Anecdotally, a financially comfortable person told me that once they saw someone they think was poor who was wearing what appeared to be an expensive accessory. Therefore all assistance to the poor is used unwisely and it is morally acceptable for society to allow its most vulnerable members to wallow in humiliating misery.

When men in my life get pumped over pro football, systemic shit like what is outlined here is all I can think of. Short version: if a violent man is good enough at a sport, thereby bringing in the big $$$, his gendered violence can, with the help of professional PR types, be glossed over.

Propagating toxic masculinity for the $$$ is lame. And literally deadly. But when men I care about continue to support it, I wonder if there is something I could do to help them experience empathy, since my words alone are clearly not enough. In an effort to help men understand what it feels like, I’ve tried to think of a popular cultural tradition where women’s aggressiveness is publicly celebrated while often accompanied by violent acts towards men and children that are then excused because $$$.

Still can’t think of one, but taking suggestions. Also possibly looking to join??

I fucking hate the entitlement that so many pedophiles express. “But I loooooovvvvveee her” or some such shit. As though their sexual feelings for a CHILD entitle them to do whatever the fuck they want with that CHILD.

I don’t give a fuck if you think you are in love with a child! What are you suggesting, that because you have feeeeeeliiinnnngs now the CHILD owes you sex?

And there are always a Greek chorus of men ready to back them up, especially if their target is 12 or older.  Evolutionary psychology often shows up in their defense of (fellow?) pedophiles to justify that it’s “only natural” for grown-ass middle-aged men to pursue teens and tweens.  No.  Because if we’re going to pretend this is ingrained in men because CAVEMEN, then let us also remember men the Stone Age did not live much into their 40s and later, and if they did they would be banged up, crippled old men, so…

Reality check: those in America who make $200k a year or more are in the TOP 3% of income earners. Did you think $200k makes you middle class? Wrong- it makes you RICH.

I think somehow most of us got it twisted and think that you have to be the ultrarich 0.001% to be rich.

No.

We hear so much *from* and *about* the ultrarich, while the truly poor are almost totally silenced, that we have completely skewed ideas about what wealth is and what poverty is. This is how even the rich are fooled into thinking they are struggling and part of the middle class.

Whereas only 3% of American households make $200k or more annually, 20% make $20k or LESS. We have a fuckload of poor people and we can’t even ACKNOWLEDGE that $200k is rich.

We all have an artistic side and we all need creativity in our lives. I want to dream of a world, not of career artists who earn a generous living for expressing themselves, but where EVERYONE can earn a decent living AND express themselves.

Art is not a career. That is a capitalist lie. Art is a part of life and that part of life should be accessible to every person. If creative expression of thoughts and feelings and opinions and visions should be paid for, every person should be paid. Or ideally, art is considered part of a healthy and fulfilling life and not a commodity at all.

Art should be woven into everyone’s daily experiences and not reserved for an elite kool kids klub who have few enough competing obligations to “make it” in a struggle against other artists to successfully commercialize themselves. If your art serves capital, have you really won or have you lost?

This rant came from musing upon this thought-provoking piece: My Dreams of Being a Feminist Housewife

A further rumination on this topic: “Sponsored” by my husband: Why it’s a problem that writers never talk about where their money comes from

Anecdotally, another white person told me they didn’t get something because AFFIRMATIVE ACTION and REVERSE RACISM, and a Black person got the job/assistance/placement instead, and that is why I believe we should never speak of white racism again. Case closed.

White male capitalists are going to have an uphill battle convincing me that the actions of impoverished third world women are what’s ruining the planet. A little side-by-side comparison of resource consumption would plow right through empty rhetoric about backwards nations needing white saviors to implement “gender equity”, which we’ve done so very well in our own countries.

Rant inspired by: Population: Four Out of Five Scientists Agree…

Arrogant fucks have developed a helpful new tool so that I may better avoid them: describing themselves as “sapiosexual”.

What they aspire for this word to mean is “sexually attracted to intelligence”. Of course, what it means IRL is “proudly privileged asshole with classpirations”. We all want to find partners who are stimulating, interesting, and bright. Going so far as to make this common desire into a separate sexual orientation makes me wonder who it is sapiosexuals want to separate themselves from.

Sapiosexuals are unaware of the irony and ignorance they unleash every time they whip out what they think is an impressive $2 neologism, which makes it all the more funny/hateable when they do it. Appropriating LGBTQ struggles to craft a minority orientation for those with a superiority complex, yet another example of oppressors trying on the language of the oppressed like a new set of fashionable clothes, fits perfectly with the Sapiosexual Agenda. Intelligence is a trait that classist people often attribute to themselves to justify their unearned advantages in life. According to the convenient myth of meritocracy, it would be the best and the brightest who are most successful capitalists, and thereby all intelligent people would naturally rise to the upper income levels of society. This is a slick excuse for wage-slavery- the stupid masses can barely be expected to take care of themselves, so the benevolent and highly intelligent upper classes give them employment and a wage to survive on, almost as a favor.

Have you ever noticed that colloquial terms used to refer to the lower classes are essentially synonymous with stupidity? “Hick”, “red neck”, “hillbilly”, “trailer trash”, “welfare queen” etc. This is classism at work, the same classism that sapiosexuals are proudly claiming, though they may have convinced themselves that this class-charged concept has nothing to do with class.

Sapiosexuals won’t want to talk about the fact that bootstrapping, aka class mobility, is a myth- most people will achieve a class status comparable to that of their parents. There is no level playing field, and wealth is not awarded based on merit. Your education level has a lot to do with your parents’ income level. Acknowledging these truths would blow up what sapiosexuals really mean when they allege they are simply attracted to intelligence. Because who is out there looking for a dumb partner? Can sapiosexuals really believe that they are special snowflakes because they make a show of their disdain for those they deem beneath them?

Claiming the sapiosexual label is basically a way of asserting classism as a sexual orientation. If only other types of bigots were so open and proud of their bigotry that they actually made up sexual orientations for it. “Caucasiosexual” for example. I appreciate bigots who advertise themselves openly so that the rest of us can quickly and safely avoid them.

So, uh, thanks for the laughs and the clear warning label, sapiosexuals.

The Misogynist’s Conundrum: I hate women, but I’m attracted to women!!! Aaaaaaa!
[*trolls internet distributing rape threats*]

Loud defenses of the Freedom of Speech, when made by the dominant classes, usually point to their concern that the underclasses are getting too uppity. Asking not to be publicly dehumanized is CENSORSHIP. Bombing mosques & NAACP buildings and locking up PoC for resisting groupthink is DEFENDING THE NATION.

On the heels of “Unity” marches and much chest-beating regarding the “Western” value of free speech, we quickly see what this is all really about.

“A string of at least 69 arrests in France this week on the vague charge of ‘defending terrorism’ risks violating freedom of expression,” Amnesty International said in an understated press release on Friday.

It turns out most of the people arrested were people of color. How about that.

From the article: France Begins Jailing People for Ironic Comments.

It seems rather flippant and vacuous for white men, when asked to treat people who are *not* white men as fully human, to dismiss it as “censorship” or being “too easily offended”.

To dismiss our calls for respect and security as “whining” is the height of the haughty ignorance of entitlement. Sure, you have the freedom to offend people with your racist, sexist, whatever-ist bullshit. But do not fool yourself into thinking that kicking underdogs makes you a noble defender of ART and FREEDOM and AMERICA. It just makes you offensive and bigoted.

“ATTENTION: PLEASE refrain from using anti-semitic language when expressing support for Palestine and Palestinians. It is ABSOLUTELY unacceptable and I will call you out on it. The Palestinian cause invites ALL who stand for justice and equality and all who want to be on the right side of history including American Jews. They have been some of our closest and most loyal allies and the last thing we need is to alienate people by using the same tactics and hateful rhetoric that is used against us. Let’s learn from history. Stay focused, stay principled – your cause is pure, your cause is just. No need to contaminate it with misguided hate.”

Photo of Linda Sarsour on the Brooklyn Bridge

Linda Sarsour
Director, Arab American Association of New York

Misandry is like “reverse racism”… an intellectual concept for an imaginary society where men (in this case) are actually oppressed by a centuries-old birth-privilege gained and used only by women to dominate government, industry, and society. Since this is an imaginary society with no real world application, I have only encountered this word on frothing MRA websites or jokingly among women who have been victims of men’s rape or other gender-based violence.

Wikipedia has a good article on the word.

Misandry

Whipping Girl by Julia SeranoWhipping Girl is an outstanding book on transsexual women, feminism and trans-misogyny. Serano draws well thought-out lines from general societal misogyny to the hatred and fear of gay men, feminine men, and trans women. She blows up a lot of tired paradigms of sex, gender, gender presentation, gender identity and all that stuff. M

y main complaint is that she confuses two different definitions of class, one that refers to social/economic differentiation (as in “working class”, “upper class”, etc) and one that refers to a category or group of something (like in “class action lawsuit”). Through this confusion she mostly avoids conversation about the intersections of trans identity and class status, shielding and invisibilizing her own class privilege. The same thing happens with race- Serano is almost completely silent on how race intersects with trans identities. Once again she covers up her own privilege when in fact nearly every facet of life in the racialized US is affected by racial identity, including trans identity.

Critiques aside, there is still much to be gained from the book. I found the following quotes quite illuminating:

“[M]ost of the anti-trans sentiment that I have had to deal with as a transsexual woman is probably better described as misogyny.” pg.3

“From my own experience in having transitioned from one sex to the other, I have found that women and men are not separated by an insurmountable chasm, as many people seem to believe. Actually, most of us are only a hormone prescription away from being perceived as the “opposite” sex. Personally, I welcome this idea as a testament to just how little difference there really is between women and men. To believe that a woman is a woman because of her sex chromosomes, reproductive organs, or socialization denies the reality that every single day, we classify each person we see as either female or male based on a small number of visual cues and a ton of assumption.” pgs.51-52

“The fact that we perceive two major categories of gender enables us to view women and men as “opposites”—a premise that is founded on a series of egregiously incorrect assumptions. [I]n order for the two sexes to be “opposites,” they must first be mutually exclusive. Therefore, on a societal level, we purposefully ignore that variation that exists in sex characteristics and create the illusion that there is absolutely no overlap between the sexes.” pgs.102-103

“Cissexuals may want to believe that their genders are more authentic than mine, but that belief is dishonest and ignorant… [T]he major difference between my life history as a woman and theirs is that I have had to fight for my right to be recognized as female, while they have had the privilege of simply taking it for granted.” pg.169-170

“Not surprisingly, no aspect of my social transition has been more difficult for me to adjust to than the way I am treated by some (but certainly not all) men… On an intellectual level, I knew that I would sometimes be dismissed or harassed once I started living as female, but I underestimated just how frustrating and hurtful each one of those instances would be. Words cannot express how condescending and infuriating it feels to have men speak down to me, talk over me, and sometimes even practically put on baby-talk voices when addressing me. Or how intimidating it feels to have strangers make lewd comments about having their way with me as I’m walking alone at night… [W]hile I had numerous run-ins and arguments with strange men back when I was male-bodied, I’d never before experienced the enraged venom in their voices and fury in their faces that I somtimes do now—an extreme wrath that some men seem to reserve specifically for women who they believe threaten their fragile male egos.” pg.223

“[T]hose who patrol the gates of women-only spaces are often dead set on discriminating against me, driven by the ridiculous belief that my girly little estrogenized penis is somehow still pulsating with hypermasculine energy.” pg.229

Feminist Theory from margin to center by bell hooksI finally read this 1984 classic by bell hooks. A fundamental text on intersectional feminism, stating clearly why race and gender cannot be divided into separate spheres of concern.

I was struck by some particular passages:

“White women and black men have it both ways. They can act as oppressor or be oppressed. Black men may be victimized by racism, but sexism allows them to act as exploiters and oppressors of women. White women may be victimized by sexism, but racism enables them to act as exploiters and oppressors of black people. Both groups have led liberation movements that favor their interests and support the continued oppression of other groups. Black male sexism has undermined struggles to eradicate racism just as white female racism undermines feminist struggle. As long as these two groups or any group defines liberation as gaining social equality with ruling class white men, they have a vested interest in the continued exploitation and oppression of others.” pg.15

“Women must begin the work of feminist reorganization with the understanding that we have all (irrespective of our race, sex, or class) acted in complicity with the existing oppressive system. We all need to make a conscious break with the system. The compassion we extend to ourselves, the recognition that our change in consciousness and action has been a process, must characterize our approach to those individuals who are politically unconscious.” pgs.161-162

Normal Life by Dean SpadeEverybody should probably go and get a copy of this book right now. The long title is Normal Life – Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law. Spade criticizes mainstream gay politics and suggests a more radical, less marginalizing politics that centers poor trans people of color. The book is amazing.

Best quotes:

“Lesbian and gay organizations have also generally followed a model of governance and efficacy based on private sector norms rather than social justice values. The most well-funded organizations have pay scales similar to the private sector, with executive directors often making three to four times the salaries of the lowest paid employees. Pay often correlates to educational privilege, which again means that the greatest share of resources goes to white employees from privileged backgrounds while the least goes to employees of color and people without educational privilege.” pg.67

“Trans populations are disproportionately poor because of employment discrimination, family rejection, and difficulty accessing school, medical care, and social services. These factors increase our rate of participation in criminalized work to survive, which, combined with police profiling, produces high levels of criminalization.” pg.89

“Three concerns about law reform projects permeate many sites of resistance. First, these projects change only what the law says about what a system is doing, but not its actual impact. Second, they refine a system in ways that help it continue to target the most vulnerable people, while only partially or temporarily removing a few of the less vulnerable from its path. And finally, law reform projects often provide rationales and justifications for the expansion of harmful systems.” pg.92

“The myth of legal equality in the United States is supported by the narrative that US laws used to exclude people on the basis of race and gender but now they do not. Supposedly, all is now fair and equal. However, our nation itself was built by the establishment of population-level systems of property and labor regulation that created and utilized racial and gender categories from the beginning. The population-level programs that were mobilized from their inception by explicit race and gender exclusions continue to do the work of distributing security and vulnerability along race and gender lines, just under the auspices of race and gender neutral criteria.” pgs.116-117

“[L]egal inclusion and recognition demands often reinforce the logics of harmful systems by justifying them, contributing to their illusions of fairness and equality, and by reinforcing the targeting of certain perceived “drains” or “internal enemies,” carving the group into “the deserving” and “the undeserving” and then addressing only the issues of the favored sector.” pg.124

“For those who have long articulated opposition to state incentivization and reward for heteropatriarchial sexuality and family structures and punishment for others, the idea that lesbian and gay people should seek marriage recognition rather than aim to abolish marriage and achieve more just methods of distribution is…problematic.” pg.126

“[O]ne might observe that the lesbian and gay rights agenda primarily operates to restore privileges of the dominant systems of meaning and control to those gender-conforming, white, wealthy gay and lesbian US citizens who are enraged at how homophobic laws and policies limit access to benefits to which they feel entitled.” pg.60

“We must not only refuse reforms that require dividing and leaving behind more vulnerable trans populations, but also try to assume that the most easily digestible invitations to be included are the very ones that bring us into greater collusion with systemic control and violence.” pgs.161-162

“[T]he legalistic approach of [law reform projects] has been linked to concerns about an unjust distribution of power and leadership, especially when the work is funded and directed largely by white, upper-class professionals who inevitably create an agenda that centralizes the concerns and experiences of people like themselves.” pg.172

“[A] challenging dynamic has emerged: social welfare has increasingly become dependent on private businesses and foundations. Corporate funders have become the sponsors and benefactors of social services… The situation translates into overreliance by many organizations on income from corporations and accumulated wealth stored in foundations.” pg.173

“Nonprofits serving primarily poor and disproportionately people of color populations are frequently governed almost entirely by wealthy white people with college and graduate degrees. Staffing follows this pattern as well, with most nonprofits requiring formal education as a prerequisite to working in administrative or management-level positions. Thus, the nature of the infrastructure in many social justice nonprofits often leads to concentrated decision-making power and pay in the hands of people with education, race, gender and class privilege rather than in the hands of those bearing the brunt of the systems of maldistribution… “This dynamic leads to the reproduction of the very same systems of maldistribution that organizations are purportedly targeting. Inside those organizations, white elites determine the fates of the vulnerable and get paid to make decisions about their lives while people directly impacted are kept out of leadership.” pgs.176-177

“Nonprofits are one way that wealthy people and corporations avoid tax liability. Most of the money that gets redirected out of the tax system by philanthropy does not go to social justice.” pg.179

Manufacturing Consent by Michael Burawoy Not to be confused with the book of the same title by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, I recently read the Manufacturing Consent by Michael Burawoy. Burawoy spent time working in a machine shop in the 70s in the Midwest, and wrote about his experiences, connecting them to larger historical and social movements.

A quote:

“Managers…must be aware of the consequences of enforcing restrictive rules—in particular, their inevitable demise. Why then do they persist in this apparently futile efforts? A possible explanation is that the cyclical intensification of “obsolete” rules constitutes a ritual affirmation of managerial domination.” pg.175

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?“Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” is the title of a book by Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum. In it she discusses the development of racial identity, focusing predominantly on childhood. I’ve noticed some discussion on the internet of this topic lately, particularly this article by Brittney Cooper, in which she discusses how growing racial identity caused social separation between herself and her black peers vis à vis her white peers.

Here are my favorite quotes from the book:

“The task of resisting our own oppression does not relieve us of the responsibility of acknowledging our complicity in the oppression of others.” pg.27

“We need to understand that in racially mixed social settings, racial grouping is a developmental process in response to an environmental stressor, racism. Joining with one’s peers for support in the face of stress is a positive coping strategy.” pg.62

“The social pressure from friends and acquaintances to collude, to not notice racism, can be quite powerful.” pg.101

People sometimes ask me this question. As in, How do you maintain your sanity whilst steeped in the most troubling elements of our society? How do you live your values in a racist, capitalist, misogynist heterosexist homophobic, etc world? How do you keep resisting? I wonder this about a lot of people myself… there are some really amazing human beings out there fighting the good fight against enormous odds. I do what I can where I am. For awhile there my full-time (overnight) job was at a homeless shelter for youth, and my part-time job was giving anti-rape teach-ins. Plus being active online and IRL for various other causes that I care about. People seemed to find this combination overwhelming to consider, and wanted to know how I survive and keep going. They want some ideas about how THEY can survive and keep going.

I don’t have a fancy answer for myself. I drink a lot and I take a lot of mental health days.

Yet I recognize many people have to work under such circumstances where they can’t even TAKE a sick day. So there’s that. Also, I’m depressed a lot.

I mean, how do YOU do it?

April 2015
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