easy targets

there are those who will tell you that treating a child with respect and acknowledging that their rights are as valid as our own is spoiling them. there are those that say children should mindlessly obey adults and authority figures no matter what, or else those kids are disrespectful little brats.

these are usually the same people who publicly share stories in which they mock and humiliate their own children for some perceived failing in a way that makes the parent seem clever and powerful and strokes their adult egos, and thus teaches the children that it’s okay to humiliate and belittle disadvantaged people to puff your own self up, to call that “love”, and also that that’s the only “love” they are worthy of, while proclaiming the lesson is actually about “respect”.

there is no reason to listen to anything these people say.


Throwback Thursday- if the sky fell

For Claudia
and for Lisa, who said, if the sky fell, it would only rise again.

Apr 7, 2011

I stumbled over it one morning
in my bare feet and
pajamas, sprawling-
the drink on the night stand
overturned, dripping.
the cat nonchalant
as if she knew it would happen.
only I could possibly
trip over the sky.

We buried it in the backyard.
the way it folded up
and fit into a shoebox
was no less disconcerting than
the way it had fallen,
left nothing behind,
or the way ordinary dirt covered
it up and crab grass
tried to grow there.

All this time all our concern
had been focused on
things below us and
what would happen if the
bottom fell out and
we fell out of power.
so much time wasted on
watching our own
feet, and still tripping.

I think Up has our attention
now. it is all I think
about. not feet but
wings, and never mind that
humans fly like doves
confused by traffic
lights. still we shall have to
rise up and put in
a new sky

only light can drive out the darkness; and where you tend a rose, a thistle cannot grow

When we give so much publicity to what we don’t want, we actually make that stronger. If all we say is “No to Brexit/ Trump/ Bannon/ Sessions/ Tillerman/ etc”, that’s ineffectual. In fact, it’s reinforcing and normalizing the very things that are causing our horrified reactions. Even just saying “No to hate” is a mistaken strategy.

The human brain just throws out the word “no” and “not” when it comes to self-talk. If you tell yourself, “no more smoking for me”, that ends up being “more smoking for me”. And even if you are some incredibly enlightened being who consciously scrutinizes your own every thought, even a cleverly worded smoking-cessation mantra still winds up with you thinking about smoking all the time. Ok, you don’t want to smoke anymore. At some point you must ask yourself, what do you want to be doing? You must focus on THAT.

Really, when we say “no” to something, it’s kind of a “name and shame” thing. Calling out California’s infamous Proposition 8 as hateful (“No to 8; No to Hate”) didn’t stop it from passing. “Naming and shaming” isn’t the most robust strategy, imho. The people who support (Brexit, Trump, Proposition 8) usually react by rejecting your assessment (“we’re not hateful, we’re protecting families”) no matter how they have to reorder the universe to ease their cognitive dissonance (this is often an unconscious psychological defense). Some simply aren’t shamed by your assessment (“yes I hate gays and so does God”). It all seems ineffectual, plus somewhat lazy. It’s easy to say “no” and offer no solutions (and get ignored). You have to offer up an alternative plan or path.

Instead of “No to Hate”, how about “Marriage is a civil right”? Instead of “No to Tillerman”, how about “Rachel Carson for EPA head”? Instead of swamping urban media with stories of how the white working class got left behind and got revenge (ie, what went wrong), how about publishing more stories in rural newspapers about how urban people of color are also working class and they’re struggling as well and how to support a united effort for better outcomes for everyone?

So our long-range plan is still strengthening civil rights for everyone, regardless of class, race, sex, gender, age, ability, non/theistic beliefs, etc, right? (This was our plan all along, right?) Let’s get working on an equal rights amendment to the constitution. Did you know that women are not guaranteed equal rights under the constitution even now? And that’s cisheteronormative women. Couldn’t get enough states to ratify the amendment in 1982. Seriously. So whaddya say we take that amendment out, dust it off, add a few more people (everybody) to the list? Maybe catch up with the United Nations and all that? I’m not exactly the lawyer type, and legislation isn’t everything, but if equal rights aren’t a legally-enforcable expectation by now then we have got some serious work to do.

Something that is more in my line (as far as personal life work goes) is establishing universal preschool (plus before and after school) care, as well as educational reform. I was quite disturbed to know that at the public schools here the children are expected, at recess, to freeze in place when they hear one bell, sit on the ground exactly where they are, and when two bells ring they are to line up in front of their classrooms for further instruction (which they must immediately obey). Authoritarianism much? So it’s not just effective inclusion of all students regardless of genders/races/abilities, reinvigorating the curriculum (fact-based science, nonexclusive history and literature, consumer education, etc etc), teaching to instill a life-long love of learning instead of to memorize facts and tricks/ eliminating unnecessary testing, and bringing back arts, music, and languages to the classrooms (along with a heftier budget and pay for teachers), etc. We need to be teaching respect, compassion, community, self-worth, self-reliance, and how to question authority- in part by practicing all these things in all our dealings with children (and others). These areas need reform in teacher education, doctor education, all college education. This we can start teaching, supporting, and expecting of others and ourselves now.

This, and more, we must do now. I’m sure this is just continuing much of what we are already doing. But we must continue to do it. We must not be thrown off course or distracted. (We must stay safe- stay alive- while we do all this, but we must continue. Me not feeling safe doesn’t mean I stopped thinking I needed to do this- quite the opposite.)

We must fight against the present troubles, but we must grow a new future to take its place as well. Raising up a new world is the most important work of all.

“love trumps hate” sounds too much like “love Trump’s hate”

Today in old news:
Donald Trump has lived his entire life without facing any real-world consequences for his behavior. His businesses fail, he breaks the law, he refuses to comply with judges’ orders, he sexually assaults people, he shamelessly mocks people, threatens people with hatred and violence, openly vows revenge against anyone who doesn’t coddle him, he cheats his employees, he bribes government officials, he refuses to follow any cultural norms, ETC. And yet he is rich and famous and president-elect of the United States.
Instead of any kind of real-world consequence for his behavior, he has received only reward. Because people for some damned reason still think that wealth = power = authority and morality, and so they go out of their way to excuse everything he does and has ever done, things that they would never dream of excusing in others. Hell, Trump can act rapey with his own daughters and call any woman who stands up to him a slut, and people will still stand up for him blindly. PEOPLE, STOP DOING THAT. Stop excusing the inexcusable!  And for godssakes, stop trying to “normalize” his behavior.  It’s not the same thing as changing it for the better!
But I digress. My point: Donald Trump has lived his entire life without facing any real-world consequences for his behavior.
WHY do you think he will change his behavior now?  There is absolutely no reason for him to do so. 
Why do people keep expecting him to become moderate or presidential or something?  What are they thinking?  Are they not receiving input on what he is continuing to do even now?
I keep hearing this expectation, and it’s tiresome.  They expected Mussolini and Hitler to mellow out and be worn down by bureaucratic games as well. Still blows me away.  Such an unreasonable and baseless expectation.


here’s a grinchy stand-up routine I made up, because why not

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Had a very shiny nose
And if you ever saw it
You would even say it glows

what kind of missions is Santa sending his reindeer on, that they come back and have radioactive children?  is this fallout from the world wars?  is someone burying nuclear waste at the north pole?  even magical folk think it’s a bad sign when you start to glow

All of the other reindeer
Used to laugh and call him names
They never let poor Rudolph
Join in any reindeer games

so Santa’s reindeer, whose purpose it is to deliver joy and toys to all the children of the world on Christmas Eve, are basically just assholes the rest of the time?  is that supposed to be a satirical remark on Christianity or something?

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say
“Rudolph, with your nose so bright
Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”

Santa’s all like, I have a magical toy workshop run by magical elves, use magical reindeer to fly around the world in a magical sleigh in a single night, and use magic to fit down any chimney or through any keyhole to get where I need to go, but, fog.  I mean, whatcha gonna do?

Then how the reindeer loved him
As they shouted out with glee
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
You’ll go down in history”

yeah.  hey Rudolph we’ll let you do the thing you were actually literally born to do and have been fully capable of doing this entire time (ie, pull Santa’s sleigh) even though you’re different from us in a way that doesn’t affect your functioning, and that will make us feel so generous and good about ourselves because we were not assholes this one time.  yay Rudolph you’ve saved CHRISTMAS/ most condescending cheer ever.  fact check:  “you’ll go down in history” is the equivalent of “this story will go viral on the internet”.  just Google “inspiration porn”


Ho ho ho  X)


For the first time, atheists and other nonreligious persons are explicitly named as a class protected by the law.

President Barack Obama has signed into law the Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Act. The new law protects atheists, humanists, and other freethinkers around the world from religious persecution.

Congress passed the international religious freedom bill protecting atheists, humanists, and other non-theists last week with overwhelming bipartisan support, and Obama signed the legislation into law last Friday, Dec. 16.

The new law explicitly protects atheists, humanists, and other non-theists, and upgrades the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act. In particular, the new law states:

The freedom of thought, conscience, and religion is understood to protect theistic and non-theistic beliefs as well as the right not to profess or practice any religion.

/Progressive Secular Humanist, Obama Signs New Law Giving Protection To Atheists

I am surprised how much relief I feel that this is a law now, and I am greatly heartened to hear this passed with “overwhelming bipartisan support”.

I am relieved especially for the beleaguered Muslim population here in the states.  But I am also relieved for me. Being an atheist has always been a very dangerous thing in some parts of the country. Maybe people who have always lived in more liberal areas don’t realize how dangerous? It’s good to at least have a law in place. It’s nothing if it’s not enforced, of course, but that “overwhelming bipartisan support” is promising in that regard as well.


content warning: sexual assault/abuse

In the previous feels post, I wrote about some of the ways in which I felt unsafe and demoralized because of who I am and society’s current backlash against those aspects of my identity. One part of my identity is being (and/or being assigned by society to be) a woman.

My conscious mind obviously wanted to forget the issue of sexual abuse, because I didn’t even think of it. I don’t like to think of it. But it’s a prominent reason why I do not feel safe.

The obvious normalization of sexual abuse and discrimination is another scary, scary part of what is going on these days in the U.S. The person just chosen to be the next president is a sexual predator (by his own admission) who does not treat women as people and even thinks of his own daughters as sexual objects (and not even as sexual objects for other men- sexual objects for himself!). And he still won the election.

Do me a favor and replace the words “locker room talk” with “rape culture” whenever you hear them, because that’s what they actually mean. “Oh, that’s just locker room talk” = “Oh, that’s just rape culture.” Also, “boys will be boys” = “boys will be rapists”.

Why is the notallmen argument pure bullshit? Maybe not all men are rapists all the time, but men enable other men to be rapists, do not hold rapists responsible for their actions, do not pursue rapists to bring them to trial, do not think rape is of sufficient import to merit actual consequences. Men excuse rapists as a matter of course. Maybe not all men are rapists all the time, but they sure as hell do have the rapists’ backs. Men empower and defend rapists and, at the same time, shame, humiliate, blame, persecute, and punish rape victims. Maybe not all men are rapists all the time, but men sure as hell don’t treat women (etc) as equal to men, as real and valid people in their own right, as having real and valid lived experiences, as being worthy of respect or trust, as having inherent rights and worth completely separate from any “utility” to men (including the rights to their own bodies and the right to be safe). No, men pretty much act as if they believe the OPPOSITE of that, and also that women are the source of all evil in the world and everything is women’s fault. “Bros before hos” = “rape culture”.

I’ve been sexually abused and raped; I’ve been in prolonged sexually abusive situations. Nobody has ever been brought to justice- hah- nobody would even consider there was anything wrong with what I went through. And this is the status quo.

That’s how things stand now.

That and the fact that women (etc) are still not given equal pay for equal work, are still not promoted (or even hired) according to their ability, are still not taken as seriously as men in any way whatsoever

even if you’re the most highly qualified presidential candidate in the history of the United States with a life-long history of service and success

the people will still choose the least qualified candidate in the history of the United States (with absolutely no experience of service whatsoever and a history of repeated serial failures)

because he is a man and you are a woman

and also they will absolutely hate and vilify you forever with no basis whatsoever except that you are a woman,

and they will threaten to hang you, shoot you, sexually assault you, and lock you in prison forever, because you are a woman.

So yes I am feeling a bit demoralized these days.

How do we get through that mess? How do I navigate? These are the thoughts that go through my head. (There are statistics too, but, really, at this point, they’re not even necessary.)


edited to add:  this just came up in my newsfeed, and I’m feeling post happy