What the Protestors Hope to Achieve

As huge protests continue around the US, daily since the election was called, some people are angry. Some say they are sore losers. Some insist, inexplicably, that these are the very people who didn’t vote and are now upset. Some snark that the protestors should go find jobs or something better to do. Those people are not worth my digital ink.

For those of you who just don’t quite understand, but would like to:

What the protestors are hoping to accomplish

  • The one flaw of democracy is that sometimes a majority wants something that will harm a minority. See also: slavery. Protest is one way for a minority to create public awareness about their plight. That’s why the framers were careful to enshrine the right to public assembly and people speaking their minds.
  • Protests show just how many people care passionately enough to assemble, march and shout all day about an issue.
  • Politics is not a team sport, and it’s not “game over” after the election is done. You can participate in democracy in many ways other than voting, and this is one of them.
  • Protesters find like-minded people and network so that later on, they can do even more effective work to ensure they will not be left out, or worse.
  • Demonstrations show the entire world that not all of its most powerful nation backs policies of racism, misogyny, hate, and foreign policy that’s strikingly similar to Putin’s.
  • Per Sunless Nick in comments, they also “serve as a reminder that it’s Clinton, not Trump, who won the popular vote.” She got 2.8 million more votes.
  • Per Craig Johnson in comments, protests also remind people that they are not alone. That we don’t need to be so afraid.
  • Protests look a little like ground troops on the move, just without the guns. This reminds the powers that be that we have fought wars over civil rights before, and no one wants things to get that far again.

What American White Men Just Admitted to the World

The next time somebody interrupts your legitimate complaints about a man to chide you, “Now, now, not all men are that way”, you can remind them that in 2016, 63% of white American men told us they are.

In order to vote for Trump, there are a couple of things you have to believe. At a bare minimum, you have to choose not to believe the women who said Trump did indeed sexually assault them. Including the particularly credibly People reporter Natasha Stoynoff, who is backed by a couple of co-workers from her magazine who say she told them about it at the time. You just have to ignore that, and convince yourself she is a liar.

But what about the 53% of white women who voted for Trump, you may wonder? Same thing. I’ve said all my life that most white women are anti-feminist, or at least not willing to get behind other women when there’s a man involved. All my life, I’ve been told that’s anti-feminist of me to say. Get a clue, people. A lot of white women like the world just the way it is, and I’m not going to try to psychoanalyze them. It doesn’t matter.

Going forward, you might reconsider the advice I’ve been handing out forever that progressive types don’t like to hear. It’s time to identify your enemies, establish a border, and don’t let them wag one finger past it. You don’t have to be as hateful about it as they are. But it’s time to stop thinking you can peacefully persuade these people to see the world differently. They don’t want to. Just forget about them.

It’s time to come together, those of us who want a different, better world. Leave everybody else in the dust.

And for goodness’ sake, stop telling women ,”Not all men are that way.” They just told us most of them are. And they are free at any point in the future to let us know they have changed.

An Open Letter to Trump Voters Who Don’t Like Being Called Bigoted

Since Trump’s victory in the Presidential election, I’ve been seeing article after article, and post after post, and comment after comment on how we shouldn’t regard those who voted for him as racist, or sexist, or homophobic, or xenophobic, or anti-Muslim, or antisemitic, or any of the other prejudices that were on full display during his candidacy.  I saw the same things after the Brexit referendum in my own country.  At the same time, in both instances, I’ve also seen a big spike in racist attacks mere days afterwards.

But, I’m told, Trump voters hate his bigotries as much as I do, they’re just angry, or afraid, or hurting, they don’t really hate marginalised people.  But my question here is why should I care whether they do or don’t?  I’m going to adapt an observation that’s been made about rape jokes, and why they enable rape culture even if the person telling them doesn’t really support rape:

Maybe you don’t think that voting for a Nazi-wannabe candidate is the same as endorsing the bigotries he was peddling, or the same as siding with those voters of his who wholeheartedly embrace them.  Maybe you’re pissed off at “liberals” for conflating you with those assholes.  But the people who really believe that all white people deep down hate the brown pople, or that all real Americans hate Muslims?  Are the racists and the anti-Muslims – the people doing things like this.  And when you voted for their champion, you reassured them in their belief that you’re one of them.

Does that bother you?  If it doesn’t, maybe you don’t hate their views as much as you think.  And if it does, shouldn’t you be taking it up with them, rather than the liberals, or the minorities targeted by those you’ve reassured?

I have no idea what proportion of Trump’s supporters were voting his way because other problems left them angry, or afraid, or hurting.  For those who really are hurting, their problems deserve looking at.  But not because they’re Trump supporters, because they’re people who are hurting.  And it doesn’t mean it somehow shouldn’t “count” that they stood up to be counted with (literally) the KKK, or those who want to reduce women’s bodies to property, and built a platform based inextricably on multiple hatreds.

I’m sure someone will point out that this is pretty much the argument leveled at black people vs black criminals.  But the difference is that regular black people merely have the same skin colour black criminals – whereas non-bigoted Trump supporters deliberately and knowingly lent their endorsement to the bigoted ones.  And the results of that endorsement are playing out already.

So:  if you’re a Trump supporter who really wants me to understand that you’re not really like the racists, misogynists, homophobes, xenophobes, anti-Muslims, and anti-semites, I say this:  I’m not the person you need to tell.  You need to tell the racists, the misogynists, and their ilk – show them they’re wrong about you, and about America – show them that you won’t condone their hate.  This week, you wasted your biggest chance to do that – so what now?  Will you look for another?  Will you take it if you find it?

And if the answer is no, then are they  truly wrong about you?

Barb from Stranger Things, we hardly knew ye

This post contains spoilers about Barb from Stranger Things. You have been warned. If you wonder why a character who got about 6 minutes of screen time has generated so much buzz on the internet, read on.


Relating to Barb

Finally, here was a true geeky girl in a TV show, and that’s a rare thing. Barb wasn’t the usual TV smart girl who also happens to look like a Victoria’s Secret model. She was a true geek who, on a conventional scale of beauty, rated as somewhere around average. Like Penelope Garcia on Criminal Minds, Barb wasn’t going to take off her glasses and suddenly turn out to be the cutest girl in school. She was smart and sensible, and an extremely loyal friend to Nancy.

The unceremonious ending

Unfortunately, the answer turned out to be “nowhere.” Suddenly, Barb got taken by the monster. I thought at first maybe she’d still be alive like Will, and she’d end up helping somehow. Alas, no. She was just dead.

Worse than that, she was hardly missed. When she didn’t show up at school the next day, her mother cheerfully told Nancy not to worry. It’s not clear that anyone ever filed a missing persons report. I actually thought this might be a plot point, because Barb didn’t fit any of the stereotypes of a kid likely to disappear on a party binge for a few days and then wander back home. Had her mother given her a reason to run away? Was there something bad happening at home?

No. Apparently, it’s just that Barb died and nobody noticed. Thanks a lot for that meta-message, Duffer brothers (the writers). I know we geeky girls with average looks are invisible to lots of guys, but you might be surprised to know many of us actually have parents who love us. Who would notice if we went missing. Who would call the police and struggle to convince them we have not just wandered off of our own accord. And here’s a real shock, guys: many of us even survive childhood and marry very happily. I know, right?

To be fair, there are hints that Nancy cared. Maybe the writers overestimated how clear they were being on that point. The problem is that Nancy was way too busy with all this weirdness to show us how the loss of Barb was impacting her. Barb’s disappearance consistently stayed on the backburner.

Too little, too late

Barb’s car is found at a bus station, and that’s taken as confirmation that she ran away – but more importantly, it’s confirmation that conspiring forces are trying to hide something. No one seems particularly concerned about Barb. No one thinks this is out of character. Parents have been known to spend years trying to find a runaway child, even if without suspecting foul play. But not this case. Not for Barb.

I tried to imagine what the writers were thinking- what they may have imagined they were putting across. The Duffer brothers made a number of “80s nostalgia” mistakes (The Smiths, appear in a mix tape made a year before their debut album hit the US, for example). Just watching the show, I knew they were too young to actually recall the 80s, and I was right – they were born in 1984. Perhaps they imagine the 80s as a time when all parents were so not-helicoptery that they didn’t care if their kids caught a bus to parts unknown. But the reality was: free range parenting meant trusting your kid to go somewhere and come back safely on their own. It did not mean kids disappeared and parents thought, “Hmm, wonder what’s on TV?”

Eventually, we learn that Barb has been dead ever since the night of the party, shortly after we first met her. This gets some brief sadness in response, but nothing like we saw at Will’s funeral. If her family grieved, or there was a funeral, we never heard about it. And that’s not too much to ask – just a brief cutaway to a funeral and crying parents to let us know somebody cared that this promising young woman had died.

Entitled Men, or Where I’ve Been Lately

You may have noticed I haven’t been posting much the past 2-3 years. This had little to do with my preferences, and everything to do with entitled men.

Creepy entitled men

I have spent a surprising amount of time over the past several years fending off mostly middle-aged white men. By “fending off”, I don’t mean romantic advances – oh, no. Some wanted revenge. Others just needed a Mommy figure keeping them in line in order to achieve even marginal functionality, and they assign that job to any strong woman they know, without waiting for her consent. Some of them just couldn’t stand that I had walked away from their abuse decades ago. How dare I just leave and not come crawling back! Don’t I know my life is all about their deep inadequacies? Their pathetic, neurotic need to stand on top of a woman to make themselves feel halfway human?

Today’s man-boys desperately need an old-fashioned wife who will make a full-time job out of keeping Captain “Oops I Screwed Up Again Tee Hee” in line. This is yet another example of how marriage benefits men more than women. But thanks to advances in feminism, fewer and fewer women want that job. As boys, these entitled men learned there would always be some poor sap of a woman desperate enough to mommy them in exchange for a wedding ring or even just faint praise. They lack any desire to grow up, take responsibility, or manage their own lives. And when one woman decides to quit propping them up, they move onto the next. They simply latch on, however they can, to the strongest woman they know. Like parasites.

I’ve been that woman so many times in my life. And I’m beyond sick of it.

Your life stops being your own

During the past few years, circumstances frequently forced me to drop everything I was doing to work on new personal safety measures. I had to focus much more on making money, because it costs money to keep entitled men at arm’s length. Making additional money required freelancing. Freelancing meant working with clients I didn’t know, and some of them turned out to be the very same entitled men I’m talking about here. Remember, ladies: never work with strangers. Also never work with people you know. And don’t rely on a husband for support. Uh, good luck!

Even worse, I had to take precious time away from loved ones who, as it happened, are no longer living. No one can ever make that last one up to me, and that was my final straw. I paid a great cost to fend off these pathetic, needy, inadequate yet entitled men. If hell exists, I hope they roast in it. They burned out any sympathy or pity I ever had for them.

Their parents should also roast in hell. Shame on parents who still today teach their boys that it’s okay to be a massive screw-up, because a woman will come along to fix it for you or take the blame. Shame on parents who teach their boys that it’s okay to rape, assault and otherwise hurt women, because it’s always the fault of someone or something else. Brock Turner’s parents have kindly provided a textbook example of what I’m talking about here. See Daddy’s defense of Brock’s 20 minutes of action, and Mommy’s defense of her sad little boy.

It’s not just the serious creeps

When you find yourself fending off several men who have decided to target you for various reasons, you thank goodness most men aren’t that bad. Then you run into the mansplainers – everywhere. And the guys who interrupt you in meetings and take credit for the ideas you just shared. And the hetero-partner’d men who do less than half the housework even when they’re unemployed and their female partner is the job earner. And the men who sexually harass you and claim, “awkward with women” as a defense. And the influential douchebags who defend them and call us out for daring to complain.

And the men who dominated Silicon Valley. They turned empowering innovation into a petty, backstabbing, weenie-measuring game of myriad proprietary parts that rarely form a functional whole. Their solution to business is not to improve their products, but to trick or force customers into opting in.

And don’t forget the men of Wall Street. To quote Leverage: “They broke the world.”

And the politicians.

And you start to wonder if perhaps it really is most men, or at least most men share a flaw: the inability to be anything but little princes, coddled and supported by all who know them. Should I consider myself “lucky” to only be targeted by a few of them? Should I expect men to disrupt my life frequently, and at great length, because so many of them were raised to be petty, overly emotional, irrational little princes?

The self-defense solution

White libertarian males tell me that we ladies should all get guns and blow holes in men who bother us. But they’re not picturing someone who looks like themselves when they talk about men who harass and assault women. When a man who looks like them ends up dead because a woman defended herself, why, she must be lying. We all know what happens when a woman defends herself with force like Marissa Alexander and so many others:

In California, a prison study found that 93 percent of the women who had killed their significant others had been abused by them. That study found that 67 percent of those women reported that they had been attempting to protect themselves or their children when they wound up killing their partner. In New York State, 67 percent of women sent to prison for killing someone close to them were abused by that person.

The real solution

When my life goes wrong, I analyze it to learn how to avoid the same thing happening again in the future. I suppose I could try to latch onto the nearest woman and see if she’ll coddle me through it, but I dunno. I actually think my approach works, because results.

This time, the analysis yielded answers I disliked: in addition to avoiding men who demonstrate excessive entitlement, I also need to avoid flaky men. While some flakes are just good humans going through a rough patch, others are disintegrating parasites in need of a host. I don’t consider this much of a solution, since it means I’ll be weeding out some decent men along with the precious little princes. Oh, well. This is why you can’t have nice things, guys.

The real, long-term solution falls to parents. Please teach all your kids of every gender to be self-sufficient – not just at wage earning, but at basic living. Hold them all equally responsible for their own actions. Teach them all how to do household chores and handle finances. Teach them all how to compete in the workplace. Teach them that if they develop an addiction, it’s on them to seek the appropriate help. Teach them that if they fall on hard times, it’s ultimately their responsibility to fix their lives. Teach them that rejection happens to everybody, and should not be taken personally. Teach them about consent. And for pity’s sake, teach them about boundaries.

Or I will. And you may not like how I do it. I know they won’t.