“A Real Catastrophe”

Lin-Manuel Miranda was right. 44.5 IS going straight to hell.

He’s the real catastrophe.

Between that awful, evil statement about Puerto Rico today and this article on Vox, I might explode from rage. And I don’t even have any relatives there – just an ex-coworker from there. I can’t imagine what folks who have family/friends there are feeling right now. Particularly since they’ve been in budget crisis for years, so this is the worst of all possible scenarios.

I send anyone affected all my love.

Transgender Day of Visibility

Today is Transgender Day of Visibility, and there’s something I’d like to do that cis folk don’t often do.

I’d like to let people know about my pronouns.

I prefer they/their as pronouns but I don’t mind she/her at ALL *.

I’ve seen a couple of comments going around saying “if you’re not sure about pronouns, ask!” While that’s better than guessing, I would invite folks who identify as the gender they were assigned at birth to start volunteering their pronouns, and requesting pronouns, when talking to others who look as if they are solidly in a specific gender frame. Normalizing the conversation about being able to choose pronouns allows people to stop assuming, and hopefully will allow people who are in the closet about being trans to start feeling more open about it.

I am lucky enough to have known of trans folks since I was in my tweens, and to have met trans folks in person and online since 1996. I feel extraordinarily grateful to have had the friendship of several trans folks (both transitioning and nonbinary) over the years, and particularly thrilled to see visibility becoming more of an option for folks.

* This has been the case since long before I knew of genderqueer as a thing. Since before I left college. If you know me in realspace and it’s a surprise to you, I’m happy to talk about why.

We Take Care of Our People

captain_americas_shield

Created by Ponfield. Used under Creative Commons license BY-SA 4.0

Excuse me while I indulge in some comic book geekery.

I have to admit, I was never a Captain America fan. I came to comics when comics came to TV, where Wonder Woman, Hulk, and Spider-Man were visible and adored. The late-70s movies for Captain America weren’t interesting and didn’t tap into the 1940s FDR-loving ideals of the comic – I know I watched them, but I don’t remember them at all. So I went on my way, blissfully ignorant of what an amazing character Cap was at start.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not like Cap was an easy character to write after 1960. In the 1940s, assigning a compelling enemy was easy. Super heroes fought Hitler. Wonder Woman, my favorite, started that way. Thing is, Diana Prince has a rich history of Greek mythology to work with when Nazis are not the most popular villians (the fact of which astounds me but is completely true). Cap came of age in the Great Depression, in Brooklyn, with the Axis powers as the greatest evil America had faced. Once they were gone? That made it tougher. Who else was out there for Cap to fight, to stand against in the name of American values? While one would think, based on his history as a Great Depression kid, poverty would be pretty high on the Cap hit list? That never quite flew in a politics-averse publishing industry. DC Golden Age had characters with a lot of options for stories. Golden Age Marvel is not half as rich with characters we know and love today*.

But really, while I love Wonder Woman/Diana (will always love Diana), America is not her people. I admit that. Paradise Island/Themyscira is her people. She leaves her people to help us. Superman is set up with the same scenario but more distant, and Batman? Well, only Gotham is his people. In the Marvel world, Hulk doesn’t have *any* people because of his situation, and most of the Avengers kind of have that “do we have people?” conundrum.

But Captain America?

His people fill the United States. We are his people.

He explicitly fights for ALL of us, not just white folks or an ambiguous American Way that you just put on a flagpole to pay lip service. In the 40s he used to fight corporate tax evaders. (I’d love to see one of those stories resurrected these days.) He fought in WW2 with a multi-cultural group of people. He fought for Jewish folk, for black folk (though all-too-briefly for my taste), for immigrants, for anyone threatened by fascism.

And that leads me to my point today.

We need the spirit of Cap. We need the lessons he provided. We need the memory of his shield, given to him by President Roosevelt, nearly indestructible.

We know who we are. We take care of our people.

Together, we will be that shield.

 

*(Side note – it’s interesting to me that Groot existed before Guardians of the Galaxy did. I’m hoping someone at Marvel will resurrect Warwolf.)

In the Name of Love

Heart with Bandaids

Heart with Band-Aids

One of the more pernicious things I see in American – well, in Western culture is this idea that if a being loves you, any action they perform is immediately not abusive or not hurtful. Or is excused from any possible perception of harm.

Or even, if a being has no hate whatsoever in their heart for a group, their actions, whether inadvertent or deliberate, are acquitted from any possible wrongdoing or negative impact.

This is bullshit.

I’ll say it again – this is BULLSHIT.

Just because you love someone does not automatically mean you will never ever do anything shitty to them in your life. As a matter of fact, it might make you MORE likely to do something shitty to them because we humans have this instinct to protect the ones we love, and our current mechanisms of trying to protect each other are often REALLY crappy. (See: not letting kids have adventures because they might get hurt.)

And it goes from top to bottom – when I was really outspoken about my atheism I used to get a lot of “But God loves you” or “But Jesus loves you” pushed at me as a method of trying to get me to accept Christianity. I had a lot of angst about this one until I started responding with “well yeah, so does my father, but it doesn’t mean it’s healthy for me to interact with him.”

The lack of hate does not wipe out the fact that someone might be really hurt – even terribly endangered – by something you do. Even love does not wipe out the fact that someone might really be hurt or terribly endangered by something you do. And sometimes you have very good reasons for doing the thing and sometimes your reasons are… not so good. Or mistaken. Or based on data that is biased or invalid for this other person.

Don’t make the additional mistake of then telling that person that their pain is wrong, or that YOU are hurt by the fact that they are experiencing pain at all.

That is when the love starts going away. That’s when those who are hurt cannot believe in the love.

Training Beauty

Warning: this is a pretty tl;dr post with a bunch of details obscured for privacy. Feel free to skip.

~

On Facebook this week, I’ve been seeing a lovely sentiment from Lacey Sturm get shared among my friends:

i want to apologize… by rupi kaur

It’s the kind of thing you look at, think “oh how lovely” and then move on.

Well, it’s the kind of thing *I* look at like that. Your mileage may vary, of course.

Someone on one of my friends’ posts commented about how the poem assumed that you’re born with pretty, but not with intelligence and bravery.

I replied, almost without thinking:

Intelligent and brave can be trained into submission; beauty is trained into prominence.

It’s a weird thing, having been considered ugly once upon a time. You truly get a sense of how specious and shallow standards of physical beauty are, but at the same time once you’re considered attractive, you never want to go back to that place where you weren’t.

Someone asked me how I could say beauty is trained into prominence, and I nearly choked thinking about all the times when I was called some variant of ugly (dog, disgusting, etc etc you name it).

I also recall how much of a relief it was to finally walk down a high school hallway and not be called names.  I don’t think any of the people I went to school with even realized how often it happened. All I knew, and I can feel it in my bones, was that I went a week without a comment.

It was like a miracle.

I hated the things I did to turn pretty. They were a complete accident that I didn’t want to repeat. But the relief was SO intense, I kept at it.

By the simple absence of harassment, I was quickly trained to keep doing what altered others’ perception of me.

~

It’s interesting to remember that the effort to keep me from exhibiting intelligence – usually a big issue with girls in school – wasn’t even a quarter as bad.

~

Now, since then I’ve figured out what actually worked about the things I did, and to my relief there were easy compromises that kept me from hating the result. But it took me a full decade and change before I actually believed my looks were anything other than a trick of grooming.

Even now, with the genetic lottery win of unbelievably slow aging, I get a little frisson in my gut at the thought of no longer being on control of how attractive I look in some way. And really, that’s kind of pathetic.

But I get it.

I’m trained.

I’m working on it, of course, but I think of all the other people out there who don’t even realize they’re trained to think this way.

All I can do is send them all my love.