weeks of government being shut down.”

Well maybe, Mr. Hannity, that’s because you’re a rich, white male, with all the privileges that implies. Maybe that’s because you’re such a narcissistic, self-serving monster that you’re unable to look beyond the frosted glass windows of your penthouse suite and recognize that there are people suffering needlessly because you’re too greedy and puffed up on Ayn Rand and Koch brothers rhetoric to recognize or care about the humanity of others.

I was an Atlas Shrugged-clutching libertarian in college, I admit it. But even in my heyday of swearing by my life and my love of it that I would not live for the sake of another man, I recognized that strict Objectivism wasn’t a viable political framework. I recognized that in order for there to be a top to reach, there has to be a bottom. But those people don’t deserve to be treated like shit just because I was born more advantageously.

Nine million women and children don’t deserve to go hungry because John Boehner wants to ‘win’ something. Children shouldn’t be denied cancer treatment because a bunch of rich white guys don’t want their perceived racial superiority challenged by a black man. Veterans who have fought for this country don’t deserve to be denied their rightfully-earned benefits because William O’brien (R-NH) thinks health care for 47 million is worse than slavery. 800,000 federal workers shouldn’t be out of a paycheck because the Republicans are just really fucking scared this is going to work.

I consider myself a fiscal conservative, which is why I agree with ObamaCare. The more people have access to preventative care and covered care, the less it costs the rest of us as a society. Twenty percent of our population accounts for 80% of our health care costs – that’s astronomical. Provisions to prevent denial based on pre-existing conditions, and to include preventative care and mental and behavioral health care as ‘essential benefits’ in all insurance plans go a long way toward addressing the needs of that 20%. This IS the fiscally conservative plan. 

But you won’t hear that from most news sources. And you certainly won't hear it from Republicans, even though ObamaCare is largely based on a Republican plan. Because that doesn’t rile people up quite like screaming about the ‘dangers’ of ‘socialism.’ The Republicans have trained their frothing masses to jump at the word ‘freedom,’ and to take their Medicare/social security/WIC/disability/veterans benefits/etc. with one hand while screaming “socialist!” and flipping off the black guy with the other. Republicans only care about 'freedom' and 'opportunity' for themselves; but they've done a great job of convincing millions that hurting themselves is for their own good. 

The media needs to stop blaming this shutdown on “Congress” or “political disagreement” and place the blame where it belongs. With the Republicans who are so greedy and heartless and self-serving that they would rather let people starve and children die than admit that maybe, just maybe, they were wrong. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Creepy Uncle Sam video

A few days ago, the Koch brothers released a ‘Creepy Uncle Sam’ video which likens ObamaCare to sexual assault.

This, from the party of forced transvaginal ultrasounds, and the ‘if it’s inevitable, lay back and enjoy it’ approach to rape. Irony level = expert.

There’s a certain level of viciousness in co-opting something as painful and degrading as sexual assault, and using it to further injure and degrade millions of Americans, particularly women. ObamaCare is already providing affordable access to sexual and reproductive health care for 47 million women, and to use sexual assault imagery and rhetoric to coerce women into giving up that access is absolutely despicable.

The amount of mental gymnastics it takes to be a Republican these days is impressive, but even more impressive – or rather, terrifying – is the fact that there are millions of Americans dumb enough to believe it.

The Koch brothers have slowly but surely crafted not only a party of greedy, corrupt liars, but a political base so dumb you just have to insert the word “freedom!” into a talking point Mad Libs-style to get them to cheerfully and righteously vote in direct opposition to their best interests.  

There is so much misinformation about ObamaCare, and the ones we should be able to turn to for accurate information – a theoretically-impartial news media – are the very ones (*cough* Fox News *cough*) spreading the majority of the lies.  

Here’s a good website about what ObamaCare actually does: ObamaCare Facts.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The persecution of Christianity

A recent Facebook chain share starts off: “This happened in TN. At a Tennessee Football Game---not a joke, Christianity is now the target of persecution... THIS IS AS GOOD AS IT GETS!”
It goes on to allegedly quote a high school principal, angered by the fact that you cannot use public schools to indoctrinate children with one particular religion: “Due to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court, I am told that saying a Prayer is a violation of Federal Case Law… If anyone uses this facility to honor GOD and ask HIM to Bless this event with safety and good sportsmanship, then Federal Case Law is violated… Apparently we are to be tolerant of everything and anyone, except GOD and HIS commandments…Somehow, Kingston , Tennessee Remembered what so many have forgotten. We are given the Freedom OF Religion, not the Freedom FROM Religion Praise GOD that HIS remnant remains!” [All errors sic]

Then it finishes with “Somehow, Kingston, Tennessee Remembered what so many have forgotten. We are given the Freedom OF Religion, not the Freedom FROM Religion Praise GOD that HIS remnant remains!”

Then I threw up a little in my mouth and had to stop myself from flinging my iphone across the room.

The absolute bald-faced audacity in claiming that Christianity – the identified religion of 76% of Americans – is the “target of persecution” is mind-numbing. In which states, if you’re a Christian, can you not get married? In which states, just because you’re a Christian, do you earn 77 cents on the dollar to what men earn? In which states, if you’re a Christian, can your Scientologist boss deny you access to health care? In which states, if you’re a Christian and your pharmacist is not, can your pharmacist interfere with a decision between you and your doctor and refuse to give you medication, because it’s against their religious beliefs? In which states might your office be bombed because people don’t like that you’re a Christian? In which states are you racially profiled because you’re a Christian? At which airports/security checks are you detained/looked at with suspicion because you’re a Christian? In which states, if you’re raped, does the media immediately assume it’s your fault, because you’re a Christian (or you were wearing a cross)?

Your answer to all of these was “none,” therefor you are NOT persecuted, and to claim otherwise is an egregious affront to anyone who has ever faced any sort of discrimination or persecution, and further it’s a pernicious assault on basic common sense and logic.

I don’t know what “recent ruling” by the Supreme Court is being referenced, but Abington Township v. Schempp in 1963 established the “secular purpose” and “primary effect” tests, and Lemon v. Kurtzman in 1971 established “excessive entanglement.” Essentially, if something funded by public taxpayer money is being done expressly for the purpose of advancing religion (like reciting a Christian prayer before a football game), it is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution.

The Establishment Clause states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” What the barely-literate author of the above-mentioned rant fails to recognize, is that you cannot guarantee free exercise to one religion, but not another. That’s where we get the idea of freedom FROM religion. Freedom of religion exists because of freedom from religion. My right to not live by the pieces you pick and choose from an oft-translated book is just as important as your right to do so. And because the government funds public school systems, the government cannot allow you to promote one religion over any other. If you want to teach your children nonsense, send them to church. That’s what it’s there for. But leave the rest of our children – the ones who still have the potential to become scientists and lawyers and critical thinkers – alone.     

Thursday, February 14, 2013

This wedding may be the death of me

UPDATE: This post has been heavily edited to appease Charming. 

We decided months ago, and officially-officially a couple weeks ago, to make 18 the minimum age for guests at our wedding.

We deliberated over this decision for a long time. We love the kids in our family, and in a perfect world, we’d love to have everyone there, but having kids at a wedding completely changes the entire event – kids need to be entertained, they need to be provided with special meals, they’re more to worry about.

The wedding is being held at a country club on Memorial Day weekend – there will be hundreds of (very old) club members there who are not attending our event. I can’t take the risk of a bunch of kids running around, misbehaving, knocking someone or something (like our lit lanterns) over, getting in trouble. Even if it’s not my responsibility as the bride to watch after everyone’s children, I would still ultimately be responsible if something went wrong. That’s a lot of additional stress that I just don’t need. Not on the one day I’m supposed to relax and enjoy. So after much consideration and heartache, we set the age limit at 18.

Apparently not everyone in Charming's family was willing to respect that decision.

I am spending thousands of dollars of my own money, and an inordinate amount of time, energy, and thought planning this event, and I have to balance my needs and wishes with those of my 136 invited guests. No matter what I do, I’m not going to be able to make everyone happy, but no one has the right to go behind my back and make me feel like a horrible person when I’m working so hard to please so many people.

I didn’t even want to have a wedding. I’d have been perfectly happy to go to the courthouse and sign a couple pieces of paper. But we decided to do this for our friends and family, because it does mean a lot to us that everyone wants to share in our joy. I just hope going forward they can all understand that ultimately this is about me and Charming, and I am doing my best, and I deserve a little goddamned respect and common courtesy for it.  

As a side note, I did propose what I hope is a workable solution to the problem. Something I’d have been happy to do ages ago if anyone had seen fit to treat me with a little respect in the first place. And Charming has been amazingly supportive and on my side the whole time, and he sent me gorgeous flowers for Valentine’s Day. So there’s that. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Hobby Lobby's fight against contraceptive coverage

Hobby Lobby, that miasmic abyss of half-finished picture frames and glittery appliques, is currently embroiled in a legal battle over – what else – a woman’s right to access health care. Because I guess the more women who get (and stay!) pregnant, the more women who will need vast troves of bunting and cross stitch patterns.

Last month, a federal judge ruled that Hobby Lobby’s owner can’t discriminate against his female employees just because he thinks they’re all icky slutty whores.

Corporate general counsel and stater of facts pertinent to nothing Peter Dobelbower asserted during the case that “Hobby Lobby does not provide coverage for abortion-inducing drugs in its health care plan.” Well that’s nice. No one is asking you to. Since birth control and the morning after pill (Plan B) do NOT INDUCE ABORTIONS.

But alas, nothing is more American than believing your misplaced religious beliefs trump our secular laws, so Hobby Lobby owner and judgmental prick David Green is defying the federal ruling and continuing to deny affordable birth control and Plan B coverage to his employees by manipulating the start of his plan year. When this righteous disobedience blows up in his face, he’ll likely owe $474mill+ in fines. Per year.

That penalty money is more than enough to cover contraceptives for all 13,000 of his female employees, plus buy enough indulgences to forgive any sin. But that’s not the issue at all, because this contraceptive coverage debate has absolutely nothing to do with Green’s (or anyone else’s) personal relationship with an apocryphal nonentity.

Claiming that your religious liberty is infringed upon by someone else exercising their religious liberty (to put their own health first, etc.) kind of negates the whole idea of religious liberty.  If you can’t worship your God-of-choice because I don’t believe he exists… well, welcome to Iran.

And don’t give me that shit about “well it’s his money funding their slutty behavior…” No. No it’s not. Once that money is given as compensation (which is what benefits are) in exchange for work, it is no longer his money. He is giving the money to the insurance company, which in turn pays for the birth control so it is available to women at no cost. Once that money hits the insurance company, it’s no longer Green’s money. None of his pure Christian dollars (which have certainly never gone toward purchasing shellfish or pork products or any other things he’s religiously opposed to) are directly purchasing birth control pills or enabling women to have indiscriminate, Jesus-defying sex.

Naturally though, Green plans to oppose both the mandate and the penalty, because he doesn’t want to face any consequences for his actions. Seems like he should have thought of that BEFORE he spread his legal legs, amirite?? Maybe he should just build a wall of aspirin between himself and the federal government…  

Friday, December 21, 2012

Adventures in birth control

Last Sunday, I glanced down and realized I was nearing the end of my 3-month cycle of birth control pills. I knew I’d need to swing by the pharmacy sometime this week and pick up the next pack, since our birth control is still doled out like an allowance by a paternalistic health care industry that treats us as children.

Monday we had a family emergency, so I wasn’t able to get to the CVS until Wednesday, where I was told that yes, there were two refills available, but no I couldn’t have them because they were expired.

Wait, what? So I’m being denied access to legally-prescribed, safer-than-aspirin medication – not because the pills themselves expired – but because the prescription was written one year and 3 weeks ago. Even though the American Cancer Society no longer recommends pap smears every year, so the only reason to go back to the doctor every year would be for her to charge me money for wasting her time while she hits resend on the script.

Ok, fine. This was Wednesday evening, so the office was already closed, but I called my regular provider early Thursday morning, asking for an emergency reauthorization so I could get one more refill before the holidays. My clinician wasn’t available, and there was no backup clinician, but I was told to call back Friday, when someone should be on site. At this point, I had one pill left. I even called my mom, who’s a nurse, and asked her if she could call in any favors to get me a renewal. She couldn’t.

This morning, I called the office again, and was again told that there was no clinician on site, no appointments available today, and no backup clinicians. I tried several other Planned Parenthoods in the area, but got no answer and no help.

Then I started freaking out. I was completely out of pills, we’re scheduled to go out of town tomorrow, and if I didn’t get some pills, I would likely start my period right around New Years. That doesn’t sound like a huge deal, but it is when you deal with periods like mine.

Oversharing alert, but my period lasts a full 7-8 days, I have cramps that would knock out a full-grown elephant and my skin hurts. I don’t know how to explain it better than that – I just feel like every inch of my body is painfully sensitive and I ache and throb and cannot stand to be touched. By anyone or anything. Just the thought of putting a heating pad on my stomach makes me violently nauseous. I want to curl up inside my skin and not exist until it’s over. So I do a 3-month cycle, and as soon as Charming and I decide to have/finish having a child, I’ll be putting a permanent end to this nonsense.  

Needless to say, it’s very important to me to not miss a pill so I don’t have to deal with my period any more frequently than necessary.  

At 9:45am, I pulled up a list of providers in my network and started calling down the list, begging for a same-day appointment. And I got turned down over and over and over again.

Finally I got to Unity Health Care Center, and the wonderful admin on the phone called around and found a cancellation for me at the clinic near my office at 10:45am. I half-sprinted the ¾ mile to the clinic, and entered through what looked like a service door. Immediately I knew I was too white to be there. And too fancy. I turned my engagement ring upside down to hide the diamond, and stuffed my Burberry scarf in my purse, which I turned around so the Kate Spade logo would be hidden.

I walked toward the back of the clinic, where the registration desk was, and 25 pairs of eyes zeroed in on me the second I came around the corner. After filling out some new patient paperwork, which required me to disclose my salary (or I could just check the “I’m homeless and out of work” box, according to the very-helpful admin), and getting panhandled twice –inside the clinic– I was finally called back to the exam room.

The tech offered to hold my coat while I stood on the scale, and I handed my new white Michael Kors jacket over very reluctantly. She led me back to the exam room and took my blood pressure, then left me alone to watch the pregnant teenager crying quietly in the room across the hall.

The tech came back to ask me to provide a urine sample, and as I stood up to follow her to the bathroom, she pointed at my coat and bag on the floor and advised “You better bring your stuff – you certainly don’t want to leave it here.”

After unlocking the bathroom door and chasing a most-likely homeless lady out of the restroom, she left me alone to provide the sample.

And still I didn’t turn tail and run. I was absolutely determined to get my hands on the damned birth control.

Eventually the doctor came in, and she was actually super nice and understanding of the situation, and she wrote out a script for one refill of my preferred brand. But I didn’t relax until I got to CVS and hand the actual packet of pills in my hand. Though finally, 3 days and a stomach-full of anxiety later, my odyssey was over.

It’s unbelievable to me that in 2012, as a 28 year old professional with excellent health insurance, a good job and all the white privilege you could ask for, it took me 3 days, untold amounts of stress, a panicked Facebook posting and some tears to get my hands on a pack of birth control. A drug that is not a narcotic and – as I’ve mentioned before – is safer than aspirin. A drug that, furthermore, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends be sold over the counter.

But that change isn’t going to happen anytime soon, because that means insurance companies and doctors would have to give up one more piece of patriarchal control over women. If we could just access birth control when we need it – you know, kind of like how men can access aspirin or Sudafed or condoms whenever they need it – they’d lose this chance to shame us, to force us into celibacy and feelings of inadequacy over our inability to control our own health care.

This is the ‘freedom’ Republicans speak of – the freedom for my employer and my insurance company to deny me access to care, the freedom of doctors and pharmacists to hold my health care hostage because of their own prejudices and beliefs, the freedom to slut shame women and treat us as children, as second-class citizens in our own country. It’s downright sickening, wouldn't you agree? 

Friday, December 14, 2012


My heart breaks for those parents and families affected by today’s shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. I can’t even begin to imagine sending a child off to elementary school in the morning, only to get their dead body back in the evening. No parent should ever have to face something like that.

The people screaming that this isn’t political – that this tragedy shouldn’t be exploited to take away our second amendment rights – well, now would be a good time to shut up. It IS political. It IS our government’s JOB to protect us from threats to our lives – both foreign and domestic. And this is coming from a gun owner.

Yep, you read that right. And you know how hard it was for me to get that gun? My dad had to get it out of his locked safe and hand it to me.

I kept it in my apartment in Austin and felt considerably safer for it, but the problem is that not everyone has been shooting since they were 8 years old. Not everyone was raised with a proper respect for what guns can do. Not everyone is a mature, sane, mentally healthy individual capable of handling such an immense responsibility. And we have a responsibility as a country to do what we can to keep guns out of the hands of individuals who aren’t.

We have had 31 school shootings in the US since Columbine in 1999; the rest of the developed world has had 14 total in that time. When some dark-skinned idiot tried to detonate a shoe bomb, all Americans were suddenly required to remove their shoes at the airport. When someone went on a rampage at Columbine, at a movie theater, at a Sikh temple, at a Portland mall, at a Connecticut elementary school – we collectively shrug our shoulders and offer up empty prayers. There’s something wrong here.

I’m scared, and I’m angry and I’m frustrated that we live in a society where Republicans prioritize the needs of corporations over Native American women and LGBT individuals and union workers and women and people with mental illnesses and children. We need honest discourse and regulation and better access to mental health care for all, and we need it now. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Vandy photo booth scandal

Today I’m writing about something that hits kind of close to home for me. Some of you may have heard about the recent scandal involving a Vanderbilt (my alma mater) sorority girl who took explicit photos with her boyfriend in a photo booth at a sorority formal – a booth that uploaded its pictures directly to Facebook.

Within hours, the photos were viral and the girl was kicked off the cheerleading squad, out of the sorority, and the photos were forwarded to the law schools to which she was applying. It took seconds to ruin her reputation and jeopardize her entire future.

But you know what? There were two people in that booth. That dick in her mouth? It was attached to a guy – a guy who has suffered zero consequences for his role in the scandal, simply because he’s a dude, and that’s what dudes do.

A quick search of the TMB forum (which bills itself as “Excellent Whoring. Terrible Internetting, and Everything in between.” – stay classy, gentlemen) turns up such gems about the young woman involved as:

“Have to say—she has that ‘I would be comfortable getting slapped in the face by a cock’ kind of look to her.”  - PhupaPhever

“This is a blessing in disguise. Law school is a waste of time and money for women, anyways. Embrace it and enjoy your career in IT sales.” – The Guglia

“I call bullshit… aint no cheerleader gonna be a law student.” – Caga palo

“Consider these pictures this girls [sic] reparations for 9/11. It’s certainly not enough, but it’s a start.” – DeToxRox

“Yea guys, show the girl who smiled as she throated a hog in a picture booth some respect” – The Guglia

“My life would would [sic] be much worse without [sluts]. I’m far too self-absorbed for any woman that demands to be respected.” – JY

“I would def. take her [as an employee at a law firm], the photos show that she knows how to get ahead in life” – Rumpus StillStiff

I’ll placate myself with the knowledge that these assholes are all 18 year old boys with bacne and crippling self-esteem issues who really think calling a girl a slut somehow raises their own self-worth, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is very de rigueur for how our society thinks of and treats women.

Women are sex objects, plain and simple. Three of the comments focus on the fact that women are too dumb to either get into law school or succeed at law school/life. Without whoring their way to the top, of course. And the thought of respecting a woman who made a poor decision? Absolutely laughable, according to The Guglia.

The woman’s actions are fodder for public consumption and scorn, while the man involved is barely even mentioned. I saw the pictures – his face is just as clearly visible. But will this jeopardize his future? Unlikely. A man who sleeps with a woman is a stud, a conqueror, a manly man, but the woman with whom he sleeps is a slut, a grasping whore, an insipid dick-receptacle worth nothing more than a few crude jokes.

This is the legacy of the religious right. Women are subject to patriarchal double-standards that punish and castigate women for daring to claim equality or the same sexual liberation as men. Women are expected to remain lily-white pure reflections of Christ, while ‘boys will be boys.’

This is why we have a rape culture. Women who deviate from the strict moral (and ever-changing!) expectations of society are less worthy, less human than other women. It’s acceptable to call them names, to destroy their reputation on the internet, to write comments about how it’s her job to be objectified and exploited over the internet, because she’s female.

A lack of respect for a woman who makes a poor decision regarding her sexual activity is still a lack of respect for women. All women. Because not every choice does or should define who we are.

This young woman’s story impacts me personally, not just because she went to my school, but because attacking her is also an attack against me and all women in this country. Women have a right to sexuality. And we have a right to make mistakes without confirming the suspicion that all women who do X are worthless sluts. We have a right to be seen as people – fallible people, yes, but still people – and to not be degraded and exploited at every turn.

Slut-shaming this young woman for a poor decision serves to discourage and stigmatize the expression of sexuality in women, while at the same time further cementing the notion that women are sexual objects for the male gaze. She is condemned for her role in the photos, at the same time the photos are exploited for rabid male consumption.

Should she have thought twice about taking those pictures? Probably. But does she deserve to have her future jeopardized for them? Absolutely not.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Doomsday preppers

Charming’s favorite recent obsession (when not watching cooking shows) is Doomsday Preppers. It’s rapidly becoming one of our favorite hobbies to watch episodes and make fun of the rednecks until we almost pee our pants.

For those who have never seen the show, it’s a documentary-style program that follows 3 people/families per episode as they prepare for the end of the world. From things like a series of F5 tornadoes, nuclear power plant explosions, electromagnetic pulses, economic collapse, super volcano eruption and the sudden switching of the north and south magnetic poles. Ohgodwe’regoingtodie.

An incredulous-sounding narrator carefully ignores the mental illnesses driving these people as they stockpile live chickens, .22 caliber bullets and pea soup.

Then a panel of “expert practical preppers” completely arbitrarily scores these people on their preparation in 5 categories: water, food, shelter, security and X-FACTOR. X-Factor being things like “you live in the woods” and “you’re young.”

Here are some of our conversations from last night's viewing: 

Prepper Johnny O: I believe in redundancy, so I married my wife, who’s a twin. Gotta have redundancy for family continuity if something goes wrong.
Me:…So he just wants to bang his sister in law.  

Prepper Johnny O: The crow is in the nest, repeat THE CROW. IS. IN. THE. NEST.
Charming: The raven is in the endzone! The dolphin is in the ocean!
Me: Wait! The dolphin is in the aquarium! And it’s killing a human!
Charming: Our codes are getting too complicated!
Me: No, it’s really killing a human! Redundancy in dolphins was a terrible idea!
Charming: The dolphin is so horny… sooo horny….

Random fact across screen: In 2010, an 82 year old nun and two other people broke into a nuclear facility in ...Tennessee. 
Me: There's a radioactive nun on the loose! It's like a radioactive missile sent from God! 

Narrator: What Robert Earl calls building materials, most people would call… trash.
Charming: Why won’t they just build with actual materials that we have now??
Narrator: Other preppers might focus on practical things like building living quarters first…
Charming: Why is he building with bottles and kitty litter?? He can just buy cinder blocks now!

Big Al is a record producer in Nashville who has written a song about doomsday prepping. He has an underground bunker in some remote location 1800 miles from Nashville. Because when the Russians nuke us (his scenario), he’s totally going to have 2 ½ days and plenty of gas for his ancient SUV to drive there. On the roads that will magically survive the explosion.

Narrator: Big Al’s bugout home… totals 2000 square feet and is 2 stories tall. But you’d never know it, because it’s 5 feet underground.
Charming: Those are the shortest stories EVER.
Narrator: So when Al’s in bunker mode, he looks for ways to keep himself sane. Like experimenting with his 1500 cans of food on a recipe he calls… Bunker Stew.
Charming: That’s not a recipe! You’re just dumping 5 cans of vegetables into a pot!

Big Al: Well don’t just say he lives underground, so he’s a nut! Am I nuts, or are you?
Charming and I: Nope, it’s you!

Narrator: In desperate times, rattlesnake blood can serve as water
Me: *incoherent screaming*

Fifteen year old Jason is a doomsday prepper who gets his supplies by stealing them. From his mom. He also builds fires in buildings. Because he doesn't understand things like Wood = More Fire and Oxygen also = More Fire. Seriously, someone let this kid and his 2 underage friends build a fire in an abandoned building (with some bottled water to put it out) and then filmed it for TV.
Me: His eyes ... they're soulless. *Hides under Charming* Hold me.
Charming: This kid is totally going to shoot up his high school in a year.
Charming: How is this not a liability for the film crew? WHO OWNS THAT BUILDING??

Charming: I really can’t believe your dad hasn’t jumped on this prepping thing yet… 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Debating my rights

Last night, Joe Biden and Eddie Munster – sorry, Paul “HARDC0RE” Ryan – took the stage in the ONE AND  ONLY (no, seriously, this is the one and only. The One. And. Only.)  vice presidential debate. This was infinitely more entertaining than watching Lehrer experience what it’s like to be a woman in a male-dominated society and Obama frown at his notes which were rendered useless by Mitt’s chameleon-esq transformation into Snoop Lyin’ in the first presidential debate.

I was so excited when – over an hour in, and for a full, solid 6 minutes – they deigned to discuss women’s rights that I didn’t at the time take issue with how it was done.

But looking back, I’m once again frustrated with how women’s issues are treated and framed and discussed in this country.

RADDATZ:  I want to move on, and I want to return home for these last few questions. This debate is, indeed, historic. We have two Catholic candidates, first time, on a stage such as this. And I would like to ask you both to tell me what role your religion has played in your own personal views on abortion.
Please talk about how you came to that decision. Talk about how your religion played a part in that. And, please, this is such an emotional issue for so many people in this country… please talk personally about this, if you could.

Even in a discussion that is specifically about women, we are not the primary concern. This was not an issue of ‘do women have a right to be free from religious oppression and interference in their health care?’ but rather ‘can Catholicism grant women the right to be treated like equal human beings?’

It framed the issue as if someone else’s religious beliefs should actually have some bearing on my right to life and liberty. As if I should have to humble myself before the almighty White Male Catholic and beg for permission to have my own religious beliefs, and my own personal autonomy and my own right to freedom and self-determination.

While I appreciate Biden’s response: “I accept my church’s position on abortion… Life begins at conception in the church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life. But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews, and I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the — the congressman. I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that — women they can’t control their body.” 

I think we missed an opportunity to make it absolutely clear that your religious beliefs do not dictate my rights.

His response was lovely – and it made me clap and sigh contentedly at the TV at the time – but my civil rights should not be contingent on the off chance that the men-folk decide to remember that we’re human, too.

Freedom of religion is being free to believe that life begins at conception; it’s not being free to cripple the rights of others with that belief.

But what scared me the most – rocked me to my core – was Ryan’s assertion that “We don’t think that unelected judges should make this decision; that people through their elected representatives in reaching a consensus in society through the democratic process should make this determination.”

This decision that you’re talking about Mr. Ryan? I like to call that “my rights.” The very purpose of our country, of our Constitution, is to protect the rights of the minority from the tyranny of majority rule.

Toqueville famously asked in Democracy in America “A majority taken collectively is only an individual, whose opinions, and frequently whose interests, are opposed to those of another individual, who is styled a minority. If it be admitted that a man possessing absolute power may misuse that power by wronging his adversaries, why should not a majority be liable to the same reproach?”

If three people decide I should be enslaved because of my gender, and my voice is the one dissenting vote, they don’t automatically win by virtue of morality in numbers. Because we have already decided as a country that people should not be slaves. Likewise, we have decided that women have a right to bodily autonomy and safe access to health care, and that right cannot be revoked because the bible-thumping Koch-heads think I’m a slut.

If you leave the question of rights for certain groups to a majority consensus, the majority may shockingly vote to curtail the rights of those groups. That’s why we leave “that decision” to unelected judges who are not accountable to the volatile opinions and financial influence of the religious right.

I have issue with this in relation to gay marriage as well. Why under any circumstances should the legal rights of some be left up to the imperfect whim of the loudest majority? Their beliefs do not suddenly trump my standing as a free American citizen.

If I could conceivably pull together a large enough majority (and women are currently 52% of the population, so it’s possible…) to decide that men should not be allowed in government because testosterone makes them too hot-headed to rule effectively, should we be allowed to enforce that? Anyone want to sign my petition…? 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Politics and rhetoric

I heard a quote last week from San Francisco “pro-life” group First Resort that their goal is "to make abortion unnecessary in the Bay Area."

My first thought was “Yes! They’re going to campaign for increased access to affordable birth control and better sex education!” Because if you want to make something unnecessary, you treat the problem causing it. Right? Right?! HAH.

Turns out, they seem to have confused the word “unnecessary” with “unsafe.”

Because the thing is, no matter how many pictures of dead babies you hold up, you can’t solve a problem by taking away a solution. Much like how turning the radio up really loud won’t “fix” your noisy muffler, making abortions harder to obtain or even illegal won’t make the need for abortions go away. Women will still obtain them, just like they did prior to Roe v. Wade and just like they do in other parts of the world where abortion is illegal, but more women will die from them. Despite the fact that we have the know-how and the technology and one would think the humanity to prevent that.

And this is why I have zero respect for the vast majority of the “pro-life” movement. Because it’s not about “life” at all – at least not for women – it’s about control. This is not rocket science – abortion rates are considerably lower in states with easier and cheaper access to birth control and accurate sex education.

Yet another study from St. Louis has laid this out in plain English. In a study of 9,000 women and teens, teen birth rates decreased by almost 82 percent when teenagers had access to affordable birth control, and abortion rates across all age groups of women in the study were HALF of the national average.  There. Done. Problem basically solved. Abortion was made unnecessary in 50 percent of cases, just by providing access to birth control. Isn’t that what the “pro-lifers” want?

Unfortunately, no.

You see, dead babies and religious freedom and “pro-life” are all just inflammatory rhetoric used to cover up the true goal, which is to keep women a permanent second class. They don’t care that we’re exercising a choice to end a pregnancy; they care that we’re exercising a choice to have financial security and bodily autonomy and remain outside the home and in the workforce. They don’t care about killing babies; they care about killing the entrenched patriarchy.

The threat to their religious beliefs has nothing to do with whore pills that thwart God’s will; it has everything to do with women who thwart their beliefs that men are superior.

The refusal to provide women with access to birth control under their company-sponsored health plans is mind-numbingly stupid, but when couched in terms of “religious freedom,” it gains a thin patina of legitimacy, and makes people scared to challenge it. Which is why Republicans do it. No one wants to be that guy who “restricts” religious freedom…  

The way company-sponsored insurance plans work is that an employer contributes access to/a percentage as part of a person’s compensation package. That access to insurance is part of your salary. If your employer can tell you how you can and can’t use that part of your compensation, they would also be able to tell you how you can and can’t use your monetary compensation. Which is utterly ludicrous. That would mean no more buying beer or going to bars if your employer is “religiously opposed” to alcohol. No more going to doctors if your employer is a scientologist. No more porn if your employer is a female who thinks men watch too damned much of it.

That’s not “religious freedom” – that’s fascism. Religious freedom is having the right to not use birth control if you don’t believe in it – it’s not having the right to enforce that belief on everyone else just because you think your religion is superior.

I’m truly scared about the direction this country is going. I don’t want to live in a place where if god-forbid something were to go wrong with my [hypothetical – don’t get excited yet, mom] pregnancy, I would be forced to die to assuage Mitt Romney’s convoluted morals. Where is the religious freedom in being turned into an effigy on the pillar of someone else’s male superiority complex?

This presidential election is a critical one, but these right-wing nutjobs don’t just magically appear on the political scene – get involved in local politics and vote these anti-science, anti-women, anti-equality, anti-freedom “pro-lifers” out of office. We deserve better. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Conversing with trolls

It happens sometimes – against our better judgment, we find ourselves sucked into endless, circular conversations with people who have the logic and reasoning skills of Amy Winehouse on crack and think Fox News is a legitimate source of information. Then their friends get involved, and it’s like watching Multiplicity in person, where each subsequent addition is dumber than the last. And considerably less attractive than a young Michael Keaton.

In any good argument, you have to have a starting point. You both agree that there is a conflict between Israel and the rest of the Middle East, and then you begin to debate how to fix it. You both agree that you are not, in fact, his mother, and then you begin to discuss how he should clean up after himself in light of that fact. The problem with arguing with people like the one we’ll call Clone of Ineptitude, or Cloney for short, is that there is no valid point from which to start.

It’s like getting into a heated argument over what color to paint the wall, only to discover that the other person doesn’t believe the wall exists.

The vast majority of dogmatic Republicans* refuse to accept or acknowledge actual facts, because that would mean they’d then have to use real logic and engage in an actual conversation, rather than just screaming about freedom and wee bitty babies and death panels.

*I don’t hate all Republicans, I promise I don’t. I just hate the Republicans who blindly salivate after whatever candidate the party throws in front of them, regardless of how intrinsically evil that person is, without ever trying to understand what a presidency under that person would really look like. I just hope the good Republicans can step up and wrest back control of their party from the evangelical right before shit gets too real.

They still cling desperately to their obsolete birther theories, because it’s easier than having to address why you were so willing to buy into that nonsense in the first place. They scream “Kenyan-born Muslim!” even when confronted with a Hawaiian birth certificate and the fact that the dominant religion in Kenya is Christianity, followed distantly by Baha’i, because recognizing and admitting your ignorance requires often-painful self-awareness.  

So I had a bad feeling about Cloney from the start, when he seemed incapable of grasping the fact that being Jewish in the United States makes you a minority. I’ll pause – you can go bang your head against a nearby wall if needed. Just don’t bang too hard – it gets worse. Ok, back?

Then he decided that since I’m claiming to be a minority, I must be an illegal immigrant. Because obviously one plus orange equals cat.

Then there was some token screeching about how allowing pharmacists to discriminate against, slut-shame and injure women is proof of “religious freedom” because everyone’s personal religious beliefs should trump the legal rights of everyone else, obvs. Oddly, when you turn that on its head and ask if a Muslim-American’s right to murder infidels because their religion says so trumps your right to live, they get awful quiet. Weird, huh?

Next came the “quit whining and do it yourself” mantra. Which I happily responded to with “Masters degree and Director of Communications, suck on THAT, bitch” (well, more or less). Which led to the legitimate question “and you could do that in what other country????” Canada, France, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, China, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, England, Germany… oh, you actually think we’re the only developed country in the world? Ok, got it.

I pointed out non-controversial actual-facts, like the fact that women make $0.77 on the dollar to men with equal qualifications and experience, that the Republican House refused to renew the Violence Against Women Act and cut off millions of dollars that are desperately needed to protect women, and that when I was personally sexually harassed while living in Austin, the police refused to help, because we live in a culture that blames women for being the victims of sexual violence.

Of course, to Cloney, that all means that I have “equal opportunity.” I have about a 1 in 3 chance of being a victim of rape or physical violence in my lifetime, so yeah, I guess I’m equal with every other woman in the world on that respect.

I tried explaining the concept of white male privilege, but that’s like asking a rock to recognize that it’s hard.

Then lol, omg the pre-tween txt tlk came out and Cloney decided that facts are no longer facts if you just forget about them.

Grandpa Grammarless was all: “lol, next time you want to know what is wrong with our country,,, look in the mirror... stop being jealous of other peoples hard work and successes and earn it like I did.” Yeah, which part of I’m considerably more successful at 28 than you’ll ever be did you not get? If only Facebook had an imoticon for the diva finger snap. OHNOYOUDI’INT.

When he again reiterated that systematic pay inequality, pervasive cultural double-standards against women, and over 1700 bills introduced so far in 2012 that in some way seek to limit the rights of women were all just ‘me putting limits on myself’ I finally gave up.

And then he suggested I run for Congress. I might just do it, motherfucker, just so I could find a way to get you excommunicated. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Worst crossing guard ever

I bike to work most mornings through the mean streets of northwest Washington, DC. It’s only about a 2 mile ride from my perpetually-damp basement to my office near Union Station, but I’m invariably left feeling like I’ve just barely escaped with my life every time I turn into the garage at my building.

From construction zones to well-aimed rocks to sneak-attack car doors to pedestrians in ipod-music-bubbles, my commute is an urban dash through a deadly Hidden Temple, minus the cool Blue Barracudas t-shirt. Admittedly, I’m still not very good at riding my bike – I’ve never mastered the step-down-off-the-seat-when-stopping thing, and my not-even-fast-enough-to-be-called-a-hybrid “comfort” bike doesn’t exactly make me one of the cool bicyclist kids – but I do have a vague understanding of how traffic laws work.

Which is why I get so angry every morning at the idiot crossing guard the city has installed at the intersection of 1st and New York. I was so thrilled to see this guy when he showed up at the beginning of the school year. I thought, at least now, drivers won’t be able to aim for the small children trying to get to school, and maybe it’ll be easier for me to cross the street. Oh how wrong I was.

First of all, this guy has the mental acuity of Jessica Simpson confronted with a can of tuna fish. He is entirely incapable of glancing over at the crosswalk sign and determining that, if there are 5 seconds left to cross, and traffic is already backed up into the intersection, he should probably NOT wait until all of the killer chimpanzees have escaped before shutting the cage door.

It’s like electing a Tea Partier and letting him vote in Congress, and then wondering why everything is all screwed up. Stop him BEFORE he crosses the damned line.

Then, once the guard does awaken from his 100-year slumber and attempt to stop traffic, he blows his state-issued whistle and waves his plastic stop sign out in front of him like Sarah Palin trying to touch Russia from her house. This morning I watched a car maneuver around the crossing guard like Paul Ryan dodging policy questions and nearly take out the bicyclist in front of me. Then the driver kept coming through the red light directly for me.

“You need to stop, asshole!” I screamed from my cozy seat atop my slow-and-steady powder-blue accessory-bedecked bike. The bicyclist behind me chuckled and yelled “yeah!” before passing me like I was standing still. The crossing guard never even looked over. He was too busy standing safely on his street corner, his plastic stop sign planted firmly in front of him like a proud extension of his miniscule man-parts, to worry about something silly like doing his job.

Thank god the Ravens won last night, or else I might have been in a testy mood this morning… 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Street harassment

The other day I was walking the short two blocks from my office to Union Station to grab lunch when some man yelled very loudly at me “I love the way you wear that skirt!” And then “Yeah touch that skirt!” in response to me almost subconsciously grabbing at the hem of the skirt and tugging to make it more appropriate.

My face was flushed, my heart thudding, and I was embarrassed, because I was sure people were staring at that girl with the giant ass and the skirt that rides up whenever she walks.

In that moment, my years of higher education, my hard work, my intelligence, my strength meant nothing, because I was just a faceless thing with some female anatomy attached to it. He had the power, and I became nothing.

Then I got mad.

I was dressed for work in a knee-length black pencil skirt, a t-shirt and a belted cardigan – a perfectly conservative and appropriate outfit – and no one, certainly no man, had a right to make me feel like I was slutty, or inappropriate, or an object to be leered at in public.

And then I really was ashamed, because I should have said something. I should have informed him – just as loudly and belligerently if necessary – that sexual harassment is not okay. That it is against the law, and I don’t have to take it.

Too often I think we fall into the trap of ignoring it, because boys will be boys, right? Because that’s just how men admire women, and we should learn to take it as a compliment. Besides, if our butts weren’t so big or our boobs weren’t so bouncy or our legs weren’t so long, they wouldn’t notice us, and then where would we be? We’re nothing if we’re not fodder for the sexualized male gaze.

I am so over that bullshit. Being verbally harassed in public, having parts of my anatomy leered at and commented on by strangers, feeling helpless because I’m a female and such is my lot in life – I’m done with that shit.

I will speak up for me now, and I will speak up for you if I witness it happening to you. We make this stop by correcting one ignorant, entitled jackass at a time. They no longer have the power – we are not sex slaves to be paraded about for their pleasure. We’re worth more than a cursory glance to determine how deep our cleavage goes. If we’re not silent, we can shut them up. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Analysis of a response from Crazy Aunt

So Crazy Aunt blocked me on Facebook, but I was able to see this post she wrote in response to my brother’s very well-thought-out and much-politer-than-she-deserved post essentially stating that she hurt a lot of people by pretending to be our dead grandfather.  

Louis, I respect what you had to say very much, and it echoed my underlying feelings. I reacted emotionally to being made a villian for posting "I love you all" to people who missed him. It was uncalled for and malicious. My actions were out of love, if people didn’t want to accept it they didn’t have too, but there was clearly no malicious or evil intent. Family is supposed to support each other in grief, but that’s not what I’ve ever received. I only had my father, and thru him a supportive family, for 8 months… I wasn’t ready to lose all that again the moment he stopped breathing- but I did. If I want to reach out to him, any way I do it, I should not be told I can’t or I shouldn’t…It’s for me. What happened was a SIN in our religion, not just hurtful to me. Thank you for writing this post, I Love You!

Ahh… It’s like an emotionally-stunted Twilight novel, without all the sex. Let’s take the crazy apart, step by step, shall we?

First off, she “respects” what he has to say. Not understands, not accepts … respects. Kind of like she respects that whole ‘when you have a mortgage, you have to pay it’ thing. Oh, wait, no she doesn’t.

She reacted emotionally. As opposed to as a soul-sucking non-human vortex, which she normally is, I suppose. She wasn’t made a villain at first – she was just asked to stop. She’s the one who escalated and escalated to the level of deranged, shrieking banshee.

“It was uncalled for and malicious.” While the grammar makes it read as if her actions were uncalled for and malicious, I highly doubt she’s magically gained some self-awareness, and is instead referring to being asked to stop playing puppet with a dead person’s Facebook account as evil.

“My actions were out of love.” If ‘love’ is actually a paranoid and pathological need for constant attention, affirmation and ass-kissing. Then, yes, ‘love.’

“There was clearly no malicious or evil intent.” …Then why overreact so drastically to being asked [politely!] to stop? Methinks the batshit crazy one doth protest too much…

“Family is supposed to support each other in grief.” So long as “each other” is “me” and “grief” is ALLTHEFUCKINGTIMEPAYATTENTIONTOMENOWDAMNIT. What about our grief, Crazy Aunt? What about how disturbed we all were to see our dead grandfather facebooking? Where’s our support? Oh right, that would require you to understand that the sun and moon don’t actually rise and set on your scrawny ass. 

I only had my father, and thru him a supportive family, for 8 months…” But you had his money, which you extorted through threats to deny him access to his grandchildren, now didn’t you?

“I wasn’t ready to lose all that again the moment he stopped breathing- but I did.” Gee, maybe it’s because you call people “malignant schmucks” at the slightest provocation. Just a thought.

“If I want to reach out to him, any way I do it, I should not be told I can’t or I shouldn’t.” Reaching out TO him and reaching out AS him are two totally different things, lady. One is normal, one is creepy. See the difference?

“What happened was a SIN in our religion.” My favorite line. I’m still Googling “Torah” “Judaism” and “Posting as a dead person on Facebook” to see when I missed that little update. 

Oh Crazy Aunt. Thank you for the blog fodder, if nothing else… 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Facebook fighting with my dead grandfather

So I got into a Facebook fight with my dead grandfather last night. He called me an asshole.

I logged into Facebook at work yesterday around 3:30 or so, and was very surprised to see him update his current location. I’m reasonably sure he hasn’t moved since we said goodbye at the Hebrew Young Men’s Cemetery on August 24.

Then my grandfather, who admittedly struggled a bit with technology while he was in this world… I mean, come on. These were the AIM conversations we used to have while I was away at college:

That man somehow broke the life/death barrier, defeated Heaven’s Firewall, and posted from beyond. He just wrote “I still love you all and miss you too!” but don’t underestimate the disturbing factor of seeing a message from your beloved dead grandparent flash across your timeline.

I texted my dad to alert him to my grandfather’s paranormal posting, and he posted a response comment to the effect of “this is weird and disturbing, stop it now.” The man is not known for his patience and/or tact, so I was pleasantly surprised by the relative lack of attack-iness (it’s a word…) in his comment.

Someone else commented about my grandfather’s sudden interest in sending out lots of friend requests. (You must get bonus points in heaven for FB friends.) My dad responded that it was sad and disturbed. My cousin got a little upset at the attack-iness of that statement, so I chimed in with an attempt to pacify. My comment was along the lines of “I think it’s fine for people to friend Grandpa’s page so that they can continue to post thoughts and memories of him, but he needs to stop posting out of respect for the many, many people who love and miss him.” Tactful, with just a tiny bit of ‘zing.’

Then granddad got mad. I was 99.9% sure at this point (and from the beginning) that my dead grandfather was actually my crazy aunt being crazy, because, y’know, it’s not like she has a job to go to. But once ‘he’ called me and my father “malignant schmucks” and “assholes,” we knew for sure.

I managed to get access to my grandfather’s old email account and then Facebook account and tried to just delete the nastiness, but crazy aunt wasn’t having it. Like a rabid dog with a shit-encrusted bone, she couldn’t let go. My cousin pleaded with her to just stop so I wouldn’t be forced to close the account altogether, but if you’ve ever tried to reason with the tornado bearing down on you, you probably have some idea of how that went.

I made a rookie mistake – I didn’t set my location as the default for the FB account, so I managed to get myself locked out. I tried posting that the account just needed to be a place where we could remember him and honor his memory, but that got deleted quickly, because if you don’t look at something, you don’t have to be responsible for it. Much like having a house and raising kids, apparently.

Then, this morning, I discovered that my dad and I owe her an apology.

It must be nice to live in a world where you think that you can insult someone, repeatedly attack them and then play the poor, beleaguered victim all the time. Much like being a Republican, I’d imagine.

So here’s my apology.

Dear Crazy Aunt, 
I’m sorry that years of your histrionics and your manipulative, vicious, and exploitative behavior have rendered me no longer capable of playing nice. I’m sorry that you are so far lost to your mental illness that at 53 years old, you have never worked an honest day in your life, you have foreclosed on 3 houses, you are under investigation by the Department of Child and Family Services, and you are a parasite. 
Yes, your upbringing may not have been perfect, but at some point, you become an adult. You take control of your life, you get help, you grow and you move on. Or you let the disease win. 
I’m sorry that you will never see a truth beyond your own distorted reality, because you will never escape the black hole you have made for yourself. I pity you because you will never know love or mutual respect from anyone, because you cannot receive those things unless you can give them. You mimic the emotions of others – you pretend to express pain, sadness, hurt – but those emotions come with the responsibility of being compassionate when you inflict the same on others. And that’s what you lack. 
I am sorry you live in a world where you think it’s ok to impersonate a dead person on Facebook to draw attention to yourself, and where you think its ok to hide someone’s jewelry to prove that a dead person is communicating beyond the grave. 
I am tired of walking on eggshells to avoid provoking a fit of temper and rage. I am tired of forcing smiles while you use my grandfather’s passing as just another piece of leverage to manipulate and use those around you. I am tired of watching you mentally abuse my grandmother. That will stop. 
Mostly, I am sorry that you are so far beyond help. You are so intelligent, yet you will never see beyond the instability, the irrationality, the paranoia and the dissociative symptoms that mark your life. You will continue to fear imagined abandonment, you will continue to engage in impulsive, reckless behaviors like your eating disorder and your addiction to exercise, you will never have a stable relationship with another human being, and you will leave this world without ever knowing a measure of happiness. And for that, I am sorry. 

Now please excuse me while I go find someone to mug and physically beat me, so I can apologize to them, too. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My response to Dr. Pepper

Dear Consumer Relations,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my complaint. I only wish I could say thank you for taking the time to actually read and understand it.

Your response read as a flippant, patronizing “Jeez, learn to take a joke, lady,” and I didn’t appreciate it. Fortunately for us, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other feminist pioneers didn’t just 'learn to take the joke.'

First off, I resent the implication that because I share common anatomical features with another person, I should automatically shut up and listen to that person. Your response stated: “I am a woman who loves the full flavor of Dr Pepper TEN and the fact that it’s only 10 calories. When I first saw the tongue-in-cheek advertising campaign and the tagline, my reaction was, “I’ll be the judge of that.” In other words, no one is going to tell me what I can eat or drink.”

Oh, well, if another woman says it's okay...!

That’s lovely for “you” or “her” or whomever, but as I explained in my initial email, the context in which this ad is being received was never considered. Since January of this year, over 200 pieces of legislation have been passed that seek to limit women’s access to basic health care. Two international treaties establish access to family planning and abortion services as basic human rights, yet here in the US, women are once again dying because some people don’t believe equality is for everyone.

Oddly enough, I just can’t find oppressive, misogynistic patriarchy very funny right now.

The response then states: “We hope you, too, will come to see our advertising campaign for what it is, a humorous take on the many men who are worried about their waistlines but are too “manly” to drink a diet soda.” The lack of grammar aside, this sentence proves no one read or comprehended a word of my initial contact.

I understand what the campaign was trying to achieve – I promise I do – but your “humorous take” is offensive, derogatory and inappropriate, especially now, given the volatile political climate. Dead Jew jokes aren’t funny to Holocaust survivors, and “women aren’t allowed to have this” jokes aren’t funny to women engaged in a nationwide and worldwide battle for autonomy, equality and freedom.

I am a woman who loves my basic human rights,and when I first saw the seriously-misplaced humor of your advertising campaign and its tagline, my reaction was “I really hope this is a result of unintentional ignorance and not a subversive attempt to reinforce dominant misogynistic male social norms and further disenfranchise and oppress women.” I’m still holding out hope that it’s the former.

I hope this second letter makes it past the first line of response to someone who has actual authority, and again, I hope these ill-conceived and inappropriate ads get removed from the air before more damage is done.

Thank you,