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  • Has The Left Jumped The Shark With The Trans Biology Debate?

    What we're expected to disbelieve about biological reality approaches QAnon-level credulity Image by Anik Islam from Pixabay Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. - Daniel Moynihan, American politician, sociologist, diplomat, 1983 Has the American left finally jumped the shark? Has it stretched its credibility and influence past the breaking point, as Donald Trump's Capitol coup attempt drove many thousands of voters to switch their affiliation to Democrat or independent last year? The left criticizes the right for its non-commitment to facts nor clearly established reality, such as embracing Trump's Big Lie of a stolen election, along with its overall science-phobic denial or 'skepticism' of climate change and COVID vaccines. Then there's the rise of QAnon: The into-the-ionosphere bugspit-crazy religious fundamentalist-fueled right-wing conspiracy theories so insane social media has been forced to ban them. The left points its scolding finger at the sheer lunacy of what's become of the American right and the Republican party, but what about the log in its own collective eye? The left is no less guilty of science denial. Let's remember how the left embraced the modern anti-vaxx movement's Big Lie linking vaccines to autism, captained by former Playboy Bunny Jenny McCarthy and then-partner Jim Carrey. They relied on their celebrity to influence and persuade others that vaccines harm children, their information drawn from a since-discredited medical journal article linking a childhood vaccine to autism. Some medical professionals question whether her own son was misdiagnosed, since he seems to have 'recovered' as a young adult, and autism isn't a condition one recovers from. McCarthy, Carrey, and many other celebrities suffering delusions of adequacy have done untold damage to children who caught preventable childhood diseases because their parents were afraid to vaccinate them. Not to mention the later damage to the country as a whole when the right embraced vaccine hysteria last year, which has kept America firmly at the top of the global list for infections, deaths and hospitalizations. Yoo-Ess - Finally #1 at something!Source: Bing COVID-19 Tracker Today, there's a newer giant mother of a movement on the left insisting we deny the evidence of our own lying eyes, approaching the level of no less than the right's the-pandemic-is-a-hoax incredulity. Ideology trumps facts in what may be the left's jump-the-shark moment, one that may drive as many away from the left as Trump's insurrection has become GOP voter repellant. Exhibit A Until about twelve years ago, 'transgender' wasn't a word you heard much, and even less likely to encounter such an individual. I met four before the explosion in the late '00s. Today, millions of people worldwide identify as transgender and others regularly state their preferred pronouns except, perhaps, those who need to do it the most. The identification of what once seemed pretty obvious - who's male or female, man or woman - became far more contentious as certain trans-activists increasingly voiced aggressive redefinitions asserting that anyone who identifies as a woman is a woman. Interestingly, transmen's participation is noticeably sparse in this debate. Perhaps because there's no strong push to be permitted into male-only spaces or to be accepted by natal males the way some transwomen have pushed to be included in women's-only spaces and accepted as 'one of us'. What's mind-boggling is how quickly educated, formerly rational minds have assimilated the new assertion that a person with a penis is a woman, simply by demand. Reality is not transphobic 'Transphobic' and 'TERF' (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist) are the go-to labels hurled at those who insist biology is real, and that women need their own spaces to protect themselves from historically predatory men. Especially in female prisons, where sex assaults by 'transwoman' prisoners of female prisoners receive far less press coverage than sexual assaults of transwomen prisoners. I put 'transwoman' in quotes because out-of-the-blue convicted rapist transgender self-identification like the UK's notorious 'Karen White' seems a tad suspicious. It's hardly unreasonable to ask whether a new desire for a convicted sex offender to be transferred to a women's prison and be granted access to women might not be because he suddenly feels like a 'she'. Bring this up, and one is accused of being 'transphobic' as opposed to, say, being 'anti-rape'. Never is it acknowledged, by this small fraction of trans-activists and their supporters, that one can be supportive of the trans movement without necessarily agreeing to every assertion. Just ask Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. She's become the most visible face of biology pushback against a movement she has otherwise clearly historically supported, merely because she asserts biology is real and people with a penis don't magically turn into women on their say-so. We're told that people may not 'feel right' in the body they were born into and that's indisputable because no one knows how someone else actually feels. Before social media and celebrities lent a distinct air of coolness to 'coming out' as trans, a much smaller fraction of the population made real transitions, at least as far as they were financially able to take it, at a time with far less social and familial support and less public understanding of the more unique gender dysphoria, the kind you don't outgrow. CC0 2.0 image by Tim Eytan on Flickr Feelings are real, but not scientific, and they don't always accurately reflect established reality. I once met someone who believed he was almost a literal Anne Rice-style vampire, except of course, he wasn't. We conversed in daylight, for one thing, and for another, he acknowledged he'd never drunk blood. People believe conspiracy theories because they feel right or 'true'. It doesn't make them right or true. Consider the Flat Earth Society. Or Dr. Fauci about alternative methods to prevent or treat COVID. So you can feel like a man or a woman, even though you weren't born that way. Fair enough, but on some level, one can't change one's biological reality. Which is why transwomen don't menstruate and transmen can't impregnate a woman, and some guy in Baltimore doesn't make an ash of himself when he walks around by day. Biology is real A young couple I know have proven it. They had a baby last year. One partner is non-binary (they) and the other is a transwoman (she/her). The non-binary partner carried a baby in their belly for nine months and gave birth the way women have birthed babies for millions of years. I hadn't been sure whether the baby was their partner's. Although the penis didn't prove paternity the baby's eyes certainly did, when I saw the first photos. They were the transwoman's. This miracle could only have occurred with a biological female and a biological male. I accept them and treat them the way they want, because I like them. It doesn't much matter to me what their genes state, incontrovertibly. I can be tolerant because I hail from a lifetime of other 'identities', even though I've never believed or felt like I was one of those personas. Additionally, accepting others' unrealities is comprehensible if you grow up in any sort of religious country. You become accustomed to highly unscientific beliefs you nevertheless go along with, if only to keep the peace. Demonstrably questionable faith-based belief systems aren't always, and don't have to be, toxic. For all Christianity's faults, it's also promoted laudable moral notions of kindness, compassion, redemption, forgiveness, care for the poor and sick, turning the other cheek and yes, even tolerance. Christianity can recognize when it has erred in the past and self-corrected. It fueled and Biblically 'justified' the transatlantic slave trade, but it was Christian abolitionists who ended it. For all its own faults, the fledgling trans movement forces us to question what we think we know about gender. Sincere trans minds ask how important gender is and whether it's fluid. It reminds me of earlier debates we had in college forty years ago about sexual preference, and whether humans are actually bisexual. Are we simply gay/straight/center-bi? I adopted the view I still hold today, that sexual preference is a spectrum, validated by a senior citizen friend who came out as a homosexual (to absolutely no one's surprise) late in life, despite having been married and claiming to be attracted to, and in love with his wife (whom he'd long since divorced). We were told long ago some are 'born gay', and they can't change that, but that wasn't completely true. I know some who say they didn't know they were gay until they were older. Perhaps something within them changed. I knew an adult woman who was a lesbian until she started falling in love with men. 'Conversion therapy' doesn't change desires but unknown biological processes, or changes in the brain we don't recognize or acknowledge yet, may. Photo by Baran Lotfollahi on Unsplash Sex-based brain differences Neuroscientific research invites interesting speculation on just how tabula rasa the left would like us to believe human brains are. Decades-long accumulation of evidence for sex-based brain differences demonstrates there are, in fact, inherent differences in males and females and they do influence behavior. Its significance is up for debate, but a widely-read Stamford University article on brain researcher Dr. Nirao Shah's work concludes that in human brains, the influence of neither culture nor biology is set at zero. Shah's research concerned neural brain circuits regulating specific behaviors, so he focused on aggression, mating and parenting differences between the sexes, since the behaviors are innate survival and propagation essentials. He sought to identify the genes linked to sex-differing behavior and thereby identify the neuronal circuits underneath those behaviors. Sex-based brain differences were hardly unknown to science but they hadn't received much attention. Once they did, the left strongly denied there was any such thing as a 'male' or 'female' brain. That's arguably true, although it's incorrect to say there are no differences. It conflicted with the left's traditional hostility to biological explanations for human differences, with good reason. Conservatives have traditionally used said differences to justify an appalling array of human rights abuses and bigotries, such as human slavery and the oppression of women. Shah's research and many others demonstrate well-documented brain differences in men and women influencing sex-based human behavior. Environment and culture undeniably influence the way each individual grows up as well, but it too isn't the only explanation. We don't have much understanding yet of the underlying reasons for why people identify as male or female or some position in between, but we can observe that 'identification' doesn't always match behavior, which can remain remarkably sex-based. It begs the question of why certain transwomen activists sound and occasionally behave so aggressively male and traditionally misogynist or why they default to classically misogynist names against natal women who challenge them. Many wonder why transmen are less on the front lines, why they're not pushing into male-only spaces, and whether a natal female brain has something to do with it, regardless of the biology/culture makeup. Good (original) girls don't make waves. Some may not want to be defined by their birth body but they can't claim one is a man or a woman merely as 'identification'. Being one or the other in what is and always has been a largely binary world is skin-deep. Genes don't lie. Neither do genitals. Why should we accept genuine, but unscientific feelings as the sole arbiter of reality? Asserting someone is a woman because that's how she feels is clearly disingenuous when she's still got a penis and can grow a beard. Asserting that 'some men menstruate' is equally disingenuous; the menstruating 'man' is biologically a woman. One's brain has to be logically crippled not to recognize the reason female athletes push back so hard on allowing 'transwomen' to compete in women's sporting events isn't 'transphobia' but because transwomen still retain their male-born physical strength and superior speed, giving them a biological advantage over natal females. It's why sports are gendered. There's no sport in knowing who the winner will be before the race. A new scientific study released in December found that transwomen still run 12% faster than natal women after two years of hormone treatment (with only a 5% reduction in strength after one year). Try explaining what a victory it actually is for your daughter's track team to be so woke as to allow a 'transwoman' athlete who beats out all the natal girls, every single time. One wonders why transboys/men don't stampede to compete in male-only competitions. In conclusion When I was younger we laughed at willfully scientifically ignorant religious fundamentalists who denied the world was older than six millennia, instead created in six days. The most extreme believed the world was flat, because a holy book strongly suggested it was. Today we laugh, sometimes through tears, at how willfully scientifically ignorant people are when they claim COVID vaccines 'haven't been tested enough' and haven't demonstrated safety. Many of these same people blithely get a flu shot every year and ignore the clear, in-your-face evidence worldwide that vaccines save lives and the unvaccinated wind up at Reddit's Herman Cain Awards. Say hi to Hermie for us, Meat! Creative Commons 2.0 photo from Super Festivals on Wikimedia Commons How much more in-your-face can you be than the biological reality that you can only change the window dressing, but not the genes? We embrace others' identities every single day, however privately we might disagree with them, and they do the same for us. Our self-image and 'identity' may not synchronize with others' perception of us. 'White privilege' is a perfect example. Think You Don't Have 'White Privilege'? It's Not Your Decision We don't agree with each other on everything, yet we can still be friends with or love others, even if they're Antifa or a Trumper or believe that Hanson was the greatest, most underrated band in the history of the world. Scientific denialism just makes one look ignorant. Facts are facts, and the truth is inconvenient. People can see evidence with their own eyes. Do otherwise sane, rational people consider how they sound when they insist 'transwomen are real women'? Or when they attack someone like J.K. Rowling for insisting, essentially, that the sky is blue? People might pipe down privately because they don't want their lives destroyed by anonymous cowards on Twitter, but behind closed doors they whisper to each other how stupid the left is because it can't face a blindingly clear biological reality. The left has jumped the shark and taken the genuine reality of gender dysphoria much farther than it needed to go. Biology is real. Genes don't lie. Everyone knows it. Including, I'm convinced, deep down, the denialist left.

  • Yes, the Ghislaine Maxwell Witnesses WERE Believed!

    The trial was a big win for sexual abuse victims CC0 image from Pixnio It shaped up to be a tough slog for witnesses testifying against Ghislaine Maxwell at her sexual abuse and trafficking trial, challenged to remember events as they happened twenty and thirty years ago. Wide speculation held it would all hinge on the credibility of the all-but-one pseudonymous victims. Would they be believed? The defense team did what they were paid to do, attempt to discredit them and render their testimony too questionable. It's every witness's worst nightmare, increased by the notoriety and sheer media circus surrounding Maxwell, the one that didn't get away. Nevertheless, the jury returned guilty verdicts on five of six counts involving sex trafficking and sexual abuse of young girls, some beginning as young as fourteen. Maxwell is facing up to sixty-five years in prison. They were believed. I marvel at the sheer courage of the four who testified how Epstein and sometimes Maxwell herself sexually abused them. I'm cowed by the horror they faced reliving the nightmare, describing in graphic detail the horrific abuse of their young bodies by these two sexual predators, ruthlessly cross-examined by a hostile defense team. Epstein can't be tried since he committed suicide in his jail cell a few years ago. But they got his raven-haired accomplice and partner-in-crime. She prospected, procured and groomed his victims for a man who allegedly wanted sex at least three times a day. It's hard for sexual abuse and other crime victims to remember what happened to them even just the night before, much less decades later. When the amygdala, the fear center of the brain takes over from the prefrontal cortex, the more rational part, they're no longer in control of what they pay attention to so they may not be able to answer questions like what was he wearing and do you remember the mole on his neck. It becomes easy to poke holes in memories of ancient crimes, when accusers give different details over several interviews, in this case spanning many years. The defense tried to portray the women as liars, shaming and blaming, but that tactic didn't work. Maybe we're finally coming to grips with #MeToo and the not-exactly-radical observation that rich, powerful men often think they're beyond the arms of common decency and the law. The defense argued the women did it for financial gain, except there was none to be had for testifying; they'd received money already from a victim compensation fund set up by the Jeffrey Epstein estate. All that was in it for them was reliving horrible experiences, being derided as liars and opportunists and--hopefully, making Ghislaine Maxwell pay for the way she colluded to ruin their lives for her eternally smug-faced friend. Yet they got five out of six guilty verdicts. Why were they believed? The defense brought to the witness stand a $600 an hour California psychologist and university professor, Elizabeth Loftus, who specializes in testifying for criminal trial defense teams to discredit witnesses. Loftus brought up many sound, established research findings into the malleability of memory, how false memories can be created, how memories change over time as we interpret them differently, how inaccurate details can be introduced and 'remembered' by witnesses, demonstrating just how suggestible and unreliable the human memory can be. It's unclear why this tactic didn't work as effectively here as it has in other trials. Perhaps we've become more knowledgeable about psychology overall; a jury didn't buy R. Kelly's defense that someone like him didn't need to 'force' young women to have sex with him and that point is pretty inarguable. It's only a credible defense if you believe men only ever 'force' women because they can't get them otherwise. Today, we know far more about male psychology, especially rape motivations, and the satisfaction some receive in controlling, dehumanizing and degrading others, particularly women, for their sexual needs. Perhaps #MeToo has done an effective job of highlighting just how much sexual abuse and harassment of women takes place, even among one's own friends and family. Women speak out more about the experience of having been controlled by an abusive partner or parent, and analyze why they stayed, why they put up with it, and how they were induced to submit. The believability of the Maxwell accusers is something feminists, rape activists and others would do well to study to determine why the highly accomplished Loftus's testimony wasn't accepted by jurors. How did the prosecution respond? What did they say that might have discredited Loftus in the jury's minds? We need to know why. Recognize this victory Here's a sexual abuse statistic that won't surprise anyone: One hundred percent of unreported rapes or sexual assaults result in zero convictions. One major obstacle to finding justice for abuse victims is that so many haven't historically been believed. Many victims may not even report because they're told by others, including other women, they won't be believed. Easier to just pick up your life and move on as best you can. Why go through all that trauma again just to watch the SOB walk free? Other times, the victim is believed and gets a conviction, but some judges are more concerned for the delicate sensibilities of a young rapist in the slammer than they are about the woman whose life he changed forever (perhaps not ruined, but sometimes). Rapists Who Get Off Easy Don't Get Off Scot-Free Still, we need to celebrate the small victories, the baby steps toward making real gains in seeking justice for rape and sexual abuse victims, and not fall prey to the 'progressophobia' of thinking nothing ever changes, or that conditions are worse than ever before for victims. We need to celebrate our victories. We must acknowledge progress. I wrote the above article on rapists to highlight that while convicted rapists may get lighter than hoped-for sentences, the accused still pay a price, even when they're acquitted. While Brock Turner got a light punishment for his conviction, his trial ended his dreams of Olympics glory and today works a low-paying job in obscurity while living with his parents in a small Ohio town. We forget that rape trials are traumatic also for the accused, who endure the massive anxiety of wondering what will happen to him. Of wondering whether the next time he's party to a rape he'll be on the receiving end, in prison. When you're sitting next to your lawyer in the courtroom, there are no do-overs. To quote Dr. Branom in Stanley Kubrick's movie A Clockwork Orange, "Here's the punishment element perhaps." The unpleasant fact is perpetrators must be reported and prosecuted more. A partial win is better than letting them get away with it. Of course, no one wants to be the one to pressure a crying, traumatized victim to report, although I don't see any other way around it. These crimes must be reported, the sooner the better. I hope the public experience of the Maxwell trial gives courage to others who suffered horrific abuses at the hands of entitled, above-the-law men, even those who aren't millionaires. These women were only four witnesses out of 150 victims who were paid out of the estate's victim compensation fund until the money ran out. I'm heartened Maxwell didn't get away with it. Her four accusers were believed and were rewarded with five guilty verdicts. This is a BIG win for sexual assault victims. Let's celebrate our victories, and build upon them for future trials.

  • 'Woke Racism': John McWhorter's Take On What's Wrong With Antiracism

    The religious excesses of 'woke' antiracism closely parallel old-time religion and much of what ails the left Photo by Edgar Chaparro on Unsplash "How is Woke Racism?" my friend asked. "I'm curious, but I want to make sure this guy isn't an Uncle Tom before I buy it." 'Uncle Tom' John McWhorter ain't. The critics of the Columbia University linguist, New York Times writer, race relations author and regular Bloggingheads.tv commentator who hurl that epithet are angry he isn't part of what McWhorter describes as 'The Elect'. He is not, in their minds, a 'real black person' because he challenges their strict antiracism orthodoxy. Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America responds to what McWhorter describes as modern antiracism's excesses. McWhorter's thesis is that Third Wave antiracism (TWA) arose most recently out of the civil rights protests and riots of the previous decade and assimilates a distinct template lifted directly from American religious fundamentalism. 'The Elect's' secular religion requires no gods or afterlife beliefs but contains many elements of faith-based True Believers, as described by social philosopher Eric Hoffer in the 1950s. McWhorter carefully analyzes and dissects the 'new religion' and lays out how he feels this hurts black Americans by infantilizing them, treating them as children and chronic victims even if they don't feel like they are. He argues it sets black children up for failure and promulgates policies consequently harming black communities. He neither damns antiracism nor denies white racism, but he refuses what he sees as racial essentialism coming from certain black antiracists which closely mirrors the traditional racial stereotypes of the past. He finishes with a three-point focus he feels will better serve an ailing, left-behind black America he says is only partially attributable to racism and 'white supremacy'. John McWhorter. Public domain photo by Jasy Jatere on Wikimedia Commons New-Time Religion McWhorter calls today's TWA the birth of a new religion. If some of its more popular claims seem 'out there'--that white supremacy permeates everything, that you are white supremacist (by birth), that America's twelve-generation slavery institution is the sole definition of American history, or that white people must regularly genuflect, grovel before, or even wash the feet of black people to virtue signal their commitment as 'allies'--once viewed through the lens of religion, McWhorter argues, it all makes more sense. McWhorter counts the ways TWA closely parallels America's long-established culture of literalist Christianity. Here are a few of his points: The Elect have superstition. Have faith. Be skeptical, critical, or even downright hostile to facts or challenges to the belief system. Don't ask, for example, whether more white men are killed by cops than black men. The Elect have clergy. The High Priests (and Great White Priestess) of TWA are Ta-Nehisi Coates, promoter of the 'slavery reparations' idea; Ibram Kendi, author of the bestselling How To Be An Antiracist; and White Fragility author Robin DiAngelo, one of the few white people TWA approves of because she offers zero challenge to TWA's racial excesses. The Elect Have Original Sin. 'White privilege' is that which sinners (by birth) must regularly atone and never be completely free from. The Elect are evangelical. Like fundamentalist Christians, their beliefs are the One True beliefs and there's no such thing as an alternative valid opinion. If you've ever argued with a religious proselytizer you'll recognize that same feeling when arguing with The Elect who ignore all their own logical fallacies and contradictions. The Elect are apocalyptic. There's a Judgment Day coming, and no one knows when. Unlike Christianity's Great Judgment, which is described quite concisely in the Bible (it will arrive with all the subtlety of a nuclear bomb), TWA's Great Judgement is some fuzzy day when America has fixed racism, which will only happen after enough groveling and 'self-mortification' occurs. The Elect ban the heretic. This includes old 'racist' tweets, ancient unfortunate Halloween costume choices, and any challenge to TWA holy writ [See: The Elect's clergy]. Cancel culture. 'Nuff said. McWhorter argues TWA's 'woke' racism harms black people with its attempts to 'dismantle hegemonic structures' in a way that accomplishes nothing. He describes a pervasive sense of performative outrage and response doing little more than serve to point a blaming finger and make white people feel bad about themselves. McWhorter has long been a critic of where black people, in his eyes, fall short of attaining the American ideal by holding themselves back. He notes, "People claiming that the 'work' of white-privilege consciousness-raising is a prelude to political action are like kids pretending their forts are for protection. It feels good to say all of this rhetoric and dismissal [cancel culture job loss and reputation destruction] is necessary for changing 'structures'. But the real reason they are engaging in this suspiciously lengthy prelude is that there is a joy almost all of us take in hostility." How effective is it ever to enact change, especially trying to change minds in power, by telling people how awful they are, how they're responsible for everything wrong with society? 'Deplorable' is now a badge of honor in the Trump camp. Good luck convincing them they need to change. Real action for real reformers "I will not retract [this innocent thing I said or wrote], and you can call me anything you want. And if you want to get me fired, I will push back and write about *you* on Twitter." - Sample script McWhorter's plan for action is what he feels will truly benefit black people more than virtue signaling, performative acts of professional or personal destruction, or even protests. Don't be surprised 'defunding the police' isn't one of them. McWhorter's suggestions: End the war on drugs, which will remove this attractive career path for those unmotivated to do more with their lives. Teach kids who are not from 'book-lined homes' (i.e., culturally disadvantaged black kids) how to read via the phonics method rather than the newer 'whole word method', which teaches kids to approach words as chunks rather than sounding them out, since English spelling is considered too irregular for the phonics route. Phonics better benefits kids who grow up without books, where household language is mostly oral. Fund and promote two-year vocational colleges more, rather than trying to make a college education the only route to a successful professional life. He notes not everyone is cut out for college (including many from middle-class homes) and one can earn a perfectly good living as a mechanic, plumber, hospital technician, and many others, all of which pay more than dealing drugs unless you're at the top of the pyramid (which most dealers are not). McWhorter challenges the reader to stand up to The Elect and get used to being called a racist, the Elect's knee-jerk reaction to any critique. He doesn't leave the reader without the proper tools. The last few pages list how to challenge The Elect, or how to handle them if arguing and debating isn't your cuppa. He includes sample scripts on how to handle charges you're a white supremacist, or who are pushing onto your school system a hardcore antiracism curriculum, or what to do if you get flamed and shamed on social media. He encourages the reader not to apologize when they know they haven't done or said anything wrong, and to avoid 'confessions', especially for birth color privilege. McWhorter's tone is straightforward with a thread of subtle sarcasm throughout. His critique is aimed squarely at what he considers the excesses of 'woke' antiracism, and not the movement itself. His language is somewhat academic but not pedantic; he's easily understood without resorting to the 'academic jargonbabble' of the insecure masking that they have nothing really important to say. I've been a follower of John McWhorter for over a year now, on YouTube as well as his written work. What attracted me early to his views on America's race issues is how closely his criticism of antiracists and American blacks closely paralleled my own complaints about the similarly self-infantilizing victimhood-obsessed elements in feminism. One can also easily transfer such critiques to the trans rights movement, which has become hijacked by a small group of loudmouth, in-your-face trans-activists (almost exclusively transwomen) whose words, actions, and reactions to challenges by natal women closely resemble traditional cis-het misogyny, committing all the same fundamentalist religious errors. The American left in many ways has gone as off the rails as the American right, itself steeped in divinity-based fundamentalist religion. The left's religion may contain no gods or Sunday ritual requirements, but too much of it has become no less dogmatic or destructive than the right's old-time religion. The readers who will enjoy and derive value from Woke Racism are found on both sides of the political spectrum and with all skin shades, but not so far down either side that they've become infected with each side's respective unshakeable ideological sanctimonies, and who want to challenge the racial essentialism and downright bigotry against both blacks and whites. It's particularly valuable for those who seek understanding of what's behind antiracism's Elect and need the justification, along with the right words and mindset to challenge them, or simply walk away with one's dignity intact. Woke Racism is a starting point, in my opinion, for everything wrong with the left. It provides useful, real-world advice on how to handle antiracism extremists one can easily apply to whatever 'woke' social justice extremists are screaming in your face. It will strengthen your backbone and if nothing else, make you sleep easier the next time an Elect calls you a racist for some silly reason. Or a rapist or a transphobe or whatever is the epithet du jour. Originally posted on Vocal.media in January 2022

  • When Is Rape Culture Totally Hot?

    When women write misogynist kink for women. Because, like, pirate rape empowerment or something. Photo by Sophie Dituri on Flickr What if someone, under a pseudonym, wrote a kink lit trilogy about a beautiful teenage virgin from a warm and loving home who is raped while unconscious and taken away by the rapist, with the reluctant permission of her parents, to a place far away where she is forced to be naked at all times, is strung up for a man’s pleasure over his bed, is spanked until she technically should have no ass left, is trained to be a slave and sexual plaything for, like, everybody, is beaten and tortured, and pretty much horribly mistreated 24×7 until her spirit is broken and she learns to like it? Then engages in increasingly weirder and abusive sexual adventures consensually — because looking to be brutalized more is apparently the only form of consent Our Heroine possesses in this quartetverse — because she was ‘awakened’ to how ‘boring’ her life had been before she was ‘rescued’ by a Prince who relieved her from the terrible, burdensome bonds of loving parents and personal safety? What if you learned that the mystery kink lit author was a man — especially an unpopular man — say, sex crime-probed U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz, or Alex Jones, or maybe schoolgirl killer Paul Bernardo? Betcha people would be screaming blue murder over the positive depiction of ‘hate-fucking’ and misogyny and violent imagery of sexual assaults on a woman and how just this sort of thing contributes to rape culture. Now what if you learned that it wasn’t Roosh who’d written it, or Bernardo, not even a screaming incel, but instead good ol’ vampire queen Anne Rice? (a/k/a A.N. Roquelare in 1982). And that it was written not for men but for women? Beauty and the Stockholm Syndrome I happened across a New York Times story from 2012 about how Rice’s hardcore kink lit BDSM Sleeping Beauty trilogy was re-issued to capitalize on the 50 Shades of Grey popularity (which made ‘mommy porn’ a household word. Who knew housewives could be so kinky?) One of the comments in the sidebar, though, written by a man, made me stop and think: So– I need to get this straight — men are pigs because they read and watch porn where women are dominated and sexually degraded (everybody knows this). But we now know that it is admirable for women to express themselves by reading “erotica… about being overwhelmed by a pirate, [because] that’s her right.” Huh…? Um….good point. Uh, conflicting messages about rape culture, ladies? I’ve read the first Beauty book, borrowed from a kinky friend, out of curiosity. By page 57 I was quite certain even the most dedicated spanking fetishists must surely be tired of all the damn spanking. I didn’t even think I’d likely finish the book, not because it was alternately offensive, horrifying and boring (boy oh boy did everyone have a thing for spanking) but because I’d vowed never to read another Anne Rice book until she’d learned about the Mysteries of the Plot Line, which were, IMO, missing in action in her first two vampire novels. I stuck with this one because even though its plot line was thinner than a Condé Nast fashion model’s breakfast, it nevertheless existed. Needless to say, I didn’t read the next two books, which I understand involve a move from spanking to sticking everything you can think of up southern regional orifices. Still, the whole time, I was keenly aware that I was reading porn for chicks. And that if it had been written by a man it would be held up as a classic example of What’s Wrong With Men And Misogyny. But…wow. I can see where men — a decent man, by the tone of the commenter — can be confused by the conflicting messages here. Violent porn is bad when men write and read it, but empowering when women do it? The thing is, even if I don’t understand what’s erotic about stringing a naked woman up by her ankles and wrists in the garden and smearing her ladyparts with honey to attract insects, I get that there are people who do. In the olden days I’d have guessed the prime suspects were, ‘men who virulently hate women,’ but now I know there are, apparently, empowered women who find this erotic. At least in fantasy, which is what the Beauty trilogy is. And I do understand the attraction of fantasies, even violent fantasies — because you, the star and producer, have complete control over what’s happening, even if your fantasy is that you have no control. No sane person wants to be in a real situation like that without full control — that’s why BDSM culture has safe words and rules and clearly delineated discussions about consent and permission. Beat me, hurt me, but hold on a minute, Wankel rotary engine, I need a breather. And no, you may not insert an egg beater up my hoo-ha, but yes, the spatula is just fine. Aunt Jemima me, baby!!! Maybe Anne Rice can ‘splain… We should ask the question the NY Times commenter asked — why are men pigs if they seek violent kink lit, but women are empowered when they do? I’m not condemning BDSM/kink lit or culture — whatever floats your boat in a free society, baby, and as long as you go about your somewhat risky business in as safe a manner as possible, which BDSM culture does, have at it. But consider what Anne Rice wrote on her blog about her re-release: It has to be remembered that within the frame of a sadomasochistic fantasy like the Beauty trilogy, the readers are invited to identify with and enjoy the predicament of the slaves. The books aren’t about literal cruelty; they’re about surrender, the fun of imagining you have no choice but to enjoy sex. Beauty’s slavery is delicious, sensuous, abandoned, and ultimately liberating. This is all part of the framework. Now imagine Matt Gaetz saying that. Or saying he identified with the Prince or other Master, and that ‘Beauty’s slavery is delicious, sensuous, abandoned, and ultimately liberating.’ Oh yeah. Or Donald Trump, Roy Moore, Jeffrey Epstein, any other misogynist man you love to hate, or even Ghislaine Maxwell. So how come Anne Rice gets a free pass? Standing outside kink culture, I don’t see any difference between the Beauty book I read, and the violent, humiliating, degrading and dehumanizing porn lit and imagery certain men are flagellated for consuming. Is Rice’s “erotica” more socially acceptable because it’s equal-opportunity abusive? Not just man on woman violence, but woman on man, woman on woman and man on man? 50 Shades of WTF Since I’m a woman who tolerates zero male control in a partner, I seriously don’t get the appeal of 50 Shades of Grey, but hey, I guess for women who like masochism and bondage and submission and especially nailing a filthy rich guy it’s awesome. (Mommy, where do stereotypes come from?) Beat me, hurt me, make me read badly-written erotica. Photo by Mike Mozart on Flickr There’s certainly a double standard going on, and I’m just as confused as the NY Times commenter. Let’s just say it out loud: ‘Erotica’ like Rice’s Beauty series (Ugh, she wrote a fourth one) is contributing to rape culture, an idea that will not sit well at all with the kink community and many feminists (some of which, I suspect, are privately as disturbed by the 50 Shades and Beauty popularity as I am). Let me make something perfectly clear: The kink/BDSM community doesn’t offend me. Violent, degrading, humiliating porn does. Regardless of who writes it and consumes it. Remember the olden days, when women helped pioneer rape culture with bodice-ripping romance novels? I’ve read only a few, they’re not my cuppa, but I always wondered about the rapes women enjoyed complete with orgasms. Is porn desensitizing men to violence against women? Shortly after Toronto’s Jian “I want to hate fuck you” Ghomeshi scandal broke, the Toronto Star asked Is porn desensitizing men to violence against women? Can she truly give consent in this situation? Read it and then consider the following questions. Go ahead, I’ll wait. If violent porn as described in the article contributes to rape culture by making violence against women seem more acceptable, then doesn’t Rice’s Beautyverse also contribute by making it seem like that’s what women really want, and does it ‘train’ some to be willing to accept that treatment? If the Beauty books are just ‘harmless fantasy’, then isn’t violent porn by men and for men as well? After all, as the writer notes, we can watch an action film without wanting to shoot up a mall, right? What about the 50 Shades of Grey series? I haven’t read any of the books myself, or seen the movies, but others argue they glorify rape. If you ask, “Why the hell would a normal, sane man want to watch a woman being choked nearly to death?” why then would you not ask, “What normal, sane woman would want to read about a teenage virgin getting raped in her sleep?” We condemn that up one side and down the other when high school football jocks do it to a drunk, passed-out teenage girl. Maybe the question now is, is violent, misogynist kink chick lit desensitizing women to violence against women? Serious question. Okay, but just remember the safe word is “Mr. Rogers”.

  • Having Sex Is Not A Human Right

    There’s another option for angry, entitled incels besides sex workers and sexbots— and yes, I’m serious about this Public domain image from PxFuel If you’ve ever explored the incel movement — hopefully out of intellectual curiosity rather than a state of chronic sexual grievance — you know how entitled these guys feel to sex, and not just any woman, but with the crème de la crème — the drop-dead gorgeous wank fantasies of every California beach movie. Not you and I, my fellow mortals. Yes, I hear you, thank God/dess we don’t stand up to the exquisitely discriminating tastes of the ultimate arbiters of the female form. The involuntarily celibate famously don’t think women should be allowed to make their own sexual decisions. And because women customarily don’t spread their legs (or lips) for desperately misogynist spoiled brats (unless they’re rich — incels are right about that), said women, the brats opine, should be raped if necessary (‘blackpilling’ in their parlance). Elliott Rodger, the Killer Virgin, and now patron saint of people with dicks shaped like a bicycle handlebar grip, expressed in his lengthy, tedious, turgid pre-murder/suicide manifesto that essentially, No means Yes. Women should not have the right to choose who to mate with. That choice should be made for them by civilised men of intelligence.— Elliott Rodger It’s the crux of what you’ll find in incel forums, man-boys throwing tantrums because their ‘10s’ won’t mate with them. It wouldn’t be surprising if even ‘2s’ and ‘3s’ wouldn’t touch their dicks on a triple-dog dare with a million dollars behind it, either. New York Times op-ed Neanderthal Ross Douthat argued incel murders were due to these guys not getting the opportunity to jack off into women’s orifices rather than that they were entitled, objectifying assholes. (Or “mentally ill”, as right-wing white people call it when white people engage in terrorist acts.) Douthat borrowed and then maimed ideas from an article by Oxford philosopher Amia Srinavasan who pondered whether sexual gratification from others was a human right, and concluded of course it wasn’t. (Which is what you’d expect from a woman.) Douthat twisted her words to make it sound like she was floating a debatable idea (which is what you’d expect from someone who looks like a former incel). Anyone who read her piece in the London Review of Books couldn’t fail to understand she did not think sex with others was a ‘human right’. We need a ‘redistribution of sex’, Douthat argues. He suggests sex robots or escorts could handle these guys (don’t escorts service men sexually already? Oh wait, they expect to get paid for it, the greedy bitches), or maybe we should return to monogamy and chastity — for whom, one might ask, since men as a whole have never considered either as a mandate for themselves. Especially chastity, except in a few cases, and no, Catholic priests definitely don’t count. He also mentions returning to that ‘special respect owed to the celibate,’ by which I expect he means female pre-marital chastity, since men have never been as interested in policing male virginity, not even in religions that mandate both parties should come to the marriage bed crystal-pure. There are no ‘Purity Balls’ for evangelical teenage boys. His argument for monogamy obliquely suggests bringing back the viability of marriage, but if these guys can’t even get laid, who’s going to marry them? Perhaps we need to bring back arranged marriages, not as uncommon or as ancient-historical as we think. We can find a shade of it as recently as the early twentieth century when families had the power to veto a woman’s marital choice, and force her toward the ‘right’ one. This happened to my ancestor who was pushed to married her alcoholic cousin, a ‘good catch’ instead of the man she wanted to marry. Big surprise: Her husband was abusive, and the marriage ended with a then-scandalous divorce. Won’t someone think of the embarrassed family? However, I’m down with Douthat’s sex robots idea. Incels can already buy a RealDoll if they can scrape together $6,000; maybe Walt Disney Corporation can trick them out with robotics to make each ‘10’ as realistically human as any dead President. Maybe the Incel Liberation Front can argue the government should give them a grant, not a loan, since Real Men don’t pay for sex, so they can afford RealDolls. The giveback, of course, is they don’t go on murderous rampages. But there’s another option beyond rape, sexual slavery and sexbots, for men who aren’t Jeffrey Epstein ( and by the way not all incels are white, not by a long cumshot). There’s a way for incels to get all the sex and blowjobs they want. Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels The suggestion isn’t as snarky as it sounds. I’m serious. Men have sex with other men for numerous reasons besides being homosexual or bi. Men have long made do with other men when necessary, and even when not necessary. Just ask all the Republicans and conservative evangelical Christian dudes who got caught schtupping other men. It’s not that difficult a step for incels. The first penis is always the hardest! I mean, consider this, boys: Y’all are obsessed with anal sex. Everyone looks the same from behind! According to a new book by a University of British Columbia sociologist, strongly-identified straight men engage in hookups and clandestine same-sex affairs on the side, and it’s often because they’re not getting enough sex at home. They don’t regard having sex with another man as cheating, and don’t engage in an extramarital affair with another woman because they’re afraid she’ll get ‘clingy’ and pose problems for their marriage. Still Straight: Sexual Flexibility among White Men in Rural America by Dr. Tony Silva notes they’re often politically conservative, including a small otherwise homophobic percentage and some felt sex with men lacked the pressure they felt when having sex with their wives. Most importantly, some did it because they were lonely and craved human touch and didn’t know a masculine way to get it platonically. So it’s not as much of a leap as one might think for incels. Sure, they’ll have to get used to the idea. But you know… Incels can shave really closely, or use a depilatory on their faces, then get together somewhere (after the COVID crisis is completely over, of course!), gather in someone’s basement, turn off the lights and get funky together. Who can tell the difference with all those smooth faces in the dark? And who knows better than men what makes a blowjob so good? (Oh, wait…yeah…not these guys. Ask questions, boys! Ask what he likes!) Men who have ad hoc sex with other men aren’t gay. They’re just making do until they can be with a woman. Incels will simply have to make do with making do. Or grow the hell up, get some therapy, and stop looking at women as living blowup dolls and calling us ‘cum sleeves’ and ‘roasties’. Try it, you’ll like it! Photo by Elvert Barnes on Flickr Men in the Middle East have been engaging in non-gay homosexual relations for centuries. This brings up one possible ointment in the fly. A guy might get to like it. Rather a lot! This happened to someone I knew from the Middle East. He related how the boys and men in his country had sex with each other because access to women was heavily restricted. He’s been with a fair number of women and had girlfriends (after he moved away) but he’s got a real thing for sausage now. “It’s true,” he told me. “I’m still not sure if I’m bi, bi-curious, or just acquired a taste for penis by accident.” He means the last part literally. He’s got a REAL taste for sausage, and I don’t mean Jimmy Dean. And of course, incels can get all the sex they want— or don’t — in prisons. Something to think about before they take up some wack job’s call for rape or mass slaughter since women won’t give it up like Robert E. Lee at Appomattox. Consensual or non-consensual? Your choice! Speaking of soldiers, they’ve done it on the front, and on the sly, as well. The understanding is you never speak of this. What happens in your man-cave stays in your man-cave. Especially with someone else’s man-cave. With a little sexual experience under their belts, incels will no longer be incels. You don’t have to have sex with the opposite sex to lose your virginity. Bonus: Anal sex may even prevent prostate cancer! According to an article my Jimmy Dean friend sent me. It’s not ideal, but it’s a real suggestion. Incels need to remember: It’s not gay unless you come to prefer it to women. Look, the Middle East is famously homophobic but it doesn’t stop them from doing each other. This is only until I get married in September, Ajmal! Your turn. Fast or slow? Teeth or no? Maybe when they’re less sexually frustrated they’ll be less inclined to shoot up a sorority or run down women from a van on a sunny day. The fact is, sex has gone downhill in North America in the last twenty years and we could all stand for a really good lay. No woman, though, will want to shag men raised on porn and misogyny who think vagina is a God-given human right. Imagine incels’ reaction if informed that gay men have a right to their assholes. The problem, of course, isn’t feminism or hypergamy but, you know, standards. Women’s. The kind incels today don’t meet, for some pretty damn good reasons. They want to date light-years out of their league, with women who wouldn’t make them happy anyway. But many mortal women aren’t looking for losers like rich guys Shia LaBoeuf or Mel Gibson, who no sane woman would touch with a ten-foot Hungarian if she wanted to go through life without black eyes or uber-Catholic-laced Sugar Tits abuse, nor do they even require a man to make six figures, let alone seven or more. They won’t nail Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, but they might nail a genuinely wonderful woman who loves him for himself, as long as he gives her something to genuinely love. So go ahead guys, meet up, shag like Spanish fly-crazed little gerbils, and maybe some day you’ll actually do a real live woman. Or, like my Middle Eastern friend said, “Try something new! Put that penis in your mouth and see if you like it!” “I never thought it could be like this, selftoucher04981.” “Yeah, I’m so glad for my dick to finally get to meet someone else, OralBill1991.” This first appeared on Medium in July 2021.

  • Twitter Banned Q-Trumpistan; Now How About ‘Cancel Culture’?

    How much better would Twitter be without the Toxic Left? Scenes from next week: Twitter prepares to punish J.K. Rowling for tweeting ‘Women suckle babies with their breasts’. Photo by Den on Unsplash If you’re even a little active on Twitter, the sudden toxicity drop last year after the platform removed right-wing QAnon-connected accounts following the Trump-fuelled terrorist attack on Washington was nothing short of breathtaking. One day, you saw the usual trending hashtags from trolls, cyberbullies, and bots from both ideological sides: #TrumpIsNotWell #TrumpSavesAmerica #TrumpForever #TrumpTrainWreck #Trump2020 #DestroyTrump #TrumpsMyBabyDaddy. (Okay I made that last one up. Ha ha! No one has sex with Donald Trump anymore!) The next day, you clicked your Twitter button, and trending topics spanned the sublime to the ridiculous: The latest news on the pandemic and public vaccines progress; politics involving people not named Trump; the never-ending British Royals; vacuous celebrity gossip; some musician’s or band’s latest album or video. And of course, who’s getting cancelled for petty stupid crap, blown out of proportion mostly by younger generations riddled with depression, stress, anxiety, and dim prospects for their future; and that was before the pandemic. Now they’re forced to stay home, with even more time to take out their hostilities on anyone and anything. With real villains like Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Derek Chauvin, and Jake Angeli in jail, and Donald Trump cowering in Mar-A-Lago, Generation Self-Esteem consoles itself for its unfortunate unspecial averageness by attacking others over perceived slights and insults, desperately seeking a holier-than-thou narcissism supply fix. As Rowan Atkinson famously described cancel culture, it’s a ‘medieval mob looking for someone to burn.’ After enduring years of criticism for allowing too much fake news, conspiracy theories, disinformation and extremist views, not to mention having enabled the 2016 election to swing to a narcissistic manchild with troubling signs of dementia, social media responded by banning the right’s Great Orange God. Or now, officially, their Golden God. Moses is about to lose his shit all over again. Photo screenshotted from video by News 360 TV on Wikimedia Commons, Creative CommonsAttribution 3.0 Unported Twitter banned over 70,000 QAnon-connected accounts, and the next morning, you could almost hear the birds singing and feel the sun shining down on Twitter. Almost. Then Gina Carano and Chris Harrison got ‘cancelled’ for saying things that upset unemployed children. The grand irony about Carano is she got cancelled for making a ridiculous overblown comparison, of Republicans to Jews in Nazi Germany, by people who committed the same error, with an overblown comparison to Nazis, leaving actual Nazis to wonder, “Which side is ours?” Harrison’s unforgivable crime? To defend someone whose old photos of her attending an Antebellum South party surfaced. In the court of self-righteous, ‘social justice’ warriors’ opinion, the fifty shades of grey harm don’t exist. It’s Pass/Fail, and the punishment for failure is career and reputation execution. For those of us in the Murky Middle, the Toxic Left reminds us that with the worst of the Orange God’s cult banished to the underground, now they were Masters of the Twitterverse. Twitter makes me feel like a pre-9/11 Afghan caught between the Northern Alliance and the Taliban. No matter who’s in charge, it’s going not going to be good. The good, the bad and the ugly of cancel culture Cancel culture isn’t all evil. It plays an important role — sometimes — in addressing important grievances like sexual assault and racism. When people are guilty of genuine crimes or put others’ lives in danger, like ‘Karens’ with itchy 911 fingers, cancel culture serves the public interest by removing dangerous people from the public sphere and giving them something else to worry about than black birdwatchers. Digging up someone’s hidden past is fair game for the same reasons, like with now-notorious celebrity sexual predators. Not so much for ancient grievances not quite on the same level as Bill Cosby. Like going to an Antebellum South party fifteen minutes before white people got ‘woke’ about slavery or being an un-woke mid-twentieth-century movie star like John Wayne. Wayne was a product of his time; we all are. Many of us will find our views, values, and practices quite ‘unwoke’ for 2071. As for minor grievances like antebellum parties or blackface, sure, they’re offensive and we can call them out but no one needs to lose their job over it. Not even if they do it today. Not everyone who offends the Toxic Left gets ‘cancelled’. They may get called out and shamed a bit but still keep their job and career. Sometimes, even, public shaming reveals ‘good to know’ information. Like Armie Hammer’s violent and cannibalistic sexual fantasies. He hasn’t, to anyone’s knowledge, committed any actual crimes but it’s valuable for women to know this about a guy if the information’s available. Not many of us mortals are likely to get asked out by Hammer, but if I was a female celebrity with a brain and concern for my personal safety, I’d want to know. Female celebrities don’t always draw warnings from important celebrity public service announcements, but whatever. Ya makes yer choices. When does cancel culture cross the line? Is cancel culture censorship? Was banning QAnon-addled Trumpers associated with the January 6th terrorist attack censorship? I won’t address that debate here. Mostly because the Trump era pushed my lifelong support for the First Amendment to acknowledging we may need more limits on free speech than public safety and treason. I haven’t made up my mind yet, but part of why I waver is this: Twitter is more delightfully boring than before the terrorist attack. It’s less triggering to check in without 70,000 deplorable ‘conservatives’ and their bots pushing the most execrable views on the rest of us in a forum without the filters and controls of Facebook and Instagram. Now, I find myself wishing, if only we could get rid of the thousands of deplorable ‘progressives’ and their bots looking for ever-stupider excuses to destroy other peoples’ lives over hyper-exaggerated harms. Today, all you have to do is be seen at an anti-Black Lives Matter protest listening, not participating, to lose your job. Sorry, but if it’s lawful and legal to stage a protest, however unpopular, you shouldn’t lose your job for attending. Forbes Magazine: Cancel Culture Is Only Getting Worse Imagine if those professors lost their jobs for ‘being seen’ at a pro-choice rally by students from their conservative Christian school. Which would the über-lefty torches ’n’ pitchforks set cancel? The onlookers or their school? Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported image from Topher Harless Let’s remember: You can still voice unpopular opinions on Twitter. Trump’s fanboys and fangirls are still there, tweeting hateful comments and opinions, but that’s perfectly fair when the Toxic Left’s misogynist deplorables call J.K. Rowling a ‘transphobic cunt’ for daring to stand for women’s rights. If destroying lives and property during a physical terrorist attack is good enough reason to ‘censor’ someone, then maybe it’s okay to do the same for those who would destroy lives and careers for middling reasons. Us Murky Middlers are as tired of the Toxic Left’s moral Purity Police as we are of the sexually-repressed Christian Right’s crusades against female orgasms. Where do we set cancel culture’s limits? How about ‘truth’ over ‘opinions’? After the last four years and its inevitable conclusion at the Capitol, it’s become clear to rational minds that we need to return to ancient standards of journalism, factualism and truth-telling. (You know, like, the 1960s and ‘70s). Nearly 600,000 Americans have died in the past fourteen months because a dangerously incompetent ‘President’ daily tweeted lies, dis/misinformation, conspiracy theories, and insanely credulous faith in medical quackery while discrediting genuine experts with real science to distract from the fact that he had no idea what to do in the middle of a global public health crisis, nor did he care. Not only is the Orange God responsible for this travesty of compassion, but so are every single supporter and voter, including the ones with ‘voter’s remorse.’ Cancel culture’s limits should be at how factual something is (Harvey Weinstein is a dangerous sexual predator) versus opinions (JK Rowling is a horrible person even though her claims about gender are supported with research and hard science). We need to hold mainstream journalists, bloggers, social media and its users to a higher standard of factualism and truth-telling. And not just for the Right. Can Twitter cancel toxic cancel culture? Genuine social justice is still alive in cancel culture; it’s not all cyberbullies and morally narcissistic trolls, the online equivalent of losers walking into a bar spoiling for a fight. Twitter temporarily suspends problematic accounts and labels or removes false or misleading information about COVID-19 or the 2020 election. It implements ‘hash technology’ to remove content like child porn, ISIS recruitment, and white nationalist propaganda. It’s outright banned notorious personalities like Alex Jones, Trump fanboys Steve Bannon and Roger Stone, and even Donald Trump himself before he left the White House, but after the terrorist attack. And of course, QAnon is now QA-Gone. What can Twitter do to remove cancel culture cancer without killing the body politic? There needs to be a greater public will for starters. Twitter’s policy on hate speech is this: You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease. We also do not allow accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of these categories. Shouldn’t trying to get someone fired or their contract cancelled fall under the ‘direct attack’ proviso? It’s a fuzzy area, but the last four years have illustrated we may need to implement more controls on ‘free speech’ than we’re used to. After all, the Founding Fathers couldn’t have conceived of Twitter or other social media platforms, and even if we could ask them, I’d not trust their 18th-century opinions anyway. This rolls outside the First Amendment’s wheelhouse. I don’t have any of the answers but I want to start the conversation. If we’re serious about eliminating ‘hate speech’, we’ve got to go after all of it, and no one has yet ‘cleaned house’ with the Toxic Left. What would Twitter look like without the Toxic Left? Canceling the Toxic Left can’t happen overnight. Here’s why: ‘Acceptable trade-offs’. Let’s return to the Toxic Right for a moment. Twitter has been slower to ban white nationalists for a sticky-wicket reason: It might disproportionately affect Republicans. Some may accept the inconvenience for some accounts accidentally swept into the fight against ISIS terrorists as a small enough price to pay, but Twitter believes banning politicians may not be regarded by the public as an acceptable trade-off to rid the platform of white supremacy content. They may have a point. Trump critics called for him to be permanently banned in 2017 and Twitter held off, fearing the repercussions of banning a sitting President at least until he pushed it too far inciting violence. What’s an acceptable trade-off for innocent, or somewhat more innocent accounts caught in a cancel culture dragnet? It would likely affect mostly private citizens. What would the public’s appetite be if Twitter banned 70,000 hateful ‘wokies’? A more judicious response might be to put a set of policy limits in place and temporarily suspend accounts who attack others and encourage tweeters to get them fired. Later, flat-out ban them, as they did to QAnon, which resulted in a 70% drop in election misinformation on the platform. In conclusion We need cancel culture. Like many well-meaning social justice practices, it’s been used and abused, arguably by millions. I can’t argue we should cancel it entirely when it’s brought down piggy-eyed Harvey Weinstein and mass rapist Bill Cosby and made it harder for Andrew Cuomo to get a date. I favor reforming rather than eliminating it, forcing the Left to confront its own toxic elements as we now force men, white people, religious evangelicals and Trumpers themselves to confront their own toxic beliefs and practices. I’d like to see cancel culture take itself seriously and view itself more like Black Lives Matter: A serious force for justice addressing critical systemic issues that will demonstrably improve the world for everybody, rather than what it is today: A movement more akin to an egomaniacal National Enquirer on steroids, destroying careers and even lives. More George Floyd and less Meghan Markle, kids. You know it’s true. This first appeared on Medium in May 2021.

  • I Confronted My Sexually Harassing Boss And I Won

    Sometimes it works when he has something to lose, too Image by Martha M/Feminism India, Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 on Wikimedia Commons We drove toward the lot where I’d parked my for an early-morning pickup by John, my boss. I felt no trepidation as we approached; we’d enjoyed a perfectly great day together at a tech expo in New York City. John didn’t mind driving in Manhattan like I did. As we pulled up to the curb he put his arm around my neck. “How about a kiss goodbye?” I pulled away. It wasn’t the WTF moment you might imagine. “No, no, that’s not appropriate!” I stammered. “We need to keep it professional.” “Oh, come on!” he said. “Just a little kiss!” “No, no, John, that’s going too far. Thanks for the ride, I’ll see you Monday.” I scrambled out. I drove back to my Connecticut apartment in emotional dishevelment. Goddamn him! He’d now crossed a boundary I’d be forced to address. John and I had a boomerang employer relationship. I met him through a temp agency as I’d begun contemplating a career in computer sales. After a few months, pleased with my work prospecting new business, he hired me. A few months later, he let me go when business took a downturn. A few months after he called me back. He’d needed time to revamp business efficiency. It went well, until I became dissatisfied with the way he’d managed sales. I left. I held other jobs for a few years; then got laid off and threw the boomerang. We met for lunch. I spoke plainly about the problems with his sales management before. He responded to all of them and described the changes he’d made. I came on board a few weeks later. I fell right back into the groove, and my old co-workers were used to seeing me show up periodically by now. At some point, things got weird. John and I knew each other well. We’d gone on sales prospecting jaunts together in the car, and once or twice a year we went to New York City together for big technology shows at the Javits Center. Of course, you talk in the car. Back then, office relations were more fluid than in larger, more button-down corporations, with a lot of jokes and laughter and teasing. By today’s standards, any IT office I’ve worked in would give HR the vapors; back then it forged a sense of camaraderie and teamwork when you could be comfortable with your co-workers; some even grew close. I don’t remember exactly when or how John launched the first trial balloon, but I think the harassment started with little comments here and there. A bit inappropriate, perhaps, but I let them slide. Once he put his hand on my thigh in the car. I don’t think I said anything, but it made me uncomfortable. Like any woman, I didn’t want to rock the boat or create an uncomfortable silence in an enclosed space. I made excuses in my head: He was just being overly-familiar. He didn’t mean anything by it. I knew he should know better, but I let it slide. In retrospect, I wish I’d spoken up but I didn’t; I was younger and in a bit of shock. Little things built up to the New York curbside moment. Sometimes he suggested we go out for dinner. “I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I said. “Not as a date. I know some great restaurants I could introduce you to. You’d love them. One serves terrific dim sum. I know how much you like Chinese food.” “It’s not a good idea,” I said. “Diane [his wife] wouldn’t like the optics.” He dropped it. Once, I was in the office with him and the general manager. We were all standing, talking. John held a rolled-up paper and he lightly hit me on the rump with it. The general manager sort of chortled nervously and I said something like, “Okay, ha ha, that’s enough!” My stomach twinged uneasily. Between the thigh touch and the comments and the dinner suggestion and now this, I wondered if something was escalating. John wasn’t really trying to start an affair with me, was he? Was he insane? I’ve spent a lifetime making excuses to myself for men. Whether it’s boyfriends, partners, family, or employers, when conflict arises I try to avoid scenes. I look at things differently, make sure I’m not overreacting. Am I misinterpreting? Am I being oversensitive? Did he not call because he’s not interested, or is he busy with work? (It would be years before I figured out it was manspeak for I’m just not that into you.) Maybe that’s why I got in the car with John again, for another two-and-a-half-hour trip to New York City. Plus I really wanted to see the tech show. The ones in the Big Apple blew the smaller New England shows out of the harbor. I don’t remember anything untoward about the day; nothing inappropriate, nor weird conversations coming back. Just his bizarre attempt to kiss me, and driving home in a state of fear and fury. Fear because I’d now be forced to deal with this, and fury he’d put me in this stressful, difficult position. I had to figure something out, because I didn’t have the usual address avenues. Too small for an HR department, there was only one person above John, and I couldn’t take this to the company president. He was married to her. I got home, got really stinking drunk, and emailed a close male friend in San Francisco. “Tell someone else at the company,” he advised. “So it’s not your word against his if he fires you and you take legal action.” The general manager. I was on good terms with him, and I’d bet John’s inappropriate rolled-up paper tap hadn’t sat well with him. Otherwise, I’d have to handle this myself. His wife couldn’t find out. We got along well, but I wasn’t sure she wouldn’t fire me. Yes, he was that dumb. He pursued someone in an office in which his wife worked, and outranked him. I spent most of the weekend, as you’d might guess, weighing my options and strategizing. I told the general manager Monday morning what happened. I outlined three things I wanted to keep the peace for everyone: I wanted the harassment to stop I wanted to keep my job I didn’t want John non-sexually harassing me to make me quit He’d been known to do that. If he wanted to be rid of someone, usually a woman he couldn’t fire legally, he’d harass her to departure. “I don’t want you to do anything for now,” I told the general manager. “I need to handle this myself. I’m going to confront John this afternoon. If he starts treating me poorly to get me to quit, I’ll need you to step in and say I’ve threatened legal action if that happens. Don’t say anything unless I tell you. I want him to save face. I want this to end and get back to normal.” Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay Over the weekend, I’d realized John, too, had something to lose if he responded poorly. His wife worked down the hall. She’d find out. How ugly would things get on the homefront? Nor would he want to feed the lawyers. His wife wouldn’t appreciate it, either. He also risked something else: Losing a damn good employee, who would never again return. We’d been on and off for nearly ten years. I knew next to nothing about the computer industry when I’d started, but he’d trained me, and I’d become quite knowledgeable, from the days of Lantastic and Novell to the rise of Microsoft peer-to-peer-networking and Novell’s self-destruction, with some help from Windows NT. John and I worked together through the exciting rise of the Internet and I’d been an early adopter in the office. My role became a ‘hub’ for inside sales, customer service problems and light tech support. I handled the returns and allowances and occasionally dunned old accounts for unpaid invoices. Replacing me, especially with my level of sales experience and product knowledge, wouldn’t be easy. So, I concluded, John had some serious skin in the game too. I made a risky decision. It’s what worked for me, and Gentle Reader now understands how I arrived at my decision. Your mileage may vary. Monday morning arrived with a strategic plan. I stayed in my office to avoid John. We said good morning as he passed by en route to his own. When he stepped out in the morning, I spoke with the GM. The afternoon presented a lucky perfect confrontational opportunity. John’s sales calls were usually close to the office, but on this day he’d be driving down to the shoreline for an afternoon appointment. He wouldn’t return until evening. I wouldn’t see him until the following morning; he’d have plenty of time to think and consider his actions. Good luck with your appointment after this, I thought, heart pounding, as I entered his office about fifteen minutes before his departure. Goddammit, he deserved it. I shut the door behind me. He looked up. “Listen up, because I’m only going to say this once,” I said, speaking up strongly and firmly but not loud enough for anyone to overhear. “Don’t you EVER touch me again like you did Friday night!” I let my anger build, only enough to give me juice without going overboard and saying something unplanned. I’d put some effort into the script, reworking it and running it past my friends. “This is a PROFESSIONAL relationship and it will STAY that way!” I informed him. “You will NEVER touch my thigh like you did once in the car. You will NEVER try to hug or kiss me. You will not make any more inappropriate suggestions about dinner. This is between you and I and no one else needs to know. I expect you and I will NEVER need to have this conversation again. Understand?” He did. He didn’t have much response. The entire rant lasted twenty, thirty seconds. No threats, nothing about my job, no mention of feeding the lawyers. Just a tacit suggestion that if he keeps his mouth shut and goes back to being a good boy no one gets hurt. I turned and went back to my office. I shook as I sat down to my computer, relieved when he left a few minutes later. The happy ending is, “And the lawyers all starved to death.” He met my unspoken demands. The sexual harassment stopped, and no new fresh hell began. John and I never spoke of it again. I didn’t lose my job until John laid me off again a year later, with the country in recession and a dramatic drop in business. We’d all done too good a job prepping everyone for the Year 2000 Techpocalypse, because no one wanted to upgrade. When John let me go again, we both knew it wasn’t forever. I started a new job but it was high-pressure and I’d sunk deep into a years-long personal depression. I caught the boomerang when it returned. “I’m ready to take you back,” John said. “Business has picked up and I’ve made some more changes. This time, Nicole, it can be forever. I have a place for you to grow and move into different roles if you want. You can retire here. There will be no more breaks.” I agreed to return, although I privately knew it might not be forever. I’d begun making plans to immigrate to Canada, but I didn’t mention it. We spent our last two years together drama-free. We even took occasional car trips together, but only to the big tech shows. He never stepped out of line again. There are many different ways to handle workplace harassment, few of them really good ones. Even the official advice to take it up with HR or the offender’s boss can backfire badly, even when he’s not married to her. I was forced to deal with John myself. Hardly an unusual situation for women. But I am, as I’ve stated in an earlier article, a proponent of taking up an offense — any one, really, not only workplace harassment — with the offender first, if possible. It’s not always doable. Like with Andrew Cuomo. He possesses all the power and his hapless female employees — and bullied male employees — have none. Photo by cottonbro from Pexels But some harassers have skin in the game. This is the tale of one such. I believe it’s why I ‘won’ this one. John put his marriage, a good employee, and the company coffers at risk, via a needless lawsuit. He wasn’t a monster; but a great boss in other ways — one of the most creative problem-solvers I’ve ever worked with. He helped launch my IT sales career when I was thirty and still trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. Computer sales, trust me, was the last thing I’d have ever selected, but it caught my fire and I ran with it. My backup was the general manager. If John began acting aggressively to make me quit, perhaps a conversation with the general manager and the threat of lawyers might have ended it. I offer my story as one way to handle this. I don’t suggest others should do what I did. In fact, I offer only one universal takeaway: Each situation is unique. Analyze it, talk to friends, including trusted male friends. Consider all the ways you can handle this and choose the one least likely to get you fired. Especially consider what he has to lose if you make a fuss. Consider whether you’re ready to drag lawyers into it. All these elements will play into your ultimate decision, which may be not to confront him at all. Maybe you’ll stay away from him when possible. Or find another job. You have to decide for yourself. I wish I could offer a magic recipe for my happy ending, but I can’t. Your boss isn’t John. I gambled and I won. I took a risk. I don’t know how else I could have handled it. I didn’t want to continue working in a stressful environment wondering what he’d do next. I didn’t stop the thigh touching. I didn’t stopped the rump-swatting. I stopped his behavior when I felt he’d forced my hand. I did, however, enjoy a jolt of new confidence, knowing I’d stood up to a male harasser and beaten him. I knew I didn’t have to tolerate it, that the outcome didn’t always end badly for the woman. It’s one way to handle it; perhaps not the best. What would you have done? This originally appeared on Medium in March 2021.

  • What *One* Gift Would You Give Humanity?

    Except world peace. Try not to answer like a beauty pageant contestant. Photo by Amy Humphries on Unsplash We solve the world’s problems every week at Archer’s virtual cocktail hour. You’re welcome. She started the practice in April to give us something to look forward to in the early days of lockdown and quarantine. Once we had a dance party to celebrate her birthday. It would be another month or two before we began habituating the Question of the Week. Five or six Canadians Zoom for an hour on Friday night to chat, complain about quarantine and enjoy a drink or two while pondering a Great Question to keep our brains from joining our waistlines in mushing out. Great questions in the past have included: “You have a time machine, you can pick one thing in your life to go back to. Where, when do you go, and do you just observe it from afar or do you change something?” (This inspired my article The Worst Thing That Ever Happened To Me May Have Changed My Life.) “If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?” “My misspent youth: Tell us, if you dare, about some youthful misbehaviour that either taught you an important lesson or was memorable in some way.” Then we stopped thinking about ourselves so much: “Is there a statue or monument you’d like to get rid of, or revise? What would you replace it with, or how would you change it to reflect more aspects of the story it attempts to tell?” “Does free will exist? Is everything that happens determined by what happened before? Are our actions inevitable consequences of the events leading up to the action?” One conversation-provoking question was to imagine our ideal retirement community. Our ideas little resembled long-term communities today, places where old people go to play until they die. We imagined car-less sustainable communities, with great Internet access, and lots of resources to continue learning and pursuing one’s own projects. Libraries. Training centers. A diverse population different from today’s almost all-white LTC residents, taken care of until their end of days by non-white aides and caregivers who, at least today, may never be able to afford such care themselves. Recently we wondered: What ONE gift would you give to humanity, that isn’t world peace, and preferably doesn’t interfere with free will? It turned out our ideas fell under a few highly cohesive themes. Emotional intelligence Archer and a man who jokingly referred to himself as ‘The Emperor’ began with ideas that recalled two Hollywood movies. Archer named a Freaky Friday setup like the 1970s movie in which a mother and daughter exchange bodies for a day. Archer believes that at least once, we should spend a few days or maybe a week living in the body of someone quite unlike us for a brand new perspective. The Man Who Would Be Emperor’s idea was similar — the chance to feel most of someone else’s reality through just a few seconds of touch, which reminded me of the Stephen King book/movie The Dead Zone, where a man returns from a years-long coma to find he has the ability to foretell someone’s future by shaking hands or otherwise touching someone. Except in The Fantasy Emperor’s scenario, you would experience what it’s like to be that person. Not only would you see life from a different perspective, but in the immortal words of the Scottish poet Robert Burns, O wad some Power the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us! Sharing someone else’s reality includes what they think of us. Maybe we’re shocked to find we’re not ‘all that and a bag of chips’, as we might like to think if we’re inclined farther down the narcissist spectrum. Or we might be even more shocked to find that others don’t judge us as harshly as we judge ourselves. My own answer also involved the power of touch, but centered upon one’s self. What if each one of us could experience five minutes of absolute, total peace — our fears, insecurities, and anxieties completely removed — and we saw the world clearly, for the first time in our lives? In other words, what if we lived for a few fleeting minutes the enlightened, joyful ‘clear seeing’ many Buddhist monks experience daily — and then, when it was taken away five minutes later and we returned to our now clearly miserable existence, we were told: You can have that back again but now you must work to achieve it. Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash Most of us are simply unaware, or are too busy struggling to survive, or are too afraid, as a Christian psalm describes, to undertake a foreboding journey through the ‘valley of death’, the darkest parts of ourselves, to face the fears, insecurities and anxieties that keep us locked in an existence far less fulfilling and joyful than the one we might live. Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash Freedom to create and innovate The Artist’s idea suggests one potential benefit that’s been floated as an argument for a Universal Basic Income. She would give humanity the opportunity to set aside a certain amount of time every day for some sort of creative project, and to be encouraged to spend it wisely, rather than, presumably, wasting time bingeing on useless time distraction. It sounds a bit like Google’s ‘20% Project’, itself based on its predecessor, 3M’s ‘15% Project’, initiated in the years after World War II when 3M realized a company must ‘innovate or die’. It allows employees to spend 20% of company-paid time on their own projects, reasoning it will make them better, more creative, more innovative employees, and Google, by extension, a better company. Just imagine if we all had 2–3 hours a day in which we actively engaged in a creative pursuit — writing that novel, painting, learning all six chords on the guitar, starting up your own business, writing that killer app, exploring a better way to streamline an old, kludgy manufacturing process. The funny thing about imagination-capturing projects is they don’t depart when we have to go back to ‘real’ work. Our brains keep working on them, in the foreground if our ‘real’ work is the sort that doesn’t require much brainpower, and in the background if it does. Our mental downtime wastes fewer cycles on the externalities that annoy us, especially those we can’t change. Photo by Med Badr Chemmaoui on Unsplash Fixing those externalities Our nuts-’n’-bolts folks focused on global issues. The Scientist believes overpopulation is our biggest problem and that reducing our numbers would increase environmental stability. One might observe the pandemic is doing exactly that. It’s hard to reproduce from six feet away unless you live with someone. His partner, The Nurse, wanted to remove the desire to commit crimes from everyone, which would reduce a lot of global angst when everyone felt safe (and perhaps more inclined to take up The Artist’s 20% Project). She wondered if it might accomplish the opposite of her partner’s idea and drive up human population with everyone feeling better. Archer considered that feeling safe might make people consider more carefully having children. Archer’s husband, a recently retired tech exec, wanted to give everyone free, non-polluting energy, but only after ten years’ preparation, to give people the chance to think about how to prepare for this future. The Man Who Would Be Emperor, living in dark times in the United States, commented it might just give people ten years to plan for how they might kill their enemies! These ideas all integrate well with each other for a kinder, gentler world. Except, of course, for sustainably killing one’s enemies. Archer’s, The Nurse’s, The Emperor’s, and my own ideas emphasize increasing emotional intelligence, compassion, and appreciating perspectives different from one’s own, all contributing to more peaceful individual existences. This will incline people more toward The Artist’s idea to make more time for creative, innovative pursuits. With eventual free clean energy provision, and perhaps a slow reversal of climate change (or more brainpower to plan better for the impetus we’ve created we are now powerless to stop), we would also work toward The Scientist’s dream of a more sustainable environment with fewer people vying for scarce or limited resources. And we’d have something else to do besides shag irresponsibly. In other words, to quote an Internet meme I’ve seen: What could we accomplish if we stopped being dicks for just, like, five minutes? Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash What would your one gift to humanity be? I’m curious! This was first published on Medium in 2021.

  • What’s So Terrible About Short Guys, Ladies?

    What if he doesn’t have Short Guy’s Disease? Al Pacino is eye level with Tom Cruise at 5'7", but it hasn’t stopped him from bedding some of Hollywood’s most beautiful women. Photo by Barakaldo Digital on FlickrCC0 2.0 Ladies, and by this I mean single ladies, I ask you — what is this problem you have with short men? I mean sure, okay, maybe if they have Short Guy’s Disease. Taller than me by an inch, but only with both heels on the ground. That is, as many know, the condition some men acquire when they feel they have to overcompensate for their perceived ‘short’comings by acting like a hyper-aggressive manspreader. Even if you’re small, you can act like a big dick. Short guys have a reason to be fairly irritable — they’re discriminated against by women who overwhelmingly desire tall men. On every dating site, you’ll find women who want tall tall tall tall tall tall TALL TALL TALL!!! I really don’t get that. Who the hell cares if he’s short? I sure don’t, as long as he’s still taller than he is wide. (Corollary for shallow men: Prospective women must be ‘athletic’, politically correct singledudespeak for THIN THIN THIN THIN THIN!!!) Even older women — old enough to know better — buy into this size obsession. Haven’t they been through enough bad relationships, bad marriages, and bad treatment by idiot men who are tall and strong and can act like total dicks because — well, they can? (Corollary: Good-looking women who act like bitches because the hotter they are, the more shit they know you’ll take.) But no, some women never learn. Personally, I don’t give a damn how tall a guy is as long as he’s not @#$%in’ crazy or alcoholic. I think there’s such a thing as too tall. Many years ago, when I was still living in Connecticut, I had a Summer of Tall Men. One was a guy who was 6’3, an Internet friend I had a fling with in New York. The next was 6’4, who I met through a dating service. The one after that was 6’5, also through the dating service, and I was afraid to go back because the next one might be Lurch. “So, what do you like to do for fun?” Image by skeeze from Pixabay And no, I hadn’t specified ‘tall’ in my profile. These cloud-huffers came after me. I concluded my maximum cut-off (ar ar) for tall men is 6’3″. My cut-off for short guys is —I don’t think I have one. I’m 5'3 myself and I’m not sure I even know any men shorter than I. My big concerns are: Is he crazy? Is he alcoholic? Does he do everything his dick tells him to? Is he chronically depressed/life is over? You’d be amazed how much response you get when you put in your profile, “Short guys welcome!” (At least from those short men who bother to read profiles.) A handy rule of dumb is that those with Short Guy’s Disease are like dogs. The littlest ones make the most noise. Then there’s this guy: Believe me, being short hasn’t hurt this guy none. If you must be short, cute goes a long way. The late great Davy Jones (5'3) would agree with me. Photo by Jay Tambooli on Wikimedia Commons. Creative CommonsAttribution 2.0 Generic You might be surprised how short many celebrities are in person. I swear a few are lying about their height, or maybe their publicists are. I met Michael Berryman briefly at Fan Expo in Toronto several years ago. He’s That Guy you’ve seen in a million movies, the one who always plays villains and heavies. His most famous role is one of the cannibal savages in the original The Hills Have Eyes. We chatted briefly and I was surprised how short he was — almost eye level with me. I marveled at the mastery of Hollywood that they made him look so large in his famous movie. Some sources on the Internet say he’s 6'2, others 5'11. He’s probably lost a few inches as he’s getting up there in years. So, maybe originally 5'll? Another alleged skyscraper that made me think, “WTF? the magic of Hollywood!” was Lou Ferrigno, allegedly over 6' tall. I didn’t stand beside him, but not long ago I was By Stefan Borggraefe — Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 just a few rows away as he spoke on a stage, and he didn’t look very tall. Like, not much taller than I. He and Berryman may be losing height in their old age, or maybe I’m just losing my eyesight in mine! Anyway, I wouldn’t kick The Incredible Hulk out of bed for needing the stepladder to reach the top shelf. Ferrigno’s still hot in his sixties. Great inspirational speaker too, having overcome deafness and bullying from earliest childhood. Other hot short guys in Hollywood include Joe Pesci (my height exactly!), Emilio Estevez, Jon Stewart, Martin Sheen and Dustin Hoffman. Martin Scorsese, a giant among movie directors, also stands on his toes in a crowd next to Joe Pesci and I at 5'3. And Woody Allen, not my cuppa shagga-shagga but he has been for millions of other women, stands at a mere 5'5, although given how old he is he might need to stand in line with me and Joe and Martin. And you too, Davy! Yeah, I know Woody’s a scumbag, but he’s been married three times and partnered with Mia Farrow and Diane Keaton, and he seems to have a knack for nailing really young women. Is it because he’s a shady predator, or because even young women have free will and agency and a yen for older men? I leave that to others to debate. Gene Simmons of KISS says everything men do, they do to impress women. He claims it’s the reason they become athletes, form rock bands and even build cathedrals. Every big-and-bigger erection, he says, is to impress women. Okay, I would have guessed God for those big-ass churches but maybe the earliest Freemasons did it for the opportunity to strip off their tunic in July for the ladies. Haply the lasses shall forbear bidding me Aldric the Smelly now! Short guys are awesome. I’ve dated plenty. Tall guys are fine, too, but requiring height is a little pointless, especially if you decry men who mandate an ‘athletic’ body. Just look for someone who’s not too crazy, doesn’t have a lot of self-inflicted health problems and who’s fun to be around. I’d rather be with a short fun guy than a tall self-worshipping egotist. Some wicked good guys won’t necessarily tower over you. And that’s a good thing. Because I have just one word for you when you’re kissing them: Whiplash.

  • The Worst Thing That Happened To Me May Have Saved My Life

    20/20 hindsight, 20 years hence, with reverse engineering My mother country is self-destructing. I had no idea how lucky I was in 2000. Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay “You have a time machine, you can pick one thing in your life to go back to. Where, when do you go, and do you just observe it from afar, or do you change something?” Well, THAT was easy. “Piece of cake,” I responded. “I know exactly what I’d go back and change. The worst mistake of my life.” The question came via my friend’s weekly Friday evening Virtual Cocktail Hour, a tradition she started in April. After chit-chat, we answer one interesting pre-chosen question of the week. So, so many times I wished I could return to the spring of 1993 and just be friends with Jerry instead of embarking upon a just-over-seven-years relationship, with a break while he dried out and sobered up. So much sturm und drang before I realized he had a drinking problem. So much hope and comfort after he got serious and kicked the bottle. I thought now it was forever. It wasn’t. He waltzed in one night and said, “We have to talk.” Those ‘Bob is God’ details I love backward-engineering my life’s turning points, good or bad. Like the ‘Bob is God’ trash can in college. Traveling around campus drowning in a cloud of breakup depression and the certainty I would never be noticed by a man again, I often passed a trash can upon which someone had mysteriously etched ‘Bob is God.’ One afternoon the guy behind me in Psych class asked a fellow student, “Who is Bob and why is he God?” I turned around and laughed along with them as we speculated what the hell that was all about. Jim was my first real love. Through him, I met a new crowd with whom I’m connected to this day. My life pivoted with new friends and an intro to geek/fan culture via a medieval re-creation society. Graduations and life travels created breaks in the friendships B.F. & A.F. (Before & After Facebook) but my life digressed from a more conventional path saving me, as I see it, from a far blander life. I’d been a weirdo in high school who craved ‘normalcy’ and found it in college; who knew returning to the ‘weirdoes’ was where I’d ultimately find satisfaction? The wallflower became a belly dancer, i.e. the post-high school equivalent of the Head Cheerleader, via the road taken. Bob, or Trash Can Vandal, you have no idea how you changed a life! Blame it on Buffy. Or Jerry. Or Ireland. For twenty years I’ve dealt with the fallout of Jerry’s ‘We have to talk’ moment. It would be unfair to lay the next fifteen years of misery on him since I’ve struggled with depression on and off my entire life, including a lot of anger issues stemming from my early adolescence I can’t explain. I remember pre-school feelings of self-doubt and quiet inferiority I can’t pin on my family or school bullies. The last five years have been me finally climbing out of the mental pit I dug. Jerry may have handed me the shovel, but I’m the one who insisted on digging so deep. We humans possess the most marvelous computers in the Universe between our ears, creations more complex than our most sophisticated technology, and boy oh boy it’s a shame we can’t periodically reboot because brains ‘blue screen’ more than a Windows 98 beta. Although Jerry is behind me, he hurt me badly enough that, unlike other past lovers or partners, I want nothing to do with him. Ever. When I find we’re sharing a social media platform, I block him in case he gets any dumb ideas about contacting me again as he has in the past — I’m convinced, just to be friends, but it’s still triggering. The friend-ship sank in the harbor twenty years ago. It’s occurred to me while watching the Ignited States slouch toward Gomorrah, as a great book title once put it, what a favor Jerry did for me, even if I didn’t see the benefit for two full decades. He wasn’t like the ‘Bob is God’ trash can, the only catalyst that changed my life. Both were, though, the original catalysts in two key turning points. Today, I’m in a more stable place rather than what Donald Trump might call a ‘shithole country’, thanks to ol’ Jer. It’s a longer reverse engineer: My cyber-friend near Toronto encouraged me to move here because I couldn’t get into Ireland. I tried to move to Ireland thanks to a news story I’d read around 2002 saying it wanted to become the Silicon Valley of Europe, and I was in I.T. Moving away for awhile appealed because I was chronically depressed and wanted to escape my nowhere life in Connecticut. I knew this guy near Toronto because we’d gotten friendly as mutual fans on Usenet’s alt.fan.buffy.the.vampire.slayer back in 1997. And I began watching Buffy because of Jerry. The idea of an entire TV series based on a loser 1992 movie the critics hated sounded like a supremely stupid idea. Jerry said, “Oh, we have to watch it! It sounds really good! Joss Whedon, the creator, hated what they did to his movie. The TV show is what the movie was supposed to be.” “I’m tired of vampires,” I said. And this was well before Twilight, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, and the endless succession of boring beautiful bloodsuckers infesting the early decades of the new century. “Let’s just watch the first few episodes,” he said. It was way better than I’d guessed, and I fell in love with Giles. Then Spike. Buffy is why I started hanging out on the Usenet group and cyber-met Larry near Toronto, eh. We became good friends off-newsgroup. His mother died, Jerry and I split up, and when Ireland fell through, Larry encouraged me to come to Canada. Why did I immigrate rather than move temporarily? Canada wants immigrants, not half-assed will-they-stay-or-will-they-go semi-perms. Also, blame it on Bush. “You had the right idea! You knew what was coming all along!” Actually, I didn’t. I look terribly prescient to my American-imprisoned friends with 20/20 hindsight. Okay, I knew the country was ambling down the Highway To Hell under George W. Bush. When I saw the famous Abu Ghraib photo in the newspaper, I thought, “This is not the country I grew up in.” Public domain photo from Wikimedia Commons We tortured prisoners now. Political prisoners. Republican politicians and reactionary xenophobic mouth-breathers bobbled their slack-jawed heads in terrifying approval. “I want to get out of here,” I said. My devolving countrymen weren’t the only reason why, but it added urgency. I never foresaw the state of the States today. I never imagined we’d be dumb enough to elect a moron like Trump. Or that we’d prefer conspiracy theories and fake news over reality, even as a killer virus rips its way through a country whose collective IQ more closely resembles a residential neighborhood speed sign. Last week, we hit four Vietnams in COVID deaths with double that projected by January 1st. Words fail to describe how grateful I am not to be living in the COVIDed States anymore. I’m barely on speaking terms with my mother country. I can’t believe how willing it is to fail. Make America Great, indeed. What a joke. But no one’s laughing. What would have happened if Jerry and I had stayed together? I’d surely be living in Trump’s AmeriKKKa as my compatriots commit maskless, mass suicide, pitching tantrums over social distancing and a shut-down economy, dragging out their own torturous death throes as the world slams shut its own borders to America. Remember when Americans worried about people trying to get in? That was, like, January. The reverse-engineering exercise Reverse engineering is figuring out how something works by starting with what it does and tracing backward leading to how the thing began. When you apply it to your life it can reveal hidden insights that can change your perceptions. I’ve been thinking about Jerry a little differently since I realized I have him to thank for my living here and not there. I’m not going to send him a fruit basket or anything, but I’m experiencing a little psychological relief as a result. What would have happened if I’d never left the U.S.? I’d be mired in near-hopeless, perhaps suicidal depression. Maybe unemployed, staring down poverty with no real safety net, and a president who didn’t care about anything that wasn’t him. Surrounded by hateful people whose lives had always sucked and who wanted everyone else’s to suck too. Misery loves company. I might well feel like those remaining Jews in Nazi Germany, no longer allowed to leave, realizing they’d waited too late to follow the smarter ones out the door. Stuck in a sea-to-shining-sea prison, goose-stepping toward totalitarianism, mindlessly chanting “Make America Great Again!” instead of “Seig heil!” What would I do if I could go back in time and change one thing? Maybe I couldn’t risk messing with my life and staying in America. Maybe I’d have to let that first ill-fated meeting with Jerry take its natural course. Maybe this was the only way my headspace could lead me to a civilized country before it was too late. The worst thing that ever happened to me was the best thing that ever happened to me. Who knew? This first appeared on Medium in August 2020.

  • Child Abuse: Where Abusers & Victims Learn Their Craft

    Why do we still not understand this? Free for commercial use photo from PxFuel I haven’t wanted children since I first gave it serious consideration, as I prepared to catapult into adulthood upon high school graduation. Growing up, I’d always assumed, as most people do, that I’d have children one day. It never seemed real, and once I actually began to consider it (not soon!) around 17, I found that kids didn’t fit into my plans. Granted, my ‘plans’ at the time were pretty stupid: I wanted to go to Hollywood and be an actress. My father had other plans: I would go to college, which he had been saving up for since I was nine. I wouldn’t have cut it as an actress. I was like Penny on The Big Bang Theory — more enthralled with being a Movie Star than any real interest in the craft. I’m glad I stuck to my guns on children rather than my childish fantasy. I thought it through, like birth control and what I’d do if I got pregnant anyway. No question: Abortion. Not everyone should have children. Too many do it without thinking, or by default. Oopsie, I’m pregnant, well, I don’t want to make the ugly abortion decision so I guess I’ll have the baby. Worse, society takes a dim view of adoption and women who consider it are ‘mom-shamed’ with, “How can you possibly give up your own child?” If they’re not ready for parenthood, they shouldn’t assume the mantle. They deny that child the possibility of a better life. (I’m thinking of someone I know whose mother did the right thing by choosing the adoption route.) The decision is easier for the guy. He can choose to opt out if he wants. It’s not fair, but that’s biology. The onus is mostly on the woman. Still, both need to take the potential oopsie seriously. Men need to think about where they shoot their seed and women need to consider harder whom they allow to shoot their seed into them. Because raising children isn’t for the uncommitted, and ruining children for life is always a joint effort, regardless of who’s present, or not. Recently I wrote about the toxic vulnerability in female psychology that impels some women to fall in love with abusers or even worse, serial killers and other prison cons. I am reminded once again of just how much some people shouldn’t have children. Like, the sort of people who breed abusers and serial killers. The research started for a friend’s movie project, just as I was finishing up, ironically, a book called When She Was Bad: Violent Women and the Myth of Innocence by Canadian writer Patricia Pearson. She describes how female serial killers and abusers may be far more common than believed, and how polite society is far more willing to excuse violent female behavior than males’, especially if she claims prior abuse. The abuse defense doesn’t hold for men raised in similar circumstances. Prior to the Pearson book I re-read James Gilligan’s now-classic Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic which catalogues how some of the most violent men in prison can detail hair-raising stories of physical, sexual, and mental abuse growing up. Tales of being locked in closets, burned, starved, neglected, raped, tortured. Consider this: Behind many hateful, misogynist, violent men are little boys who were abused and neglected by Dear Old Mom. Not all men abused by the early women in their lives grow up to become abusers. Some learn to be victims. Not all women growing up with abuse become victims; some become abusers. Until very recently, women haven’t had many career options apart from traditional roles like nurse, teacher, and the wank fantasy of misogynist men everywhere, the stay-at-home mother. Throw in some pretty outdated expectations in a seven-billion-and-counting world that we need to ‘go forth and multiply’, and you’ve got a helluva lot of people making babies who shouldn’t be, not without a LOT of forethought and soul-searching. After all, not all abuse victims grow up to be abusers. Some make the deliberate effort to be a better parent than their own. The Hallmark moment. Image by Bessi from Pixabay Children who are beaten by their fathers tend to grow up to become victims, whether they are boys or girls. Children who are beaten by their mothers, on the other hand, are more likely to become victimizers. — Patricia Pearson, When She Was Bad: Violent Women and the Myth of Innocence We don’t appreciate the awesome responsibility of raising another human being nearly enough. I have maintained for many years, quite literally, that being a parent is the most important job in the world. Raising another human being to the best of your ability makes all the difference as to how that human will impact their environment and the people around them. You can’t avoid making mistakes, and sometimes you do your level best and the child still turns out a huge disappointment. Good parents sometimes raise mass murderers not because they were bad parents, but because the child is genetically predisposed somehow. Humans are incredibly messy, complex creations. The human brain, many scientists agree, is THE most complex creation in the entire Universe. As any engineer knows, the more complex a system (like 100 billion neurons in our brains with up to 15,000 connections for each), the more likely things will go wrong. Child abuse, whether it’s physical, sexual, emotional or psychological, creates disturbed adult humans. Most aren’t extremes, but they often become victims or abusers or maybe a bit of both. We speak mostly about male abusers and female victims and don’t ask about the abusers’ childhoods, nor do we seem to much care if they grew up in the circumstances under which they now make their spouse or partner suffer. We use abuse histories to excuse women’s behavior and ignore men’s. Pearson notes just about every woman in Da Clink blames her violence on prior abuse. Courts often grant more lenient sentences to women who claim this, or who fall back on a traditionalist, patriarchal facade of helpless woman without agency to excuse her violent behavior, even for murdering her own child. When we think about child abuse, we assume the abuser was the father. After all, men are more violent, right? Pearson explores SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and whether they’re all as accidental as advertised. Deeper forensic investigation reveals ugly truth sometimes — when it occurs. Often it doesn’t because it’s widely believed maternal infanticide is rare. Some maternal murders that are undeniably not accidental, like the woman who put her incessantly crying baby in the middle of the road and ran over it with her car. Pearson examines women with cases of Munchhausen-By-Proxy, who make up or even create fictitious illnesses for their children, and in the most extreme cases kill them, seeking the love and attention they get from people afterward. Because no one believes women can be murderous predators, especially regarding their own children, they can get away with it for an incredible amount of time. One mother killed eight of her nine children before police investigated. Those are the kids who don’t grow up to be abusers or victims. What happens to the ones who do? “Children who are beaten by their fathers tend to grow up to become victims, whether they are boys or girls. Children who are beaten by their mothers, on the other hand, are more likely to become victimizers,” Pearson notes. And if they victimize the ‘right’ people, men, like serial killer Aileen Wuornos, they’re admired and sympathized with. “Imagine,” Pearson asks, “a TV movie about the Chicago serial killer John Wayne Gacy, assaulted by his father as a boy…Or the movie Helter Skelter, about child abuse victim Charles Manson, pitching him to us as a pitiable. From infancy, Manson was unwanted, neglected, mistreated, bounced from one rejecting adult to another.” Or Henry Lee Lucas, beaten all throughout his childhood and forced to cross-dress in public by his mother. And we wonder why he hated women? Yes, by all means let’s have a TV movie fetishizing these guys for striking a blow against ‘The Matriarchy’ for a change. NOT. I’d rather we not make excuses for either gender. Equality means we treat men and women equally, and give up flimsy excuses for victimhood. No one’s childhood is perfect, and we can all reflect back to try and get at the source of whatever emotionally or psychologically ails us. Parents aren’t perfect, and they’re never responsible for everything wrong with our lives. The quick jump to blame parents for everything, the mindless go-to for too many lazy therapists and others in the psychology profession, abrogates critical thinking. We are more than just our parents, after all. Our peer groups, for example, impact us as well. But no one, except maybe people in weird religious cults, think it’s a good idea to raise children in abusive environments. Parents who abuse contribute future abusers and victims, even though not all abusers/victims were necessarily mistreated in childhood. As we debate victims and abusers, as we challenge traditionalist thinking and previously unchallengeable narratives about who’s responsible (the abuser, ultimately), we need also to challenge the same thinking and narratives surrounding parenthood — more specifically, Is parenthood right for me? Enough already with what you ‘should’ to do please others — your family, your friends, your church, your insular community where things have ‘always’ been this way. What kind of a parent would I make? Am I really willing to put my full effort into raising children? (This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work or be made to feel guilty for doing so.) Do I truly understand the ‘sacrifices’ I will make raising other humans? Better decisions before birth may well result in fewer violent people, fewer victims of violence, and a psychologically healthier world overall. We need to think longer-term, to prevention rather than cleaning up the messes afterward. We feel horror, pity, and sorrow when we read about a small child starved or beaten to death by their caretakers and wish we could have done something to save him or her. Perhaps decades later that child would have grown up to horribly victimize others, with many screaming for the electric chair. It’s easy to feel sorry for a helpless child, much harder to feel sorry for an adult accused of raping, torturing, and murdering. Something to think about. This post originally appeared in The Bad Influence on Medium in August 2020.

  • Confronting Our Inner Dinosaur

    Why do personally strong women refuse to challenge the outdated feminist narratives in their head? Confronting our inner dinosaur. Image by Lothar Dieterich from Pixabay I’ve always been disappointed when personally strong female friends, who would never take crap from a man, much less outright abuse, passively enable continued female victimhood with their outdated, unchallenged views. This ain’t the ’80s anymore. Second wave feminism was barely old enough to get into bars when I became a young adult and could only legally drink super-light beer. In university, I took part in my first and only feminist protest march for Take Back The Night. Violence against women was greater, part of a crime spike that began in the 1960s and didn’t abate until the ’90s. Rapes and sexual assaults were far higher, and women weren’t much believed by the courts. The victim received the blame. Nobody talked about male privilege. It was much harder for women to get better-paying jobs, and fewer graduated from college or university than they do today. We had little political representation in Washington. In short, the same problems we have today except — back then, with far less economic, educational, and political power. Not all women yet understand we’ve made a lot of progress in the last 35–40 years. Some still point the finger at men, which they should do, but only if they point their other finger at themselves, which they rarely do. Disappointing women are the ones I know to be strong and personally powerful, but don’t seem to have challenged the narratives in their head as dated as the coifs from bad ’80s hair bands. Anyone who thinks dinosaurs and humans haven’t lived together isn’t alive in the 21st century. Lead singer of the ’80s band Def Lizard. Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash Most recently, a friend and former roommate in the year or so after I graduated university accused me of ‘blaming the victim’. I forget why, but it was probably one of my Facebook feminism critiques observing how much women allow mistreatment of themselves. She was quite liberal back when we lived together, and still ‘progressive’ (the newer word) today. I think I’d upset her suggesting, as I often do, that women now have more control over how they’ll be treated by men than we acknowledge. I’d expect her reaction from a garden-variety younger feminist, the kind steeped in victimhood mentality, but I knew this gal to be strong and powerful even when she was twenty. She’d dated a friend of ours who was famously controlling and ‘patriarchal’ (a word we never used back then) and she never took any of his shit. He had to accept her as a full equal. There are many other examples I can think of where she exhibited the kind of take-no-shit attitude you found among many feminists back then, before they neutered themselves in the ‘90s. I responded, as I always do to her cliche, “Why are some women BEING the victim?” It dismays me to think that in the 35 or so years since we’d lived together, her feminism was as calcified as the outdated views of the Trumpies who are still fighting their feminism Waterloo. She hasn’t challenged her Inner Dinosaur. She hasn’t acknowledged how too many women are aiding and enabling female victimhood by ignoring what women do to put and keep themselves in danger. She’s never, to my knowledge, been abused by a partner and neither have I. She’s still on her first husband, thirty-plus years and counting. Any man who tried to bitch-slap either of us in the ’80s would have found himself hanging by a tree from his testicles tied around a low-hanging branch. I want other women to be as intolerant of abuse as we were and still are. I just wish my friend would embrace it for all women. Other friends I’d considered strong women got mad when I took a more balanced view of Toronto’s Jian Ghomeshi trial a few years back. The scandal that erupted in 2014 and culminated in a ‘sexual assault’ trial in 2015 was a personal watershed moment, when I realized just how weakened modern feminism had become. Ghomeshi was accused by a few women, 10+ years after the fact, of ‘sexually assaulting’ them even though by my own admittedly American standards it was physical rather than sexual. Not only was it weird to see face-slapping and neck-throttling defined as ‘sexual’ under the flimsiest of pretexts, but the trial turned into a giant feminist embarrassment as emails dug up by Ghomeshi’s attorney demonstrated the women weren’t nearly as traumatized as they’d claimed. Victim feminists twisted themselves into knots to avoid admitting these starstruck groupies deliberately put themselves back in danger trying to get into Ghomeshi’s pants after each initial physical assault. Then the case really fell apart when the court discovered private collusion between the witnesses. Ghomeshi was acquitted. Victim feminists threw tantrums about how women are ‘never’ believed, a gross exaggeration in a case where pretty much everyone believed the women, only the hardest-core anti-feminists supported Ghomeshi, and even the judge said he thought he was guilty but there wasn’t enough evidence to convict him. I was as disgusted by my so-called ‘feminist’ friends whining about victimization when Ghomeshi’s dizzy bimboes were anything but. My friends’ Inner Dinosaurs ran rogue, unconsciously denying other women the agency that they themselves owned. I expect squishy reactions from the perma-victim set but I expect better from those who know their boundaries and have never, ever, let a man assault them. For whom a ‘date’ with Jian Ghomeshi would have ended right after the first slap-’n’-throttle incident. They’d have never emailed him ‘I love your hands’, or photos of the emailer wearing a bikini, or given him a hand job in a park later. Worst of all: “You kicked my ass last night and that makes me want to fuck your brains out.” Sure makes it sounds like she ‘enjoyed’ the abuse, huh? That’s what feminists with calcified thinking won’t question, even as they would never tolerate such treatment of themselves. Instead, they ignore female ‘agency’ and refuse to ask women to be as accountable for themselves as they do of men. My mother taught me well: “The first time a man hits you should be his last. No second chances. He’ll do it again if you let him.” They went back for more. But he had sex with none of them. One wonders what might have happened if he had. We should want for others what we claim for ourselves. We should also be willing to revisit what we believe in periodically and see if it still remains valid today. Back when my friend and I were twenty, ‘Don’t blame the victim,’ was pretty relevant. Women simply had less power back then and they weren’t supported if they claimed a rape. #MeToo has changed all that. The court of ‘justice’ may still not believe an assault victim but there’s much power and support to be found on social media. Today, women have far more power to Just Say No than we had. At least those of us who’d defined our boundaries. I don’t fault young women who don’t. They’re young and inexperienced. Not everyone had my mother growing up. So reciting the venerable mantra, ‘Don’t blame the victim,’ is getting a little tattered around the edges. I think of this as I better understand the dynamics of abuse for both the abuser and the victim as I finish up the book Why Does He Do That? Inside the Mind of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft. It was recommended to me by a fellow Medium writer. It’s an amazing book. He only touches upon the mistakes women make, how they keep believing the abuser’s lies and keep hoping the ‘good periods’ will eventually take over and eliminate the ‘bad periods’, and how they don’t listen to their friends and family who try to warn them this guy’s bad news. I wish he’d have acknowledged the bad decisions women make in this regard, but the book is eighteen years old so he’s a product of his time. I don’t know if he’s revised his views since then. Maybe it’s difficult, when you work so closely with abusers. An unwavering commitment to ‘don’t blame the victim,’ is an example of calcified feminist thinking. Asking why a particular woman did this or that or made this or that decision is more of a ‘post-mortem’, I believe, like the corporate world engages in after a completed project. You figure out what went right, what went wrong, and resolve to the right things again and to not repeat the wrong things. I can’t swear I’m not calcified in some of my thinking either, but I make an honest effort not to be. It’s why I’ve moved more toward the ‘Murky Middle’ politically, and try to see more sides than the blinkered view of my own ideological persuasions (still left, but closer to the center than before). I have never been abused or seriously sexually assaulted, partly due to occasionally doing dumb shit and being fortunate nothing bad happened, but more often because of the decisions I’ve made, most of all in who I allow into my environment, social circles and dating realm. Controllers and potential abusers get the boot pretty quickly. I make conscious decisions. I want that for other women. I especially want to get the word out to young girls and young women who aren’t as experienced. I want them to understand that they have more control over their lives than they know, and I want to empower them to make the right decisions. I seek my tribe of women, men and anyone else who feel empowered and want others to be as well. Who aren’t calcified in their thinking, ‘dinosaur’ lefties who haven’t had an original thought since Reagan talked about a ‘nuclear umbrella’. They’re no more able to think critically than the Trumpies who operate from their own increasingly-shrinking political bubble. The world evolves, and our thinking should too. Some values and beliefs never change — like that people of color are as entitled to the same rights and treatment as white people in America — and other values and beliefs may not be as applicable anymore. It ain’t the ’80s anymore. It also ain’t the ’60s, ’70s, ’90s or the ‘oughts’. As we head into Decade Three of the 21st century, we need to remember that one day it ‘won’t be the ‘Teens or the Twenties’ anymore. Whatever you believe today…..may not work as well tomorrow. This post originally appeared on Medium in September 2020.

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