First, I hate that it’s become kind of a requirement for women to trot out their personal pain in order to get people to give weight to their political opinions.

Suffice to say, I’m a Gen-X-er. I lived through the 80s and 90s. As it did to all of us, bad shit happened to me.

I had thought that what I wanted in the wake of that was for it to not happen to women in the future. I was fighting for that.

But it turns out I should have also been fighting for it to ever stop for women my age. Not just being assaulted but the blame for having been assaulted back then.

Here’s a thing that I have come to realize: many, many men think this is what women are for. One of the perks, then, of being powerful is that you have access to more women to use this way.

But here’s the thing I have only just realized and I hate it: a lot of folks, men and women, who consider themselves progressive believe this, too. The “progressive” stance is that women aren’t just for your amusement, we also can be doctors and lawyers and reporters and whatever. Which means a dude can seem like a feminist hero–cough cough Al Franken cough cough–and still believe that women are for him to do what he wants to to. After all, he believes we should be able to do everything we want to, as well.

It makes me so mad. It hurts my heart. So much of our pain doesn’t matter because people believe pain just comes with the territory of being a woman. This suffering is what we’re for. To suffer for men’s pleasure.

And I wish I could unknow that, truly.

Opt Out

A thing I have long known is that the abuse of women is ubiquitous (the attempted abuse of everyone is ubiquitous, but that’s a matter for another post). But seeing it on social media day in and day out is wearing me down.

I keep thinking of how “you have no other choice” is used against women and how so many women have opted out of things because of that. You have to tolerate some level of violence from your 19th century husband, so some women just didn’t marry, settled into being spinster aunts. You have to expect you’re going to have to sleep with people to get roles, so some women just went home from Hollywood. And on and on.

Generations of women who tried to withdraw from the bullshit as much as they could.

Maybe I’ve done that, too. I don’t know.

And I think about all that talent, all that potential. It’s like we live in a world split in two between realized dreams and dashed dreams. And the realized dreams aren’t better. They’re just the dreams that didn’t get sacrificed.

I think a lot about how we still have human sacrifice, we’ve just made it more invisible. Instead of killing a person wholly and outright for our benefit, we just kill little parts of them and convince ourselves they deserve it.

People are right to be mad. I am mad. But I’m also feeling overwhelmed and sometimes like I’m drowning in it.

Toxic Fandom

Yesterday, I was talking to a writer who had done something incredibly unpopular with the fans of his work and it got me thinking about the sense of ownership some fans have of the thing they are fans of and the right they think they have to dictate what happens to/in it.

And I was thinking about how, like, 80% of having fans is super awesome. You make a thing. Someone you don’t know feels this intense connection to the thing and they are deeply engaged with it. It’s really, really neat. And I don’t think anyone wants that part to go away.

But then there’s some small percentage of stuff that is just like “what the fuck is this nonsense?!” Like when people threaten to kill authors for not putting two characters together, or finding out where they live and coming by the house in the middle of the night or… I mean, we all know what it looks like.

But I realized, this is kind of what I mean when I talk about the fucked up relationship some people have to women. Toxic fandom happens because the audience member believes that the fact that the art has caught her attention means that the creator of the art owes her for that attention. That the artist now has an obligation to please the audience.

And isn’t this part of being a woman? The woman causes her “audience” to pay attention to her and thus she owes them.

I could see it as a thing before, but I couldn’t really make sense of it, because it didn’t seem to have any other cultural antecedents. But of course it does. Hmm.

A Loose Woman

Yesterday, I had an interaction with a man who was upset about something I wrote over at Pith in which I was enraged at Hulk-like levels. The thing that pissed me off is that, after criticizing my writing–not the grammar of it, but the approach I was taking–he demanded that I appease him, make him feel better about me or what I wrote.

I’m not even a pretty woman and I am tired, so tired, of people expecting me to be pleasing to them and being angry when I’m not. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have an appearance (beyond just that of generally female) that men felt was for them and thus compelled that woman to have to give a shit about maintaining the pleasant feelings of those men.

And I still go back to my suspicion that (some) men think that, if you’ve done something–intentionally or not–to get their attention, you have taken something from them and thus you owe them. Whereas, I believe that where you put your attention is your own business and your responsibility to manage. And the feelings you have about where you put your attention are also on you to manage.

The other thing I resent is that, as a woman, I’ve been brought up to believe that being a whore is one of the worst things you can be. But what is a whore? A woman who does intimate things whether or not she feels the emotion behind those intimate things for pay. I give you a blow job because I love you or at least find you desirable. A whore gives you a blowjob for fifty bucks. She may like you or find you desirable. She may not.

I, as a woman, am constantly policed (often by other women) for whether I am too whore-ish while at the same time, men constantly demand I do intimate emotional work for them regardless of how I feel about them in exchange for them not hurting me.

In other words, women are under constant pressure to not be whores at the same time we’re pressured to be whores.

There is no virgin/whore dichotomy. There’s just whether you’re a whore who’s bossed around by others or a whore who’s her own boss.

We denigrate sex workers and other “loose” women in order to fool women into thinking that there is a “good girl” category you can get into, but there’s really not.

I mean, even look at that term, “loose women.” I know, when I’ve heard it, I’ve thought it meant they had big, over-used vaginas (ha ha, talk about internalized misogyny) or that they were too free with their bodies, but really, it just means they’re running loose. Like a loose horse or loose cattle or a dog that’s gotten loose–it’s not clear who, if anyone, bosses her around.

And I guess, for the most part, I’m a loose woman and I resent the fuck out of anyone who comes along and demands I work for him.

But I also resent that I’m supposed to understand “whore” as a bad thing while at the same time being pressured to do intimate work for others as if that’s my purpose. If whores are bad, stop demanding women be whores for you all the fucking time. And if whores aren’t bad, stop using the term to hurt women.

You Should…

Yesterday I read an article about how women should have fewer children to help the environment. It was written by a feminist. Which means all her previous stuff about women’s rights to bodily autonomy was bullshit.

So, that’s frustrating.

It’s also a numbers problem. The difference between a million and a trillion is staggering. The difference between a thousand of something and a trillion of something is staggering. But at some point, we just perceive those as very large numbers.

Women having “too many” (and is that ever ugly) kids is everyone who is in the ocean right now peeing in the ocean of our environmental problems. Like, it sure seems like it’s problematic, but everything in the ocean pees in the ocean and that’s not what’s ruining the ocean. You peeing in the ocean or not has no effect on the huge atolls of garbage and plastic. The ocean deals fine with pee.

I get that we want there to be individual solutions because we’ve lost faith in collective efforts to change.

But conceding a woman’s right to determine what happens to her body in this one case, even as you argue that it’s wrong in all other cases is just gross and wrong. And forcing women to have fewer children isn’t going to save the environment.

I don’t know. It just really bugs me how quickly bullshit is okay when it’s your side proposing it.

My parents are not packing up the Butcher’s stuff today. Apparently he talked to them about it and made it clear he’d be super pissed off. That did not stop my dad from sitting at dinner divvying up my stuff. He kept insisting that the Butcher come and get half of my dishes because they “need” them. The Butcher’s family has their own dishes.

Maybe this is a weird thought for an opinion columnist to have, but I do wonder if one of the unacknowledged privileges of whiteness is the belief that you should get to boss people around, that it’s fine for you to sit around and think about what people need without consulting with them and then make grand pronouncements you expect to be followed.

I don’t know, really. I also think I get so on edge because I don’t want to be blindsided by nonsense that I then turn everything into too big a deal.

But I’m also glad that the Butcher and I have said out loud to each other on many occassions that this isn’t how we want to be treated or how we want to treat each other.


Y’all, some Redditor thought my willapus wallapus piece was poorly written and as silly as I think that is, I admit, it stings a little. I’m not sure why. Like, I read that piece and I still find it funny as hell.

But here’s the thing that I have noticed over the years writing for Pith. No matter how obviously funny my posts are, a lot of guys don’t recognize them as even attempts at humor. Not me trying to be funny and them just not finding it a joke that strikes their funny bone, but legitimately, I don’t think that, once they’ve assigned a “female” voice to a piece in their heads, they recognize the signals that say “this is a joke.”

I mean, I’m fine with a joke not landing. They can’t all be winners. But the older I get, the more I write, the more comfortable in my writing I am, the more it weirds me out–this unrecognition.


There’s this guy where I work. I don’t work with him. He’s not even affiliated with my employer. He’s just with a group who also has office space in our building. Ever since he started, he’s kind of given me the heebie jeebies, though I can’t really say why. It’s a kind of over-familiarity and standing too close and…I don’t know. Nothing has happened. I keep an eye on him like a hawk. I don’t have any evidence of him deserving my bad feeling.

But yesterday he came up to me in the hall, saying he got a new phone and now he can’t get on the wifi in the building and would I mind typing my user name and password into his phone? Which he then shoved at me. Then he stood too close to me to try to show me how he just couldn’t figure out how to get hooked up to the wifi and I faked ignorance. I said IT had walked me through it over the phone and I didn’t remember what they’d done, but it was a few complicated steps. But he kept thrusting his phone at me.

But finally, he then changed to standing again way too near me and wanting to chat about where IT was and did I have their phone number.

The whole thing was just super weird. Like, every instinct I had said not to touch his phone for any reason and to get away as soon as possible.


Today this news is reporting on this pervert cop over in South Carthage who openly harasses women and everyone knows it. The women he’s harassing are all too poor to hire lawyers and sue the town and the mayor doesn’t want to kick him off the force because he’s just two years from retirement.

So the continued suffering of the women in South Carthage is more acceptable to the mayor than fixing the problem and maybe hurting his buddy.

And he’ll probably continue to get reelected.


It’s hard sometimes not to feel like I am not and will never be allowed equal footing, that it’s too hard to see me as a person.

The Peacock Afghan

God damn it, I really need a cockapus afghan and I need your thoughts on it below! Ha ha ha. No, the peacock afghan is going well. I kind of did up all the changing parts so that I could make sure the color combinations worked how I want and now I have a bunch of ends to tuck and then just the yellow and green rounds on the motif to put together.

I think the thing I find very satisfying about this style of afghan (and it’s going to be very heavily based on the beautiful butthole afghan) is that it feels like it goes quickly. Like there’s both a lot to do and yet not so much that you feel like it can’t be done.

But I’m still irritated at other iterations of peacock afghans I’ve seen, which are just making the peacock eye thingy and then appliqueing it to a different afghan. So you have two layers of yarned shit. How hot must that be?! I want an afghan where the eyes are a part of the structure of the afghan, not sewn on at the end.

And I think the beautiful butthole afghan, with slight modifications for a smaller motif, is the way to go.

I’m getting a lot of work done on the afghan, too, because I’m avoiding my problems. Ha ha ha. But no, it’s nice to come home and just not think about anything. Just listen to some podcasts and move my fingers around.

I sometimes feel like a liar. Not like a regular liar. But I feel like I have three really ingrained instincts–1. to shut down in the face of unpleasantness in order to have the unpleasantness over with as soon as possible; 2. to be the person who sucks it up and does what’s necessary to keep things moving; 3. to keep some important section of myself deeply private (and what section that is doesn’t even matter, just that I have a secret thing I don’t have to share). You can see, I’m sure, how very gendered that is and how it was fed by being raised a minister’s kid.

But it means that many of my interactions with non-friends are often fundamentally dishonest. The person standing before you, laughing along, is not the person standing before you who’s really thinking “Is this enough time to spend on this? Can I excuse myself now?”

So, I’m in this jam and it’s kind of self-inflicted, in that I have a few acquaintances, not people who are my friends, but people who could have, under other circumstances, become my friends, who have a view of me as someone who breezily blows off this online shit and who courts and loves conflict. I am “tough” and “a bad ass” and I “can take a little criticism, so who cares?”

This is fundamentally untrue most of the time. This year it’s been especially untrue. As you all know because I gripe about it so often. I have tried to draw firm boundaries and to make clear that I don’t want to hear the negative opinions people I don’t know have of me. These boundaries, it’s become exceedingly clear, are not firm enough, because these same people keep doing this same shit to me–making sure I learn of all people’s bad opinions of me. And then I sit around and question, well, did I not make it clear, clear enough? Am I making it clear but they’re just not able to hear it because who I am as a person is, in this case so incongruent from who they see me as that they just can’t make it jibe, can’t believe I am who I am telling them I am and not who they see me as? Or are they evil and they think I don’t notice?

But I think this is an older problem with me than just this summer. People perceive me as strong and outspoken and yet my oldest coping mechanism is to go quiet and cryptic and smile and get it over with. I hardly ever say “You’re doing a shitty thing to me.” I instead harden myself against them and try to move them along quickly.

You see why it feels like lying? Like, once I decide you’re not safe for me, I just pull some important part of me away from you, tuck it in a safe spot, and handle you as best I can until I can be done with you.

So, like these people. I think I’ve made it clear that I don’t want to hear this shit–but I can’t really be sure that I’ve been blunt enough, since they seem mostly like good people but they haven’t stopped and I am a woman raised to not be very direct–and my ability to be generous to people who are bothering me is not very well-developed, so rather than continue to try to get them to respect my boundaries, I just begin to fundamentally lie to them. I smile and nod and laugh on the surface and me and my true self just withdraw and wait it out.

I’m not sure if that’s a really fair way to deal with the world.

Ha ha ha. I’m not really sure why this has become the September of Introspection, but I promise, the month’s almost over.

More of the Same

I have a theory, built on an observation, reinforced over the course of this past week, that women divide men up into two groups–dudes you need to keep an eye on and dudes that are some woman’s project (like, she’s working on transforming him into a “good” guy).

So, say you’re in a place. Let’s not mention any specific places, but a big open public place a woman thinks she should be able to go without issue. She steps off the elevator and turns to the right, to head toward the large room with seats and computers. Three men come out of the room to see who’s coming off the elevator. Two of the men dart back inside. The third man moves around in front of the doors she’d like to go in. She gets the sense they’re doing something in the room they’d rather her not see.

How many women do you think would go into that room? Past that third man? I don’t know. I’m going to say a little less than half. But I’ll also say that I think somewhere closer to 3/4 of women would immediately understand why the women who didn’t go in the room didn’t go in the room.

After all, you have to trust your gut and keep an eye on dudes.

But let’s say that one of those guys is the boyfriend of an acquaintance of yours. You don’t know him. You don’t really know her. You recognize him, but he obviously didn’t immediately recognize you.

Here’s the thing women don’t admit. Now more of us are inclined to go in the room. Not because we feel more safe, but because not going in the room means that we’re saying that this man our friend knows is one of the guys you have to keep an eye on.

And you don’t fucking disrespect some woman and her project that way.

The mistake I made this past week was not in misinterpreting what’s going on. But by the time I stumbled on the third fucking group of angry women talking shit about my “privilege” and how disappointed they are in me, it dawned on me: I’m in trouble because I shit on some women’s project. I saw men they’re “working on” as unsettling and their behavior as cause for caution. I impugned their (the women’s) ability to transform these men.

I have a lot of thoughts about how unhealthy it is for women to take it upon ourselves to try to transform men–just starting with how incredibly icky and disrespectful it is to the men and how women are not the civilizing force of society and it’s weird to assume that is your job AND WEIRDER YET to assume it’s your job and then suck so bad at it–but who cares?

The important thing is that I was complaining to the Butcher about all of this and how women are talking about sitting me down and talking to me about my privilege and he laughed and he said, “You should tell them, ‘Sure. Let’s meet in the 3rd Floor Reading Room at the Library some Saturday morning.'”

And then I laughed, too.

Enemy of the Downtrodden

The library post continues to be a pain in my butt. I continue to be pissed at the whole argument that I’m classist. It’s not classism to expect that the bathrooms at the library will be in working order or that the behavior of the men on the third floor will not be sketchy and alarming. It’s classist to believe that because people are homeless, they can’t use the library in a manner respectful to the other people who want to be there.

Plus, fuck it. If my argument is classist, let’s be clear that it’s a different kind of classism than “rich person dogging on poor people.” I am alarmed that I can’t feel safe at the library because I have to use the library. I’m not rich enough to just buy every book that might be interesting to me.

But the other reason it pisses me off that a subsection of feminists is criticizing me is that I feel like there’s this bullshit expectation in this city that women are supposed to either curtail their behavior (oh, men acting weird at the library? You’d better just stay home, woman) or put themselves in danger (a strange man coming up to your car window and demanding to talk to you in order to sell his paper) so that men can do what they want.

You’d think feminism 101 would include “you have a right to participate in public life without harassment from men,” but I guess there are some men whose harassment we just have to tolerate because otherwise we’re big meanies?

You’re Old When the Feminists Hate You, Right?

Apparently, according to the Nashville Feminist Collective, I’m classist because I’m appalled that the downtown library smells bad and people on the third floor when I visited were acting sketchy as hell.

I thought about responding something like “I think ‘classist’ is when you accept behavior in some men that would unnerve you from other men because you’ve decided the men ‘below’ you wouldn’t dare hurt you,” but that seemed unnecessarily antagonistic.

I’ve been around the internet a long time. I’ve been a feminist on the internet a long time. These things come in cycles. But it’s never a good sign for feminists when attention turns from wanting to be able to fully engage with the world without having our gender count against us toward auditing the ideas of other women for wrong thinking.

Not only is it a huge, hurtful waste of time, you can’t behave yourself into freedom. There’s no “if I line up all my ducks in a row and never let them out of line, then I’ll get what I want, therefore, the people critiquing my duck-lining are my friends and doing me a favor.” No.

If behaving properly is what got women liberation, people wouldn’t hate feminists so much.


Yesterday, we were talking about our moms and one of the women asked me when the last fight I had with my mom was and I think it was seventh or eighth grade. Which is not to say that we haven’t accidentally bumped up against each other emotionally since then, but an actual “We’re having problems because you won’t shape up” fight?

Not since I was a pre-teen.

It made me feel like there’s a whole realm of female experience, a whole way of understanding one’s self, that I, and thank goodness, haven’t ever experienced.

I’ve been trying to think about why that is and I think, in part, it’s because my mom doesn’t really understand herself the way that other mothers do. I don’t think she necessarily understands me emotionally–or ever has, really–or expects me to understand her in some intimate emotional way. She’s my mom. I’m her daughter.

I don’t know if I’m getting at this right, but I think being a mom for my mom has been a straightforward thing, a thing that happened and now just is. She worries and frets and shit, but she doesn’t doubt it.

But I see from the outside that other women have these really entwined relationships with their moms, where there can be secret support and secret betrayals and such. We just don’t have that. My mom has never expected something (whatever that thing might be) in return for being my mom.

So, that’s nice.

On the other hand, it has me thinking about the ways we construct these kinds of essential ideas about what it means to be a woman, based on these universal woman experiences, with a kind of expectation that how womanly you are is based on your participation in these shared experiences, and those experiences aren’t available to a lot of women.

Which, in this case, woo hoo! I’m glad to not have a fraught relationship with my mom.

But it does make me think about the ways we construct womanhood and the forms we put people in so that they’re recognizably female.

Women’s Work

Something came up recently that I don’t really want to talk about, but I’m mentioning obliquely here because it’s on my mind and troubling me.

I was reminded of it again this morning when I read this story about a Christian music star who is coming out as gay. The letter he wrote about it is extraordinary–not only because of his honesty about himself and the ways in which he really, really didn’t want to be gay and thought he could just act straight long enough that it would eventually come to him, but because of his honesty about what it did to his wife.

I was also reading recently that it’s very hard for women to get doctors to treat our pain, specifically if it’s related to our reproductive systems, because there’s still this cultural expectation that being a woman is being in pain.

It’s hard to read the story about the Christian music star and not get the sense that his wife is in a very painful spot and that, really, the music star seems to be the only one who is publicly acknowledging that their society has put her in this painful spot–that she’s just expected to mop up after the damage it does to insist gay men marry straight women.

There’s a lot of emotional work that women do that’s mostly invisible. Men get used to this emotional work just happening, I’ve discovered. Most of the most mind-bogglingly strange things that have happened to me in my life have happened because some man needed some emotional work done and didn’t have any idea how to do it himself so he just assumed he could dump it on me and walk away. (And I love processing things with people! So this isn’t “Help me talk this through so it makes sense to me” type stuff. This is something different.)

I don’t know. It’s just troubling. If you hold in your mind the idea that women are always upset, always complaining, then it seems to me it’s easier for you to say to yourself “Well, then, she can just be upset about this, too, so I don’t have to deal with it.”

But you can’t be a whole person if you don’t ever have to deal with your own shit.


The other day on Twitter we were joking around about the latest mini episode of Tanis where Nic’s friend, Geoff, asks him too many pointed questions about who he might be sleeping with. One dude was like “I think Geoff has a little crush on Nic” and I said something like “Hey, you can’t expect a guy to see twenty women eating a cake and not be curious what the cake tastes like!”

And I’ve been thinking about that since then. I was trying to be funny, but I wonder if there’s something to it. We tend to talk about prohibitions on promiscuity being about some kind of evolutionary need to know that the kids we’re raising are ours. And there’s also some talk about fear of women’s agency and pleasure.

All of those thing sound nice in theory, but I guess I think there are kind of fundamental emotions, like raw, primitive emotions, and then more sophisticated emotions.

No thirteen year old boy who calls a girl a slut is worried that her kids aren’t going to be his kids or that she’s got too much agency and pleasure. I think those responses are too sophisticated for him at that point.

So, what’s the core feeling promiscuity engenders in us? And I think it’s anxiety that, if the person we’re with has a lot of experience, they have a lot of experience by which to judge us: i.e. they will know we suck, whereas, if we’re the only person they have sex with, however bad we are will just have to do.

But I also think there’s a mixture of curiosity and shame at that curiosity. If a lot of people want to sleep with your friend, aren’t you curious about what it’s like to sleep with him? But, with strong taboos still on homosexual experiences, how can you satisfy that curiosity?

Best to not have it raised in the first place.


Fortunately, I don’t normally get a lot of trouble on Twitter. But yesterday, one of my friends was talking about how People has this new initiative to get women to share their dress size so that we can all see that beauty comes in every size or some such nonsense.

The thing that struck me about it, though, is that, because it’s about beauty, the women whose pictures are included, by and large, are striking “beautiful” poses while dressed in “attractive” ways while holding up the number that represents their size (because I guess they all have access to more consistent sizing than the rest of America?)

I rolled my eyes, because, of course, we can’t just have “You’re fine at whatever size you are,” because what’s that sell? We have to establish what a “beautiful” body at that size looks like, so even if you make peace with being a size 16, now you can feel anxious that you’re not the right kind of size 16 because you don’t compare to the chicks People has deemed properly representative. And buy the products necessary to relieve your anxiety. That’s the point.

Pit women against each other, set us up to compare ourselves to each other, and then sell shit based on the anxiety that unwinnable competition produces.

But it also struck me that there can’t be any eating disorder specialist who would endorse putting pictures of women up with some number attached so that other women can see how they stack up or if they need to try harder to get to the “right” number or be extra cautious about not “letting” yourself get to that undesirable number.

So, I tweeted at People something to that effect.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. A dude I don’t know @-ed me and some other dude I don’t know. No message. Just drawing other dude’s attention to the fact that I exist and then other dude began hurling insults (though most insultingly, really stupid insults) at me.

A dude sent another dude after me. The first dude, I assume, was monitoring the replies in the People twitter feed to see who had “wrong” opinions and needed to be dealt with.

Can you imagine?

I don’t want to downplay how creepy this is and I do feel a little weird now having come to the attention of a person like this.

But overall, I find this so ludicrous it’s almost delightful. If society is going to have arbiters of what is and isn’t okay to talk about and who can and can’t participate in those conversations, shouldn’t those arbiters be super awesome? Shouldn’t they show great discernment and judgment?

But no! There’s some dude whose set himself up as arbiter and he monitors the People twitter feed.

I will listen to wisdom from my betters, but the dude who monitors the People twitter feed, as evidenced by the fact that he monitors the People twitter feed, is not better than me.

Gawker is Not Alone

Over at Medium:

In August 2014, Jezebel published “We Have a Rape Gif Problem and Gawker Media Won’t Do Anything About It.” I remember when it appeared because I thought it was exciting to work at a company where people were directly questioning authority on their own site — rather than waiting for another outlet to pick up the story — while also recognizing how fucked up it was that they’d had to resort to this. “In refusing to address the problem,” the post read, “Gawker’s leadership is prioritizing theoretical anonymous tipsters over a very real and immediate threat to the mental health of Jezebel’s staff and readers.” When I spoke to several Jezebel staff writers about their decision to publish it, the same narratives came up over and over.

“It took me four years to build up a callus where I didn’t care anymore and I was able to not read how much people hated me. That was so awful psychologically. It’s way worse for women and it’s way worse when you’re writing about women’s issues and it’s way worse when you’re forced to look at graphic images of sexual assault,” former Jezebel senior writer Tracie Morrissey told me about the rape gifs that were littering Jezebel’s comment section. “No one did anything about the rape gif issue until we wrote a public story and called them out for it.”

Old Friends

Elias pointed out that Furiosa has one arm. Max doesn’t have one eye, but he’s hanged, upside down, is chaotic, and at the end, he wanders off.

Oh, hi!

I was thinking on our walk this morning, both how amazing it is that these formations stick with us for so long–thousands of years–and how cool it is that women can inhabit these roles now. But I did wonder what ancient stories we tell about women, if there are similar age-old stories with women at their centers we could recognize now?

A Little Eye-Rolling

I don’t want to end up in any round-ups or in any big way a part of the larger discussion, but I read Mary Robinette Kowal’s comment here and I just want to say that, when you get to a certain age, you recognize the ways that good people who don’t consider themselves sexist reinforce some pretty sexist notions. A big one is that, when a man “upsets” a woman in a professional context, it’s a private matter to be worked out between the two of them, and when a woman “upsets” a man in a professional context, her (male) boss may need to weigh in on it.

And here we are.

Who Does to and Who is Done to

This week I read about two different instances where football teams were shut down due to sexual assault–on younger players. As a part of hazing.

This, I think, is the hardest thing to fight about rape culture. I know I’ve said this before, but I’m going to say it again. We live in a culture where power is sustained through doing things to others they do not want done to them. The football coach tells you to run up the hill and you don’t want to, but you do because he said so. He has power over you. But you don’t have to be powerless. You can stick a broom up a 14 year old’s butt, even though he doesn’t want you to. You have some power.

I don’t know how we undo a culture like this by only insisting men stop raping women. They are only doing to us what’s been done to them.

It’s depressing.

Not Seeing What Side You’re On

I’m really glad that Mallory Ortberg wrote this response to Elizabeth Ellen’s utterly confounding post from last week. I mean, when you’re nervous about writing a post because you’re afraid it’s going to piss feminists off and not because you’re revealing that you molested three children when you were a child (when he was talking about his new memoir on NPR, Charles Blow said that, actually, the majority of molestations happen between children–the average age of a molester is 14 and the average age of their victim is 4. Doesn’t make it any less traumatic.), you are not operating on the same plane as the rest of us.

This whole part:

When I was a young person I molested three children younger than myself; a boy and two girls, one of which was my half-sister. Granted, I was, to the best of my knowledge/memory, nine or ten and the children were all about three or four years younger than I was. I know you’re going to say this doesn’t count. But think of finding me in your five year old’s bed. Think of my grandmother finding me on top of my sister in hers. I was shunned. Rightfully so, I thought. Separated from my sister (I was never caught in the other two cases). I remember being sent down to the swimming pool (who knows the logic behind this) while my grandmother comforted (?) or talked to my sister. I remember feeling like a monster. Ashamed. Crying alone in the water (in my memory it was evening, dinner time; maybe there were other people but in my memory I am alone). I don’t remember if this was the last time it happened. I don’t remember being molested myself (that is the logical next thought, I realize). I don’t know why I did it. I still don’t understand why. (My sister and I don’t talk. I never see her. I don’t know if this is based on what happened then or if this is based on any number of other reasons why half-siblings or any siblings may or may not talk as adults. I have often wondered how much or if she remembers; if it was a traumatic experience for her. I have never asked. I’m still too afraid; feel too much a monster.)

Where she seems unable to imagine that her grandmother might, indeed, be comforting her sister, unable to imagine that this might be why her sister doesn’t talk to her, and, frankly, unable to imagine that her sister might not want her to tell people what happened to her. It blows my mind.

And then the idea that you could know you molested three people, find yourself sympathizing with people accused of rape, and think you have some unbiased insight into the realities of these situations, instead of, you know, you identifying with the accused and not wanting to think that what you did was that bad.

The impulse to believe that, when you tell someone you molested three kids, they’re going to tell you that what you did wasn’t that bad… just holy shit.

When Everyone Knows and No One Says

I don’t really understand what alt lit is. I think I’m too old for it. But I sure as fuck understand how fucked up it is when someone is like “Some one, who I’ll call ‘Stan,’ did something really fucked up to me” and everyone is like “Oh, was it so-and-so?” and they all guess the same guy.

The thing I most “admire” (I wish I could think of a better word, like “admire” but with repulsion.) about dude’s approach is evident in the comments. Any woman who’s older than 25 knows that, if a dude invites you to stay with him and share a bed with him, when you don’t even fucking know him, he’s a creepster. That knowledge may not be enough to help you when you need someplace to stay because you have to make connections and you’re desperate and he’s a “famous” editor and you really want to be a writer. But at least it’s knowledge you have.

And it’s hard to remember that it wasn’t always knowledge that you had. But I slept with people non-sexually in high school. Churches had lock-ins where you non-sexually got to sleep with people! Or you fell asleep on the couch together. Or whatever. You went to camp. You slept in close quarters with people you didn’t know. You sleep in the same bed as friends on trips. Whatever.

You literally don’t yet know that there’s a great luxury to an empty bed, that strangers don’t want you in their luxurious empty beds just so that you can have a soft spot to rest. That a stranger trying to get you into his bed doesn’t have platonic designs, no matter how much you make it clear that that’s all you have.

So, there’s this choad, hiding himself in that vulnerable spot for young women–finding women just out of high school–and then sitting back and letting even other women be all “But how could they not know what he was up to?”

Here’s the important thing, though. And I’m glad Sophia Katz was willing to write about it in such detail, even if it meant people were going to be all “How could she not know?” Because the one thing that’s obvious from her story is that her non-consent was an important part of it for him. He got off on “pushing through her resistance.” He kept setting up situations where she would say “no” and he would keep going. And I’m sure he enjoys seeing people take his side, like she should have “understood” what he was up to from the moment he invited her into his bed.

But, really, no matter what, when you’re invited into someone’s bed, even if you think you’re going to have sex with them, you don’t expect them to rape you. But it’s clear from her story that he wanted her to turn him down–that was part of the ritual for him.

Two Boots Pizza

I went there for lunch and it was fairly busy. There was only one guy in the place at one point. Otherwise, it was all women, just shooting the shit about how to season cast iron and whether you could make a fish have sex with a kernel of corn (obviously not).

It was strange, but nice.

My Role as the Thing That is Judged

I love this piece by Rebecca Traister so much. This part, especially, hit me in the gut:

But at its heart, it was a story about how women are assessed: by disciplinary committees, police departments, their friends, the public, and by the people they identify as their assailants. It was about how female availability and consent and intoxication are appraised based on how women look, dance, dress, and act, even when those appraisals are at odds with medical evidence, eyewitness accounts, inconsistent stories from accused parties, and certainly with the woman’s own interpretation of her experience or intentions.

This comfort with group assessment of femininity in turn reminds me of the ease with which women’s choices regarding their bodies, futures, health, sex, and family life are up for public evaluation. Women are labeled as good or bad, as moral or immoral, by major religions and “closely held corporations,” whose rights to allow those estimations to dictate their corporate obligations are upheld over the rights of the women themselves by high courts.

More and more, I can’t escape the feeling that I am public property, that I am always up for assessment, that power in our society is granted to the people who sit in judgement and, while some people’s “natural” role is that of judge, a whole lot of other people have figured out that they can make a way in this world by working themselves into positions where they prove their ability to judge, and thus given some power.

Don’t get me wrong. I think discernment is an appropriate skill to develop. Discernment can save a person a lot of heartache. But sitting in judgment, as a mode of entertaining oneself? That concerns me.


Man, that comment on that other post has me thinking about how Twisty Faster used to make such fun of that term–empowered. She’d call something, like, oh, say, women “being given the opportunity” to pay for their own birth control out of pocket instead of having it covered like any other prescription by their insurance as being an “empowerful” event. We women were going to be so empowered by all these opportunities (let’s call them “character-building obstacles”) that it would be better than simple, legal equality.

Empowered. At this point, it’s just the polite way of saying women need to be taught a lesson.

Thoughts on the Kool-Aid Afghan Yarn

You can either think of it as dumping Kool-aid on wool or you can think of it as using powders to manipulate which light wavelengths reflect back to your viewer's eyes.

You can either think of it as dumping Kool-aid on wool or you can think of it as using powders to manipulate which light wavelengths reflect back to your viewer’s eyes.

The wool I found at Haus of Yarn is perfect. It’s very natural feeling and looking. It has a kind of homey vibe. It just seems like the kind of yarn someone would hand-dye in a very half-assed way. But they only had five skeins! But they will order me more. So, my goal for this weekend is to get the yarn dyed (check) and then work up some squares so that I know how many more skeins I need so that they can get them for me. I dyed four and left one natural because I want to do a border on each square, so that it doesn’t look exactly like the one I did for B. I’m only now trying to decide if I want all the same sized colored parts or different. See, each row of a typical granny square has three rounds. So, I could do some squares where the colored part is only the first round and the rest are white, some squares where the first two rounds were colored and the last is white and some where all squares are colored.

I’m leaning away from that, though, because I’m trying to strike a balance between the business of the variegation and my desire to not make the whole afghan seem too busy. I want it to be cheeky, not tacky. So, in order to pull that off, if it’s possible to pull that off with bright, fruity colors, I think the trick is to give a person’s eye a place to rest–the white space. And to give the eye some uniformity. You might encounter a lot of variation, but it will be in a regular, predictable pattern.

Ha ha ha. I probably worry too much about the aesthetics of something no one else experiences as an aesthetic object. But man, I really love to sit around an imagine how an afghan is going to look and then I love to see how it actually turns out. It brings me such pleasure every time I piece one together on my bed and am like, wow, damn, I really love this.

My dad asks me all the time about selling my shit, but it’s so ridiculous. I mean, for an afghan I make with just yarn you can get at Walmart, my materials expenses run me $50 and then, if I even paid myself minimum wage, it probably takes me sixty hours to put one together. And something like this–wool is a lot more expensive and the labor costs expand once dying is included. And the idea of charging people hundreds of dollars for afghans that I make? It just seems ludicrous.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. If some rich person came along and asked me to do them up a Kool-aid dyed afghan, I’d sit down and actually figure out what it was costing me and go ahead and charge them the $500 and think nothing of it. But I guess what weighs heavily on my mind is that our culture kind of values handmade things–especially handmade things that are made by women–as being some kind of frugal alternative to real things. You can have a real shirt, or your mom can sew you one. You can have a real blanket or I can crochet you one.

But those are only more inexpensive choices because our work is not taken into account.

And I guess my feeling is that I’d rather do this as a gift to people I care about and feel like we all got value out of it–me, because I got to see if I had predicted in my head a good form for the afghan to take, and the person who gets it, because they got a gift–than I would want to do it as something that needs to pay for itself, because I just don’t believe you can actually get paid what it’s worth. Even on Etsy, I don’t see an afghan for more than $200.

And, like I said, looking at the yarn they’re using, their materials costs are probably less than $50, so, if you never account for labor, $200 is a nice amount.

But it does make me feel, overall, like, if you’re not getting something out of it yourself, it’s not worth it.