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I’m Going to be Upset about Warren Maybe Forever

5 Mar

I want to start this off by saying that what appears below are my feelings and I have the right to have them. They are valid. You also have the right to have your feelings, and those feelings can be very much different from mine. And that’s okay. So just know while you are reading this that these are my feelings and I am in no way open to you arguing with me about them. So if you want to argue with me, just please don’t. Talk into a pillow. Call your friend. I don’t care. Just let me have these feelings.


I am so incredibly angry. And scared. And frustrated. And defeated. And so very, very sad. This isn’t just about Elizabeth Warren, although it is partially about Elizabeth Warren. This is about being a woman in America. About being a smart, capable woman. This is about being a Jewish person who is constantly afraid. This is about seeing my greatest fears play out in front of me over and over and over again. This is about a lifetime of feeling dismissed, talked over, ignored, under appreciated and under valued. This is about spending a lifetime in a society that fucking hates me and screaming about it and having no one take notice, having absolutely nothing change. I am so god damn tired.

These past few years have been hard. Like really, really hard. And I know they have been hard on every body – I know that a lot of the most horrible moves the Trump Administration has made are not about disempowering me personally, but they are about disempowering my friends and that IS personal. I also feel less safe knowing other people are being stripped of their safety. I won’t be held up at the border and separated from my family; I won’t be erased from a lot of the language on government websites like the LGBTQ community has been; I won’t be kept from polling places. As someone who, like so many others I know, has been sexually assaulted on more than one occasion, it is hard to explain exactly how psychologically damaging it is to have this president in office. This president who fills his key positions with thieves, liars and predators; who is appointing justices hell bent on taking away our rights; who lies about women, smearing their names and reputations, crushing them under the weight of his abusive, hateful language and his unforgivable, unmoving supporters. I cannot imagine how his victims must feel, seeing his face on television every day, one of the most powerful men in the world. I don’t know how they survive. I am so thankful that, somehow, they do. It reminds me that we have a lot more strength than we know, and that’s a good thing to be reminded of on a day like today.

So, today. Oh, today. Today and this entire election cycle. And the one before it. FUCK, I just want to scream. I want to start, actually, with August 28, 2019. That was the day Kirsten Gillibrand dropped out of the race. That one hurt. And it didn’t hurt because I was planning to vote for her. It hurt because she has been such a fierce advocate for women and victims and that’s what tanked her. Al Franken tanked her. Maybe that’s too simplistic, so let me go a little deeper. Kirsten Gillibrand, rightfully, stood up to Al Franken after allegations of him being inappropriate with a number of women surfaced. He resigned his position. And she has been punished for that ever since. You can like Al Franken or not, I’m not here to change anyone’s mind. But he grabbed women’s asses in photographs and Gillibrand is being punished. This is what it is to be a woman in this fucking country. We are constantly blamed not only for being victimized, but for standing up for the victims. It is always our fault. Always. I know he was a good advocate for women from his position in the Senate, but you don’t get to neutralize horrible behavior because in front of people you do the right thing. It’s what you do in the dark when no one is looking that matters. It’s how you treat the voiceless people when you are in a position of power. But it seems like none of that actually makes a difference. And knowing that makes me feel so small.

I felt small the day Kamala Harris dropped out of the race, leaving less qualified people still in it. Knowing that if she were a man, but especially if she were a white man, she would have had a better shot. I felt small the day Bloomberg’s wealthy, unqualified ass entered and he took all the air out of the room. And I felt small every time I noticed a particular someone missing from polling data and articles. I felt tiny watching Elizabeth Warren get erased in real time, right in front of my eyes, knowing in my heart that she was the best person for the job. And it really, really hurt. It is still hurting as I type these words. And I think it is going to hurt for a long time.

It is hurting because, on a much smaller stage, I have experienced this. Most of us have. Ask the women you know. And especially ask the Black and Brown women you know. It is constant. Talk too loud and you’re shrill, too quietly and you’re weak; get angry and you’re a bitch, be measured and you’re calculating. And then you try and point this out to people and they don’t believe you. They simply disregard your entire lived experience. And there is nothing you can do about it except keeping talking, keep yelling even, and hope one day someone hears you. It’s maddening. It really is. To see who we have in the Oval Office and to look at who was left in the end and for it to be so fucking clear who was most qualified and have it not fucking matter. Because people hate women. People don’t trust women. Even women hate and don’t trust women. I am reminded how deeply entrenched sexism is in this country. As if I needed reminding. As if I am not reminded every day.

I really want to indulge my anger right now. My anger at all the people saying that Warren is to blame for how this election cycle has gone, Warren voters “threw out their progressive votes,” that people who voted for Biden didn’t know enough. But I don’t think I am in a place to make that productive right now so I will revisit it later. What I will say is this: seeing another able and exceedingly qualified woman lose to less able and qualified men is like taking a punch to the gut. My whole life I have been told that I can do anything, be anyone, accomplish anything. But that is not true. I can only do what they will allow me to do, be who they want me to be, accomplish what they allow me to accomplish. The sky is not the limit. The patriarchy is. And as much as I know this to be true, and as much as I try to fight against it day after day, it doesn’t hurt any less to be reminded of it again and again.

I am so tired. And my heart hurts so much. When will we get this right?

Today, I Submitted a Complaint with the NY AG’s Office. Here’s Why.

20 Feb

Today, I write to you out of rage. I don’t know if you all are aware of how much scams piss me off, but they REALLY piss me off. I am not one of those people who is like,

Oh, how cute, a scam. Let’s learn more about it give the scammers more notoriety and fame, ie Caroline Calloway.

Because where ever there is a scam, there is someone(s) who is the victim of it. Someone who has been knowingly taken advantage of. So, here is a story about a decidedly un-cute scam. In fact, to all my race running and riding friends: you might have gotten caught up in it.

A few weeks ago, I signed up to run a race with a few of my friends. It is one of my friends first race ever and I was, and still am, beyond excited to get to cross the finish line alongside her! The signup for the race, which takes place here in NYC this spring, was managed through a company based in Dallas called Active Network LLC. The outsourcing of registration for races is pretty common for smaller organizations so I didn’t think twice when I went through the process. What I did do was make sure to uncheck all the boxes so I don’t get any emails, unwanted magazine subscriptions or added payments for services I don’t want or need. Just sign me up for the race and let me do the rest. And yet today when I checked my debit card I noticed a charge for $89.95 that was labeled ACT ACTIVE NETWORK. I was completely confused. The only charge I made yesterday was $10 to the Warren campaign as a congratulations for her warranted MURDER of Mike Bloomberg on the debate stage but that was done on my American Express card. So, I did what I always do and I researched.

Well wouldn’t you know it, I somehow inadvertently signed up for a trial membership, the free period of which had ended yesterday. Friends, I never sign up for trial memberships because I always forget to cancel them and then I end up spending money on shit I don’t want and don’t need.* The first thing I did was dispute the transaction. I work hard for my money and it is the winter time and the bar has been very slow. There is no way I am giving away a chunk of my money to some membership thing that I did not sign up for and don’t even understand. After doing some more digging, I found out that I am by no means the first person to deal with this. Here is a complaint that dates back to 2014! Even with this piece of information, I thought I would do the right thing and give them a call. I called the number listed on their website, it said it was out of service. So I found a second number and called that one. What I found out is that if you wait long enough they actually present you with an option related to the credit card charge that apparently takes a lot of people by surprise. (When you Google the company, the charge is one of the top search results.) After a few more minutes on hold I was put through to a person. She said hello, introduced herself and asked how she could help. So I said,

Hello. I am calling about a fraudulent charge…

It was at this point that I heard a beep and Sufjan Stevens started playing. Weird. I looked at my phone and wouldn’t you believe it — she hung up on me and my phone automatically started playing a song I didn’t even know I had! Now I was really mad. I took the reasonable next step: Better Business Bureau, bitches! What I found was that this company has A LOT of negative complaints. Here is one of my favorites:

I’m a lawyer who has litigated deceptive “free trial” offer cases and I have no idea how i got enrolled in this Active Advantage scam. I do find that there was a class action settled in California regarding this practice, as well as an Iowa Attorney General action. this practice seems ripe for some more class actions or FTC referral.

I added my complaint to the pile. I still had some rage left over so I took the reasonable next step, and some good advice, and reached out to Leticia James, the New York Attorney General!** I explained my complaint AND I submitted supporting documents because everyone loves supporting documents plus it made me feel really official. Basically like a detective. I might actually go online and order myself a cool badge and wear it around for the next few days.

So I guess I will have to wait and see what Leticia James has to say about this. Hopefully her office will respond.


I know this probably sounds like a waste of time to some of you. I was on hold with my bank and with Active Network LLC for close to an hour; I spent a fair amount of time looking for other reports to be sure I wasn’t just an idiot who missed something; I filed complaints with two different government offices, including supporting evidence. But here’s the thing. This is crap. People shouldn’t have their money taken from them via questionable means. People budget. A random $90 withdrawal from an account can be devastating. And I am lucky enough to have time, research skills and an abundance of rage – especially right now. I can take the time to call my bank, submit these complaints, and do follow-up if needed. I can sit here and write this blog. A lot of people don’t have that time and, in my opinion, that is what companies prey on. They work it into their metric that a lot of people don’t regularly check their bank statements and might miss these withdrawals year after year (I saw reports of this). They rely on the fact that a lot of people will realize what happened, cancel their membership, (maybe) get a refund and never take additional steps. And then there are a few people like me who really don’t like to feel taken advantage of by a company acting in a shadowy manner. And more than that, I really don’t like that, based off my research, they have been doing this for years. And that there is a chance they are taking money from old people. I really don’t like when people take money from old people.

Next stop: Federal Trade Commission.

Anyway, I will keep you posted. And don’t worry, my hate fire is still burning.


*Side note, I think this practice that companies have of rolling trial memberships over into paid memberships without a reminder is sneaky and should be outlawed. We all forget to cancel that shit. I think I paid for a membership to the Wall Street Journal (PUKE)  for a year because I wanted to read one article about Simone Biles that was hidden behind a paywall and then totally forgot to cancel immediately. Technically my fault but I feel like a reminder would just be the right thing to do.

**Actually I just went to the website but whatever.

The Censorship Trolls Strike Again

11 Feb

Ah, friends, what a world we live in. It’s a world where people dismiss Trump’s recorded admission of being a predator as harmless locker room talk but where we, a couple of feminists trying to sex educate people, get all our shit taken down because it violates some ever-changing, nonsensical community guidelines. It’s really enough to make you want to scream. Here is the latest installment of The Internet is a Hell Scape and We’re All Doomed.

Back in August, we posted a photo to our Instagram that was originally taken by @claudiasahuquillo (don’t worry, we credited it appropriately as we do with all the content that we repost from other sources. We’re not monsters!). While some of our content does probably toe the line of what is deemed appropriate by Instagram, this photo was really not of much concern. Want to see it? (Sorry it’s so big I tried forever to resize it and failed.)

View this post on Instagram

Celebrate yourself woman. #skinisthenewcanvas

A post shared by Claudia Sahuquillo (@claudiasahuquillo) on

Okay, review the image. Really look at it. What do you see? I see a person with breasts who is not wearing a shirt or a bra and who’s boobs — the nipples and areolas specifically — are obscured by body paint. Bearing that in mind, read the section of Instagram’s community guidelines that we are supposedly in violation of:

“We know that there are times when people might want to share nude images that are artistic or creative in nature, but for a variety of reasons, we don’t allow nudity on Instagram. This includes photos, videos, and some digitally-created content that show sexual intercourse, genitals, and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks. It also includes some photos of female nipples, but photos of post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding are allowed. Nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is OK, too.”

Alright, so the first thing that I just want to get out of the way here is that Instagram’s community guidelines don’t have a problem with nipples full stop, they have a problem with female nipples exclusively. (The use of binary language here is also hugely problematic.) And the reason Instagram has problems with female nipples is that breasts are sexualized. Sure, nipples can be a very stimulating portion of foreplay and intercourse. In fact did you know that over 50% of men also get stimulated by nipple play? So it’s not the sexual gratification aspect of it that is at issue here. It is the fact that women’s nipples are deemed inappropriate and I would say they are deemed inappropriate because, for whatever reason, women’s nipples which look exactly like men’s nipples are considered sexy. The patriarchy is a real mother fucker.

But also, I have some questions about the mastectomy scaring portion of their guidelines. If a person gets a mastectomy then, what? Their breasts are no longer a threat to the delicate minds and eyes of the viewing public? Does this count for people who have had reconstruction? For people who have had nipples reattached or tattooed on? What, exactly, are the rules on this? They are, as are all community guidelines, intentionally vague.

Which leads me to wonder, what exactly about the above image violates the community guidelines as stated above? The breasts are not considered genitalia so that’s out. There is no closeup of a butt or sexual intercourse. And, (drum roll please) there are no nipples. Just breasts with cartoon eyeballs painted over the nipples and areolas. Or are cartoon eyeballs out now, too?

Our Country is a Dumpster Fire, A Non-Exhaustive List

21 Nov

I have so many thoughts on what all has been going on over the past few months and so I am going to list them here, in the order in which they enter my brain. This list is not by any stretch exhaustive. There will probably be more lists to come. (Am I supposed to say “don’t @ me?”)

  1. Julian Castro should have been at the debates last night. The fact that he wasn’t, and that a billionaire was essentially able to buy his way onto that debate stage, is evidence of how badly we need to get big money out of politics. And I don’t mean this should happen through the decision of one or two campaigns to accept only small donations – I mean that we need reform to our campaign finance laws in such a way that it disallows donations of over a certain amount so that there is more of an even playing field and we are able to hear all the important voices, not just the ones who made a bunch of money in a past life before seeing the light and giving a shit about the future of our planet. (Ahem, Tom Steyer.)
    1. SUBPOINT! I was irritated to see Chris Matthews use Castro’s argument on MSNBC last night about how we shouldn’t use overwhelmingly white states as the first-in-the-nation caucus and primary states because they are not reflective of the diversity of our primary participants or of our voters writ large. The point was valid and, I believe, 100% accurate. BUT! This was a point originally made by Castro, not Matthews, and while it is important to platform the point it is also important to platform the person who originally stated it. This is just another way in which the white majority coopts the arguments of POC without giving them due credit and thusly continues to control the narrative.
  2. I really have grown to like and respect Eric Swalwell and so I feel it is only right for me to apologize for watching the video of him farting during an MSNBC interview for the better part of the day on Tuesday and laughing like a god damn 5-year-old. You are a respectable and respected Representative and I am glad we have you at these hearings. I am also glad you farted on national TV.
  3. Tulsi Gabbard: why?! If you want to run for president run against Donald Trump for the REPUBLICAN NOMINATION because actually you are a Republican. During the debates last night, Gabbard said “Our Democratic Party, unfortunately, is not the party that is of, by and for the people.” This statement was retweeted by the Trump War Room Twitter account that is connected to his reelection campaign. That is not a good endorsement, Tulsi.
    1. SUBPOINT! We are in the middle of impeachment inquiries during which the Democrats, led through the questioning by Representative Adam Schiff, are working doggedly on a fact-finding mission while the GOP are simply trying to secure soundbites that they think will play well to Trump’s (hopefully) dwindling base. But the Democrats aren’t working on behalf of the people? Okaaaaay. Tulsi. Stop going on Fox News. Stop criticizing Hillary Clinton. And stop taking space on a crowded primary stage from people who deserve to be there. And take Tom Steyer with you.
  4. Last night we had a question about discrimination against women – directed to Joe Biden, who smells women’s hair? – when one of the first people to drop out of the race was Kirsten Gillibrand who was running her campaign primarily as a champion of women and families. She dropped out in August. And I am going to go out on a limb (pst, it isn’t really a limb) and argue that the reason she dropped out was that she was loudly and rightfully critical of Al Franken. Who, might I add, resigned of his own accord. That The New Yorker ran this bullshit article by Jane Mayer (who I otherwise respect) was sort of the icing on the cake. Listen. Al Franken made some bad choices. The most publicized of which was his inappropriate interactions with Leeann Tweeden during a USO tour before he was in government. But that wasn’t the one that troubled me the most. The more troubling to me was that while he was out and about acting like he gave a shit about women’s bodily autonomy and equality and all that, he was grabbing women’s asses at the Minnesota State Fair (and other places) while he was a sitting senator. Was I really disappointed by all this? HELL YES! Was Al Franken a really important and effective voice on the Democratic side? For sure. Do I think he should have resigned? Absolutely. To assume that Al Franken is the only person capable of being an important ally in government is insulting to all the other people who are qualified and capable of holding that position, many of whom are not (gasp!) white and male. And the fact that Gillibrand’s bid was largely derailed because people were mad at her for treating Franken unfairly and forcing him to resign without “due process” just underscores the ridiculous sexism that we constantly endure in this god forsaken country.
    1. SUBPOINT! Why do men get to assault women, treat women inappropriately, rape women and still hold positions of power? Why do we have at least two men on the Supreme Court and one in the Oval Office with credible accusations of assault and/or rape against them? And why is the current front runner a man who – even after all the revelations of the most recent incarnation of MeToo – still can’t seem to understand that smelling women’s hair and calling them sweetheart is creepy as fuck and also wildly inappropriate. (If you can’t tell I am currently yelling.)
  5. I feel bad about this one because I might be being really unfair and ageist and a horrible person but… While I am on the case of Joe Biden, can I just make a general statement that I would like our next president to NOT be a septuagenerian? So that means I am passing over Joe Biden. And Bernie Sanders. And, yes, Elizabeth Warren even though she has largely been my preferred candidate for the majority of this never-ending circus of a process to find a Democratic nominee for President. I am sorry, Elizabeth. I really do love your plans. I love that you are organized and motivated and seemingly have all the energy of a 25-year-old but I just think we need to look towards someone who won’t be approaching (or surpassing, ahem, Biden and Sanders) 80 by the beginning of their second term. But we have such an exciting field of candidates (Harris! Castro! And, surprisingly to me, Klobuchar!) who I really think could crush the presidency. Also, I know Tom Steyer is only in his 60s but I would like to just include him here because, whatever. And also Tulsi Gabbard because if she insists on having that ridiculous swoop of grey died into her hair to look “distinguished,” or something, I would like to just cast her aside. Also I am just looking for more reasons to get her to go away.
    1. SUBPOINT! We are going to have to do a lot of work to combat Climate Change over the coming decades and I feel it is important to have someone at the helm who will feel the gravity of the decisions being made because it will effect their lives for a few decades as well. I just think, it isn’t an existential crisis, as Biden kept saying, it is a looming disaster that we need to think of as the most important duty of the next 50 years and beyond if we want the planet to continue to exist in a state somewhat similar to how it is currently.
  6. Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan are clowns. That is it. That’s the point.
    1. SUBPOINT! Omg can Jim Jordan wear a damn jacket?! Remember that time everyone went crazy over Obama’s tan suit and this asshole is participating in one of the most important processes of his (far too long) political career and he refuses to wear a suit jacket?! Also remember that time he turned a blind eye to rampant sexual abuse in the Ohio State wrestling program? I do.
  7. I wish Bernie Sanders would stop yelling. Seriously, he yells all the time. If a woman were to yell constantly like he does she would never get anywhere. And, if a person of color of any gender were to yell like he does they would never get anywhere either. This is a privilege bestowed only on white men (or white passing men, if you are of the belief that all Jews are non-white which, okay, we can talk about that in person) that I wish they wouldn’t take advantage of. It is stressful and diminishes whatever point they are trying to make. Especially when we take into consideration the optics of an old, white dude yelling at a panel full of female moderators.
    1. In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a Bernie Sanders fan. Never have been. I take issue with a number of things involving his campaign and their approach to certain issues, but that is neither here nor there and not something I wish to get into. That being said, if he were the nominee which, for reasons number 5 and 7 listed above I hope he is not, I will absolutely vote for him and advocate for him to be elected. As we all should. We should all vote for whomever the nominee is.
  8. Did anyone else notice the not-so-veiled anti-Semitic remark lobbed at Lt Col. Vindman? Because I did. I jumped up so fast when I heard it that I scared the shit out of my dog. (Sorry, Goose.) At some point during the minority counsel’s questioning of Lt. Col. Vindman, he took up a line of attack with the intention of sowing doubt into Vindman’s loyalties to the United States. Lt. Col. Vindman is a Jewish man who’s family fled the USSR because being Jewish in the USSR was terrible. As is being Jewish in a lot of places these days, including the United States. According to the Washington Post, “Accusing someone of split loyalties is a long-standing xenophobic and anti-Semitic trope.” We have long known that a lot of people hold thinly veiled anti-Semitic beliefs. Things relating to the Jewish role in the media and at banking institutions; the idea that George Soros is at the helm of some sort of “globalist” agenda; that Jewish people care more about Israel than we do about the United States. This shit is wrong and it is dangerous. And to hear it during live, televised hearings in our nation’s capital and to not have it called out in real time by ANYONE or by any of the commentators on the MSNBC broadcast that I was watching was chilling. It brought to mind the fall of 2016 when Richard Spencer was on all the news channels doing a Heil Hitler, and of the following summer when (mostly) men carrying Pier One Tiki torches marched through Charlottesville, Virginia chanting “Blood and Soil” and “Jews will not replace us.” This is some vile shit. Lt. Col. Vindman is a goddamn patriot and a hero and we are fucking lucky to have him serving selflessly on our behalf.

Okay, I have to go to work now but stay tuned, I might write another list that will basically be a continuation of this one but will start over again at the number 1.

Just a Vulva and Her Eyeballs

13 Aug

Chapter One: The Powerful

Do you remember on October 7th, 2016, a mere month before the 2016 elections when the Washington Post dropped a video and accompanying article of then presidential candidate Donald Trump and Billy Bush having a vulgar conversation about women back in 2005? Do you remember how Trump said,

I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.

Unsurprisingly, this behavioral assessment made by Trump himself exactly matches some of the 25 allegations of sexual misconduct, sexual assault and rape lobbed against our current president. There’s Jill Harth, who says that in 1993 she was attacked by Trump in one of the children’s bedrooms at Mar-a-Lago when he tried to rape her and forcibly kissed her on the lips. Then there was Cathy Heller who reported that in 1997 Trump grabbed her and forcibly kissed her. Same thing happened to Temple Taggart in 1997, Jennifer Murphy and Rachel Crooks in 2005, Jessica Drake and her two friends in 2006 and Summer Zervos in 2007. And these are just the ones we know about.

The point is that we live in an environment that is openly hostile to women. Our President is a rapist; there are two members of the Supreme Court who have been credibly accused of sexual harassment and/or rape; and then there are/were people like Roger Ailes, Jeffrey Epstein, Rob Porter, R. Kelly, Larry Nassar, Harvey Weinstein and so so many more who for years were, and in a lot of unnamed cases continue to be, immune to any sort of real, lasting justice because we do not care about or value the experience of non-cis men. But it isn’t just about the justice system and it isn’t just about rape; this cultural toxicity travels through every single bit of our society and poisons just about everything, including but by no means limited to, education and art.


Chapter Two: The Law

A few months back my podcast cohost Jessy and I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Mistress/Master Leigh for Welcome To My Vagina. During our conversation, Leigh spoke to us about FOSTA/SESTA, a combined House and Senate bill that was designed to try to curb child sex trafficking but was worded so incredibly loosely that it threatens to change the internet as we know it – and it is already happening. What started out as a push to get the selling of underage children – primarily girls – off of Backpage.com turned into an all-out assault on the consensual sex work industry, forcing sex workers offline and therefore separating them from their number one means of safety: the ability to vet their clients prior to an in-person encounter. As we know, there is a difference between consensual and non-consensual sex work, and writing legislation without the input of those intimately aware of that difference – sex workers themselves as well as activists and advocates for sex workers – is highly problematic. It also ends up doing a disservice to victims of sex trafficking themselves. Backpage wasn’t the only place where they were advertised, it was just perhaps the most accessible. Now those same people who were advertised there are being advertised elsewhere. But on what websites? I don’t really know.

Although the safety of sex workers and sex trafficking victims is of course the highest priority here (and both those populations have been done a serious disservice by this law), there is also another way that FOSTA/SESTA fails us, a way that it fails all of us. What FOSTA/SESTA did so effectively was it poked a gaping hole in what was known as the “safe harbors” rule of the internet, AKA Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. This is usually regarded as one of the most important pieces of internet legislation ever created. It reads,

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another content provider.

According to Aja Romano of Vox, “Section 230 has allowed the internet to thrive on user-generated content without holding platforms and ISPs responsible for whatever those users might create.” But FOSTA/SESTA creates an exception to Section 230 that shifts responsibility when it comes to advertisements for prostitution – including consensual sex work – from third party users to the websites themselves. The goal of the bill is ostensibly to make the policing of sex trafficking rings easier, although to be honest I am not entirely sure how this has that effect. However, the wording of the legislation is so sweeping and so vague that many websites immediately removed whole swaths of their services. Have you been wondering where the personal ads on Craigslist went? Or all of the porn that used to live on Tumblr? Websites across the internet have been forced to preemptively remove or censor tons of content before they get mired in costly lawsuits that puts them out of business. Keep in mind this is not because there is necessarily advertisements for sex work on all of these sites, but because monitoring every corner of their sites is simply too difficult and too costly. The onus is too big. So now anything that can be perceived as even vaguely pornographic gets tossed.


Chapter Three: The Creators

Have you seen our vulva? She is very cute, with giant unmatching eyeballs and beautiful long lashes. Marvel at her in all her glory. Isn’t she great? We think so. Unfortunately, the internet under FOSTA/SESTA does not agree.

logo2 copy

This is where the issues with education and art that I spoke of earlier come in. What Jessy and I are working tirelessly to do through our podcast, and what Jessy has worked hard on for over five years with her YouTube series of the same name, is to use humor to educate people about topics considered taboo. This has included, but is certainly not limited to, interviews with a woman who suffers from endometriosis, the CEO of a wellness website, an incredible doula, a Puerto Rican trans-activist, as well as conversations about body hair, labiaplasty, the word hysteria and, you guessed it, the fact that our president is 100% a rapist. And what we want to do is to continue to create content and to broaden our audience because what we are doing matters. There are important conversations that are not happening in public and a gaping hole in our education system through which sex ed has plummeted. And this all effects everyone but it effects the marginalized more. Women, people of color, the impoverished, the LGBTQ community are not getting the information that we need through public resources and so the private sector is working hard to fill in the void. But FOSTA/SESTA is standing there, right in the way. How? Let me tell you how it has effected me and Jessy.

Take another look at our vulva. She is anatomically correct (minus the eyes) and she is a cartoon. She is not pornographic, or vulgar, or overtly sexual. She is simply a drawing of body part that more than half of the population has, a body part that is misunderstood and called by the wrong name, a body part on which heaps and heaps of shame are piled. And for as much as having a vulva has worked against us as individuals for so long, having a vulva as a logo is making our ability to reach more people and make some money off the hours of work we put in seemingly impossible. So far, we have not been allowed to pay Instagram to promote our podcast because our logo goes against their new community guidelines. Just to make this clear we cannot give Instagram money to broaden our reach because, under FOSTA/SESTA, our logo is vulgar. We also cannot give Spotify money to play our trailer unless we lose the vulva and “vaginal flatulence,” their words not mine. This leaves me wondering where they stand on anal flatulence, whether they have an in-house expert to distinguish between the two and whether anyone at Spotify has ever attended a yoga class. And just today Zazzle returned the money we sent them to pay for a few beer steins that we ordered because

the product contains a design that includes adult content…Zazzle will not fulfill orders of merchandise that may be viewed as pornographic, obscene and/or contain nudity that is not artistic in nature.

Put aside the fact that we ordered exactly 3 steins – one for each of us and one for our awesome producer, Cait. What Zazzle has done here aside from censor us, was that they became the arbiter of what is considered art, what is considered pornographic and what is considered obscene. Is our vulva not art because it is anatomically correct? Or is it not art because it depicts female genitalia? What is Zazzle’s definition of obscenity? And if someone happens to be turned on by a cartoon vulva with eyes, what’s the damn problem? No one is getting hurt here. No one is getting trafficked. And you know what else? No one is getting PAID. Not Instagram, not Spotify, not Zazzle and certainly not us.

And yeah, it’s frustrating, but it is also dangerous. Because as I said before, people need the information that we and thousands of others are providing and they need to be able to find it and with the way all this is going, that is becoming more and more difficult. And there will be people – because of lack of access to an income – who will be forced out of this field and that will have real consequences. Because let’s be honest, our schools are not teaching proper sex education and the information coming from our president, many of our elected officials and “news” analysts on TV is oftentimes wrong. The internet is supposed to be a place that can be used by the masses to educate ourselves and others. FOSTA/SESTA is making that increasingly difficult.


Chapter Four: This is all one fight

It might seem from the outside that this is all disconnected. What does Welcome To My Vagina have to do with president Trump? What does an unfilled order for a few vulva-decorated beer steins have to do with child sex trafficking? Honestly, everything.

This is all a story of power: who has it and who doesn’t. Donald Trump can post whatever he wants online because everything he does is considered “news worthy” and therefore operates above the law that all of the rest of us live under. FOSTA/SESTA has no impact on him. And it’s true, that a lot of children who are trafficked are targeted online and then sold online and that is really fucked up. I wish it didn’t happen. And I wish we could come up with a better way to keep kids safe. One step towards achieving that is through access to information. Kids, and adults, need to be able to find community. And they need to be trusted with the truth. Kids can learn to protect themselves from predators by learning what sorts of things to look for. And that information can be taught to them online, through trusted sources that are made easily available. There are a lot of other things that can be taught online. As I said earlier, we live in a society that is toxic to women – one of the ways it is toxic is that women are kept uneducated about their own bodies and are taught that they exist primarily to be consumed by others and to make babies. That is simply not true and we need access to counter narratives and imagery. We need to see more vulvas and we need to hear more queefs. Vulvas are beautiful and queefs, like farts, are fucking hilarious and I stand by that.

I guess in summation it just feels like a lot of times the most important things get swept under the rug. FOSTA/SESTA is potentially one of the most crucial, free-speech impacting legislative changes of our lifetimes and no one knows anything about it. But you will. Because it’s coming for you. It’s coming for all of us and it feels like we are completely powerless to stop it.

What’s the Difference Between Donald Trump and a Poop Train? The Media Reported Truthfully on One of Them.

6 Aug

I have written a number of times about how much I hate Donald Trump. At least once was well before he became president and one was in the days immediately following his election. My feelings haven’t really changed much although his stature in society certainly has. The reality is that no matter how we slice it, no matter how much people cite his changing politics and past relationships with powerful men on whatever part of the political spectrum, Donald Trump has always been a hot, steaming pile of garbage. But not just any garbage. He is middle of August New York City garbage when workers for the Sanitation Department have been on strike for weeks. The kind of garbage that you can smell, taste and feel seeping through your pores as you walk down a shadeless sidewalk at noon on a 95 degree day. A pile of trash that has been absorbing and reflecting heat for weeks so the fetid stench assaults your senses from every single angle. It runs down the streets in thick, gooey streams and floats through the air, invisible. That is the kind of garbage that Donald Trump is. He is soiled diapers, dead rats, rotting meat, liquified vegetables, used tampons and discarded chicken bones all mashed together and served to you daily compliments of Twitter, your racist uncle and every single news outlet available. He is everywhere and not going anywhere. He is that poop train that got stuck in a small Alabama town. Was that caboose stuffed with millions of pounds of human excrement stuck in bureaucratic purgatory a parallel to our lived reality? Perhaps. After all, it took months for Parrish, Alabama (population 982) to get that train a’moving and here we are, 2 1/2 years into a Trump Regime with no obvious exit and no definitive end in sight. Purgatory? It’s more like hell.

And it is a hell that he understands better than any of us. For all his idiocy, immaturity and bluster Donald Trump knows one thing: he knows how to create loyalty and then squeeze everything he can out of it. He was right when, in his campaign for the presidency he said,

I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s, like, incredible.

It is incredible. Imagine it, the President of the United States of America shoots someone dead on Fifth Avenue, in broad daylight, the incident is caught on camera and nothing happens. Nothing. I didn’t believe it when he said it in Iowa back in 2016 but I believe it now. I believe that Trump could kill someone and that still wouldn’t make his reelection impossible. I don’t think it would really change all that much at all. Donald Trump could stand atop that poop train and declare that the entire town of Parrish does not reek of tons and tons of actual shit but instead smells like butterfly bushes, jasmine and rosemary. It would get reported as news and people would believe him. He is only as strong as the loyalty given him and he knows that – that is how he has always operated, it is a tried and true approach. It isn’t about love. Instead, it’s about an unquestioned, unshakeable adulation that allows him to operate the way he has always operated: completely unfettered and unaffected by all his misdoings, by the ways he has wronged people and by any sort of moral or ethical code. Our president, much like the poop train, operates outside the law and outside of common decency.

So what do we do about it? Oh, I don’t know. We could and perhaps should take a page out of Beto O’Rourke’s book. Following the recent shooting in El Paso a journalist asked O’Rourke if there was anything he could do to fix the problem. O’Rourke responded,

What do you think? You know the shit he has been saying. He’s been calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals… I mean members of the press – what the fuck?!

Set aside for a moment the fact that Beto O’Rourke should for sure sit down the 2020 race for the presidency and instead use this moment to enter the 2020 Senate race to unseat John Cornyn, Republican of Texas. He would be much more useful in that role and has a much better chance of winning that race than he does the presidency. But either way other candidates, politicians and all of us normals need to seize on Beto’s feelings and start taking the media to task. I know there was some stuff with Russia and whatnot that led to us having Trump, but do you know what else helped? The media. And if we don’t do something and keep taking them to task we will end up with Trump AGAIN.

This went in a different direction than I anticipated but I guess I will sum it up by saying this: media awareness about the presence of the poop train and how inhumane having it sitting there stinking up a town for months on end was effective in remedying the situation. The poop train moved and New York no longer sends its shit down to Alabama. If the media can help move the poop train along, then it would stand to reason it could also help remove the shitbag currently fouling up the Oval Office, when he decides to take a break from racist Twitter rants and rounds of golf, that is. So, let’s hold their feet to the fire. That’s how we win.

 

Kathie Klages, David Pecker, Mollie Tibbetts and the Devaluing of Women

25 Aug

At the very early stages of recording Welcome to My Vagina the Almost Famous Podcast, Jessy and I talked about the sexual abuse scandal that was tearing USA gymnastics to shreds. (I wrote about it here and then again here.) We called the episode “A Girl’s Worth,” which was based off of Rachael Denhollander’s victim impact statement in which she asked, time and again, “how much is a little girl worth?” I find myself asking this question of myself often, but extending that to include not just little girls but grown womyn as well. I extend it to include all of us. And every time I ask myself this question and then go on to answer it, every time I think about what value I hold to society at large, how much my life is worth in the eyes of law enforcement, the justice system, the media and our very own president I can only come to the exact same conclusion over and over and over again: I am not worth very much. And then I think to myself that I was born with white skin to upper middle class parents in a safe neighborhood that had good schools and I realize that the small amount that I have determined my own worth to be in the eyes of so many is higher still than a lot of other women. It’s a lot to take in, to live in a culture that hates and diminishes you. There are constant reminders of this. A few of which I want to talk about here.

Kathie Klages

For those of you who don’t know much about the Nassar scandal in USA Gymnastics, let me give you an ever-so-brief overview. Over the 20+ years that Larry Nassar was treating gymnasts and other female athletes through his offices at Michigan State University, his ‘volunteer position’ with USA Gymnastics as the women’s national team doctor and his arrangement with John Geddert of Geddert’s Twistar’s in Lansing, Michigan, he sexually assaulted over 300 women and girls that we know of. And he did not act alone. It took other people ignoring reports or looking the other way. Kathie Klages was one of those people.

Back in 1997, a gymnast by the name of Larissa Boyce reported to Klages that Nassar had been sexually inappropriate with her during an appointment for an injury. Another woman, who has chosen to remain anonymous, also reported to Klages at the same time. Klages did not go to MSU and she did not go to law enforcement. Instead, she shamed the women until they stayed silent. Kathie Klages knew about Nassar, knew that he was a predator, for 20 years and she did nothing, she said nothing. She continued coaching the MSU women’s gymnastics team until she was forced to resign in 2016 and in that time she sent countless athletes to see a doctor who she had been told had a habit of sticking his ungloved fingers into their vaginas under the guise of medical treatment. One of those women, Lindsey Lemke, gave an impact statement while she was still competing for MSU this past January, 2018, 21 years after Klages was originally told of Nassar’s behavior. Klages could have done something, could have stopped him, but the reputation of one single doctor was more important, more valuable, than the physical and mental well-being of hundreds of women. As far as Kathie Klages was concerned, a woman’s worth is but a fraction of a man with medals and awards, a man who will die in prison, a man whom she still defends.

American Media Inc.

Next we have The National Enquirer, its parent company, American Media, Inc. (AMI) and David Pecker – no, really, his last name is Pecker – the CEO and Chairman of American Media. The other night, I hunkered down on the sofa to watch Rachel Maddow explain the breaking news of the day and it was big. We had already found out that Michael Cohen had made a deal with the feds in which he plead guilty to 5 counts of tax evasion, one count of making a false statement to a financial institution and two counts that are related to the breaking of campaign-finance laws. Those last two charges were due to payments that he made to Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, AKA Stormy Daniels. Cohen said he was directed by then-candidate, now the worst president of all times, Donald J. Trump in order to keep the two women from speaking out and therefore hurting Trump’s chances at winning the election. Each of these women were paid $130,000, which was determined to be the amount that their silence was worth. Our country’s norms and values were sold on the market for a combined total of $260,000 to a snake-oil salesman who knows nothing about the rules of grammar, let alone international politics and, you know, how to have a conscience. But that isn’t even what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the other breaking news. The Pecker stuff.

So apparently AMI, led by David Pecker, had a habit of what has been dubbed the “catch and kill.” For years they would find negative stories about Donald Trump, catch them, get exclusive rights to them, and then bury them. This happened in the case of Karen McDougal. AMI bought the life rights to McDougal’s story for a sum of $150,000, which precluded her from sharing the story of her 9-month affair with Trump in 2006 and 2007, right around the time Trump’s son Barron was born, if memory serves. But AMI also interviewed Beth Ferrier, one of the women who accused Bill Cosby of drugging and raping her, and then buried it in exchange for an exclusive interview with Cosby. Ferrier didn’t sign the rights away and could have told her story elsewhere, although she was ever informed of the trade AMI had made. And we also know that women were speaking out about Cosby for years before any of the allegations really stuck. So how much is Beth Ferrier worth? About $7,500 that she never received from AMI and one exclusive interview with a wealthy and powerful man.

Mollie Tibbets

A few days ago, the body of missing college student Mollie Tibbetts was found near her boyfriend’s home in Brooklyn, Iowa. She was murdered and buried under some corn stalks in a field by a man she did not know after she rebuffed his advances while she was out for a run.  I am a runner and I have had the same experience Mollie had, with an obviously very different ending. I have been out for my daily run and been followed by men on foot, in cars and once on a bicycle. It is terrifying and infuriating. I have been lucky. I’ve been able to shoot men down without having them rape and/or kill me. Mollie, and way too many other women, have not been as lucky. There is a lot to be said here.

First, let us engage with the reason Mollie was killed. Mollie was killed because she rejected a man and he got angry. It does not matter where this man came from, why he was in the United States or what his legal status was. He was a man who could not handle rejection and believed that the proper retribution for the fact that she didn’t want him was her death. He killed her because she said no. Plain and simple. To this man, Mollie’s life was less important than his ego.

Second, let us talk about the narrative that has arisen around her death. Predictably, the party that tells us not to talk about gun control after another mass shooting claims scores of our young people did not skip a beat before using Mollie’s death to make a plea for “The Wall” and in defense of racist immigration policies. And all of this while Mollie’s family itself has said the following:

Hey i’m a member of mollie’s family and we are not so fucking small-minded that we generalize a whole population based on some bad individuals. now stop being a fucking snake and using my cousins death as political propaganda. take her name out of your mouth.

It’s true that if this man wasn’t here he would not have killed Mollie. But do you know what he would have done? He would have killed another woman. I am certainly not valuing one woman’s life over another’s, but I am saying that this is a conversation about murderous misogyny and not immigration. In the aftermath of this, we need to be having a conversation about how to educate men to be better, not having one about how we should or should not spend billions of dollars to build some bullshit wall that’s going to become a symbol for racism and will ultimately be torn down. To our asshole president and many members of the Republican Party, Mollie Tibbett’s life is worth a few talking points about illegal immigration.

Third, we need to look at this case and notice one thing: Mollie Tibbets was a beautiul, strong-willed, smart, athletic, white woman. The fact that she was white matters here because in our culture, whiteness is associated with purity. That’s why our newspapers, magazines and tabloids were ablaze with the stories of Elizabeth Smart, Jonbenet Ramsey and Natalee Holloway and yet none of us have heard of Nabra Hassanen, a 17-year old Muslim woman who was killed last year while walking back to her Mosque with a group of friends in Virginia. A driver, who got angry after he exchanged words with one of the young men in Hassanen’s group, grabbed Hassanen and beat her to death with a baseball bat before dropping her in a pond. There was no national coverage of her death, nor is there national coverage of African American children who go missing. Mollie Tibbett’s life was worth more than Nabra Hassanen, and is worth more than the African American children whose disappearances have never been on the cover of any newspaper or magazine. All life should be valued that same regardless of the color of your skin, your country of origin, or what you have between your legs.

***

I don’t have too much more to say here other than this: being a woman is hard. It is harder for some than it is for others but the reality is that every single one of us knows what it is to be silenced and to have our experiences devalued. And if we haven’t been silenced ourselves, although I do not know a single woman who has been so lucky, we know what it looks like because we are surrounded by it every single day. There are so many things that are not said, not heard or “caught and killed.” And that silence, that under valuing of women’s worth, has terrible, and sometimes deadly, consequences.

My Name is Rebekah and I Exhaust Myself

22 Mar

This past May while wandering through the streets of New Orleans I decided I was going to move for a while. It was a weird sort of calm and assuredness that I had about the decision, something that is not normal for me. I constantly second-guess my choices, paralyzing myself through the fear that maybe the plan I have hatched for myself isn’t right, that I will miss out on some opportunity. Every once in awhile though something just comes into my mind that seems so right, so perfect, that I just dive in and hope for the best. Moving to New Orleans, even temporarily, was one of those plans.

***

I remember a few years back a friend of mine decided to leave Brooklyn. We ended up talking one night about whatever came into our heads and I remember just looking over at him and saying

You know that even if you move somewhere else, you’re still going to be there, right? You’re still going to be you? So just make sure it’s here you don’t want to be, and not that it’s you that you don’t want to be.

He looked at me for a while, nodded his head, and we continued on to something else less heavy. I’ve thought about that conversation a lot over the past few years; I think about it almost daily now. And I wonder, why did I run away from my life? And what did I think would happen, would change? Who did I think I would become?

***

I’ve spent a great deal of time by myself here. That was sort of the point. I needed to just, I don’t know, be with myself. To try and get a sense of what I want and, perhaps more importantly, what sort of thing I want to put out into the world. What sort of person I want to be. But perhaps it’s more complicated than that – I am still trying to work this bit out honestly. It’s not that I don’t know who I am, it’s that sometimes who I am is just too much because who I am is tied up so much in being the best me that I can be and for me that means being the most supportive, most giving, most there person I can possibly manage. And when I can’t be those things to the degree that I think I should be capable of, I experience this crippling guilt and sadness and feeling that I should have done more, should have been more, should have given more. But sometimes, there is just not any more to give. I feel like by the time I left Brooklyn I had hit the bottom of my well. I had depleted myself emotionally and physically. I was exhausted. I was breaking out in hives daily. My hair was falling out. I honestly had nothing left. And I had no one to blame but myself. So I got in my car and went.

***

The thing about leaving your life behind, as I said to my friend a few years earlier, is that your life follows you. Or, more accurately, you follow you. The essence of me, for lack of a better term, didn’t stay in Brooklyn when I came to New Orleans. It got into my small Honda Civic with me and took the 2 week long winding journey through the eastern United States and landed in this awesome shot gun apartment in the Marigny. And now it makes itself cozy in my bedroom and hangs out with me in my backyard. It comes with me to work and does speed repeats with me on the track. It’s just me…and it’s exhausting. I am exhausting. I fucking exhaust myself.

So that’s what I’ve learned so far on this journey. Something I sort of already knew but didn’t actually apply to myself. Which is basically that we can be different versions of ourselves in different locations and with different people and in different contexts, but we are, at our core, still ourselves, for better or for worse. We bring all of our habits, all of our tendencies, our strengths and our weaknesses with us and it’s just a matter of figuring out how to manage it all and, for me, it’s a matter of figuring out how to be the best me for myself, not for everyone else, and trusting in the fact that being good to me oftentimes results in being a better me to others, which is what I ultimately always strive for.

Also, it means less hives. And let me assure you, when it comes to hives, less is always more.

How I’m Dealing

26 Jan

This has been a really rough few days, friends. Hellish, I would venture to say. And I am going to be completely and totally honest with you, as I normally am, and tell you how I have been handling it. Not well. Not well at all. Here’s a recap:

Thursday: Trained at a new job from 9am to 4:30pm. I tried to gage where all my coworkers stood on the issues by asking them some questions that I will not divulge here because I am actually afraid that some agents for the government might arrive at my door and whisk me away under the cover of night. That’s where we live now, folks. After work I headed off to a bar that my friend works at and had a few very necessary drinks in preparation for the end of the free world.

Friday: Trained again at the job. This time for 12 glorious hours. The benefit was that this allowed me to entirely miss all the fracas surrounding the inauguration of Tr*mp or, as my friend Ben suggested we call him, SCROTUS. My friends Emily and James came into town so that was great, but there was still just a very heavy gloom that hung over everything. When I got home that night I turned on The Internet, read a few things and cried myself to sleep.

Saturday: Women’s March day. I went to the march with Emily, James and Emma. I wore my “unpresidented” shirt (thanks Beth!) and we all carried signs. I would like to acknowledge here that there were some problems with the marches in general (underrepresentation of POC being high on that list and something I will get into in another post because it is way too important to be just a talking point in an overview) but overall it was nice for me to be in the company of friends and surrounded by a bunch of badass women and men who disagreed with the inauguration of SCROTUS and were just as apprehensive of what the future would likely hold. This was especially important for me seeing as how I just moved to a new city and lack the sort of support system I had in New York. Also, the South is different.

Sunday: Had to be at work to train at 8am.  At a restaurant. I know, I know. But the people must have brunch, after all. It was a really hard day. I hadn’t slept enough, but I had certainly read a lot about what all has been going on. I had the time to have conversations with a lot of good friends who feel similarly to me and it was all just crashing down. The reality of it all. Like a giant, horrible wave teeming with dead sea creatures who could no longer survive in the increasing temperature of the oceans. The shift was awful. Not because of my coworkers or the managers, who are all lovely, but because everyone is politically charged these days, and down here a lot of people voted for Tr*mp. It isn’t like in New York where those people are few and far between. They are everywhere here. Especially when you work in a restaurant that is in a highly touristed area and has a lot of domestic tourists from cities and towns that are significantly less progressive than New Orleans. There were some things said. Like the young white women who insisted that women (read: them and the white women they know) already have equal rights and what the fuck were all those idiots marching for. (I summarized.) I had to keep my mouth shut. It felt like my soul was just melting. Luckily Emily and James were still in town so I was able to run to them after work and decompress. I also called my dad and started crying on Canal Street amongst all the normal New Orleans revelers. No big deal.

Monday: I woke up crying and basically didn’t stop all day. I tried to quit my job because I felt like everything was horrible and I wanted to just hide in my house forever. My managers would’t let me quit, though. Apparently I’m okay at my job. Who knew. But in the process of trying to quit I entirely lost my shit in front of not one but TWO managers at work and, if my estimates are correct, about a third of my coworkers and now I feel sort of like a crazy person. Lots of tears, lots of eyeliner running down my face. Great first impression, Rebekah. Luckily my friend Carie is awesome and I called her and we spent the day doing fun things interspersed with me crying. By the end of the day it dawned on me: there was a good chance that, for the next four years, whenever I wasn’t otherwise occupied (or even sometimes even when I was) I would likely be crying. That seemed to me rather unsustainable.

Tuesday: Woke up still feeling like everything was totally fucked. Kept reading The Internet and panicking (but at least I wasn’t crying?). Carie and I ran some errands which helped to take my mind of our impending collective doom. I was supposed to go to running group but didn’t because I am pretty sure I had cried out the entire salt content of my body and was exhausted. I went to bed early.

So, I mean, needless to say if you are wondering how I have been handling all this the answer is, as I said before, not well. I have sat down to write about 5 different blogs in the past few days and nothing comes out how I want it to. I think that is partially because I am so overwhelmed with the onslaught of information and, honestly, an intense feeling of loss. It is like I am in mourning. And, you know what, I am. I am in mourning for the world I thought that I lived in now that I live in one that operates under a completely different set of rules, if we can even call them that. Here’s what I realized (with a lot of help from friends) and how I am going to operate going forward.

I cannot longer assume that I live in the same reality that I always have. Our government operates largely through precedent and the moral foundation of those who work within it. Regardless of whether we agree with the politics and whether we feel the person him or herself is of good moral character, there was a general area in which people operated, and that area was largely predictable and normalized. We might not agree with it, we might find the actions themselves morally bankrupt, but there was still, for lack of a better phrase, a general code of conduct within which people operated.

That is no longer the case. The code is gone.

We have been shown, throughout the campaign itself and now during these first few terrifying days, that Donald J. Tr*mp does not abide by any code outside of whatever one is guiding him in that particular moment. And for those of us, myself included, who believed that there was something codified in law that required a certain level of behavior, there is not. So all those times we scream

But how can he do this? Can he really do this?

The answer, it seems, is that he can. The rules of the game have changed. He can remove information from government websites regarding climate change and LGBTQ issues as if they no longer even exist. He can demand that the National Park Services stop tweeting from their official handles, but he cannot stop them from making a new one that is not associated with the government, and he cannot stop the 1.8 million followers and counting from supporting that action. He can appoint cabinet members with little to no relevant experience and they can somehow get questioned and confirmed regardless of the fact that many of them have not yet passed ethics screenings. He can become President of the United States of America without releasing his tax documents and he can repeatedly say that the only people who care about that information are reporters, which is patently untrue. I am not a reporter and I would like access to those documents. He can shut down the media and send us all into a tizzy with these fucking “alternative facts” which makes us doubt every single bit of information that we read. If this administration is known for one thing, it will be known for the number of synonyms for the word “lie” it uses on a regular basis to justify the man that they, and Russia, and James Comey, and all those fucking white people, empowered.

Our President, is a man who has never heard the word “no.” People have said it to him I’m certain, but he has never heard it. “No” is simply not a word that applies to Donald J. Tr*mp. And when you have a man for whom the word “no” doesn’t apply, you have a man who can not compromise, you have a man with a huge temper, you have a man with the social mentality and awareness of a 5-year-old. That is who we are living under. We are living under a 6’3″, 240-pound toddler who pouts and stamps his feet at the mere smell of any sort of negative feelings cast in his direction. And yet he is quite possibly the biggest bully to ever darken the doors of the Oval Office.

So no, this is not normal. But it is even less normal than we previously thought. There are no rules, there are no precedents, there are, it seems, no laws that can touch Donald Tr*mp. And so then the question becomes:

What do we do now?

We cannot use the normal routes, we cannot take the same actions, we cannot think this will change or our displeasure can be registered in the same ways they have always been because this is not the same reality. This country will never be the same. We will never be the same. It’s as if we have been living in a world with a ground that is made of rubber, only before we thought that it was made of steel. And he is pushing that ground, stretching it, and we are all off balance and we have to walk differently. Because you cannot walk the same way on something that moves and changes and thins out as you can on something strong and flat and secure. So again I ask,

What do we do now?

And honestly, I don’t really know. I wish I fucking knew. But for me just wrapping my head around the fact that everything is different, and that I mean that word everything to be all encompassing, is helpful. Because it means I have to open my mind and stretch it and challenge it to respond to all the changes that are coming at me, at all of us. Because we, friends, have brought knives to an unregulated gun fight. So we have to be smarter and quicker and we have to use our bodies to keep coming at them again and again and again. And honestly, as much as I loved to hear Michelle Obama say “when they go low we go high,” there is no low or high anymore. There are those with morals and those without morals and those are two completely unrelatable realities. There are those who care about the future of the world and those who care only about the immediate future of themselves.

So, what do we do? Seriously, what do we do?

New Orleans Diary: Week Four

23 Dec

Goal: To keep a diary of all the haps and observations of every week. This is my fourth diary entry, and therefore the fourth time I have managed to successfully reach my goal. This is a big deal. Hitting goals I make for myself is not my strong suit. Maybe all this not having a job is really helping me out in the life skills department. (Speaking of, someone want to pay me for this?)

Laundry: So I posted a photo of this the first day that I moved into my new apartment (AKA Palace) but for those of you who are not my Instagram or Facebook friend or managed to miss it here’s an update: I have a washer/dryer in my kitchen. IN MY KITCHEN! My friend Katie used to tell me years ago that she will know she has made it as an adult when she has a clawfoot tub in her bathroom. I replied that I would know I had made it when I have a washer/dryer in my building. (I set my sights sort of low. New York livin’, am I right?) Well paint me green and call me a cucumber because I have surpassed my wildest dreams. Yesterday I did 3 loads of laundry and I didn’t have to carry a huge bag around the corner, fight for a washing machine that barely works or avoid tripping over someone’s kid who is riding around the laundromat on one of those stupid scooters that I hate. Nope, I just stayed home. And now my whole house smells like freshly laundered clothes. Aaaaaaahhhhhh……

Waterbugs: I found one in my bathroom. I really had to pee so I did but I didn’t flush the toilet because I was afraid the noise would scare the bug which, in turn, would scare me. I hid from the bathroom for the rest of the night despite the fact that I had drank a lot of water. So much water, in fact, that when I woke up in the morning my eyeballs were swimming. I went into the bathroom and made a whole bunch of noise in hopes that the bug would come out from where ever it was hiding when I was semi-prepared for it and not when I was in mid-stream, but to no avail. Now I have no idea where the bug is. I am starting to rethink my previous inaction. Will update as necessary. But suffice it to say that if this blog goes dark it is because the bug killed me.

Some People Don’t Like New Yorkers Here: And I get it. I totally do. Also, despite the fact that I spent the last 12 years in Brooklyn I was born and raised in New Jersey. I am not sure whether that helps me or hurts me in this situation, tbh. But just in case it helps maybe I should bust out that neon green and yellow New Jersey trucker hat that I bought at the Palisades Mall back in the year 2002. Feel free to leave your thoughts about that in the comment section. So anyway the reason I say this is that the other day I was visiting my friend at work and he introduced me to some of the people sitting at the bar which was very nice of him since I know approximately 5 people here and one of those people is me. The dude at the bar seemed all interested in the fact that I had just moved here until I told him I had moved from Brooklyn and he goes

Yeah. The seems to be the trend.

And then he turned his back on me. Just turned his back. He behaved as if I told him a string of those crazy outdated and not funny “yo mama” jokes. On a slightly serious note though, I get that the city is changing really fast. I spent the last 12 years in Brooklyn, for chrissakes. But the people we should turn our backs on are the people who somehow think they are god’s gift to where ever they moved to, people who need the city to adjust to them rather than the other way around. I can tell you all about them. We’ve got plenty of that type back home. Listen, if I wanted this city to be just like Brooklyn I would have stayed there. I had it good. I left for a reason. I needed a change. And let me just say this one other thing: if it was someone turning their back on me who actually would be impacted by the arrival of a youngish white woman, I would have accepted it. That, however, was not the case. If you pick up what I’m putting down.

Waterbug Update: I was informed by my friend Sarah Jane that there are A LOT of these bugs here so, I don’t know. We will see how this all goes. The odds are not in my favor.

The World War Two Museum: I went there on Monday and it was really intense, especially when put in context of what all is happening in our country right now with Tr*mp and the crazies and how much they hate the Jews. I am not going to go into it here though because I wrote an entire blog about it that I am really proud of and I would love it if you would go over there and read it and maybe share it with your friends and family.

Hive Update: As some of you might already know, part of the reason I came down here was that I kept breaking out in hives. The crisis started when I went to Iceland last March. I was at a loss. I had no idea what was causing it. Was I allergic to the sulfur (AKA eggfarts) in the air in Iceland? Did I have some sort of food allergy? I went to a doctor and went on this crazy diet to try and figure out and then one day I did. Through sheer happenstance I discovered I was allergic to the cold. Even my friend Katie (different Katie from the clawfoot tub Katie) told me it was possible and she’s a nurse. Anyway so I moved down here to get away from the cold and also the hives. And the first week or so I was here I broke out in hives a few times but recently even though it has been cold they haven’t appeared! Which makes me think. When Katie told me that she thought my hives were caused by the cold she also said that I should be concerned about the underlying reasons for that. I kind of glossed over that in the moment because I was just really excited that I said something health-related to Katie that she thought wasn’t a load of shit. I come up with absurd theories all the time. Katie even thought up a really funny idea for a TV show based around this particular part of our friendship. As I was saying, even though I sort of tucked what she said in the back of my head I didn’t dismiss it at all. And so now I am thinking that maybe lack of sleep is one of the things increasing my histamine levels, leading to an uptick in hiviness. I have been sleeping A LOT here. This, by the way, is still a working theory.

Conclusion: So that’s it! Week four in the books! Up top! (In the interest of full disclosure I just gave myself a high five.)