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On Being Good

7 Feb

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t preoccupied with my own goodness .

Am I good?

Am I good?

But am I good enough?

Good is a word that children hear early and often. A child probably hears the phrase “be good” – as an exhortation, a command, a plead – several times a day from several different adults. They might hear it so often that they won’t really be sure what good means except to know that they categorically aren’t.

By the time I was in kindergarten I thought that goodness existed as part of a binary, in the sense that either you were or you weren’t. It didn’t take me long to figure out what side of the equation I fell on; no matter how hard I tried to keep my thoughts to myself, to stay at my desk, to model myself after the prim little girls who sat so still and so silent at circle time, it was never enough. I could see that goodness came naturally to some people – I felt that there must be a great well of it inside them that they drew and drew on throughout the day; a source of goodness that kept their faces perpetually smooth and calm, that allowed them to wait to be called on instead of just shouting out the answer.

And me?

Well, I tried so hard to be like those other kids, but my nature always shone through sooner or later. And so it wasn’t long before I realized that inside of me I had a hot core of badness. I imagined it as kind of flaw on my very soul, which I pictured shaped like a white egg roll (mostly because soul and egg roll rhymed) with all the parts of me that would eventually go to heaven tucked inside of it. I imagined some kind of mark there that couldn’t be rubbed out. This distressed me, because I wanted desperately to be good – both for goodness’ sake and also because I saw that things were easier for the good kids. They were never chastised for speaking out of turn. They didn’t get sent to the office. Their parents never got calls from their teachers.

Every night I would wish to wake up good the next morning. Every morning I would promise myself that this would be the day that I was good. Every day my self-imposed goodness wore off an hour or so into the school day.

I never did learn to be good. All I ever learned was that the traits that made up the core of my personality – my enthusiasm, my talkativeness, my sociability – were less than desirable.

It took me a long time to realize that what’s sold to children as goodness is really more like passivity. It’s obedience. It’s silence. It’s never questioning authority. It’s learning facts by rote and then regurgitating them. It’s being easily governable. Easily controlled.

Good is the margarine of words – oily, chemical, not quite what it’s pretending to be – in the same way that nice is. It can mean whatever the speaker wants it to mean – moral and upright, or labile and pleasing. I would wager a guess that Donald Trump’s definition of a good citizen and my definition of the same are greatly different, even if we might use exactly the same words.

Writer Naomi Schulman, whose mother was born in Munich in 1934 and who grew up Nazi Germany, commented a few months ago on the word nice and how it’s being applied to Trump voters who, you know, don’t actually hate the Muslims or the gays or the women.

“Nice people made the best Nazis, wrote Schulman. “My mom grew up next to them. They got along, refused to make waves, looked the other way when things got ugly and focused on happier things than ‘politics’. They were lovely people who turned their heads as their neighbors were dragged away. You know who weren’t nice people? Resisters.”

I’ve seen a few people share these words with the commentary that we should be good instead of nice, and yet I’m not sure that good is much better. Good only means whatever passes for good by the lights of the person who said it – and so many of us disagree right now on what, exactly, good is.

So I’m giving up on being good. Instead, I’ll be a resistor. I’ll be rowdy. I’ll be loud. I’ll be passionate. I’ll be a fighter. I’ll be someone who believes in basic human rights no matter who that human loves or what they believe or where they come from. I’ll be a safe space. I’ll be an advocate. I’ll be anti-racism and anti-transphobia and anti-misogyny and anti-homophobia and anti-Islamophobia and anti-any-other-kind-of-harmful-hate. I’ll be a Nazi-puncher. I’ll be on the right side of history.

In short, I’ll be everything my grade school teachers tried to use good to quash out of me.

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The author, age 4, ready to punch a Nazi and/or talk your ear off

Now You Are Six

27 Jan

Dear Theo,

I’m a whole week and a half late writing your birthday letter this year, but I assume you’ll forgive me because at this point in time you don’t even know these birthday letters exist and by the time you read this I doubt you’ll even notice that the date is slightly off, so basically I’m just ratting on myself.

What can I tell you about yourself at six? Watching you grow is like watching a tight little bud slowly bloom; every time I think I’ve guessed the shape of what it will be, it changes. But it also only ever becomes more itself, the flower it was always going to be. Watching a child develop is to watch someone who is in a constant state of flux and yet is only ever becoming more themselves. You are the same person you were at two or at four, the same person you have always known yourself to be. It’s the rest of us who are racing to catch up as we try to learn about you.

I am always learning new things about you. This year, as we took a wild three week road trip through America, I discovered that you are an excellent traveller. Our ambitious itinerary, which saw us driving southwest to New Mexico, then east to Louisiana, then northeast to Washington DC and finally to New York and then home, meant that we often had days where we drove for ten hours or more. I wasn’t sure how you would handle this, but you were amazing – every day you woke up and climbed into the car, ready for adventure. You were so eager to see and experience new things (although you were significantly less eager to experience new foods, which means that you have now eaten chicken fingers in at LEAST ten different states).

In the past year, you’ve begun to show a real interest in and love of history, which obviously delights me to no end. During our road trip we stopped at several space centres and museums, all of which heavily feature John F Kennedy. We also went to the Sixth Floor Museum at the Texas Book Depository in Dallas (and took a shameless selfie on the grassy knoll). You came home to Canada all starry-eyed about JFK, to the absolute delight of your Boomer grandparents. It’s only slightly weird that you like to watch videos of Kennedy’s funeral procession (to be fair, what you like most about those is Black Jack the horse).

This fall, you and I read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy, the story of her husband’s childhood on a farm in upstate New York, and I was astonished at how smitten with it you were. I thought the (somewhat lengthy) descriptions of the daily life on a 19th century farmstead would bore you, but you loved it. Then we took a trip to Toronto’s Black Creek Pioneer Village, which is set in the same decade as Farmer Boy, and you loved it so much that you wanted to go back the next day.

But your biggest historical fascination this year has been Hamilton. We started listening to the soundtrack and you were immediately taken with it; you wanted to hear it over and over, and listening to it has become a bedtime routine. You have so many questions (“why do they wear that … like … cauliflower-looking collar on their shirts?”) and so many hilarious misheard lyrics (“penises, lower your voices – you stay out of trouble and you double your choices). You’ve memorized many of the songs (video evidence below), and we often catch you muttering them under your breath to yourself. You especially love Lafayette because he’s French, like you, and you wish there was a musical about him and the French Revolution.

I love that you love history. I love that we get to share this. I love telling you interesting factoids and watching your eyes light up as you beg me for more information. I love the moments when I don’t have the answer and we get to look it up and learn something new together. I love how we get excited about the same things. In some ways, I feel like this is the part of parenting that I’ve been looking forward to the most, and now that it’s happening it’s even more fun and gratifying than I’d imagined.

What else can I say about who you are now? You’re funny. You have a sharp memory. You’re endlessly curious, and you notice the smallest details. You’re very social, and you make new friends quickly. You’ve got my head for languages and you’re now fully bilingual in English and French. You’ve grown your hair out this year and refuse to get it cut; between that and your preferred uniform of graphic tees, skinny jeans and hiking boots, you’re pretty much the perfect lil hipster baby.

You’re still as stubborn as ever, and it’s a struggle to get you to do something you don’t want to do (a struggle we often lose). You still hate bedtime. You still love building and creating, and your teacher this year is sure you’ll be an architect of some kind. You still love outer space. Actually, one of my favourite stories from the road trip was when we went to the Johnson Space Centre in Houston; you were so excited to see the original mission control, and when you saw a picture of the Apollo 11’s crew in a stairwell you yelled out “LOOK, LOOK, IT’S NEIL ARMSTRONG AND BUZZ ALDRIN AND MICHAEL COLLINS.” When we finally got to the shed where they keep the Saturn V, you were so overwhelmed with emotion that you nearly started crying. You kept running up and down the length of it pointing out things you recognized. The tour guide was so taken with you that she took off her own Apollo 11 mission pin and gave it to you; she said she’d never seen a kid so young who knew so much about space travel.

I’ve put the pin away somewhere safe for you to have when you’re older. I have a feeling you’re going to have it with you when you finally go to Mars, or on whatever other amazing journeys you’re destined to take in life.

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Action shot on public transit

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The face you made when your teacher told you to spell your name with blocks

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Like how are you actually this cool though?

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Checking out the landscape at Carslbad Caverns National Park

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Working the phones at the Kennedy Campaign HQ

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Chilling out on the dunes at White Sands National Monument

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SO MUCH SPACE DELIGHT

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Stepping out of the fridge at Meow Wolf’s transcendantly weird House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe

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We found the best swing in the world and it’s right outside a BBQ place in New Orleans called The Joint

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Hanging out at the US Space & Rocket Centre in Huntsville, Alabama

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The only three things you wanted to see in NYC were the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and the Ghostbusters fire station

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NO BUT HOW ARE YOU ACTUALLY THIS COOL

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Meeting astronauts, as we do

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14 Bleakly Funny Reasons Not To Kill Myself

3 Nov
  1. My cat might end up eating my body out of desperation and honestly I can’t do that to her. I can’t be the person who forces that beautiful, innocent creature to become someone who resorts to something that isn’t technically cannibalism but MIGHT AS WELL BE BECAUSE SHE IS SPIRITUALLY IF NOT PHYSICALLY MY DAUGHTER. I’ve got enough on my conscience as it is.
  2. My apartment is a mess and I don’t want the paramedics or whoever judging me my piles of dirty dishes
  3. I would probably somehow fuck it up and end up not dead. Just like I fuck everything else up.
  4. There’s going to be a second season of Stranger Things and I need some closure on the Barb situation
  5. I’m pretty sure my mom has already bought my Christmas present and I’m not sure if she kept the receipt or what the store’s return/exchange policy is
  6. I’m too depressed and tired to write the kind of suicide note I deserve. Plus, I’d probably accidentally leave someone off the list of loved ones who deserve apologies for my prematurely shuffling off this mortal coil and then that person would be mad at me literally forever.
  7. It’s getting to be That Time of Year and killing yourself over the holidays is just so clichéd
  8. Speaking of clichéd, isn’t suicide kind of played out for depressed women? Isn’t there some rare, fatal virus that I can contract instead? I’d hate for anyone to think I was being unoriginal or cribbing off someone else’s work.
  9. Someone would read my diary and honestly it’s so embarrassing that I would die a second time from the embarrassment and come back as the ghost of my ghost (h/t Shriya Hari)
  10. There would probably be an ambulance and it would be a big deal and all my neighbours would come out to stare and what if my dress was hiked up and they saw my underwear?
  11. Frankly, I have to stay alive to spite all the internet strangers who have told me to kill myself
  12. I haven’t had the chance to wear that new party dress that I bought at a steep discount back in August
  13. Who’s to say everything ends with death? What if it doesn’t and the next life is even more annoying than this one?
  14. My cat is an asshole and doesn’t like anyone except me and I’d hate to inflict her on anyone who isn’t me

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    I do it all for you bb

On Being Depressed, Part 1,826

27 Sep

Trigger warning: mention of suicide

There’s a funny sort of paradox about depression where it’s probably the mental illness that people who haven’t experienced mental illness find easiest to identify with while simultaneously being a condition that is incredibly difficult to understand if you’ve never lived through it. I mean, I get it. We’ve all been sad, right? Sadness is a universal experience; not one single person on this planet can say they don’t know what sad feels like. The popular understanding of depression is that it’s like sadness on steroids – recognizable but beefier and more aggressive.

Some people have a natural talent for happiness, and find themselves orienting towards it the way flowers turn towards the sun. Some people have the capacity to learn how to be happy in the same way that you might learn any skill. And me? I have a knack for howling panic. I have a brain that when flooded with too much of certain types of sensory input short-cuts directly to this is hopeless and you should kill yourself. I don’t know why I have this brain – someone better versed in psychology or neuroscience might be able to tell you – but after over 30 years with it I can at least recognize some of its behavioural patterns.

Fall is a hard time of year for me. All of the back-to-school jolliness – blank notebooks filled with nothing but promise and potential! backpacks that smell like fresh vinyl! store window displays with books and apples and gorgeously sensible clothing – reminds me that I never finished my degree. The crispness in the air that everyone else waxes poetical about makes my joints ache so badly that sometimes it’s hard to get out of bed. Cozy sweaters and colourful leaves are overrated. The shorter days remind me of the darkness both literal and  metaphorical that’s about to hit me like a freight train. Call me a killjoy, but for some reason I can’t see autumn as the season of anything but death and endings and cold, cold, cold.

Everyone feels sad sometimes, but not everyone finds themselves crouched in the shower at 4 am on a Saturday crying the ugliest cry and repeating I am a bad person who deserves bad things like some kind of nightmare motivational mantra while scalding water pours over their body. At least, I don’t think they do. They might do it and not write long-winded self pitying blog posts about it. What the hell do I know? One of my most persistent fears is that I’m not so much depressed as I am weak and whiny. I’m haunted daily by the idea that everyone else feels exactly the same way I do, they just manage it better and don’t complain so much.

Maybe everyone actually does know what depression is like and I’m just the loser writer lady who is endlessly fascinated by her sad self.

Depression feels different to everyone who experiences it. For me, it feels like being unable to imagine my future as anything other than one horribly blank day leading into the next. It feels like this disorienting sense of not being able to tell what is a genuinely upsetting thing and what is a somewhat benign thing to which I am overreacting. It feels like being caught in a storm out at sea and while I rationally know I should batten the hatches and wait it out what I actually feel is that the sun has been obliterated and there is nothing left in the world except rain and wind and the inevitability of drowning.

It feels like the chilling note I recently found on my phone that I apparently wrote a year and a half ago yet have no memory of writing. The note was a plainly-worded reminder to myself that in the event of my suicide I should remember to put a plan in place to make sure that my kid isn’t the one to find my body.

I’ve tried a lot of things to cure or at least manage my depression. I’ve tried SSRIs and SNRIs and low doses of anti-psychotics and St John’s Wort and B12 supplements. I’ve tried drinking. I’ve tried not drinking. I’ve tried pot. I’ve tried various kinds of therapy. I’ve tried going to the hospital. I’ve tried not going to the hospital. I’ve tried telling myself to buck up. I’ve tried letting myself wallow. I’ve tried getting fresh air and eating more vegetables and doing lots of yoga. I’ve tried chain smoking on my fire escape while reading tragic Russian novels. Some of it has worked some of the time. None of it has ever been a permanent fix. (This isn’t, by the way, an invitation for you to opine on what I should do if I really want to get better – whatever you’re going to suggest, I’ve probably given it a shot during my literal decades of trying not to be depressed).

I’m a person who has a kind of genius for humiliating myself. The more depressed I get, the greater the likelihood of me doing something I’ll later regret. My sense of perception becomes warped, and I start to think that all my friends hate me; I get clingy, and then feel disgusted by my clinginess; I say too much and then say even more in the form of elaborate apologies for saying too much. So when I finally crawled out of the shower on Saturday, opened Twitter on my laptop and sent off a series of embarrassingly personal DMs, I knew that I had to shut that shit down before it got out of hand. I mean, more out of hand than being naked in a fetal position on my bed crying so hard that my eyelids were too swollen to open properly for the next two days.

I deactivated Facebook and Twitter, mostly because I was terrified that I would bring my meltdown in all its glory to the masses. I had visions of waking up the next morning to screenshots of my darkest moments echoing out into infinity across various social media platforms. I had paranoid fantasies of social services taking my kid away because I was so obviously and publicly unfit to be a parent. I told myself that if I just took the tool out of my hand that I wouldn’t be able to hurt myself or anyone else with it.

Did you know that it’s actually pretty hard to delete your accounts on social media? Much harder than tweeting I AM A FAILURE WHO HAS NEVER DONE ONE GOOD THING IN LIFE GOODBYE CRUEL WORLD. It took me about fifteen minutes of sleuthing on Twitter to figure out how to deactivate it.

I don’t really have any moments of great realization or neat resolution on which to end this post. I’m back on Facebook and Twitter, but that doesn’t really mean much. I am still scared. I am still sad. I am tired of scrabbling against the brick wall of my depression and feeling like I’m never getting anywhere. I’m tired of being so articulate about what I’m feeling but somehow never able to move beyond the capacity to put my sadness into words.

I’m grateful that I’m still here. I guess that’s something.

I’m grateful that in spite of a brain that tells me that I should do otherwise, I continue to try to survive.

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Saint Jude and Saint Dymphna, respectively the patron saints of lost causes and mental illness

 

A Few Quick Thoughts About Triggers That Trigger

15 Sep

One thing that doesn’t seem to get a lot of discussion is what happens and what we can do when two equal and opposing triggers meet.

We tend to often talk about a lot of triggers as if they are are universal and objective and, thus, avoidable by things like trigger warnings. But while it’s true that some things are widely understood to require trigger warnings – eating disorders, for example, or sexual assault, or violent scenes – the truth is that triggers are based on our own personal experiences and traumas. Some traumas (and therefore triggers) are more commonly shared than others – like the things listed above – but some are a bit more niche. And many people (myself included) don’t always know what’s going to trigger them until that train has more than left the station, which can obviously make dodging triggers a bit tricky.

But what I’d really like to talk about here is what happens when one person’s triggers set another person off.

Let me try to explain what I mean.

Imagine you’ve got two people, Jamie and Parker (two non-existent people with deliberately gender-neutral names), who are in a romantic relationship.

Jamie is haunted by fears of abandonment due to some kind of past trauma, perhaps from a close friend or a partner or a parent – it doesn’t really matter in this scenario. What triggers them is anything that gives them the sense that someone is leaving them forever.

Parker was previously in an emotionally abusive relationship. What triggers them is anything that gives them the sense that their personal boundaries are being ignored or they are being manipulated into feeling or doing something that is wrong or uncomfortable.

Most of the time Jamie and Parker have a wonderful, respectful, mutually caring relationship.

But every once in a while something happens that brings up all kinds of feelings in either or both of them, and then things get tricky.

In this case, let’s say Parker was thoughtless about coming home from a late night. They did not adequately communicate with Jamie what was going to happen – let’s say they texted that they might be “a bit late” but then stayed out until 3. Jamie was sending all kinds of texts, but Parker couldn’t get them because there wasn’t great reception where they were. Parker was having a great time, not realizing that Jamie was at home getting increasingly worked up.

By the time Parker got home, Jamie’s feelings of abandonment were in full force. And Jamie then said things that they don’t mean because they were very upset and wanted Parker to understand the full extent of how upset they were. So maybe Jamie then said, “You don’t care about me. If you cared about me, you would have known that this would upset me. You’ve never cared about me. You only care about yourself.”

Now, if Parker didn’t have the history they do, they might have recognized these words for what they were: a hurt person clumsily and inappropriately expressing their hurt.

But because Parker has a history of being emotionally abused by someone who would use similar language – “you don’t care about me, you only care about yourself” – in order to avoid responsibility and to pressure Parker into doing things they don’t want to do, they find themselves growing increasingly upset by what Jamie is saying.

At this point, both Jamie and Parker have their own respective triggers going on. Because of what those specific triggers are, the more upset each person gets the more they inadvertently trigger their partner. So the more Jamie feels that they are abandoned, the more clingy they become. And the clingier Jamie becomes, the more Parker feels that Jamie is deliberately trying to push their boundaries. And the more Parker thinks that their boundaries are being violated, the more they try to hold Jamie at arm’s length. And the more Jamie is held at arm’s length, the more they panic and scramble to get some kind of promise of love or commitment from Parker.

And so on. And so forth.

Ideally we would treat the words “I’m triggered right now” as if they are the end of a discussion; after all, if someone is upset then we do our best to minimize what’s upsetting them. But what do we do when a situation is upsetting to multiple people in multiple ways? And when those people’s reactions only serve to upset each other more?

If I had any answers to this I would probably write a real post for a real outlet that pays me real cash money. But I don’t have any good answers, and I’ve seen too many friendships crash and burn over two people who are deeply upset and feel like they are the One True Grieved Party and can’t or won’t see that how they’re reacting is triggering their friend just as much as they are triggered.

The only answer I can think of is to be willing to see a world wider than yourself where traumas vary and triggers aren’t always apparent (which I know from personal experience can feel impossible when you’re deep down in the feelings rabbit hole). And if we can’t do that in the moment, then at the very least we need to be willing to swallow our pride later, once the worst of the emotional reaction to the trigger has passed, and apologize for how we might have lashed out at someone else in the midst of our own pain. I don’t think that intentions never matter, and I think sometimes the way people behave in the face of triggers is more than justified, but I also think we’re all big enough and aware enough to apologize for hurting someone. Even if the hurt was unintended and inadvertent.

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Speaking of rabbit holes, here’s a cute one

 

A List Of Things In Literature, Music and Art That Are Actually Metaphors For Women

17 May

Did you know that sometimes when it seems like men are writing or talking or singing about something, often it is actually about a lady? Sometimes it’s a chick they want to bang, and sometimes it’s about a chick they have previously banged and now have bad feelings about, and sometimes it’s about how women in general are fickle and treacherous. I mean, they’re SO fickle and treacherous that men can’t even straight up say “yo, I hate women” without a bunch of shrill females getting their bloomers in a bunch.

Men had to invent metaphors so that they could publicly trash-talk their exes and then be like “Haha what? Noooooo, this song isn’t about you. It’s about a literal venus flytrap plant that eats literal insects. It’s not because you crushed my spirit like an ant beneath your shapely foot.”

Men love metaphors because they make them feel smart and sneaky, even when they are in fact neither of those things.

If you were every wondering if a man made wrote or painted something about you but tried to pretend it was about something else entirely, then a) probably he did and b) here is a handy guide to dudes’ favourite symbology of ladies:

1. The Sea

The sea is a good metaphor for women because it’s always wrecking shit that men love – boats, expensive cargo, the lithe bodies of beautiful young sailors. The sea is dark and cold and salty as fuck, just like a woman’s heart. Ask any seasoned mariner, and he’ll tell you that storms out at sea can come out of nowhere – one minute the water is still as glass, the next minute the heavens have opened up and you’re about to be destroyed by a ten foot wave. And if that doesn’t sound like a woman, I don’t know what does!

2. Ships

Any song about a ship is actually about a woman. Especially if it’s about a ship that sinks. You’d better believe that sinking ships are metaphors for women. Everyone knows bitches are always going down and dragging their men with them.

3. Anything Maritime, Really

Pretty much all things ocean-related are metaphors for women. Scavenging seagulls are women. Hidden rocks that ships wreck themselves on are women. Icebergs are women. Sea monsters can be women, but only in specific circumstances. For example, if a sea monster has long tentacles that it uses to clasp ships to its slimy bosom, then it’s definitely a metaphor for women. But if a sea monster resembles a triassic era dinosaur or some kind of shark, it’s probably about men’s potent sexuality or some bullshit.

Speaking of sharks, sharks pretty much always represent men, unless it’s a story about a shark eating its young. Then the shark represents Mommy Issues.

4. The Moon

You might think the moon makes men think of women because of menstruation cycles or whatever, but you’d be wrong. Men use the moon as a metaphor for women because it changes shape and is “inconstant” and always wants the last fucking word in an argument, am I right?

5. Cats

Look, I don’t know who decided that cats are feminine and dogs are masculine, but someone did and that idea has stuck and now we all just have to live with it. Cats are moody and unaffectionate and enjoy hunting small prey, which frankly describes more men that I know than it does women, but whatever. Cats are metaphors for ladies.

6. Birds

Birds that are metaphors for women:
– swans
– humming birds
– sparrows
– starlings
– anything sleek or pretty or shrill
– owls (but only if the author is describing the owls as spooky or weird)

Birds that are metaphors for men:
– birds of prey
– albatrosses, probably
– pelicans
– owls (but only if the author is describing their intelligence or hunting prowess)

7. Storms

I mean, they used to only ever named hurricanes after women. Because, again, women only exist to destroy everything you love.

8. Mines (Especially Diamond Mines)

Mines are dark and dangerous and liable to fill up with deadly gases at any moment – just like women. The further you go, the more likely they are to suffocate you – just like women. They take the best years of your life and leave you broken and penniless – just like women. Need I say more?

9. Soil

Any time a dude is waxing lyrical about soil or earth, you’d better believe he’s actually talking about a woman. Especially if he describes the soil as either “fertile” or “barren.” “Tilling” and “ploughing” are both euphemisms for sex, obviously. A “bad harvest” is when a woman friendzones or otherwise rejects a man. You’re welcome!

10. Sports Trophies

I don’t know, these probably represent women somehow.

11. Cars and Trucks

Vehicles are tricky, because sometimes they are stand-ins for a man’s sense of masculinity. But if a guy has a lot of gushy feelings about his pickup, he’s probably actually talking about a woman.

12. Plants

Flowering plants are women. Plants that happen to be deadly in some way are women. Anything with tendrils is a woman. Sorry, I don’t make the rules, that’s just how it is.

13. Food

Fruit is feminine. Any kind of baked good is feminine. Seafood is feminine. Chocolate is feminine.

Spoiled food is feminine, because women are always spoiling things.

Kraken

Guest Post: An Open Letter To Those White Pro-Life Parents Intent on Adopting Black Kids Just To Prove A Point

26 Apr

Guest Post by Aresa Jvon

Dear Aaron,

We’ve gotta talk about this Washington Post article that you wrote. You know, the one about how you and your wife like to collect cute black kids to live in your rainbow family. The one about how being pro-life means you should march into a fertility clinic and demand the blackest embryos they’re got. You know the one I mean

It’s bad.

It’s really, really bad.

It’s so bad that I’m trying to figure out where to begin addressing such a horrible article. In fact, even referring to what was published as an article is insulting to the hardworking and competent journalists out there who compose amazing and well thought out pieces on a daily basis. This was not an article, it was a seemingly never-ending shit fest in which each sentence was worse than the previous. I tip my hat to the author for being fully committed to the agenda no matter how ridiculous.   Consistency is key after all?

Let me first thank you, Aaron, for clarifying repeatedly that you and your wife are white, because that seemed to be a source of confusion for me. I was sitting at my desk desperately trying to figure that part out, but the reminder in each paragraph easily placed things into perspective for me. I can’t say “thank-you” enough to you two Great White Saviors and truly where would these po’ lil ole black embryos be without two highly privileged and painfully ignorant individuals such as yourselves?

And while I’m thanking you, Aaron, I guess I should probably show you some gratitude for this gem of a sentence:

“My wife, on the other hand, grew up in the delta of Mississippi and it wasn’t until she took a few trips to Haiti that the veil of racial prejudice was lifted from her eyes.”

What does this mean? Are you saying that she was racist as heck until she went to Haiti? Or that she didn’t think racism was real until she did some poverty tourism>

If it’s the latter, how amazing and privileged a life your wife has led, that she apparently did not encounter any racism in Mississippi of all places? I guess names like James Anderson  – who was the victim of a hate crime that made national news – likely won’t ring a bell to these two. Probably if you don’t see color, then you’re not likely to recognize racially-motivated crimes for what they are. In all seriousness, though, how can anyone say with a straight face that they grew up in the south but didn’t realize racism existed until they went to Haiti? Must have been nice for your to grow up in post-racial America. I just wish that people other than little white girls got to have the same experience.

 

But wait, it gets worse. At one point you write:

“There is something beautiful and enriching being the only white face sitting and chatting with some of my African-American friends as my son gets his hair cut on a Saturday morning. There is also something wonderful in the relationship that is built as my wife asks a black friend on Facebook how to care for our little biracial daughter’s hair.”

This is where I really had to get up and take a break from existing, and even considered cancelling my internet and cable services so that I would no longer have to suffer through this article. Is there a club or place at which I can sign up to be that one black friend and share in this delight? Wait oops, I work in corporate America and my membership is free with employment. Dopeness! A bit of advice to ole boy, it would probably be better received to collect material items you know like a Ferrari for instance instead of people as accessories for your delight so that you can share experiences with your token friends will NEVER be ok. Like ever, mmmk?

It would also be nice to have some answers regarding how one deems themselves pro-life yet can walk into an embryo bank and order the “black ones” only, as if standing in line at KFC to place an order for dark meat. How are you pro-life but likely walked into an invitro center and reminded them of your whiteness as you have done repeatedly, and placed an order for ONLY the black ones? I will answer it for you Aaron: it is because you and the subjects you wrote about are what we call benevolent racists. In your mind, the five piece dark special you have acquired makes you a savior and game-changer.

You know what would’ve been a real game-changer? Providing a black family struggling with infertility with funding for in vitro fertilization. You’d be accomplishing the same goals that you allegedly set out to accomplish, but in a way that isn’t going to generate a Washington Post story about how great you are. Which, frankly, is what seems to be the goal here: you looking good in national media.

I know I’ve said this already, but I really can’t emphasize this enough: Black people aren’t things. Black babies don’t exist for you to collect and show off as some kind of proof that you’re a good person. If you really care about black lives, make a donation to Black Lives Matter or attend a protest against police brutality. There are so many ways that you could support black communities; you say you’re ready to show that you mean what you say about being pro-life, but you don’t seem quite so interested in proving your commitment to anti-racism. Instead, you look like someone who wants some kind of award for being progressive enough to let black children into your home.

You make a comment in your article about the people you feel are judging you. You write, “There will always be the older white woman in Walmart who stared at us with sheer disgust, or the African-American mother who looked at us and just shook her head.” Did you ever think that African-American mother might have a good reason to shake her head? Did you consider maybe asking her what that was? Or are you just going to go on assuming that what you’ve believed all along to be true: that you, a white person, believe that there is not a single argument from any black person anywhere that will ever dissuade you from believing that you’re right.

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Author Aresa Jvon