Tag Archives: politics

A Letter In Defense of Immigrants

22 Jun

To Whom it May Concern:

We are writing to you today out of concern and heartache. The atrocities that are occurring at our southern border – atrocities that have been occurring for months now – must stop immediately. As you know, in January of 1945 the Allied Forces liberated Auschwitz, the largest killing center and concentration camp of all those run by the Nazi Party. And here we sit today, in the country that spearheaded the liberation of people who were starved and tortured, families who were torn apart, communities that were decimated and we find that we are not much better. We find that this country that has, since its establishment, claimed to be a safe haven for the worlds most marginalized communities, has turned its back, as we once did on the Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor, on morality and decency and is instead using the force of its laws and its enforcers to further disempower those who lack voice, who lack protection and who lack a safe space to simply live. We said never again. And now here we are, as we lose the last of the Holocaust survivors, moving close to repeating the same horrific mistakes that we once stood firmly against.

This is not who we are. This is not who we want to be. This has to end now.

So we are writing to you to ask that you do not stop acting now that the horrific policy of separating children from their parents has ended. We are asking that you stand strong and say no to Trump’s attempt to overturn the Flores decision. We are asking that you stand with the people who are fleeing gang violence, domestic violence, drug wars and oppressive governments. We are asking that you stand with those who come to this country seeking safety and opportunity for themselves and their children. We are asking that you stand with them, not against them. Let us not continue to repeat the mistakes we have made in the past. We had internment camps once before, we cannot go down that road again. Indefinite detention is simply not an option. It runs counter to international Humans Rights norms as well as American values.

Please, stand strong. Just because we have a president who lacks a moral compass, a president who uses the plight of others to drum up his hateful base in an effort to continue eroding our democracy, does not mean that we should follow along blindly. It means we must be stronger than we have ever been before. And the first step is to show the people arriving at our southern border the respect they deserve. They are human beings just like us and should be treated as such. We urge you to do what we put you in office for: to help those who cannot help themselves and to stand in the way of Trump and the GOP’s effort to make the United States a place that is only for the white and the wealthy. This is a country of immigrants and underdogs and that is what makes it so special. We are begging you, please, do the right thing.

Your constituents

Jessy Caron and Rebekah Frank

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?

This is NOT a Peaceful Transition, Stop Playing.

19 Nov

To start off, please read this article by Teju Cole. I know that I already linked to it the other day, so I am sorry for being repetitive. But, honestly, sometimes things are good enough to require repetition. And this is one of those things. I sort of want to link to his article in everything that I write for the next few years that in any way relates to the complete and utter horror show that is our in-coming presidential administration. I want to link to it and I want to send it to people and I want to slide it under doors and fold it up in holiday cards and mail it to my elected officials. I want to keep telling people that no, this is not normal and that no, we should not fall in line. We should not stop protesting and talking and writing and calling our senators and representatives to register our sheer disbelief, despair and dread that there is now a white supremacist mere feet from the Oval Office. That Donald Trump has just made Jeff Sessions Attorney General. Jeff Sessions who, by the way, opposes both immigration reform and bipartisan efforts to cut mandatory minimum prison sentences. Oh, and he also thinks the NAACP is communist inspired and anti-American and once referred to an African American prosecutor as “boy.” And while we’re at it how about that time he was rejected by the majority Republican Senate Judiciary Committee to be a federal judge in the 1980s, back when we used to disallow racists from holding high posts in the judiciary. He also doesn’t like the Voting Rights Act which makes sense if you think about it, because his chances of re-election most likely decline with every person of color that has access to the ballot box. Oh how far we have fallen.

And then there’s Mike Pompeo. So for those of us who find President Obama and Hillary Clinton too hawkish, we should be pretty upset about Mike Pompeo. And for those of us sick of hearing BENGHAZI screamed over and over and over and over again as some sort of sick rallying call against Obama, Clinton and the entire current administration, we should be prepared for a new uptick because, despite hours of hearings and a panel that found no new evidence of wrong-doing by the Obama Administration, Mike Pompeo and Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio are still convinced there was a cover-up. Much like the email fiasco, it seems as though evidence doesn’t hold quite as much weight as a hunch does with some of these guys. And they are all being assigned top posts in the government. It makes me feel as though the next four years are going to be much more about evening a score and much less about the effective governing of a multi-cultural, multi-racial nation that is in the midst of a serious crisis.

But I guess I already knew that.

So through all of this I keep thinking about Hillary’s concession speech and how she said,

We must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power. We don’t just respect that. We cherish it. It also enshrines the rule of law; the principle [that] we are all equal in rights and dignity; freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values, too, and we must defend them.

On Wednesday the 9th when I watched this speech in utter disbelief, it seemed like the right thing for her to do. I was impressed by how well-rested she looked; how prepared to do the unthinkable; how poised and eloquent she was in the face of a result that must have been even more shocking to her and her team than it was to a lot of us watching from home. (Except for maybe those people who called a Trump win weeks or months ago and are bragging about it. It’s like, great, you were right, but you still have to live here in the shit with the rest of us so shut up.) In that moment, while watching her encourage us to demonstrate the democracy we want to live in, I thought to myself

FUCK! This is exactly why she should be our goddamn President!

But now that over a week has passed and we have Donald Trump and Mike Pence and Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions and Mike Pompeo and a whole host of other angry white men who just won’t fucking go away I am starting to think that maybe that speech wasn’t all that I thought it was. Maybe it wasn’t the right thing to say. I mean, I still think she should be our President, that remains unchanged (duh!), but the speech? I don’t know.

Here’s the thing. I totally agree that one of the hallmarks of a democracy is the insistence on a peaceful transition of power. It is one of the things that makes our country great. I mean, just look at this letter that George HW Bush left for Bill Clinton when the former was bested in his re-election campaign. It exemplifies true class and is a perfect definition of a democracy in action. But I think that one of the important things about a peaceful transition is that it must be peaceful on both sides, and that simply has not been the case. I am not talking about how Donald Trump essentially said he would not accept the winner of the election unless that winner was him. In an alternate, superior universe in which the popular vote fucking mattered and Hillary was our commander-in-chief we would all be prepared for some long, drawn-out bullshit legal charade that Trump would have used to jumpstart his media empire. No, what I am talking about is that there is nothing peaceful about the appointments that Donald Trump has made so far. There is nothing peaceful about appointing documented bigots to some of the most important posts in our federal government. There is nothing peaceful about a man who believes in conversion therapy; there is nothing peaceful about someone who publicly declared that he didn’t want his children going to school with Jews; there is nothing peaceful about someone who jokes about the Ku Klux Klan by saying that he thought they were “okay until he learned that they smoke marijuana;” there is nothing peaceful about someone who has ties to the Koch Brothers.

So I don’t know exactly what I am proposing here. I feel like living in the United States over the past week has been this incredible process of emotions. It’s like, every day there is a new absolutely terrifying thing to accept, a new asshole to read about, a new way that so many of us are realizing we are going to be governed by people who hate us. Because it isn’t just that I don’t like them, it’s that they don’t like anyone who doesn’t look and sound like they do. Anyone with a different skin tone, a different accent, different genitalia, different abilities, a different religion, or different ideas about romantic partners. It’s that they are not going to try to Make America Great Again. They are going to try to Remake America in their own image. And that image is repressive and violent. Because repression is violence.

So, no. Maybe on Wednesday November 9th when there was still a dying hope that all the bigotry and hate that Trump spewed during his campaign was smoke and mirrors and he was really not as bad as we all thought, maybe at that point we owed him an open mind. Although I am reluctant to say that after all the hate he stirred up he was owed anything good from us. But now, on November 19th that time has passed. We tried and he made us look a fool. There is nothing peaceful about this transition and it is about time that more Democrats in power, and that more private citizens, start making that point. We are not a country at peace, we are a country in complete and total turmoil; a country in which people feel afraid to be themselves.

As far as I am concerned we owe Trump nothing but what we owe ourselves: a fight.*

 

*And to stop reading his fucking Twitter feed. Seriously. How can we expect his staff to do fucking anything if they can’t stop him from making a fool of himself on Twitter every goddamn day like a giant, orange-colored toddler in tasteless neck ties.

These are scary, scary times

10 Nov

Friends. As many of you already know, today I am embarking on a journey. Today I leave, my trunk full of clothing and books, my heart heavy, and head down to New Orleans for a short but important new chapter. A time when I can reflect on who I am and who I want to be in this world. I time when I can just sit back, far away from family and many of my friends, far away from where I have called home for my entire adult life, and start building. I want to start building a me that makes active choices and decisions for where I want my life to go and becomes a more vocal person within my community, where ever that community may be. This is more important now than ever.

I thought that I, along with one of my closest friends, would be driving South in a different America than the one we find ourselves in today. I thought we would be driving in the spirit of celebration and safety, not feeling as though we are in a high-speed train, breaks failing, hurtling into the darkness. Clearly we, along with millions of others, were out of touch with the degree to which people are hurting all over this country, to the degree that people feel ignored and left behind, to the degree so many disdain the cities and the people that live within them. And I get it. Shit is hard. And I am sure I am going to be seeing a lot of hard shit on this ride – a different kind of poverty and destitution than I see day after day in my beloved New York City. And that is unfair. I truly believe we all deserve opportunity, that we should all feel as though we matter. But more than anything else, I feel as though we should all feel safe and at home here in our America. In our beautiful, diverse, America. And so, in keeping with my post from yesterday, albeit with slightly less swearing, I have just a few things to say.

I am having so many feelings right now. I am angry, I am shocked, I am saddened, but more than anything I am afraid. I spoke on the phone with my father last night and he who lived through America during the Vietnam War, through the assassinations of JFK, RFK, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, through the on-air killing of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby, through the resignation of Richard Nixon, the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the horrors of the Cold War and September 11th and everything that has come before, in between and after, he told me that he has never felt so unsure or afraid for and about the future of our country. These are scary, scary times. Scarier than ever before. And I remember speaking to my mother in the days and weeks following the 2001 attack on our country, myself in tears and her with a strength she always manages to find, and having her assure me that there are always these moments, always these times, that give us uncertainty but that we must have resolve and move forward and know there is more good than evil out in the world. That although things will never be the same, we will adjust and we will learn and we will get better. When I spoke with her at 10pm on election night, as we were understanding the reality of where we stood, her voice cracked. These are scary, scary times.

And in the past few days since Donald Trump’s election, things have become clear: we are living in a moment where people are angry and this outcome has, for some though certainly not for all, legitimized their feelings of closed-mindedness and has emboldened them to behave in ways that openly threaten those around them. My friend Ashlie shared this story:

Tonight we were at a bar, celebrating Leon’s fantastic film screening. A man came up to our table behind my seated friend and proceeded to, without greeting or warning or any words at all, put his arms around her, hug her, and kiss her cheek. We all assumed it was an old friend, and she squirmed around to see who it was, and it was a complete stranger! I said, “Do you know him?” and she said “no! Not at all!!!” We all started telling him in no uncertain terms that he doesn’t get to do that, just touch and kiss anyone whenever he feels like it, and he responded, “but Trump just won the Presidential Race.”
I am not kidding, lying, or being even the slightest bit hyperbolic. That is what happened, and that is how he defended his actions. So, know that.

Reading through the comments on her post revealed to me that there were many women who had the same exact experiences. Men walking up to them and touching them, grabbing them, kissing them and saying that because now that we have a President Elect Trump it is within their rights to do so. And then, of course, there was the one man, the one white man, who called all these women liars. These are scary, scary times.

And my younger sister, a graduate of Wellesley University, shared with me a story recounted by Sydney Robertson:

Today, Wellesley women, like a lot of America, were in mourning.

Edward Tomasso and Parker Rander-Riccardi, two students at Babson College, decided to drive around our beautiful campus with a Trump flag in a pick up truck. They laughed, screamed and sped around campus. Then, they parked in front of the house for students of African decent, and jeered at them, screaming Trump and Make America Great Again. When one student asked them to leave, they spit in her direction.

This is not my America, this is Trump’s America filled with hatred and bigotry. This is what he has provoked. Please help us get these faces out there, they cannot get away with this.

And this is just the tip of the ice burg. There are women afraid to leave the house in the hijab; women making appointments at Planned Parenthoods to get IUDs before our access to birth control, and our rights to choose, are further threatened; one member of the North Carolina LGBTQ community woke up to find a note on his car that read “Can’t wait until your ‘marriage’ is overturned by a real president. Gay families = burn in hell. Trump 2016.” And this is just the beginning. This is just 36-hours in. These are scary, scary times.

And so I head south. Away from a New York that no longer feels safe and into the unknown. I’m sure I will be fine but still, the nervous butterflies in my stomach are a little more active than the were just 2 days ago. Things seem less certain, more foreboding, and just, I don’t know, more treacherous. We all need to be more careful because a dragon has been awoken and that dragon has found his and her voice within mainstream media and our government, on the streets of our cities and our towns, and things will be a lot less safe for all of us. Every single one. Because if there is a Trump supporter who is reading this blog, and if that Trump supporter happens to be a white female (as so many maddeningly were) or a person of color, let me just tell you this:

Your vote will not save you. You cannot wear your vote as a badge of honor or protection as you move through your life. You might feel as though you are one of them but you are not. You are not part of their America. You are not equal. You are not free. And you are not safe. And so, though I might be angry and though I might not be ready to try to love you and embrace you in order to move forward, I hope that this horror blows over soon for all of us. Although honestly I doubt it will. We have a long uphill battle. And though on November 8th and the days immediately after you never thought you would be walking alongside us, you will be. Your pussies are just as grabable, your ethnicity and patriotism just as questionable, your skin color just as threatening.

I know that not all Trump supporters are awful or full of hate or voted for anyone else but who they believed would be the best person for the job. But the loudest ones, the ones in the corners of the internet, the ones touching women and threatening people of color, they are full of hate. Those are the bad ones. And so for those who voted not from a place of hate but from a place of fear and hurt, a fear and hurt that so many of us have been experiencing, you know what? We will be here. We will be here waiting for you because no one, no one deserves to be treated as lesser than. And we are, truly, stronger together.

So I’ll be seeing you, New York. Stay safe out there everyone. No matter where, or who, you are.

We Do Not Deserve Trump

1 Nov

So first and foremost I want you all to know that I am incredibly, incredibly stressed about this campaign. My stomach has been acting up in ways it hasn’t acted up since college and every mention of the possibility of a Hillary loss sends my heart dropping through my feet with such speed and intensity that it blows a hole through the ground beneath me and just keeps falling on and on forever. I have been #withher since the early days and proudly so. And no, this is not because she is a woman although that certainly helps. It is true that I have asked my close girlfriends repeatedly where we all want to be watching when the first woman is elected President of the United States of America. The significance, you see, is not lost on me. But the significance of the Rise of the Matriarchy, as we have begun to call it, is also not what made me support Hillary from the jump, even over the perceived Messiah Bernie Sanders. I have simply just believed that she is the best person, not the best woman, but the best person for the job. That does not mean, however, that I think she is perfect. None of us are. She has made her fair share of mistakes. So have I. But 30 years of public service shows me that she has the work ethic and the desire to do the job to the best of her ability and I honestly believe that her ability is of a higher quality than anyone else’s at the current moment. I cannot wait to vote for her next week. I’ll probably cry. And I cannot wait to sit somewhere, with my friends, and watch as she wins the election. I will definitely bawl. And the next day I will celebrate, and maybe the day after that. But then the work will begin anew because for me, the election of Hillary is not the ends. It is just one step in a long, long process that will never end but will hopefully, bit by painful and hard-earned bit, bring us to a better place than we are today. A better place for everyone. And so, with that out there, I have something to say.

We do not deserve a President Trump.

Did you all read that? Did you all understand? Because time and time again on my timeline and on the timeline of my friends, as well as in newspaper columns and magazines, I have read as people have said that maybe we should get a President Trump because we deserve him. And time and time again I have looked up the person who uttered those words and that person has been white. Oftentimes male, sometimes female, but basically always white. And here’s the thing. Among all people, straight, white cis males will be least affected, although by no means unaffected, by a Trump Presidency. The rest of us though? We will be massively impacted to varying degrees. A Trump Presidency more or less means a Pence Presidency and Pence is a scary dude. And Trump, for his part, has traded almost exclusively in hatred, bigotry and lies. This is a less safe country than it was at the beginning of this campaign season and I don’t think the unease and violence will end with the election of a President Hillary Clinton. What Trump has done throughout this campaign has been to empower the people who we least want empowered. He has made David Duke national news again. He has tapped into white supremacist groups that regularly use racist, bigoted, misogynist and anti-semitic language. He has made them believe that their language, their hate, is welcome in mainstream politics; he has released them all from under the rocks and from deep within the caves where they have long been hiding. And what’s really scary is that as the language seeps out from the depths of the internet where it’s been alive and well, albeit somewhat cordoned off, from the majority of users, what we become accustomed to begins to change. My fear is that a Trump Presidency will mean that that vitriol will leak drip, by drip out into the mainstream so that what we will just shrug our shoulders and walk away from shaking our heads are the things that get us red-faced and angry today. I’m afraid we will become  increasingly numb to the ugliness among us. And that petrifies me.

So I guess what I am saying is that I wish people wouldn’t be so irresponsibly glib. We should all think about what we’re saying. We deserve a President Trump as much as Germany deserved Hitler; as much as Columbia deserved Pinochet; as much as England deserved Thatcher; as much as Syria deserves Assad; as much as The Philippines deserve Duterte. Which is to say not at all. What we deserve is to be a better country for everyone than we are today and a President Trump would be better for no one, not a soul, not even Donald Trump himself.

So get out there, friends. Vote. Volunteer. Donate. I know a lot of you don’t like Hillary Clinton and I understand that, that’s okay. We all have our own opinions. But one thing that I can say for certain is that no person will ever be perfect, no person will ever be the ideal President for every single person. But this is not an election between the lesser of two evils. This is an election between an existentially dangerous showman and a highly qualified person. We don’t deserve a President Trump. We deserve the best that we can get and as far as I’m concerned, that’s Hillary Clinton. And if you don’t do it for yourself, if you don’t vote for you, vote on behalf of all the people who are being kept from the polls through questionable practices and intimidation; vote on behalf of the women who want control over their reproductive health; vote on behalf of the people of color living in inner cities who have heard their communities blasted as hell holes throughout this entire election; vote on behalf of the millions of people throughout the world who still see America as a beacon of freedom, safety and possibility. Vote on behalf of them. Because a President Trump doesn’t just fuck us, he fucks the world. And the world doesn’t have a say in our elections but we certainly do. So let’s do the right thing here.

Let’s bring Trump down and send those of his supporters who traffic in bigotry and hatred down with him. We have room for a lot of people here in the United States of America, but we don’t have room for that.

Joe Biden 4Ever

5 Oct

As I said last night during the Vice Presidential debates, my overall feelings remain as follows: I would very much like Joe Biden to be VP forever. Where is science when what this country really needs is the ability to make Joe Biden live on for the rest of time? Behind. That’s where. But seeing as an immortal Biden is probably not in the offing at the moment, perhaps we should discuss what we do have: a Democratic VP candidate who came off overbearing, condescending and elitist against a cool as a cucumber Republican who is horrifyingly socially conservative, but who managed to essentially dodge every single barb lodged his way to come across the clear winner. Not good folks, not good.

So I know we all have lots of very valid feelings about how incredibly unqualified Donald Trump is to be President. Watching him and reading about him and coming to terms, over and over again, that yes, this is in fact happening right now to us here in the United States in the year 2016, is a harrowing experience. Even more harrowing? Thinking about what our future might be if the unthinkable happens. I have been largely incapable of actually engaging with what the reality of a Donald Trump presidency would be. All my brain calls up is nuclear winter. Seriously. I think about where we will be like 2 years in and all I can really envision is myself emerging from some shack that has replaced my previously comfortable and lovely apartment and looking around, seeing only the remains of what once was, with people walking around in drab, worn out clothing searching for food for their children, emerging occasionally with a somehow preserved piece of organic rainbow chard from the co-op. I know that is probably a little bit extreme. Of course we will still have chard. There will always be chard. But things will not be good. That man is going to be in charge of appointing at least one Supreme Court Justice along with all the different Secretaries of different things. He knows no one in the political world. Where would he even find these people? Under his bed? In his pantry? I don’t know. And then there’s the speeches to the country and, worse, the world; the trips overseas to speak with foreign leaders; his presence in towns as a voice of empathy and resolve when, inevitably, another shooting occurs; him sitting in the Situation Room, beating his chest and declaring that he alone knows about war, even though the only thing he really knows about war is how to avoid being drafted to fight in one. And also…and also…he is going to be a man at the helm during the formative years for so many young people. How do you tell boys to respect girls, tell girls they are worthwhile and smart and equal, with that man as President? I just don’t know.

It’s all very scary. Scarier? Mike Pence. Over the past few weeks people have said to me in voices both hushed and not-too-hushed that they either think someone should or someone will kill Donald Trump if he wins the Presidency. Now I don’t think that will happen and, honestly, I hope it doesn’t. I dislike Trump as much, maybe more than, the next gal and wish he would just sort of decide that he is just too great to share his tremendous greatness with an undeserving populace made up of losers and dogs and just sort of fade away. Saying I want him dead though, that makes me feel like garbage. Also a dead Trump means that we have a Pence presidency and that proposition is scary as fuck.

Pence is currently the Governor of Indiana. As the Governor, he signed the most restrictive abortion regulations in the country. House Bill 1337 requires women to view an ultrasound and listen to the fetal heartbeat hours before an abortion; it criminalizes fetal tissue collection or transferring, a practice that has been useful in trying to understand Zika, among other things; it bans women who wish to abort a child based off the race, color, national origin, ancestry, or sex of the fetus*; it defunded Planned Parenthood which led to an outbreak of HIV in one county because it cut off access to the only HIV testing center available to many residents**; by criminalizing many abortions it opens up the possibility that abortion providers can be sued for wrongful death; the list goes on and on and on. That shit is no joke. Pence even said on the campaign trail that under a Trump/Pence ticket “(w)e’ll see Roe v. Wade consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs.” My non-child-wanting womb is screaming for mercy just thinking about it. And this man, in the event of Trump’s demise, could become president and therefore appoint a Supreme Court Justice who could be the swing vote on so many things. So, so many. What other things? Ill tell you.

In 2015, Pence helped to pass one of the harshest “religious freedom” laws in the country. It would have protected businesses who wished to refuse service to LGBT people if they cited religious objections. Does Mike Pence remember segregation? Does he remember how incredibly unethical, inhumane, immoral and illegal that was? How would Mike Pence feel if people decided to not serve him because he is a bigoted asshole? Probably not too good, if I had to guess. Furthermore, when he was a congressman he supported legislation that refused to fund treatment for people suffering from HIV or AIDS, and instead wanted to invest that money in programs that would discourage people from engaging in same-sex relationships.

Following the attacks in Paris he tried, unsuccessfully thanks to the sometimes-functioning court system, to block Syrian immigrants from entering Indiana. Back in 2004 Pence supported a bill that would have potentially deported undocumented people from local hospitals. If passed, the Undocumented Alien Emergency Medical Assistance Amendments Bill, HR 3722, would have required hospitals to report information on undocumented patients before they could be reimbursed for any care given, basically giving ICE unfettered access to people in their most vulnerable moments. In 2006, he introduced a plan that he called a “no amnesty immigration reform.” In Pence’s summary of the plan he wrote,

“The Border Integrity and Immigration Reform Act is a bill that is tough on border security and tough on employers who hire illegal aliens, but recognizes the need for a guest worker program that operates without amnesty and without growing into a huge new government bureaucracy”

Dude has an A rating from the NRA. An A fucking rating. I mean I know there are a lot of responsible gun users out there but it sort of feels like there is a shooting in a school or a nightclub or a movie theater every other day. According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, “firearms were used to kill more than two-thirds of spouse and ex-spouse homicide victims between 1990 and 2005.” And that is only in the realm of DV. That doesn’t include unintended homicide or injury, suicide, etc. Shit is bad. But more guns are the answer, right? Mike? You think so? Obviously you do.

He also is skeptical of climate change. Which I mean, I know that earlier in this post I was disappointed in science’s inability to make Biden immortal, but I trust it on climate change. Maybe we should send him to chat with a polar bear. Maybe he’ll get eaten. Moving on, he believes in the privatization of education. Back in 1990 he used campaign donations to pay for his mortgage and his credit card bills.

And if you saw the debates last night you saw how Mike Pence managed to win without ever really saying he agreed with Donald Trump. Because clearly he doesn’t. Mike Pence is not stupid. Mike Pence is gearing up for his own run at the Oval Office, assuming his career can withstand such a close relationship with the biggest dunce of a candidate we have ever seen. Christie’s certainly couldn’t. But Christie did give us the circus that is BridgeGate so there’s that.

So now, because I am hungry and need to lleave this be in order to eat some food, here is my new theory: you know how back when no one thought Trump would actually be the Republican candidate people kept saying that he was really a plant by the Democratic party to insure a Republican win? What if in reality Pence is the plant. Get Trump elected. Trump gets to brag about what a winner he is. And then he says

Nah, I’m good. It was all about the tremendous chase.

And then he introduces President Pence. And the entire world shudders.

* I know the idea of sexual, racial, etc selection sounds awful, but what this effectively does is turn abortion into a he(she)-said she(he)-said. How do you prove that this was the reason behind someone attaining an abortion? Do you record every session? Or does this open the door for anti-choice activists to target women who have obtained an abortion regardless of the reason?

** This is what pro-choice activists have been saying about the increasingly restrictive regulations surrounding abortions for decades. There are many unintended consequences to the defunding of Planned Parenthood seeing as how a significant percentage of those who rely on PP for annual check-ups and the like are low income and therefore cannot simply hop in a car and drive, where? Two counties over?

 

 

 

Please, #bewithher

26 Jul

I remember January of 2008 I was sitting at a packed bar with my boyfriend at the time watching as Barack Obama, the first Black president, the new face of our country, took the oath of office. I sat on my knees on that bar stool so I could see over all the other people whose eyes were glued to that same screen, I covered my mouth with my hands and tears just streamed nonstop down my face for over an hour. I was just so proud. I thought back to my tears of anger and frustration when, four years before that, John Kerry gave his speech acknowledging that once again George W. Bush was to be our president. We had another four years of that man. But all of a sudden there we were in a moment of hope and change and I felt, for the first time in my adult life, as though I could travel abroad with pride. I felt as though we had someone representing our country who I could get behind, who I agreed with, and who was an in-the-flesh representation of just how far we had come. I didn’t even have words. It was one of the best nights of my life. Last night, watching the Democratic National Convention, I was again brought to tears when Barack Obama’s wife, the First Lady of the United States of America gave one of the most moving speeches I have ever had the privilege to listen to. It was everything.

And then this morning I looked at Nate Silver’s website and discovered that, as of that moment, he was calling the election for Trump.

Donald Trump.

And so here I am, begging you, to please, please vote for Hillary come November. I know some of you (especially my Shrieking Harpies) are already on this boat with me and have been for quite some time. We’ve been with her since the jump. And as time has gone on and the election cycle has played out we’ve been more and more with her. But I understand that many of you are not. I get that. I know that I would have been beyond crushed if my candidate lost the nomination for the Democratic Party but you had better believe that I would have done everything in my power between now and November to try and convince my fellow Hillary supporters to switch their vote to Bernie Sanders. I would have voted for him loudly and proudly. You know why? Because the alternative is too fucking scary and all too real.

Save your protest vote. A vote for Jill Stein is a vote lost. Do you remember Ralph Nader? There is good reason to believe that we ended up with Bush because of Ralph Nader. We all know that Jill Stein is not going to win this election, so why vote for her? Because you hate the two party system? Because, for whatever reason, you dislike Hillary Clinton and think she is not qualified for the job? She is arguably the most qualified presidential candidate ever but, whatever, that’s just details. And honestly, that is not even what I am on about right now. What I am on about is that fact that we need to do whatever we can to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office.

He is a racist.

He is a misogynist.

He is a cheat.

He has, since the beginning, run his campaign like a sick joke and the thing is that if he gets elected do you know who the joke is going to be on? Us. The joke will be on us. Every single one of us. Whether we supported Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. Whether we wanted to write Michelle Obama’s name in on voting day or wished Michael Bloomberg had gone through with his bid for presidency. Whether we are registered Republicans who supported John Kasich or Jeb Bush or fucking Marco Rubio and cannot understand where and when and how the party went so fucking sideways. And the joke will also be on those who supported Trump. They have their reasons I am sure. They are not stupid. Many of them are angry. And they have reason to be angry. But Trump is not the answer. Trump cannot fix this. Trump, and people like Trump, are part of what got us here in the first place.

So please, please, get on board. If for no other reason than the fact that if Trump is elected, he gets to choose a Supreme Court Justice and we are stuck with those mother fuckers for way longer than 4 years. We all know, even those among us who were die-hard Bernie fans and are still in the “Bernie or Bust” mindset, that Hillary will put a progressive Justice on the Court. We have come so far, you guys, let’s not undo it all. Let’s protect a woman’s right to choose, the right for everyone to marry the person they love, universal access to health care. Those things are huge. HUGE. And they are not guaranteed. As a woman, the idea of a Trump presidency makes my uterus want to run and hide in the closet for the next four years.

So again I say save your protest vote. You want to fight? Fight at the local level. You want to protest? Continue what Bernie started. Fight for income equality. Speak out about access to housing and education. March with the Black Lives Matter movement. Donate money to Planned Parenthood. Do all of that stuff because that stuff makes a real difference. But also, vote for Hillary. Because if nothing else, a vote for Hillary is a vote against Trump. And I know a lot of you have said you would leave if Trump got elected, but people said that after Bush too and we’re all still here. You’ll still be here. You’ll be stuck with him. We will all, every single one of us on this entire planet, will feel the repercussions because the US has a lot of power. Who we elect as president has global impact. This is a big fucking deal.

I don’t even know why I am writing all of this. I am just so scared. Scared at where we’ve gotten, scared at what has been said and scared about the fact that the atmosphere of hate that Trump has managed to drudge up from the bottom of the dirtiest water in the entire word has empowered David Duke to run for the senate. He thinks he can win. And he might be able to. That is what is happening. That is what Trump has awakened. And if Trump is president, it will only get worse. And honestly, I don’t think any of us want to imagine that future. That future is too hateful and horrible. That future is a million steps backwards.

Last night, what those speeches told me, is that our country is already great. It’s been great. But let’s make it more great. Let’s be proud of our country again. Let’s watch those election results come in this November and cry with relief that our nightmare is over. It’s true that things are fucked up right now and of course, we can be so much better. We have a lot of work to do. Every single one of us. But friends? Trump is not the way forward. Trump is the devil with a horrible haircut and expensive suits. It’s Hillary or Lucifer. Please get with it.

And please, #bewithher. This is all too fucking real.

When Persistence is Rude

4 Apr

I heard a scuffle and realized there was a fight. Again. It’s almost as if a weekend night cannot pass by without some sort of absurd and unnecessary shake-up. The warm weather only makes it worse. That reality causes my life to be sort of at odds with itself. I’m a summer baby so I spend pretty much all my time either being appreciative of the heat or counting down the days until it returns. You’ll almost never hear me complain about being too hot. But when a spring or summer weekend rolls around, my love for the heat morphs into an acute sense of foreboding. Hot days lead to hot tempers. Mix those tempers with close quarters and lots of alcohol and you’ve got yourself a party.

It was about 1:30, maybe 2 in the morning. Apparently some guy tried to go into the bathroom with his girlfriend because he “didn’t want anyone seeing her in there.” I’m not entirely certain what that even means, to be honest. I don’t know whether he has some sort of disbelief in these things we call locks or he thinks people somehow develop laser vision when they get within two feet of a bathroom when his girlfriend is inside. Whatever the reason it turned into a whole big fiasco. (By the way, I am fully aware that he wanted to go into the bathroom with his girl for some sexy time, but I refuse to truly engage with that thought because the bathrooms at my bar, especially late on a warm weekend night, are straight out of a horror film. I have to pee in there on the regular and it has changed me. No joke.)

Upon hearing all the noise I obviously made the poor choice to walk out from behind the bar to go investigate. I did this under the guise of trying to usher those not involved in the fight to safety. You never know when an elbow, or a glass, might go flying. So I gathered intel while I let a few dudes out through a second exit. As I turned to go back behind the bar some guy grabbed my hand and got in my space. If you know me at all you know that I hardly like to be touched by people I love, let alone some asshole at the bar I work in. At first I thought he was going to say something about how I should stay behind the bar where it’s safe and not get too close to all the yelling, especially considering that just moments before the guy who was trying to join his girl in the bathroom violently grabbed her by the neck for “running her mouth.” (Have I mentioned recently how much I hate everything?) Dude probably would have been right but I still would have been miffed about some guy essentially scolding me for not staying behind the bar. But no. He didn’t say anything about my safety or the fight or share in my horror about the way a man so casually grabbed a woman by the neck in a public place, under the watch of cameras, without any pause or remorse whatsoever. Made me nervous about how he behaves in private. Instead, while holding onto my left hand, he whispered in my ear

Why you gotta be like that with me?

Anger shot through my entire body. Why was this person touching me? Why was he in my space? Why the fuck was he whispering in my ear? And where the fuck did he get the idea that he was at all entitled to my time or an explanation as to why I wouldn’t give him any of it? I’d love to say that this was the first time such a question had been hurled at me but that would be a lie. People regularly ask me why I am “like that,” whatever “that” means. From what I can gather, they think I am pretty but I don’t flirt with them. Because guess what, I don’t flirt. Not my jam. Not that there is anything wrong with being a flirty bartender, it totally works for some people. But I hate when people ask me for my phone number at work and I hate how some people get possessive over a girl who they think is interested, even if all that girl is interested in at that moment is an inflated tip. My dream is to be the efficient half of a bartending team. Making drinks and putting them over the bar quickly, the conversation limited to an economic transaction. Let my partner be the personality. I’ll be support staff. But I couldn’t respond with all that so instead I said,

Be like what? You come in here for beer. I sell it to you. That is my job.

He held my hand a little tighter. I shook it free.

I told you before I liked your vibes.

I wanted to scream. I wanted to be like

Oh! You like my vibes?! Well why didn’t you say so??? Please! Grab my hand again! Please! Whisper into my ear like a total fucking creep! Because now that I know you like my vibes I am totally down for whatever you’re down for. I hear they have some really clean bathrooms up in this joint. With locks that work, even.

But I didn’t say any of those things. Instead I turned and looked him in the face and said

Don’t you ever put your hand on me again.

My night continued. But then the next morning I got to thinking, once again, about entitlement. About how men feel entitled to touch women and how we as women are not even entitled to autonomy over our own physical presence. I cannot walk through a space, even a space I work in, with the assumption that I will not be touched in either a sexual or aggressive manner. And, when that happens – not if but when – there is virtually nothing I can do. Sure, I can make a smart remark, assuming I feel safe doing so, but there is nothing intimidating about me. I cannot, by sheer force of size or movement, make someone back off. I can shoot them down, but that does not necessarily result in a change of behavior. This is something like the 4th time this same guy has tried to, I don’t even know, get me to pay him more attention than pouring him a Smuttynose and taking his money. It’s as if he thinks persistence is key and let me tell you something, I find his persistence insulting. His persistence completely ignores a very important part of the equation: my interest, or lack thereof.

To me, when someone isn’t interested, they aren’t interested. Back the fuck off. Life isn’t like the movies where the guy likes the girl and she isn’t interested but by his sheer will to get what he wants, what he deserves, he is able to convince her to be his. He is able to, for lack of a better term, break her. This dude can tell me every single fucking day for the rest of time that he “likes my vibes” and I will still tell him to go take a walk in the ocean. Because the thing is, he isn’t listening to me because what I say, and what I feel, does not matter to him. In his journey to get what he wants, I am incidental. What I want is incidental. My feelings are incidental. What matters is him, what he wants. And he doesn’t think there is anything wrong with his persistence. Maybe he thinks I should be flattered. More than likely, he doesn’t think about how I should feel, or do feel, at all. That can be overcome. I can be broken.

Being female can be a real mind fuck.

 

Men are from Mars

15 Mar

Almost a month ago now I wrote a post called “I Thought We Were Friends.” It was something that had been knocking around in my head for quite some time. In publishing it I felt somewhat relieved but also, and perhaps more powerfully, exposed and anxious. I was afraid that some people who read it would, rightfully, feel implicated in my words. I was concerned about shedding light on something that I had been hiding for a very long time, something that I tried to act as though I was somehow above. Let me explain.

I am a feminist. I wear that badge proudly. And as a feminist, albeit one that understands her feminism more off of a general engagement with the world around her and the ever-important conversations with peers as opposed to a deep understanding of the theories of various feminist waves, I go through the world with a certain understanding of myself in it. That feeling is, in part, one of a want for safety and equality, with a deep understanding that I cannot, currently, expect either of those things. It is also a feeling, self-imposed perhaps, that I ought to be strong. That I should be beyond all of the trappings of being raised female in this culture. That I should somehow be a finished product, beyond it all. How absurd. But even in the knowledge that I expect miracles from myself, I cannot help but feel like something of a failure when I fall into old habits. Old habits that are examined and discussed ad nauseam but that I never feel entirely capable of kicking.

I remember back in high school and on into college, having conversations with girl friends about boys. I remember so many conversations, more than I could ever count, about guys being so persistent that we just went along with things. We went along with things because it seemed easier to say okay than to stand up for ourselves not because it would necessarily be horrible in the moment  – although we all know it could have been – but because maybe those boys, those boys that were pressuring us into things, even things as harmless as a kiss, might not like us anymore.

They might not like me.

And who am I kidding? I still have these conversations. Regularly. And what’s crazy about it is that no matter how many times I have these conversations, it still takes us a while to get to the inevitable part, the part where we went along with something we weren’t into. And it’s like, a lightbulb goes off every single time. That feeling of

Oh, shit, you too?!

And it’s surprising but it shouldn’t be. And it’s embarrassing but it shouldn’t be. The idea that all these years later we are still doing what we used to do as teenagers. The idea that we haven’t learned anything, gotten stronger, gotten to the point where it isn’t about what is easy in the moment, but what we can live with tomorrow and the next day and the next day. The belief that we should be immune to the social forces that swirl around us from birth. That we should, in our feminism and in our knowledge about power dynamics and the patriarchy and the support from our friends and (if we’re lucky) our families, be above it all is so overwhelming but can also be disempowering. Every failure feels so much more monumental because it’s like,

Fuck, I should have known better. I’ve been here before. I know how this goes.

It’s like a regression. I woke up a strong, self-reliant, intelligent woman and somehow, through the course of the day, became someone unwilling to rock the boat. I somehow became someone who went from speaking her mind to sparing someone else’s feelings at the expense of her own. And for what? So he can wake up with his ego in tact and I can beat myself up about an unwanted encounter, and my weakness in the moment, for months? Because, in all honesty, my anger and disappointment with myself goes on for months. But at least he still likes me, right? Give me a break.

I guess I am writing this because this experience is somewhat universal. I am not even close to the only one. And I am not saying that this is solely a female experience, either. Just that the forces that surround us daily mean that our experiences as women, as a “minority,” are tied into social and institutionalized forces, forces that keep us from separating ourselves as individuals, as people deserving of respect, from the learned feeling that we should accommodate others, especially males. That we should protect their feelings and their egos and then we should keep quiet because this is not a conversation we have out loud. Because we are taught, on the other end, that it is shameful. Don’t rock the boat, but don’t be a slut. If you find yourself there, you have no one to blame but yourself. You gave him the idea, you should go along with it. Don’t be a tease.

And what’s crazy is that a lot of times it isn’t his fault either. We are masterful at keeping quiet in the moment and licking our wounds alone. He might never even know. He might never even know that he read the moment wrong because we will never tell him. And for so many people if we were to say what we say to our friends, that we did it because it seemed easier and less awkward and less hurtful than saying no, he also would have wished it never happened. He also would feel some amount of shame. But we are selfish and we keep all the shame for ourselves.

I wrote this because, following my last post, I got two responses. One response was from women and one response was from men. Overwhelmingly, the women in my life were like

Holy shit yes! This! I have been there!

And the men, all well-intentioned people that I love, were like

I am worried about you. I don’t want you to become bitter. It’s because of the career you are in, the bar that you work at, the people you surround yourself with.

But it isn’t any of those things. It is because we – men and women – occupy such different worlds. So much more different than I knew previous to the publication of that post. My experience is not unique, not by a long shot. It is universal. But the fact that men overwhelmingly had no idea that it happened, that it was real, spoke volumes to me. That because I wrote it it became about me rather than about us was huge. I felt some sort of comfort in the fact that I am not alone. But the chasm is so overwhelmingly huge! Because the men I spoke with were people who I love and who were willing to have an open conversation, people who entered the conversation ready to listen and absorb. They weren’t trying to teach me, they were trying to learn. And people, not just men, but people in general, aren’t all like that. Which makes this even crazier. I can’t imagine what people unwilling to listen thought, how wide the gap is between us and them. Sometimes I feel like we have been quiet for so long that no one can hear us anymore. And I honestly don’t know how to begin to fix that.

I Thought We Were Friends

2 Feb

Sometime in the late spring, early summer of 2010 I rode the B63 bus down Atlantic Avenue from my bartending job towards home. I was drunk. I was drunk a lot that summer. I was heartbroken and in complete free fall. I sat staring out the window, tears silently streaming down my cheeks as they often did, wondering what I had done wrong, how I could fix it and when the pain – so emotionally present that it turned into physical hurt – would stop. I was pretty sure it never would, that the pain was my new normal. The bus stopped and a man, probably around my age, appeared in front of me. He smiled and gave me a hand-written note before he walked off the bus and into the night.

You’re beautiful when you cry. Call me.

The tears stopped. I held the note in my right hand between by thumb and fore finger and stared blankly out the window. I took it with me as I exited the bus and looked at it as I made my way home. At the first trashcan I found I spit violently on the small slip of paper – imagining it was the man’s face – crumpled it up and threw it into the garbage. Being mad at him and all the other strangers who seemed to smell my vulnerability that summer was so easy. It felt as though men – anonymous men, not the men I knew – were all dogs.

The pain eventually dulled. I fell in love again.

***

Going on two years ago my most recent relationship ended. We were together for almost four years. What do they say in all those articles about break-ups, that it takes half the length of the relationship to get over it? Maybe there is something to that because I am just now about back to normal and by normal I mean that the idea of being involved in the dating scene makes me want to scream. This guy at work last night asked me how I meet people to date and my honest response was that I don’t. I just don’t.

I could chalk it up to my work schedule. That being almost entirely unavailable on weekends makes it near impossible to meet someone. I could blame modern dating and the rise of internet dating sites. As someone who works in a social setting with already precarious power dynamics, the idea of some guy seeing me on the Internet and then walking into my bar and thinking he has some kind of leverage terrifies me. I could blame my most recent dating experiences and the assumption men seem to have that if a date is going halfway decently it’s their cue to try and come home with me. Good fucking luck. But the reality is that I blame my friends. Or, more accurately, people I thought were my friends. I blame the people that made me feel like my only value is in my body and what it can offer them.

Let me quote an article from Salon that finally gave me the strength to write this post, this post that I have been writing over and over again in my head but never wanted to actually put to paper, so to speak, for fear of hurting the feelings of people who never had any consideration for mine.

When the bad things that happen are normal, you become tough. It’s devastating how tough I am.

So, as a 30-year-old woman who has been through a range of horribly exploitative sexual and emotional experiences—you know, just like pretty much every woman you know—I really don’t want to know anymore if a stranger finds me attractive. Not right out of the gate. Hell no. There are so many more interesting things about me than my body… This is why I cherish my friendships with straight dudes who would never try to fuck me even if we are trashed, and is probably part of why I hang out with a lot of queer people. 

This is why I’ve gone home in tears after someone I respect says they think I’m smart and funny and interesting and they’d like to have a drink and rap about the world, and then just tries to fuck me after I patiently dodge their advances all night. Were they not even paying attention? … I am still, as a grown woman, trying not to mentally respond to that situation by thinking: “Well, that person just wanted to fuck you. Maybe you are not really that smart or interesting.” That precise feeling is one that I don’t really think straight dudes can fully relate to: You are invisible, but they still want to fuck you. They do not see you or hear you. They still might rape you. This is why somebody putting their eyes all over me or immediately telling me they like the way I look is no longer flattering. Because it makes me feel fucking invisible.

The woman who wrote this article is a bartender in her 30s, like me. And she, too, is fucking exhausted by how much she is sexualized at work. This past week, I have been given 2 phone numbers, been told by a customer that he has wet dreams about me, had a coworker hit on me by alluding to the version of 50 Shades of Grey that we could make together, and had to tell someone that my tits could not pour him his beer so if he would please look at my face when requesting service it would be appreciated. Sometimes I leave work feeling like a pair of boobs and a hole to fuck, with arms conveniently attached to provide liquid courage. The thing I make my money off of is the same one that empowers men to disempower me and managing that disempowerment, that power dynamic, is tricky. It is intertwined with my ability to earn a living. And it is exhausting.

When I leave work at 4am, I try to leave all of that behind me. I try to reenter a world where I am valued for more than my body and my ability to pour liquid into a cup. Of course, I want people to find me attractive but I want that to be attached to the fact that I am smart and funny and interesting. Those are the things I value about myself. So when I read this line — This is why I have gone home in tears after someone I respect says they think I’m smart and funny and interesting and they’d like to have a drink and rap about the world, and then just tries to fuck me after I patiently dodge their advances all night. Were they not even paying attention? — I was like, finally, someone else said it. Because I, too, have gone home in tears. I have spent the better part of the last two years thinking my taste in (male) friends sucks because one after another after another after another of my straight male friends have tried to fuck me. I barely have any left. To those who have been my friend all this time I value you more than I can really say.

Somewhat recently I met up with an old friend for a drink. We hadn’t hung out in awhile because life took us in different directions but I was happy to catch up. It took him about 2 hours to try and fuck me. I told him about my life, what I’ve been up to, what I’ve been thinking about. He told me how he always thought I was so hot. He thought he was flattering me. I have never felt so cheap, so misled, so socially inept. How did I not know? How did I ever think this drink was about us catching up as friends? How did I not see this coming? How stupid can a person be?

I, like the well-trained woman that I am, blamed myself. Over and over again.

My ex-boyfriends all knew that the best way into my pants was through loving my brain, not lusting after my body. But of course, they were listening. There was more in it for them. I was visible. Me. I was more than just  a conquest, or the fulfillment of a long curiosity. I was a human being with unique value. And I am done feeling as though I did something wrong to mislead people about what I was looking for. I have always been clear. So be my friend or don’t be. But if you’re just looking to fuck, move along. I’m not interested. Stop wasting my time. Stop making me feel like garbage. Because after all these years it takes me more and more time to rebuild myself after work. If you’re really my friend, you should be supporting me. So stop tearing me down.