Writing in a blog has become, for me, a sort of effort to get out of my own head and out of my own ass. I can’t speak for other writers, but I spend a lot of time thinking. Don’t get me wrong; I’m reading other people’s work, conversations, debates, books (both fiction and non-fiction), and interacting with people, too, but a lot of the time spent in my own head is pondering. Insomnia is great for this whether it’s thinking about something I read or something I screwed up or something someone told me that ignited a spark of understanding, curiosity, or even that uncomfortable, anxious sensation you get when something annoys or upsets you but you can’t quite put your finger on why. Writing is a way to work through what I’m thinking, and blogging is putting it out there so that others can tell me what I got wrong and why as well as what they think I might have gotten right. It’s good to be wrong. Honestly. And I’m getting good at it, at being wrong, after more than 50 years. Practice probably won’t make “perfect” at such a thing, but it makes me better at listening, understanding another point of view, apologizing, and fixing my mistakes, adjusting my viewpoint or opinion. It helps me recognize how much of my bullshit is mine. It helps me to own it so I can act accordingly.
A couple of interactions yesterday put emphasis on a theme emerging daily in my life over the last couple of weeks. It’s in the meme above about recognizing our own bullshit as a way to grow, to change, a way to move forward on the journey.
On Equal Pay Day, moreso than other days, I met some sensitive (male) people who were terribly concerned that someone beneath them might be making some headway toward equality. Most fade into each other, become part of the cacophony of whining and privilege and general butthurt one finds in social media on a day like that. Here and there, I’d find another racist or misogynist who was rude or stupid enough to say the quiet parts out loud, unfiltered. I blocked those lost causes. This one, though, Dan, stood out. He started out by replying to a post by a fellow resister who goes by the handle Mayday Mindy on Twitter:
Mindy’s Tweet caught my eye because, due to her early career, I’ve also been slow to warm to Gillibrand but had been pleasantly surprised when I listened to her town hall (can’t remember for sure, but I think it was with Chris Hayes back on 18 March 2019 if you want to look for it). It was good to have clarification on the Franken decision in Gillibrand’s words, among other topics she covered.
Obviously, I don’t need to go on to you, dear reader, about all the ways Dan’s response to Mindy’s post is ignorant and offensive. I hoped he’d just “blurted” – we’re all guilty of that once in awhile – and didn’t mean what he wrote so replied to Dan’s post with something to the effect that there is nothing funny about the movement or the fact that a few brave people out of many, knowing the likely outcome and consequences, are standing up to their abusers, anyway.
This reply from me sent him on a spam fest of more wild and unsupported and, frankly, potentially dangerous claims. Dan literally started off using the standard tactics people (usually, but not always, men) employ to bully and silence victims and/or women, to keep them from saying something damaging or something that could be in conflict with their internal monologue, their sense of self. He tossed in some gaslighting, of course, telling me I didn’t read what I had just read. The bullying included telling me I’m unreasonable/overreacting, and trying to convince someone [himself? me? not sure. . .] that I have no idea what I’m saying/thinking, that I’m incapable of understanding/reason, incapable of looking at “it” [the subjects or what he said – not clear on “it” exactly] with a “clear point,” and that I can’t accept that I might be wrong. (He obviously doesn’t know my wrong self at all – heehee) Dan heaped on a generous helping of stereotyping including assumptions about me, a stranger to him, based on literally nothing as it wasn’t in my language in the Tweets, in my profile, and isn’t how I roll, that I’m “blind in anger” and overreacting and I should “go back to [my] corner and scream.”
I can only guess with the wild swings and assumptions that there was a fair amount of projection on Dan’s part especially when he claimed I called him a “misogynist.” I didn’t call him anything, though I later wondered “aloud” if he could see how his disjointed Tweets and his language came across to readers. Perhaps he claimed I called him a “misogynist” because he could see how he appeared. After all, if it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, if it is upset you called it a “duck” when you did no such thing. . . perhaps it knows deep down that it’s a duck? Somehow, he managed to accuse me of everything but being “hysterical” though it was certainly implied in the collection of Tweets. He never did back up any of his outlandish and possibly dangerous claims or ideas. Shame, because I wondered early on if there was some place he was going, a point he meant to make. I hoped he’d provide some support, some logic and context. He never did. shrug
I gave up on Dan officially when he posted this Tweet that in my head came out something like, “what our little #metoo movement needs is ‘levelheaded and reasonable men’ like him so it’s not laughable with its crying wolf agenda.” At that point, wherever he is on our big, beautiful planet, he could probably hear my eyes rolling in my head. Seriously, all of us on social media need to consider objectively how what we write will be received. The reader is not in our heads so we need to provide the context, our logic, and support for our ideas, otherwise we sound exactly like this:
He blocked me at about the same time I reposted this gem since I’d clearly given up due to this ridiculous “white savior” post and was close to laughing at the entire thing. I wondered if he was real. It would have been funny if the subject he started with, his belief that victims speaking out against abuse of power, often women and children, had become laughable to him. Sadly, he believed I wasn’t capable of reasonable discussion, but it turns out he wasn’t. There’s only so much we can do, beg for citations, for context, for facts, before we have to give up on a guy like this one. It’s possible Dan didn’t mean to be sexist and to make statements damaging to victims and to this vital movement; he insists he’s “dead serious about everything” he said. It’s possible he really believes his own bullshit. I hope he doesn’t hurt anyone, including himself, but it’s not on me. He’s ultimately responsible for his own bullshit.
So, here I go back and examine some of my own BS from the current day (this was yesterday), but this time it was after a dinner with friends. I found myself saying something I’ve been thinking sort of. . . “around.” All this excitement and love people are showing for Biden and for Al Franken (related to Kirsten Gillibrand’s run, the subject Mayday Mindy was referring to in her original Tweet) – is it affection for the real people? Does it have anything to do with the real people or with their policies? Or is this about the Joe Biden and Barack Obama bromance memes because if it is, those have nothing to do with Joe Biden, the person. They’re jokes, memes, created by random people all over the world using Obama and Biden’s friendship and likeness, assigning amusing interactions to them that never happened.
While Al Franken did good work while serving in Congress, when he chose to leave his seat – emphasis on his choice to leave without even doing internal investigation or hearings – it turns out there were eight allegations of sexual misconduct. We can say that harassment or the other things that give some of us the creeps about both of these characters wouldn’t/didn’t affect their jobs, but what if it did? Obviously, it did in Franken’s case or he might have chosen to wait before resigning. And even if there is no sexual intent, people who have boundary issues (if this is the case as it appears to be in some instances with Biden) are showing they have some trouble understanding a concept as basic as consent. That’s kind of a big deal. In any job. I’m a hugger, too, but I can see the discomfort in photos where Biden’s being oddly familiar with strangers. This isn’t cool now, and honestly, I hope it wasn’t 40 years ago. The “times are different now” thing doesn’t feel right to me. Just because we can put words (such as “personal boundary”) to what was done to people then doesn’t make it okay then but not now. And before you get all “but Trump grabs. . .” two wrongs don’t make a right. I’m aware we have an accused rapist/proud sexual predator in the White House. I’m aware we’re not doing shit about it. Perhaps talking this out and dealing with it could prevent this happening again? Consent is required of everyone, by everyone. Period.
Again, are these feelings of affection and admiration professed for Biden and Franken for them, the real humans, or rather are they for the image they’ve built of these people? We have some idea why people admired Franken’s work in Congress, but why do people love Biden? Other than the “creepy uncle” factor, the video of him giving money to a homeless person (when it appears Biden has no idea someone was watching – it’s a lovely peep at the person), his answering a threat from 45 that Biden would “beat the hell” out of Trump, and his part in the Anita Hill debacle, what do we actually know about Joe, his ideas, his plans, his platform? I’ve not looked real far into Biden since he’s not actually declared, but is this my own bullshit or do these seem like valid questions?
I’m not saying “don’t like or support this person or that person;” I’m saying know why you support them. Be able to explain it, provide evidence, and not feel embarrassed for your logic, for your bullshit. Otherwise, someone like me will come along and point out that you’re being silly throwing unsupported opinions around as facts. See Dan, above.
Okay, then, how about these questions so early in the cycle, before we even know who all is running and before there have been debates?
“But can they get elected?”
“Can they beat Trump?”
“Is America ready to elect a woman?”
First, asking that last question suggests to me that you are not ready to elect a woman and that you might be buying into narratives being pushed in society and by politicians who are working very hard to maintain patriarchal control. Second, you already know the answer. Hillary Clinton won the majority of the votes, more than any candidate for president with the one exception of Barack Obama. And if we would get around to getting a woman in office, to giving a woman a shot, and showing America they aren’t any more or less – what is the word I’m looking for volatile? emotional? – than men, wouldn’t that go a long way toward showing America that, yes, we definitely are fucking ready. We’ve been ready. We shouldn’t have waited so long. If you aren’t ready that is your problem, so maybe stop asking yourself stupid questions and get over your own bullshit.
Our thoughts, the words we use in our own minds to work things out for ourselves, matter. Take a moment right now and ask yourself, “am I ready to elect a woman to be president (or congress person or whatever positions representatives and leaders hold in your country)?”
If the answer to that question is “yes, I am abso-fucking-lutely ready” then never ask that question again, to yourself or to anyone else. You have the answer. Stop letting propaganda, media/political spin, or doubt for something you know to be true push a sexist narrative in your own brain. Stop the bullshit right now. It’ll help you to avoid spouting similar bullshit to wishy-washy others, getting them to question something that is on them to work through and answer honestly for themselves.
If the answer to the question is “no, I might still be under the sway of the patriarchy and all the bullshit indoctrination that comes with being raised in the good ol’ bigoted USA,” then perhaps you need to take some time to work on this. Read, listen to others, find out if it’s really true, as in supported by facts, that women are somehow less than or weak or not worthy. I can tell you none of those things are true about women (or black people or brown people or gay people, etc.), but you have to learn it for yourself. Insist on facts. Dig for truth. It will set you free from your bullshit. It’ll also help to free the rest of us from your bullshit.
“Free at last!”
I’ve written about this before, but now, more than ever, it’s important to understand the difference between opinion and fact even in our own minds. Especially in our own minds. Do a tune-up on the ol’ bullshit detector. Start by pointing it at yourself and honestly, objectively examining your thoughts, speech, writing, behaviors, to be sure your truth is the truth. Knowing our truths change as we grow, is this truth you’re examining now based enough in fact that you can live with it, for the time being? No? Then start there digging for more facts, for deeper knowledge, before you consider spreading that bullshit around where others are liable to step in it.
Will I look back at this post in a month and wonder what the hell I was thinking? wonder how I let my head get this far up my ass to actually share this post for all to see? It wouldn’t be the first time. On the other hand, maybe I’m not wrong this time because our thoughts do become our words; our words become our actions, and so on. Let’s nip that bullshit in the brain, shall we?
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Link: “Stop blaming Kirsten Gillibrand for Al Franken’s resignation” – by Heidi Stevens at the Chicago Tribune
Link: “‘He hugs everybody’: Women divided over defense of Biden” – by Jocelyn Noveck at AP News
Link: “Biden’s Tactile Politics Threaten His Return in the #MeToo Era” – by
by Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Sydney Ember at The New York Times
Link: Pride Goeth – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link: Sticks and Stones – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link to original Tweet from Mayday Mindy.
TL;DR: take some time every now and then to tune-up the ol’ bullshit detector. Start by pointing it at yourself and honestly, objectively examining your thoughts, speech, writing, behaviors to be sure your truth, the narrative you live and push out to others, is as close to the truth as possible.