Sunday, May 21, 2017

An Humble Response to Frankie Gaffney's Identity Politics Article About Straight White Males

Earlier this month Frankie Gaffney wrote an article about the harrowing difficulties of being a straight, white male. Granted, he doesn't live in America where we're still dealing with the repercussions of being a society founded on the backs of slavery and racism. Nor is he a gay man in Chechnya. Nor is a woman in the Middle East. However, he still felt compelled to write on the social injustice he faces as a cis-gendered white male. The original article is here:

He originally titled the article "Equating Straight White Men with Privilege is Idiocy."

It looks like he has since changed his prickish title to a milder, longer -

"Identity Politics is Utterly Ineffective at Anything Other Than Dividing People."

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook and here's my response.

Okay, I finally have time to re-read and compose a semi-articulate response to this article.

First of all let me qualify myself here by saying I am a queer, white girl that grew up in a trailer park on food stamps after being removed from my zealous Southern Baptist abusive parents. However, I can still recognize I’m privileged.

Saying your experience as a white person, straight person, male or a combination of all three isn’t saying you’re automatically a 1% living a life of wealth and happiness. It’s saying that if you have one of these traits and especially a combination of the three you’re not going to face in general the social prejudice and snares that a person that is not straight, white, male or a combination (lawd) of all three.

I am queer. I am white. But I can acknowledge that I have privilege as a white person and a straight passing person. Surely, you know that people who are not white, not straight and not male face prejudice and harassment all of their lives. Surely you can acknowledge that.

I take issue with the article right away and I’ll start with the title.

“Equating straight white men with privilege is idiocy.”

Oh, idiocy is it? Only a person of privilege so convinced in the superiority of their opinion would instantly call anyone who takes issue with his feeble opinion “an idiot.” Which the author does straight out the gate so pardon me but --- fuck him.

Then we’re instantly hit with this garbage -

“But people who talk a lot about “choice” and “freedom” chose for me, and decided that’s what my identity should be reduced to.”

I’m sorry. Mother fucker you did not. Choice? No. Look at the work LGBTQ activist are doing within their community. Look at what gay men are dying for in Chechnya. This asshole clearly hasn’t been paying attention. We’ve been advocating that being LGBTQ isn’t a choice. It’s something you’re born with and therefore you shouldn’t be penalized within society. But up to a few years ago LGBTQ couldn’t even marry members of the same sex and it’s still legally acceptable in many cases in America to discriminate against them and not hire them.

Was redlining not a thing? Is gentrification not a thing? Are there laws allowing people to not hire people if they’re not straight? Last I checked that wasn’t a thing. Gay people are dying all over the world but let’s carry on with this dude’s hurt feeling acting like he’s been victimized by actual oppressed peoples of the world that are --- did I mention --- dying.

The author claims -

“The further irony is the most patronising people I’ve ever encountered are the people who explain to me why it’s fine to use words and phrases such as “mansplain….”

Okay? This isn’t fact. This is a blatantly bias experience. Further undermined when he says -

“If the CIA or MI5 wanted to encourage a style of “activism” that could consume an infinite amount of energy, yet was utterly ineffective at anything other than dividing people, it would be the prominence of this very type of politics.”

On what planet is that not self-superior and and patronizing as fuck? This guy is tone DEAF. Tone deaf I yell in a vain hope this dude will ever recognize his own blatant hypocrisy. He doesn’t want people to stop talking identity politics. This entire article is participating in the discourse. He just wants the discourse to happen on his terms. HMM - why oh why could it be that people have started to pinpoint cis-gendered white male fragility as we begin to pursue social justice for the minorities in our society? HMM. Ironic indeed.

“These people don’t want to separate church and state, they want to institute a new religion, just with themselves at the helm.”

Oh the laughable fucking hypocrisy. Nope. that’s not what feminist or black people or gay people want. NOPE. They just want to not face discrimination and have equal opportunities in a world where the majority of leaders taking away our food, clean water, reproductive rights and creating privatised prisons are white males.

“Later on that same day my mate Eric from Tallaght shared a video on Facebook of a woman assaulting a white fellow because he had dreadlocks. This woman has many defenders, who will explain at great length the evils of “cultural appropriation”. “F***in’ eejit” was Eric’s view of her, and I’m inclined to agree.”

Dude has totally mistaken the discussion on cultural appropriation for whatever this bullshit point about cisgendered white males is. He’s so far off the mark. He finishes by wondering ---

“I wonder if the people who spend their “activism” on these issues ever went hungry, ever worried where they were going to live or had their electricity cut off.”

The answer is yes. And you just solidified the problem with you and your ilk. You continue your superiority within society by acting victimized again and again and again and then conjecturing the idiocy and privilege of others you disagree with. THE VERY THING YOU'RE CLAIMING TO DESPISE. When people in Flint (whose population is mostly black) don’t have clean water. When gays in Chechnya are dying. When women in the Middle East are being stoned to death. This guy is grotesque. You wonder if people have had their electricity cut off? I wonder something. I wonder if the author is as fucking stupid, ignorant and self absorbed as he sounds.

As I said in the beginning. I’m smart enough to realize that having privilege as a white person doesn’t mean I’m licking from a silver spoon. If this guy wants to do good in a realm he claims irks him he needs to recognize his privilege triple times over and then grow a pair and get his hands dirty. As it stands this jerk is vile.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Accepting Love is Hard Sometimes

Growing up we're all like - ohemgee being loved is the greatest! Especially little girls like me spoon-fed Disney Princess fairy tales in the 90's and 80's rom-coms and 60's Rodgers and Hammerstein's musicals. Being in love looked like it was the shit. It didn't help that in most of these fantasies being in love usually accompanied a swift marriage and an inherited fortune. Being in love was the bomb. It was like winning the life lottery, the emotions lottery AND the lottery lottery. Love was lit.

Now I'm turning thirty one in a week or two and I have some thoughts. Love is pretty cool but it can also be damaging as hell. Loving the wrong person at the wrong time can get you into some serious shit. Sometimes it can work out but it takes a lot of (well) work, introspection and time to untangle the knots of whatever it is that composes the wrongness of said relationship. Sometimes it takes just as much effort to realize that things aren't going to sort themselves out and it's time to move onto the next life lesson.

Then there are the people that come into your life and they break you. They take your very existence and snap it over their knee like a kindling twig. CRACK! And forever after that love is weirdly synonymous with Disney animal talking companions, heart-rending affection and massive, massive amounts of emotional pain. Your brain gets jumbled. The path to love has a big ole firewall on it and you can't remember the password to access what it feels like anymore. I mean what love really feels like --- that unabashed, vulnerable, fearless kind of affection you can only have before someone tosses your heart in the blender and turns that shit to eleven.

When this kind of thing happens (and it happens to almost all of us in some form or fashion) it becomes far easier to accept the fact that people will hurt, use and lie to us than to accept that they will love us in a healthy way. We start to doubt our own judgement and decision making abilities. Even when someone is affectionate (be it partner, auntie or bestie) we tentatively accept their gentleness with a tentative side-eye and a shaky, uncertain smile. What does this person want? What are they going to DO to us?

The most nefarious phase of the "accepting love degradation process" is when it effects are self-love, worth, confidence bits. I know in my own head the inner dialogue often goes something like ---

"Well, you dated that one guy for five years despite him being completely abusive so how do you really know if this person is safe for (friendship, romance, collaboration, etc)?"

"Look can you just trust me on this one? I've thought about this A LOT and I'm pretty sure..."

"Yeah, well you were pretty sure about abusive five year guy too weren'tcha?"

"Okay, Me. Well, when you put it that way ..."

The damage others do to us becomes truly nightmarish when they exit our lives and we pick up where they left off --- doing the damage they'd still be doing to us on their behalf. It becomes easier to accept varying executions of the same destructive behaviors from whoever we meet. We hurt ourselves, let others hurt us and then wonder in bafflement, "Why ME?" Unable to step outside the cycle and realize that we're the ones proliferating the harm by forgetting our worth or never rebuilding it. When we get rid of someone only to carry on their destructive habits in their stead it diminishes the impact getting rid of them has on our lives.

The product of love can be a beautiful boost in confidence, security, camaraderie and happiness but the product of love can also be a tumorous life lesson that can destroy us if not located and extracted. But we don't see that side of it in Disney films. The best our childhoods can do is imbue us with an wavering sense of self-worth and empathy to prepare us for these sorts of encounters before we're unleashed as adults unto the world.

I want you to take away a few things from this article and I'll tell you what they are.

--- We need to find a real world way to prepare children for the hazards of romance instead of depicting a one sided version of the pursuit of marriage
--- Sometimes we have to take accountability for hurting ourselves because we haven't recovered from damage taken upon the battlefield of life
--- It's okay to consciously, in the present, open your hands to accept love and sometimes as an adult that is very rare and difficult thing to do

Love is not always an instant, youthful, freeing experience that comes rushing through the flood gates and into the dawn of our adult lives, teeming into our souls to rid us of sadness FOREVER. Okay, I'm gonna be honest it's never that way. More often, it takes work to build those gates and cautiously open them and that's okay --- just don't let them stay closed for too long. Regardless, there will still be times you are less than happy. Love is not the antidote to melancholy and poverty as depicted in aforementioned fables. (But I'm guessing you already know that.)

Self love and care is not always easy to generate or access even though the media will depict it as bubble bath and shopping sessions. It's not always easy to craft love for yourself without packaging it in hesitant disdain or fear. Sometimes people have to deconstruct an entire scaffolding of uncertainty and stonewalls bricked in fear to access their own self-worth. That's okay.

Happiness is fickle and sadness is fleeting but love is sustainable. I hope that today and every day we can take down those barricades of fear block by block and use all of those materials that life has given us to build a place for love to incubate. I hope that for you and I hope that for me.

Now go kickass.


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Learn to Dismantle in a World of Production

You’ve found out your coworker has been lying on their time card.  Pretending to punch in and punch out while not really working the hours they have claim they’ve allotted.  Meanwhile, you’ve been picking up the slack, always feeling something was off but never knowing what until now.  You print out your evidence.  You approach them in front of everyone, “You liar!”  You denounce them in a fury but the outburst lands you in as much trouble as the person that has effectively been stealing from the company and causing you stress for weeks and months even as you carried your team forward.

Management isn’t happy with how you handled things.  You’re in as much trouble as your dishonest co-worker?  Why?  Because we consider self-righteous outbursts entirely inappropriate in polite society.  It’s for this reason that most people, having found proper evidence of compromising evidence, would turn it into the powers at be and pursue the appropriate avenues.  Most of us would leave the decision to management or law enforcement.  That’s how we’ve been taught to go about things.  Many companies even provide flowcharts to their employees to inform them on exactly how to go about escalating an issue.  Everyone must do their due diligence.  Anything that usurps the queue is seen as vigilante justice that can land the whistleblower in as much hot water as the probate.  

More and more, I find myself wondering why this is.  How is it that as a society can we be opposed to something inherently good like justice simply due to the way it’s pursued?  Likewise, time and time again throughout history human beings as a community have been patsy to despicable acts of savagery and wrongdoing such as the Holocaust, the Trail of Tears or slavery simply because at that time and place in history and the world such terrible proceedings were considered “lawful.”  What an absurd lot of creatures human beings truly are.

As a collective, human beings are able to accept wholly terrible concepts and actively employ them while shunning wholesome choices for two simple reasons - how the ideals matured within their communities and whether or not they find their peers to be accepting.

The now famous Milgram Experiment conducted by Yale University’s Stanley Milgram tested human subjects to see if they were more willing to harm another if they were ordered to do so by an authority figure.  The subjects falsely believed they were turning a switch to electrocute a volunteer.  Even upon causing the volunteer what appeared to be great pain the subjects continued when ordered to do so by a perceived authority figure like a doctor overseeing the study.  The results of this experiment and many others like it have shown overwhelmingly that the answer is a startling yes, people are willing to harm others in a controlled environment when they are told to do so.  The answer is affirmative even throughout different types of societies.

How feeble our identities and morals are when cast upon the rocks of society as an entity unto itself.  In school we’re taught about the establishment of great nations from America, to Britain and Rome.  However, increasingly, in modern, polite society factual history might as well be fantasy.  The older you become the more you realize how quickly time moves and how truth, whatever that was, is diluted with each of the hundreds of children born each hour.  A new generation swallows up the last.  In a world of smartphones, video games, a shared global economy and lightning fast communication how relatable are stories of nations won over with guillotines, muskets and spears?  At face value they aren’t and we live in a world built on short time spans, flash pan marketing and surface value rhetoric.

Just as the current life on this planet is many worlds removed from the history upon which the present is layer we are many worlds removed from actualization.  Just as there is something nefarious about meeting whistle-blower and thief with the same level of admonishment there is something nefarious about a society that has begun to propagate its status quo instead of the well-being of those that comprise it.

First world countries, Western society, developed nations --- call them what you will --- are living in a global community but also a global dichotomy far removed from the violence exacted by their countries and the devastation felt by underdeveloped communities throughout the world.  Americans are living in a nation that enslaved human beings and denied women rights for over a hundred of year while proclaiming philosophies of liberty and freedom.  We now live in a country where despite slavery and the eventual trials of segregation being a fundamental part of our history there are Americans currently living who will claim that race relations are “worse than they’ve ever been” without the slightest smack of irony.  How can this horrific reality be?

Society is comprised of us all but it takes on a life of it’s own.  Society can be a monster that devours justice when left unchecked by the people and all of the components of a community that produce “us” instead of “I.”  Ernest Hemingway famously said, “Never confuse movement for action.”  We are living in a society unlike any other before it.  We have instant access to information and misinformation that moves at the blink of an eye.  There is a lot of movement.  There is much sharing of this information and misinformation.  But where lies the action?  If we are not careful, the inaction of sharing information then doing absolutely nothing about it will be what represents the people as a whole.  It’s what history will remember as our downfall.

If we are a to create a world that is efficient, clean, healthy and just the people here on this planet and those to come have an incredible important task ahead.  That task is not to learn about the creation of society nor to understand that status quo.  The task at hand is to learn to dismantle societies.  The task is to learn to recognize toxicity and uproot it as quickly moving as society has now come to be.

We have learned to grow, spread information, develop technology and medicine.  However, we have not yet learned to escape impulse and use those technologies to treat and feed all of the world’s citizens.  Until we can do those things all of our progress is for naught.  We are letting our pre-conceived notions of polite society, money and the intensity of truth (perhaps even our fear of truth) impede our ability to support the denizens of this world in a way that is wholesome.This world has been drawn over by the invisible lines and squiggles that form nationalities and it’s all been tied down by centuries of antiquated, now brittle, red tape.  Eventually, human beings must learn to cut through that bureaucracy and dispose of it like the litter upon humanity that it is.

I argue that a vigilante of justice and good is still an executor of justice and good.  We must recognize our bias and that the concept that bureaucracy is not maintaining homeostasis for us all. No, it is simply propagating itself and the powers that lord over the world’s resources.  The world is a flawed place where both flora and fauna are being destroyed.  We must look out ourselves and our communities objectively with logic instead of Machiavellian tactics that trade out words like lies for misinformation to make injustice seem more peaceable.  We have run out of time to be demure about past, present and future.  We must speak out, pursue action with logic and a sound mind but not with the preconceived notion that we must do so in a way that protects authoritarians or relies on their approval.  They will never approve of their demise.

Speak out, people of the world.  Rise up to form something new.  Laws put into place have not protected us or this planet upon which we dwell and rely.  The laws of this land, divided by the claims of imagined nationality have served only to divide the people and plunder the resources that belong not to corporations or politicians but to animal and man.  We are stealing food from the mouths of the world’s children to line the pockets and gild the plates of the grossly wealthy.  Question the looming figures that have become our collective inner voice telling us to obey instead of trusting the agency that we all have over ourselves in many way over one another.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

One Year on YouTube

In four days I’ll have officially been a YouTuber for one year.  I’m really proud of myself for seeing this through.  It’s amazing to look back and say that, barring a few exceptions, I’ve kept up with posting on a weekly and biweekly basis.  It’s been a challenge like no other for this self-titled self-expression enthusiast.

Much of my adult life, made ends meet by doing something I wasn’t crazy about in places I often times despised because I needed money to survive.  More than that, as someone with PTSD and a child abuse survivor I wanted to show I was capable of being a well-adjusted adult.  I’ve only begun to realize I’ve spent far too much time with that chip on my shoulder.  The way I tried to show everyone (most of all myself) that I was a salvageable human being was to pursue a desk job as soon as I could.  My goal then, as it is now, was to be self-reliant.

However, this pursuit wasn’t so that I could buy the nicest things emblazoned with shiny hardware effectively showcasing en vogue brands on handbags or cars.  For me it was about an attempt to experience freedom and liberty in it’s truest form.

For over fifteen years I lived in a situation where I was beaten, slept behind locked doors and when I wasn’t at school I was burdened with chores and babysitting from 5 a.m. until I was allowed to go to bed only after I had completed all of the household cleaning each day.  I’ll tell more of that story one day soon.

My pursuits are alike but dissimilar all these years later.  Now I’ve taken a step back, lucky enough to work with my significant other, and put my skills to use without feeling like I’m selling my soul or trying to keep it cobbled together as PTSD ravaged it.  I took a year to go to college at age thirty for the first time in my life.  I’m still not financially stable but I’ve come to the realization that I’ve obtained many interpersonal skills through my hard fought progress in the business world and with my mental disorder.  Things have changed in that I want to make those things work for me and others in a way that makes sense and embraces who I truly am instead of what I feel I must be.  I’ve had to realize I will never be a person without my mental disorder.

The things that are of the utmost importance to me in my life would be that pursuit of independence (creatively and financially) and to turn the horrible things that happened to me, that riddled me with chronic PTSD for the rest of my life, into something of value and beauty.

Here’s where it comes back to YouTube.  In the past year I’ve started to find my voice with our Survival + Culture tagline.  A tagline I picked because I felt it properly described my drive to talk about how I survived and how I’m trying to turn my life into something more - art even.

I had been blogging and writing for years but I was quickly realizing that popular writing had taken on a different form.  Quick bite sized articles spliced into five tips laden heavily with screenshots of Tweets.  I wasn’t keeping up.  I’m still not on Twitter as I probably should be but YouTube was something I knew I could do and now I’ve fallen in love with it.
Over the past year my channel has forced me to take a long hard look at myself.  I mean this in two ways.  Literally, as in my god, this is how I look on camera?!  Also metaphysically, as in what can I provide to the kind people listening to what I have to say?  The growth that has come due to these questions and that task has been immeasurable.  It’s made me declutter myself and driven me to do the work.

I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to seeing what’s ahead.