don’t fucking shoot people

Hello kittens:

I really have a lot to do today, and I’m pissed off that I have to write about this, but I just can’t get going with my day until I do.

Four words:

Don’t fucking shoot people.

As you’ve by now no doubt heard, a man walked into the Family Research Council yesterday and opened fire, wounding a security guard. The guard then subdued the man.

The man had been working in gay rights activism for a few months and decided that his objections to the politics of the Family Research Council should be translated into an act of gun violence.

What part of this is so hard to understand?

Don’t fucking shoot people.

You don’t fucking shoot people because you disagree with them. You don’t fucking shoot people because you disagree with them.

I apologize for saying this over and over again, but you don’t fucking shoot people because you disagree with them.

Let me restate: you can’t dismantle the master’s house with the master’s tools.

I know people say that a lot. But it is not fucking idle chatter.

One, it won’t work. And two, it won’t work.

Or to put it another way, you shouldn’t even attempt to dismantle the master’s house with the master’s tools.

Attempting to dismantle the master’s house with the master’s tools remakes you in the image of the master while you do it.

Oh, and because I haven’t said it in a couple of paragraphs: you don’t fucking shoot people because you disagree with them.

Use your words. Use you vote. Use your protest and your wallet and your connections and your passion. But you don’t fucking shoot people because you disagree with them.

“I have weapons and am therefore right” is the crux of pretty much every evil argument ever. Now, a weapon need not literally be a weapon: it could be money or land or access to resources.

But you, sir, picked up an actual weapon and shot an actual person because you fucking disagreed with him.

Or more accurately, you disagreed with his bosses. His bosses’ bosses, probably. Now, I suppose the fact remains that his bosses’ bosses are fucking horrible, awful people of dubious commitment to human reality. But you fucking shot an actual human being because you disagreed with his employers.

In case you haven’t caught on, this is not how things operate in a fucking democracy.

You proved nothing but that guns are louder than the human voice. You have shown nothing but that divesting someone of their humanity is still a great way to get attention.

Did you want to punish the Family Research Council? ‘Cos ya didn’t. I bet their donations trebled in the last 24 hours.

Did you want to change their minds? At the point of a gun? What kind of change is that? And how does that make you any different from all the other colonialists and crusaders the world over?

Did you think you could stop hate by killing hateful people? Even the question is illogical. It’s an equal and opposite reaction, ok? Opposite.

When people ask me, as they do from time to time, if, as an atheist, I would like to see all religion abolished, I say no. I say hell no, no pun intended.

One, I think that people have to come to overturning the tyranny of religion in their own time, helped along by people like me who have decided to overturn the influence of religion in our own lives.

But two, and perhaps more importantly, in 100 years’ time, the world would be overrun by religion once again, and these religions have every chance of being more repressive and hateful than the religions plaguing our world today.

You can’t just point a gun at something and make it go away. You shouldn’t just point a gun at something and make it go away. You don’t just point a gun at something and make it go away.

You don’t fucking shoot people because you disagree with them.

I have to keep saying this, because apparently some part of this is hard to understand.

When people hate you and don’t do anything to stop violence against you, you work on changing the minds of ambivalent people and igniting the passion of people who could/should be on your side. You don’t fucking shoot people standing in your way.

I’ve often mocked others for jumping to say “you’ve set back the movement 20 years!” So I won’t say you did that.

But you’ve squandered good will. You’ve made up the minds of some ambivalent people. You’ve given hatemongers something to point at and say, “look, don’t you see how evil these people are?”

The master’s tools can build the master’s house and maintain it. Nothing else. Resorting to violence to make your voice heard is a tool of the master. And so you maintain the master’s house.

You don’t fucking shoot people because you disagree with them.

Don’t fucking shoot people.

Ever love,
Big Mama Schlomo

femmeberjack: futch, bemme, and this ol’ queen

Hello kittens,

Duality is the spice of life. Well, it’s the spice of my life.

There are a lot of dualities in my life. I’m this, but I’m also that.

But ya know one thing I’ve never really doubted, at least within the deepest, most honest part of myself? That I’m a femme.

I am a femme. Hi, I’m Schlomo, and I’m a femme.

[Hi Schlomo!]

Other people, however, have not been so quick to catch on.

Like, even when I tell them.

Lawdy.

In college, someone (very important and influential) told me I wasn’t really trans if I liked my facial hair.

To do their bid for king and cissexism, other people told me my trans identity just reenforced the gender binary.

[If talking to cis people were a drinking game, saying that transitioning was reenforcing the gender binary would be the point at which you give up and chug the whole damn bottle.]

And so I sat there, not doing anything. And I kept not doing anything. Except maybe growin’ that beard out.

That beard.

You’re not going to find this in any butch/femme anthology, and you’re not going to see any femme theorists hop to cop to this, but that beard is your one-way ticket to alienating yourself from the femme community.

What they will instead try to tell you – and, I believe to a great extent that they believe it, or at least want to believe it – is that femme is a feeling, an essence, a way of being, and that a femme is as much a femme naked, without any makeup, jewels or hair.

This is my bullshit card, and I am playing it.

Isn’t this a femmy bullshit card?

I have been told straight (ha!) to my face that I was not invited to femme things because “other people” might not perceive me as femme.

Well Jane Dandy for other people.

Ya know what? It’s true. You can’t see other people’s “feelings,” their “essences,” their “ways of being,” or even their vigantic goddess cores.

But if the relative degree of hair on my face disqualifies me from having a vigantic goddess core, then please stop lying about femme being a “feeling.”

My beard.

What can I say? I was raised by a butch-femme lesbian couple. Isn’t that handy?

There was something so interesting, so compelling to me about my butch mom’s transgressive masculinity. She was high butch, if such a thing exists. She routinely got sir’ed, wore only men’s clothing and men’s cologne, had a mighty mid-Michigan mullet and drove a Jeep. There was something wildly alluring about this genderfuck going on right before my eyes.

And I think the thing is that I knew, as a femme, that when I imitated her, it was almost like I was performing masculinity from that perspective. I adopted a lot of her mannerisms of dress and scent, but I identified more with being transgressively masculine, even when this got lost in the reading for other people.

And it spent a lot of the next fifteen years getting lost in the reading by other people.

In my anorexic depressed fucked-up teens, I did try to throw myself a lifeline by wearing big, brash jewelry. In-your-face, wild, obviously women’s jewelry, sometimes ten pieces at a time.

But the beard stuck around, which is something that I feel like I have to atone or account for.

Ok, first, I had spent all this time as a child fantasizing about the time when I could grow a beard, which I figured would be the moment I would turn into a real boy, and all these thoughts and feelings about being a girlyman would just go away. I ached to walk into class and say, “sorry, I didn’t have time to shave this morning!”

But the reality was that when my beard came in, it came in hard. It really didn’t take long to figure out that I could either have a beard or spend most of every day shaving. I mean, seriously, I develop shadow while I’m shaving.

So I think I took a page out of my butch mom’s handbook and said let nature take her course. This v-neck satin women’s tee and twelve pounds of second-hand gold jewelry will carry the message for me.

Nope. Really, not even kind of. And by the time I got to college, had some really serious beard growth and no longer felt like putting on a truckload of jewelry every morning when I had spent most of the previous night learning Russian verbs of motion, there weren’t any breadcrumbs left for other people to follow the trail to my vigantic goddess core.

I got shut down wicked hard. I didn’t move ahead with my transition, I let that beard roam wild, and I fucked a lot of guys who thought they were fucking some Jewish lumberjack.

I realized way too late on my mission to sleep with all the consenting adult males in Washtenaw County that I was tired of fucking misogynists. You can use fucking as a gerund or an intensifier in that sentence, but I’m looking more at its gerundive qualities.

I wasn’t the only one having this awakening. A lot of my friends who slept with men were looking at their love lives and saying, “do we really have to put up with this shit just because we fuck men?”

No. No we don’t.

Ain’t no misogynists gonna get my candy, ‘cos if you hate women, you hate me. All my fierce femmeness came bubbling back to the surface, and I decided I needed a more enlightened class of man in my life.

I was single and wrapped up in radical queer theory around the time I graduated from college (ok, technically I got dumped three days before I graduated from college ON THE SAME DAMN DAY BEA ARTHUR DIED!), and it gave me the perfect opportunity to sit around, brood, and cogitate on my genda.

In my experience, trying to figure out your gender is about crawling down all the little rabbit holes that call out to you. My first pair of Giorgio Brutinis. Realizing how desperately I needed that sparkly orange scarf back from a friend. Laying in bed at night thinking about nail polish. Actively thinking to myself: how can I make it so that other femmes can read me!?

When I was, oh, probably 23 I did myself a favor I should have done for myself years earlier: I got me a copy of Kate Bornstein’s My Gender Workbook.

It’s funny, ya know, she interacts with the narratives she can see other people having in their own minds surrounding even reading or possessing this book. Does this make me trans? Will I become trans if I keep reading? What will other people think if they see me reading this book?

Over and over, Kate points out that you’re not the person you were five minutes ago – the implication being, at least from my point of view – why bother trying to be something you thought you were ten years ago, or something other people have always wanted you to be?

I got a little surprise when I took the “Gender Aptitude” test, the first big questionnaire in the book. I got a 33, which puts me very squarely in the “gender freak” category:

Whoa! This stuff must seem like kid’s play for you. Either that or water in the desert, huh? (Bornstein, p 17)

According to my score, Kate and I should already have been having a queer ol’ time together – and, queer as I was, I wasn’t sure how I could square not knowing what to do with all my gender biznass with the notion of already being a “gender freak.”

But what I ultimately got from the book is to say: fuck it. Who cares if no one else sees me as a femme? So what if my beard means I can’t go to your party? Your party is probably stupid and boring, anyway, especially if me and my vigantic goddess core aren’t invited. I’m a futch bemme queeny faggot, and you. can’t. touch this.

EAT IT!

Right? Awesome little year of self-actualization I had. (I eventually got down to a 26 on that gender aptitude test.)

Then I became a drag queen.

Who’da thunk it?

I was so gender-actualized when I started getting into drag that I ironically didn’t really realize what was going on at first. But there it was, or should have been, staring me right in the face: YOU’RE A FEMME NOW! Wanna come to our party?

I can’t say when it finally hit me, but I eventually realized that barrier was gone – I was beard-free and could be all the femme I wanted.

After all…I shave everything that shows or has tape on it (ouch!). My caboodle is overflowing, and I have my own vanity setup. I’ve got wig heads and hair spray, and tinted moisturizer and two different grades of exfoliating mask. My eyebrows come out of a NYX palette, and my heels go to the sky.

That ain’t hair honey, that’s makeup!

But now I’m in this weird place – do I even want femme acceptance anymore?

What does it mean to have an ironclad “defense” for my femme identity?

What does it mean to have exterior proof of an interior truth?

If they didn’t want my credentials then, why do I even want to give them my new ones? And why did I give other people so much power to decide what I was and was not?

I can’t tell you how much it would have meant if just one person had just seen me and believe me. Eventually I found those people. But it was only when I decided to stop asking permission to be who I am, whether I’m in combat boots or a sheer orange sequined top.

Oh, maybe it’s all a joke. And I’m big enough and old enough and strong enough and queer enough to laugh it off.

But maybe, just maybe we can make some room for other people’s vigantic goddess cores on down the line, huh?

Maybe so the little ones won’t have to go through the years of head-pounding and identity denial and questioning and fear. Maybe the little ones can say “Hi, I’m a femme!” and have other people take that at face value, whether or not that face is painted for filth.

Ever love,
Big Mama Schlomo

building castles in the shit:

a statement of principle.

[trigger warning for discussion of transphobic and racist violence and self-harm/suicide]

Hello kittens,

You know, it’s funny. I was going to call this an anti-manifesto. But I’m so tired of being reactionary.

I’m just tired, to tell you the truth.

I’ve always been an insomniac. My most vivid memories of the 80s are the late-night music videos I devoured because I just couldn’t sleep.

I want my em-tee-veee!

But that’s not really what I’m talking about.

Or maybe it is.

I carry so much tension in my jaw. Really, it’s crazy. I’m sure if I ever slept for long enough I would grind my teeth.

But mostly I lie awake at night. If it’s not some material crisis –

did I make enough money this month for my $1000 student loan bill? or my rent? or my tax bill?

– well, then it’s everything that’s wrong.

Some people have an interior monologue. Some others have an interior dialogue. Honey, I’ve got a full-on fucking conversation in my head.

The first détente I ever came to with religion was: maybe whatever you believe is true – for you.

‘Cos even by the age of ten I had figured out that, with a world full of religious people who were convinced they were worshiping in literally the only correct way, there was slim to no chance that there was a right way.

I was that atheist for a long time. You know. The Dawkinsite smug mothertrucker who figured being a jackhat was a surefire way to cure the world of religion. But it didn’t get me anywhere, and it got my blood pressure all in a tizzy.

Religious people would always come at me with the comfort and light religion brought to their lives. And you know, religion’s not my bliss, but maybe that’s their castle in the shit.

Now, I don’t think you should be allowed to knock over any one else’ castle in the shit, and that’s why I still have a lot of problems with religion. But if religion could calm the fuck down and just be individual people’s castle in the shit – well, who am I to judge?

What’s a castle in the shit?

Well, what’s the shit? The shit is the constants.

The commodification of our identities to sell books and tickets to lectures and space in classrooms and cable TV subscriptions.

The volleying of our very lives by suits and the politicians they buy to get people who are scared of us into the voting booths.

Being talked about in the media like an issue, not a person.

Being poked and prodded by undergrads who don’t get that you’re a person, not an issue.

Having people tell you you can feed your kid an organic fair-trade vegan diet on the 290 pre-tax dollars you make a week working two part-time minimum wage jobs.

Paying the same tax rate as your multi-billionaire boss.

Our money being used against our will to kill brown people in other countries so that we can take their stuff (and give it to the suits and the politicians they buy to get people who are scared of us into the voting booths).

Our money being used against our will to imprison poor, brown and queer people while rich, white straight people are given get out of jail free cards.

At least three dead trans women of color this year alone, murdered by and for hate.

Another trans woman of color forced to plead guilty to second-degree murder for defending herself against a hate crime, while the murderer of an unarmed black teenager is touted as a hero.

Vicious jockeying for position and privilege, coming down to using each other as human shields in the culture wars.

Marginalized people slamming doors in the faces of other marginalized people once their own margins shift.

Picking streets to walk down based on lighting conditions.

Tailoring your public affection based on fear conditions.

Looking over your shoulder.

Secretly, quietly passing that same old victim-blaming, victim-shaming advice back and forth because, despite our efforts, the world still sucks.

Constantly defending your identity and your person, from enemies and friends alike, because in the end it’s the only thing that’s really yours.

The shit. You know, the shit.

My dad always said I would make a great UN ambassador. He read me as someone who can bring people together, which I guess is kind of true.

But mostly I just hate the fuck out of conflict, and I will do pretty much anything to resolve it.

I guess that’s why I’m so amenable to these castles in the shit.

All right, I told you what the shit is. So what’s a castle?

A castle is your counter-constant.

It’s the literal or metaphorical square footage where you say, “no, fuck it, this shit is mine.”

I guess the first castle I recognized was religion.

But I didn’t name it until recently.

I’ve had this recurring thought for the past few months: I just want to hole up in my house with my partner and say ‘fuck everybody, fuck theory, fuck how fucking awful everything is and the fact that nothing I/we do seems to change that.’

Fuck it, this shit is ours.

Do you know how scared I was to tell people I was in a monogamous relationship? The shit I internalized that made me feel like a traitor for agreeing, for the time being, to only sleep with one person?

Fuck it, this shit is ours.

Or should I say castle?

The preservation of life is one of the most important principles in Judaism. You’re even allowed to break Jewish law in order to preserve life. If someone is starving and the only thing available to eat for some crazy reason is ham, you can give them ham.

I’ve been living with mental illness for more than 15 years. (What’s that got to do with ham? Stick with me for a second.)

The first time I remember planning to kill myself was when I was ten years old. I broke a toy so I could cut myself with it. That’s how young I was.

I finally got help when I was 16. By then I had become a cutter, an anorexic, a compulsive exerciser, and it turns out I was living with bipolar disorder, severe obsessive compulsive disorder, as well as generalized anxiety.

Getting help is one of the castles other people have kept trying to kick over. Either I wasn’t strong enough to deal with the shit on my own, or I was a victim of the Prozac nation.

Almost no one wanted to hear or let me say that, even though I was put on enough anti-psychotic medication to make an elephant woozy, it stopped me from killing myself. It preserved my life. Getting put on psych meds – even the wrong amount of probably the wrong psych meds – was my castle in the shit.

Staying alive is a constant thread in the output of marginalized people. Kate Bornstein’s hashtag #StayAlive. The Le Tigre song “Keep on Living.” The great Nina Simone song “Ain’t Got No, I Got Life.”

Every time the mental illness starts to win, I have to tell myself what other people (mostly my mom) used to tell me: everything could change tomorrow. You never know what chic vintage chair you might get for your castle in the shit.

All right, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. Maybe six moths or a year from now. And you know I’m not talking about a chair. And you know that I know that you could win the lottery when you’re depressed and not be able to crawl out of bed to redeem your ticket.

But it won’t rain all the time. Or it will super-duper rain eventually, if you feel like you’re in a drought.

And your castle – whatever it is – will be there waiting for you when you’re ready to retake it.

Most of everything is the shit. That’s why our castles are so important.

You will get knocked or pulled or pummeled down into the shit. Our castles are the monkey bars built on top of a huge mound of shit. You won’t always be able to make the next rung, but maybe you can walk over some of the shit when you stand back up and get to another, shinier rung.

We have to stop getting down on each other’s castles.

I call for an immediate ceasefire on other people’s castles in the shit.

All anyone is trying to do is build a castle in the shit. If they’re good and kind and not mean, they don’t want to knock over anyone else’ castle – just to hold their own.

Maybe your castle is your domicile, and you want to grow flowers and listen to Roches records and smoke a little grass and try and forget whatever it is that makes you need a castle.

Maybe your castle is being a lesbian-identified transman.

Maybe your castle is self-deprivation. Or maybe it’s indulgence to the fullest.

Maybe your castle is a bottle of wine or internet porn or LARPing or giving yourself tattoos.

Maybe your castle is not giving a fuck what other trans people think about your transition.

Maybe your castle is remixing Adele songs while wearing a stranger’s dirty underwear.

Maybe your castle is plastic surgery or nudist biking or composting.

Maybe your castle is figuring out where to put your castle someday.

Maybe your castle is moving your castle every day so that no one can pigeonhole you.

Maybe your castle is calling people out on trashing other people’s castles.

Maybe your castle is the liminal space between other castles, or castle-hopping for fun or survival.

Maybe your castle is dying, if all else fails. I hope it doesn’t. Dog in kennel above, I hope you find some other castle.

But I’m not you.

I call for an immediate end to queer-on-queer soul violence perpetrated in the name of the queer culture wars.

I call for a celebration of overlapping and intertwined realities.

I call for recognition that strongly held sincere beliefs that don’t hurt anyone can probably all coexist even if they are seemingly mutually exclusive.

I call on the queer dialectic to knock it the fuck off with trying to define queer, instead choosing to delight in living it.

‘Cos ya know, we can help each other build our castles in the shit. And maybe we’ll start developing some infrastructure, necessitating hauling some and maybe eventually all of the shit away. We could build super castles to hang out in. We could build a ministry of fucking castle-building.

What’s your castle? Part of my castle is knowing that you’re here to read this, whoever you are.

Don’t knock over anybody else’ castle. And don’t remodel your castle for anyone against your will.

#BuildYourCastle
-Big Mama Schlomo

buzzword is a buzzword: or, i wasn’t talking to you

Hello kittens,

I got two comments from a self-identified “straight, male WASP” that have been sitting in the queue since I wrote DWD because I felt I couldn’t in good faith publish them without seriously addressing their content.

I will now approve these comments, and then proceed to deconstruct the everliving hell out of them. Because you’re not entitled to like my answer any more than I’m entitled to like your question.

Ready? Okay!

As a straight, male WASP, I was anticipating rhetoric, obnoxious buzzwords, and faulty logic when I read the subject of your post.   I was pleasantly surprised.  The buzzwords were there, but you seemed to find them just as obnoxious as I do.  There is a lot to be said for movements, and it is necessary to identify the group as such in order for them to work, but, as you poignantly explained, it is a shame when the group identity overcomes the individual, especially when the purpose of the movement is to more freely permit individuality.

I’ve never gone in for the argument that outsiders seeing your in-group critique is enough to not engage in in-group critique.

But I’m not above holding myself accountable when my work has unintended consequences.

I wrote what I wrote for me, and because I knew there was (what I thought to be) a small contingent of queers who were similarly pissed off.

It turned out that what I wrote resonated with thousands of people, and while not all those resonances where consonant, I think it was reasonable of me to assume that any assonance would be in-group.

Frankly, I think I’m well within my rights to say that I wasn’t talking to straight cisgender people.

Exactly zero percent of the reason I wrote DWD was to satisfy straight people’s critique of queerness.

Straight people and I are coming at a critique of queerness from entirely different directions.

My critique of queerness comes from 15 years lived experience as a self-aware and publicly living queer, immersed variously in the context of the LGBT rights movement and postmodern queerness.

Straight people, in my experience, are coming at a critique of queerness from a bizarre admixture of homophobia and transphobia, sexism (in the form of lingering suspicion of the women’s rights movement), self-satisfied right-drifting neoliberalism (i.e., liberals for Ron Paul), and the need to say ‘thought police’ at least five times a day.

And ya know what? Putting all that aside, I still wasn’t talking to you.

I was talking to people who have lived the queer experience, whatever that means.

When I critique pomo academic queer feminism, my critique doesn’t end with, “in closing, go make me a sandwich.”

You were expecting “rhetoric, obnoxious buzzwords, and faulty logic”? Well, let’s move on to the next sentence in your comment for context, eh?

My upbringing and sexual identity have been such that I have not been very thoroughly exposed to the gay (or queer?  What is the proper term?  I don’t even know, really.  Whatever, you know what I’m talking about) rights movement.

First of all, for the everloving love of dog in kennel above, all 1793 (!) words in that post were about the distinction between queerness and the gay rights movement.

The implication of your statement is that queer theory makes use of “rhetoric, obnoxious buzzwords, and faulty logic.” I’m going to go out on a pretty sturdy limb and guess your statement doesn’t hail from your desire for clearer communication and adhering to logic trees.

You say that you aren’t involved in queerness, up to the point of not being able to tell LGBT from queer.

You know not from whence you speak, sir, and I offer now this counsel, perhaps useful in life in general: in manners unknown to you and which do not concern you, it likely proper form to shut the fuck up.

Now, sir, I know you’re chafing under the collar now to scream “free speech!” (or “first amendment!” or “thought police!”).

Sir, you’re certainly entitled to have your opinion.

Just as I’m entitled to inform you that your opinion about my opinion of queerness matters about as much as white people’s opinion of Bill Cosby’s opinions about parenting in black communities.

It’s nifty that you give us permission to have movements. And I know you thought you were coming from a good place when you said:

Here’s hoping for a future where people can just identify themselves by their names, instead of needing groups and labels.  Here’s hoping that someday even the word “queer” is no longer necessary, and being queer can be seen by society as just as natural as breathing.  It’s a long time off, but it might come.  Cheers!

But here’s the thing: we don’t need your permission. And you know what they say about the road to hell and good intentions.

You see, sir, you really tipped your hand here. You’re looking forward to a society when people don’t have to use the word queer, when names replace labels and groups dissolve away.

I bet you say, “I don’t see color, I see people!”

Come closer. I want to make sure you get this.

The only people who look forward t0 a future where everyone is the same are people already privileged and enfranchised by existing systems.

There was this great sketch with Candace Bergen and Gilda Radner talking about the ERA. I think it was the first season of SNL. Gilda Radner was parroting the silliest claims of the opponents of the amendment, and Candace Bergen said the most heartbreakingly incisive thing: “we can be equal and still be different.”

You don’t want to consider a day when everyone is respected and honored for the panoply of differences they bring to every table.

You – and a whole fuck ton of other people – at best dream of a future world where everyone is or acts exactly like you, so that you can treat everyone like a straight WASP guy.

I know it’s difficult to imagine from your privileged perch where you (think you) mediate all matters because you’re above them that not everyone wants to be treated like a straight white guy. Because being a straight white guy in this culture kicks total ass – why wouldn’t everyone want a piece of that?

This might come as a surprise, but not everyone is a straight WASP man. In the ideal society, our differences will not disappear. They will be seen as assets in keeping our species vital.

Well, sir, there you have it. About 1000 words addressing some of the points in your comments. I regret that I couldn’t get to your question about corporate sponsorship. But even this Marxist faggot doesn’t have time to explain people’s right not to have their politics with a side of corporate greed.

Likewise, I regret not getting to this gem:

Marriage though…. can’t the solution be simple?  Just eliminate it from the governmental picture.  Give it no rights, no protections, no definitions, no taxes or tax breaks, no legal standing, and call it a religious institution.  Let the churches decide for themselves what to do with it.

Because I’m afraid I won’t even be able to convince you how deeply 1) fucked and 2) ahistoric that notion is. But here’s a fun fact for you to consider: the church only started policing marriage in the middle ages. For most of the church’s existence, religion and marriage were as separate as you and me.

Well, perhaps one more tidbit: if you think turning over decisions on the rights of a minority from one tyrannical majority to another tyrannical majority is going to solve anything, well…I’m not sure what you were expecting to get from reading my critique of queerness.

In closing, sir: go make your own damn sandwich.

-Big Mama Schlomo

dwd part iii: towards a (re)solution

[Welcome to the third and final part in this series, “distinction without difference: why i’m rethinking my queer identity”. You can read part i here and part ii here. Thanks!]

Towards a (re)solution

So what’s the T, Mama Schlomo? Is you is or is you ain’t a queer?

I is. But I feel pretty confident in saying that I am, for lack of a better term, queer.

Queer was supposed to be the solution, and now it seems like just another problem. No one believes in the power of words more than me – and I think queer has had most of the wind knocked out of its sails.

Gosh you guys, remember when we all started saying “umbrella term”? When I was 18, I thought there was so much room under that umbrella! I thought we could all huddle all nice and safe under the umbrella and mix and mingle and dance a little and maybe, idk, have a refreshing spritzer and talk about the weather – ya know, the rich white heteropatriarchy – and then bring it on home with maybe like a nice noodle dish.

All right, it was a really well equipped umbrella.

But thinking we could all have a dance noodle party under the umbrella was probably about as silly as thinking that we could all fit under the umbrella in the first place.

I know I say this over and over again. If it would fit on a button, I would probably make it and stick it on my tote bag. But here I go again:

The only thing that will advance our causes is coalition building. To quote myself:

Everyone who doesn’t have missionary position at-least hypothetically reproductive (no barriers, no birth control) sex with one and only one married heterosexual cisgender partner has a legitimate claim to queerness.

I find myself at the same impasse with queerness as I do with feminism. Which is not shocking, considering they are both things I am desperately passionate about and entangled with that have been near monopolized by racist, classist academic systems.

It is perfectly clear to me that the choices are blowing open the systems or blowing them off.

Part of me wants to build an infinite addition on that umbrella.

And part of me wants to tell that umbrella to stick it where it’s happiest – where the sunshine of full equality don’t shine.

I know I’m not the only one. I know I’m not the only one because feminists call womanists traitors for not playing within the system. I know I’m not the only one because any queer who questions queerness gets labeled queers’ least favorite word – gay.

I know I’m not the only one because thousands of you have passed this series around to your friends and said, “look, hey, that thing we’ve been talking about? We’re not the only ones!”

My poor boyfriend asked me the other night (well, tonight, but you’ll be reading this three days in the future) what I was thinking, and I told him about this series.

Or more accurately, I thundered on about all the things I had been writing about, all the wrongness I see in the contemporary queer dialectic.

He asked me the question I initially asked myself, and the question I know I’m opening myself up to:

“Do you think you’re just saying that because you don’t want to be part of the norm?”

But doesn’t the question say everything?

Queer is the new norm for LGBTQIA people who stand in opposition to the monied white male interests of the Human Rights Campaign.

Just because queer is a new norm doesn’t mean it isn’t a norm.

Remember that quote from “QUEERS READ THIS“? Let’s revisit it.

Being queer means leading a different sort of life. It’s not about the mainstream, profit-margins, patriotism, patriarchy or being assimilated. It’s not about executive directors, privilege and elitism. It’s about being on the margins, defining ourselves; it’s about gender-fuck and secrets, what’s beneath the belt and deep inside the heart; it’s about the night.

If there’s one thing I still firmly agree with, it’s that queers should be using their outsider status to reconsider institutions. I said over and over again when I was still firmly entrenched in radical queerness that the time the gay rights movement invests in fighting for marriage equality would be better spent developing new queer modes of life.

But life is only The Raspberry Reich for white kids with trust funds and copies of The Little Red Book.

Marginalized peoples can’t eat political purity for dinner. They can’t feed it to children their partners aren’t allowed to adopt.

Queer studies used to be figuring out tactics in an all-out battle for our lives.

Now it’s biphobic people in an arms race to see who can claim they supported Cynthia Nixon first.

I’ve got a big appetite and a bigger mouth still, but this is by far the most I’ve ever bitten off. I am going toe to toe with the very notion of queerness.

I am actually, factually suggesting that there will come a time when I don’t call myself queer anymore.

I believe queers should use their outsider status to reconsider institutions. And now I’m reconsidering the institution of queerness.

Where will you go?

Where will I go? I don’t know. But I didn’t like being asked that by a boyfriend trying to convince me I couldn’t leave him, and I don’t like it from the queer establishment.

Not having a prefab social identity to step into is no longer a good enough excuse for a default reactionary identity.

A list of things I’m not is not an identity. Nor is my desire to not be known as those things.

This is not a call to action. I do not call on other queer people to denounce queer identity, if for no other reason than I don’t have an answer to ‘what do you call yourself now’?

Well, there’s at least one other reason. Everything I’ve said is based on my experience of the contemporary queer dialectic. I don’t want to force my experience or perspective on anyone else any more than I want the gay rights movement or radical queers to force their experiences and perspectives on me.

I want – or wanted – so desperately to believe that queerness and feminism were for everybody. But with each day that passes that seems more and more like a slogan designed to keep people in line while creating the perfect out for institutionalized privilege to not examine itself.

I pledge allegiance to no flag, choosing instead to believe in my own ability to function as a morally reasoning human being with a system of values placed above any party line.

Thoroughgoing adherence to any system means compromising with its dominance hierarchy, and honey, I ain’t no chicken.

I go with a whisper (okay, a 4000-word whisper), and not with a bang. Maybe that’s just the kind of person I am. I go away quietly from queer – to study it from a distance? to finally say goodbye?

Time will tell. But the question must first be asked to be answered.

Ever love,
Big Mama Schlomo

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That about wraps it up! Thank you to everyone who has read this and Tumbl’d it and passed it around to friends and said such nice things. You all give me hope for change. For those who’d like to stick around, my next posts will be about gay allies in a post-gay world and – what else? – coalition building. – Big Mama Schlomo

dwd part ii: where the dialectic breaks down

[Welcome to the second part in this series, “distinction without difference: why i’m rethinking my queer identity”. You can read the first part of this series here. Check back for part three tomorrow!]

Where the dialectic breaks down

The dialectic fails because it assumes the wrong thing: that enough articles and 696 seminars and clever jabs in anthologies will eventually arrive at the correct definition of queer.

It is perhaps the case that there can be no holistic queer theory because there is no one queer experience. I wish to dog in kennel above I could convince people that that was okay.

I moved pretty quickly to edit out the word radical in front of queer when talking about myself because I realized that radical queers don’t believe that.

In the preface to “That’s Revolting,” Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore calls military service, marriage and adoption the ‘holy trinity’ of the gay rights movement. In case you’re wondering, that’s a terrible, terrible thing to Sycamore.

On military service you’ll get no argument from me. Well, maybe not no argument. The US military is used for unspeakable evil in the world today. But you’ll notice there’s a full stop at the end of that sentence. I think people shouldn’t join the military because the military is used for unspeakable evil in the world today.

But I don’t think that belief gives me the right to claim people for my team and insist that they believe exactly as I believe. I’d rather have a friendly or even unfriendly disagreement about military service than put people under the boot of a classist, racist ideology that focuses more on intellectual and political purity than the lives of the poor people and people of color who enlist in the military.

And ignoring the lives of poor people and people of color is something the contemporary queer dialectic is very, very good at doing.

Do I believe the military industrial complex should be dismantled or at least radically scaled back because its purpose is to use poor people of color to fight other poor people of color for resources including but not limited to oil and faux puppet Western-backed allied governments in key geographic locations?

Yes.

Do I think the education and economic systems should be radically reformed so that people no longer see the military as their only viable option at advancing their futures? Yes.

But I’m afraid that turning my back on other institutional oppression and marginalization to advance the essentially academic idea of dismantling the military industrial complex is something I can’t jam on anymore.

And I sure as shit can’t jam on the idea that marriage and adoption are only for rich white people anymore.

I can’t believe it (well, yes I can), but this statement actually once fell from my lips:

“Rich white gays just want marriage so they can protect their assets.”

Ya know, I’m picturing someone got high and said that at a party one time in like 1994, and it passed around queer communities like demonstrably false wildfire.

Rich white gay people have hijacked the movement(s). This much is eminently true.

But rich white people have also hijacked queer thought, which is why you will hear variations of the above pretty much every time two or more queers talk about marriage.

I say that someone got high and said that thing about marriage because it really only makes sense until you shake your head a couple of times and realize how bad you need a tofu scramble.

This isn’t even difficult.

Rich white gays already have access to the lawyers and accountants who can do all that typey typey magic to make ersatz marriage arrangements of the monetary kind.

Ya know who really needs marriage and adoption? People who don’t have that access.

People who have children resulting from heterosexual unions and need to protect their same-sex families later.

A poor woman in a same-sex relationship after having children and divorcing her husband who’s forced to choose between her relationship or her kids when the father threatens to sue for custody.

A partner left never to see hir children again when the relationship ends and hir partner’s lawyer uses heteropatriarchal laws to block visitation.

Poor queers who can’t get even an inch ahead like their straight peers because they file taxes as single no matter how many years they aren’t.

Queers have other objections to marriage. These I won’t touch because they’ve been so thoroughly hashed and rehashed. Marriage has a deeply fucked history and I am all about questioning throwing ourselves headlong into this institution.

But how do you think radical queers would have felt about the Loving v Virginia decision? How about the decision allowing married women to own their own property?

You hear shockingly little from queers about divesting marriage of its rights and privileges. That is a plan I could get behind one hundred percent, and then I would clone myself so I could support it more.

But radical queerness sabotages itself because oppression and marginalization become safety blankets over time.

Look, I jam on the fact that I’m all kinds of outside. I dig it. I don’t want to be a normal, a square. I don’t want Pat Robertson to like me.

But the only people who think oppression and marginalization are precious badges of honor to be upheld at all costs are the people who are already in most other ways privileged and enfranchised by the system.

The radical queer approach leaves no signposts for the improvement of conditions in real people’s lives in its intellectually pure pursuit of outsiderness.

WHAT WILL BECOME OF QUEER CULTURE!? they cry.

The queer culture that willfully marginalizes poor people and people of color to honor a fuzzy memory of a queer heyday that was just as racist and classist as today’s reality?

No thanks!

The idea that all queers will get married if gay marriage is legalized is as ludicrous as the notion that people will start marrying their dogs, hills or dead people if gay marriage is legalized.

And doesn’t any success of your critique of marriage mean so much fucking more if the law isn’t the thing holding queers back from marriage?

Wouldn’t freely not getting married in a society where you could get married mean so. much. more the next time you have a queerer than thou potluck?

The lives of other LGBTQA people are not yours to live. Or police. Or control.

Or use as shields in the culture wars. Or commodify for personal gain.

Each of use has one life to live, and I’m going to live mine no matter how the Human Rights Campaign or Gayle Madwin feels about it.

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[All right kittens, that’s it for part ii. You can continue on to part iii here!]

distinction without difference: why i’m rethinking my queer identity

Hello kittens,

Welcome to part one of this series, “distinction without difference: why i’m rethinking my queer identity”.

I knew almost instinctively that 2012 was going to be a year of big changes for me.

But even I didn’t know how right I was.

If you had told me a year ago that I would be sitting in my office in 2012 writing about thinking about not calling myself queer anymore, I’d have washed your mouth out with rhinestones.

The thing is, nothing has fundamentally changed about me – except the way I view naming myself.

Objectively, I am as queer or queerer now than I’ve ever been. And although everyone loves to play queerer than thou, I’ve never actually considered that someone wouldn’t think me queer.

I am a gay~ish man~ish polyamor~ish genderqueer~ish person of MTF history. Ish. My core identity is perched perhaps precariously atop my queer feminism, and my flag is a flag of many colors.

Maybe it’s all the ~ish that gets to me. It certainly gets to other people.

When I was prepping to transition, someone told me I wasn’t really trans if I didn’t want to pass 100% of the time.

And I’ve never been able to escape the feeling that, when I look around at other gay men, I see people who are a lot like me and with whom I share a history and perhaps even a destiny, but I’ve never really felt at home.

And Lorde help me being a polyamorous person in a monogamous relationship.

Queer was a great word that really helped me out a lot when I decided that I didn’t want to spend all of any more days trying to figure out exactly what I was. I am Big Mama Schlomo, and that’s that.

I never foresaw myself having so much in common with the post-gay/post-gender kids. I thought it was really important to attach myself to an identity because there is obviously so much left to do. And there is. And I think not naming yourself because you’ve bought into the notion that we’re actually presently living in some sort of gendertopia is a big, fresh road apple.

Since I don’t have anything to lose, I will admit that I (shamefully) was initially against renaming the Office of LGBT Affairs (now known as the Spectrum Center) at the University of Michigan. We all heard the rumblings that were about to go above ground about the kids for whom even the alphabet wasn’t big enough anymore, and the good (nay, great) people at the Office responded rapidly and with great alacrity.

I was dismayed. And I still refuse to engage in the notion that the emergence of post-gay and post-gender identities somehow invalidates or decommissions sexual and gender identities. See, here’s one of the places where I just don’t even want to tango anymore with the contemporary queer dialectic anymore (fuck, and ps, fuck the notion that there is one truth to be found) – no one’s identity invalidates anyone else’ identity.

Honestly, had this discussion happened later, I probably would have recommended changing the name to The Interlinking Unbound Spectra Center. The alphabet is too goddam small.

And here again I’ve so often come back to the word queer.

Queer has served and continues to serve an amazing service for me and all other queer-identified people. But I of all people know how easy it is to take this work horse of a term for granted – and I’ve watched it really start to buckle under our neglect.

I’m not saying there has to be or should be a definition of queer. But I do think it’s interesting how fast our arguments devolve into the shallow and divisive when we do try to pin down just what queer means. More and more every day I come to see queer as a distinction without difference.

Do it for the cache

The gay rights movement lost its way. Some people might place the date earlier, but I think the present cluster-whoops that makes up the mainstream gay rights movement as represented to the American public by the Human (White Affluent Male) Rights Campaign is more or less directly attributable to the passing of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996.

Suddenly having a federal statute that excluded gay people from marriage where previously no federal definition of marriage even existed artificially turned the conversation to marriage. Like, all the way.

Now, to be sure, the soon-to-be very chunky wedge between gay and queer had been brewing for some time.

The widely distributed and influential leaflet, “QUEERS READ THIS” – which, on a personal note, gives me total naches (that’s Yiddish for ‘the warm fuzzies’) – generally uses “queer” and “gay and lesbian” synonymously and interchangeably. But that doesn’t mean the anonymous writer or writers didn’t see differences:

Being queer means leading a different sort of life. It’s not about the mainstream, profit-margins, patriotism, patriarchy or being assimilated. It’s not about executive directors, privilege and elitism. It’s about being on the margins, defining ourselves; it’s about gender-fuck and secrets, what’s beneath the belt and deep inside the heart; it’s about the night.

Predictably, it took about four minutes flat for queer identity to be overrun by all of those things. But more on that later.

It’s hard to remember (or imagine, for the people who don’t remember), but the gay rights movement was in a very different place in the 80s and early 90s than it is now. Picture it: 1991. Dan Savage, an unknown writer wants to start an advice column to make fun of straight people called “Hey Faggot!” His editors balked at the title, but he used the salutation in his column until 1999.

Dan Savage – possibly the most visible symbol of everything queers hate about gay people aside from Joe Solomonese – Dan Fucking Savage started his column to make fun of straight people and he wanted to call it “Hey Faggot!”

I think it’s safe to say that AIDS activism gave a pretty resolute kick in the pants to the more sedate gay rights movement of the late 70s and early 80s – which itself had ridden on the tails of the more radical gay liberation movement that followed in the years after Stonewall. There was no place for pleasantries and making straight people like us in the face of a health crisis that was tearing communities asunder.

DOMA did a bad, bad thing – it ushered in the newest wave of corporate monied white gay concern activism and helped to stamp out the visibly radical nature of queer activism in this country.

If you’re keeping track, these are roughly the four minutes I referred to earlier.

While the Pride industry is busy collecting vodka ad dollars and selling water at a higher price than the vodka being advertised to us, queerness is chased out of the streets and into the classrooms – out of reach of the people who created it and needed it most.

Which I guess more or less is where people my age come in.

I showed up to the University of Michigan gay with maybe some queer tendencies. I was already a Marxist after all.

But I definitely left queer. In a perfectly fitting twist of fate, becoming immersed in the queer dialectic (there’s that awful word again) gave me the vocabulary I needed to denounce queerness.

Queer has become a detached, disembodied panacea for gay panic. Queer is used like a holy noun, like milk and honey:

“queer unsettles and questions the genderedness of sexuality” – Teresa de Lauretis

“A political statement, as well as a sexual orientation, which advocates breaking binary thinking and seeing both sexual orientation and gender identity as potentially fluid.”

Queer is your get out of gay free card.

Because in a world and time when gay is Joe Solomonese, gala dinners, vodka pride floats and marriage activism, and queer is DIY vegan potlucks, gay shame and hair dye, it’s almost a no-duh proposition what politically and socially engaged people are going to be – or call themselves.

You need a get out of gay free card when LGBT activism is cannibalized by the oppressions it should be fighting.

But when it stops there – when queerness becomes little more than not-gayness – it is an academic distinction.

And I choose my words carefully.

What’s so goddam queer about white college-educated people reading books by white college-educated people about what being queer is? And for obvious disclosure: I am a white college-educated person.

It could be queer. But academic queerness has assumed unto itself sole responsibility for the definition and direction of being queer, and being queer? It has become entirely too consumed with being not-gay.

Queer feminism has become a closed loop of teachers and students, of tuition bills and publications. We need queer studies. But we also need to rectify access to education. It’s not really enough to point out the bitter irony of taking or teaching classes about marginalized people who couldn’t get into your school because of institutional oppressions.

There is – or should be – room for queer feminism outside the walls of the ivory tower. And academic queerness should be taking its cues from the outside – not trying to force its privileged nouvelle definition(s) of queerness on queers.

To put it bluntly: I need to be told how to be queer like I need another hole in the head. Whom I love and whom I fuck and how many people I love and fuck and what we call it when we love and fuck and where we’re standing or sitting or lying when we love and fuck in the context of true and informed consent is as much Joe Solomone’s business as it is Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore’s.

Which is to say: it’s not.

I will not call myself queer for the sake of not calling myself gay. Let me say that again: I will not call myself queer for the sake of not calling myself gay.

I will not do it for the cache.

I will not do it when it feels like white queers my age – and, to again point out the obvious, I am a white queer my age – have about as much in common with ACT UP and Queer Nation as we do with the Human Rights Campaign.

I’m not saying people aren’t doing shit. Young people are totally doing shit. Don’t even get me started on the demonstrably false ‘kids these days’ bullshit.

But doing shit is not the goal of academic queerness. And if queerness doesn’t start in the streets, in our hearts and in our heads – then queerness is little more than the gossamer-thin bulwark we build against being called L, G, B or T.

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You can continue onto part ii of this post here.

Noble-principle bigotry and the suit and tie fallacy

Hello kittens,

I recently attended a meeting on trans inclusion in the Occupy movement (specifically in an around Grand Rapids), co-hosted by Occupy GR and the Transgender Education Collaboration.

Problems? Oh, this meeting had them. But for the purposes of expediency, I will focus on the most general, and those that are most applicable to other situations.

Namely, these are: noble-principle bigotry and the suit and tie fallacy.

[TW for descriptions of sexist, transphobic & classist tropes]

Noble-principle bigotry sometimes goes by the name concern trolling, but a little googling reveals that people have different definitions of concern trolling, so I wanted to commit something a little bit more concrete to (electronic) paper.

I’ll start where I’ve been starting with a lot of things lately: with an example from “The X-Files.” (Yes, I am twenty years behind on this show. Don’t hate.)

In an episode I saw recently, Agent Dana Scully was about to perform an autopsy relating to her case when the local police dbag expressed his discomfort with assigning female agents to “certain kinds of cases.” Says big bad local policeman: “I’m not being sexist, I’m just telling the truth.”

I was really hoping Scully would say, “They’re not mutually exclusive,” or “Well, one of those things is true.” (Sadly, she didn’t say anything.)

This is a classic example of noble-principle bigotry, a general term for bigotry that uses alleged concern for marginalized people to justify said bigotry. It is not a tasty treat.

How does noble-principle bigotry tie in with the Occupy meeting? Well, one of the attendees – a white cis man – actually argued that trans people might get attacked at Occupy encampments, so there shouldn’t be Occupy encampments.

One of the essential features of noble-principle bigotry is victim-blaming. In this case: other people hate you, so don’t go there. Not: other people hate you, so I’m going to take an active part in this meeting which is FUCKING ABOUT trans inclusion in Occupy so that I can educate myself about how to be a better ally and to make Occupy less fucking problematic. Nope. It’s yr fault people hate you, kthxgetout.

I have no doubt that this guy was convinced that he was saying some righteous shit, all the while (willfully?) unaware that he was parroting the bigotry he was allegedly criticizing. The existence of bigotry is not a valid excuse to further marginalize marginalized people. WHY DO I EVEN HAVE TO SAY THIS SHIT?

This comment was part of a larger discussion about discomfort with the appearance of camps to the outside world – especially the one percent. How “dirty” people made the movement “look bad” and were just a “distraction.”

IE, this movement of people who are institutionally economically oppressed should really, just, ya know, look less fucking institutionally economically oppressed.

This brings me to what I call the suit and tie fallacy – the unfounded and ridiculous but rampant belief that, if you can scrounge up enough money for a white-collar costume, people will start clambering to join your movement.

The suit and tie fallacy rose to prominence in the pre-Stonewall gay rights movement. The Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis – the two leading and really two of the only national gay rights organizations before Stonewall – had strict dress codes for their members, especially at rallies.

Now, it is important to understand the political and legal context of pre-Stonewall America. It was illegal to cross-dress at the time, and you had to be wearing at least three articles of clothing associated with the gender you were assigned at birth at all times, or you could face arrest. This statute was routinely employed when raiding gay bars – the only central hub of gay life at the time.

Having said that, it’s not like you need to be wearing a suit and tie or a smart skirt suit to show that you are complying with the gender police. That is an extra imposition – a ridiculous, classist one – that movementarians of many kinds have imposed on themselves and others in the decades since.

The Human Rights Campaign could take every gay man in America to Brooks Brothers and every lesbian to Macy’s and march them up and down Pennsylvania Avenue in duds that cost more than what me and my friends make in a month and people would still be homophobic.

Look, it’s rational to assume that people who would pay someone else to wipe their cars with your clothes might like you more if you dressed more like them, but take it from the gay rights movement (which won’t even take it form itself): it might be rational (in a certain light), but sixty years of experience shows us it doesn’t. fucking. work.

To review: two wrongs don’t make a right and WHY DO I HAVE TO KEEP SAYING THIS SHIT?

Stay tuned for our next installment of allegedly progressive fuckery, in which I shall tackle: what do you want (and how long can we postpone it)?

see no privilege speak no privilege hear no privilege

Hello kittens,

Romney won Ohio. That means all we have to do this fall is be more exciting than a dirty gym sock.

I think we got this shit on lock down.

But today I want to talk about something Mr. Romney’s wife said yesterday:

“So, you know, we can be poor in spirit. I don’t look — I don’t even consider myself wealthy, which is an interesting thing. It can be here today and gone tomorrow. And how I measure riches is by the friends I have and the loved ones I have and the people that I care about in my life. And that’s where my values are and that where my riches are.”

Okay, I want you to take a deep breath. I’ll do it, too. We’re going to need it.

Ann Romney actually laughs after she says “we can be poor in spirit.” Laughs. Even Ann Romney knows goddamn well how ridiculous this statement is.

For funsies, I just divided the Romneys’ wealth by my wealth. Do you know how many of me it would take to equal the Romneys?

613,108

Assuming everyone in my hometown has the same amount of money in the bank as I do, it would take 73 of my hometowns to equal the net worth of the Romneys.

To put it another way, if everyone in Boston had the same amount of money as me, the city of Boston would have the same net worth as the Romneys.

The world’s most expensive bottle of whiskey sells for 100,000 pounds (157,330 USD). Although only one bottle is currently for sale, the Romneys could afford 1,843 bottles of it – and still have 86 TIMES what I have in the bank.

Ann Romney has her PRIVILEGE BLINDERS on. In my head, they look a lot like those stupid stripy hipster glasses everyone was wearing like three years ago. But diamond-encrusted.

I don’t even have time to go into how barfy it is that Ann Romney justifies her diamond-encrusted privilege blinders by saying she’s been sick. Illness can happen to anyone. The world’s best treatment – fuck, any treatment at all? Access to healthcare is a privilege. One Ann Romney’s husband has spent the last year backpedaling on. I hope Julie Klausner eats you for breakfast this week, Ann Romney. I might even suggest it to her.

Your privilege blinders do not make your privilege go away. I planned about six ways of saying that, but I guess that’s the basic idea. Just stop fucking denying your privilege. Because the truth will out, and it is almost always you who will be flashing off your own damn privilege.

Speaking intentionally as a way to heal

crossposted from my Tumblr

[TW for discussion of ableist language]

A lot of discussion I saw this week on Tumblr about ableist language regarding mental illness got me thinking about speaking (and writing) intentionally.

I live with mental illness. And not that it’s anyone’s business, but someone’s going to ask, so I live with bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety and OCD.

Not even I am sure that I can purge my language of words like crazy. First, I use the word crazy intentionally to refer to myself. Second, crazy is so widespread in the language that it feels like trying to get all the dandelions out of a field.

BUT.

That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t task myself to try, especially if other people are asking me to. Even if I don’t know them. Even if it’s just a vague awareness I get from looking at my Tumblr dash.

I remember doing that eye-roll thing so many people do when asked to reconsider their language maybe 10-ish years ago the first time someone told me lame was an ableist word.

Hell, to be honest with you, I probably didn’t know what ableism meant back then. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t my obligation to learn.

Lame was a word that hurt the person I was talking to. So I started to root the word out of my usage. Because there’s no reason or excuse to do harm with your language, especially after you’ve been told that that is what you’re doing.

I don’t know how I feel about the word crazy. But I do know exactly how I feel when someone uses the words bipolar and OCD to make jokes about their own or other people’s behavior. It feels like total shit. Aside from demonstrating a complete lack of what these mental health issues are, it’s like, hello, I’m right here! Your friend with bipolar disorder and OCD? Remember me?

In the past few years, there has been a greater push to get people to stop using the R word. Recently, there was even a star-studded PSA about it. I posted this PSA to Facebook one day… and got like fifty comments from privileged people about how they were being attacked despite their “free speech” rights. Legit, one person said he felt “f’ing persecuted” for being asked not to use the R word.

Holy wow. You have freedom of speech. Other people have the freedom to point of if you’re being ableist (for instance). Someone pointing out your privilege is not an act of oppression.

My argument then, as now, is: don’t be mean. Invite yourself to be asked not to be mean. What is the problem with speaking (and writing) in a more intentional way to consider whether or not what you’re saying is hurting someone?

Even if they’re not there! It’s one thing to not listen to, say, homophobic music when your gay friends are around. But is it not a better thing to ask yourself how you can like homophobic music and gay people?

You not being offended by a word does not give you permission to decided whether or not it is offensive and whether or not it can hurt people. What is so wrong with being asked to check your vocab? Consider it as a chance to grow, to consider other people’s perspectives.

And consider it a chance to keep friends, before they decide that your language is too harmful to be associated with.

Just slow down and think before you speak. It’s not going to hurt you, and it will probably stop you from hurting other people.