Archives For social awareness

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Sometimes, it feels like the ceaseless watchdog of political correctness has cut the balls off the English language. We have to monitor every word we offer for public consumption.

I’ve never been particularly invested in coloring inside the lines. But I’ve reframed my awareness of what may hurt others as empowering, not limiting.

You can live in denial of progress all you want. Nevertheless, it exists.

Progress can infuriate the public. When 17th century astronomer Galileo advocated that the earth orbited the sun, rather than the other way around, he was tried by the Roman Inquisition and found guilty of heresy. He spent nearly a decade under house arrest until he died.

People don’t like having their belief systems challenged. It took the Catholic Church 350 years to apologize to Galileo, who was unequivocally right.

Progress. With enlightenment, comes awareness. With awareness, comes responsibility.

 

 

It’s not that everyone is so damn sensitive. It’s that we’ve made progress as a culture. We’ve learned that language has the power to create injustice. To shape attitudes and influence actions and ultimately determine how people are treated.

I’m certain some people find it offensive when I use profanity. I have an incredible family of readers who show up despite my potty mouth. I’ve also lost an entire population of the reading public because of my language.

When does humor cross over the line from bold and edgy to insensitive and damaging?
Herein lies the problem.

 

I’m not suggesting that I be the arbiter of humor, but I’ll offer this as a parameter: avoid joking about OTHER people’s anguish.

This does not mean horrific tragedy is off limits. Many people who have suffered through cancer, for example, successfully inject levity into that experience and find it remarkably healing.

But I’M not going to be the one making cancer jokes.

 

Here’s my short list of what isn’t funny:

1. Rape jokes. This includes rape culture jokes. If you crack jokes about writers jumping on the “anti-rape bandwagon,” you are participating in rape culture.

The “anti -rape bandwagon” is the finest fucking bandwagon in the universe to jump on. I encourage everyone to jump on it until their brains rattle in their skull.

Let me break it down. Anti-rape = good. Anti-anti-rape = bad.

Anyone who is callous enough to resort to this kind of humor has obviously never been close to someone who’s been raped. Once you look into the eyes of a woman whose psyche has a pile of ashes where her hopes and dreams should be, you lose all desire to exploit trauma for a laugh.

If you are accused of contributing to rape culture, and you sneer, “whatever THAT is,” you are officially part of the problem.

2. Heroin jokes. Lives are ruined, careers destroyed and people die from drug addiction. You have been blessed thus far not to have tangled with this demon, but don’t press your luck. One minute you’re tweeting heroin jokes, the next, you’re dropping your kid off at a rehab.

3. Jokes using the word “retarded” or “gay.” Many of us grew up using the word “retarded” to mean stupid, but we were adolescents with no accountability. Words matter. Before you use the word “gay” pejoratively, please check in with someone who has been fired, ostracized, bullied or beaten up for being gay.

4. “JEW” as an adjective. They’re Hanukkah doughnuts, not “Jew” doughnuts. Your lack of education is not an excuse. You have access to enlightenment via Wifi, so take time away from the Buzzfeed quizzes to watch Schindler’s List.

Persecuting Jews is not just a thing of the past. My son lost friends in kindergarten because the parents found out  he was Jewish. Yes, Virginia, anti-Semitism is alive and well in the 21st century.

In summary:

A person can be a Jew. It’s a noun.*
“Jew” is derogatory when used as an adjective.**

If you need this reviewed, ask your Jew boss about it.

*Nouns are person, places or things.
**Adjectives are descriptive words.

5. Boob Obsession. Everyone loves boobs, including me! I also happen to be quite fond of large penises, which I occasionally allude to. Yet, if all I did on Facebook and Twitter was post about big cocks, people would find me repulsive.

Have fun with occasional boob references but don’t devote your ENTIRE SOCIAL MEDIA presence to boobs. Aside from being creepy and desperate, you’re helping embed in our culture that it’s acceptable to reduce women to their frontal charms. You’re sending a message that women’s breasts belong to everyone. Don’t be surprised when your tween boy violates a girl by snapping her bra in class.

This includes tasteless jokes about Breast Cancer Awareness Day, which actually ISN’T about leering at women’s breasts flopping around, unencumbered.

6. “Crazy” jokes. One of the main reasons I never write about my PTSD, anxiety or depression is that I am terribly ashamed. I’m frightened that the people I love will stop loving me if I admit freely to having mental illness. People who glibly tweet jokes about craziness and psychos demonstrate insensitivity and intolerance.

Who among us is in a position to characterize what is crazy? Who isn’t crazy?
I don’t know any sane people. I just know some who are better at hiding their insanity.

 

 

A particular stigma has unfortunately manifested around being overly cautious with words, with some asserting that this is tantamount to censorship. I don’t experience refraining from making certain jokes as censorship. I feel empowered and compassionate.

And there’s so MUCH to laugh about in this world. I can probably write an entire post about how I get outwitted by laundry, weekly.

Like any art form, humor needs to be transgressive; it needs to push boundaries. However, exploiting pain for a cheap laugh simply demonstrates a lack of talent.

You’re fortunate to have led a white picket fence life, devoid of addiction, sexual assault or mental illness. On behalf of the rest of us, please choose your joke fodder without fostering a culture of disrespect around different identities and experiences.

 

What kind of humor do you find offensive? Are we getting overly sensitive, or just the right amount of sensitive?
Do you have a funny joke? Tell it to me. I’m listening. 

 

Join me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter  so I can have friends without leaving the house.

tits for free

 

Angry smoke is billowing up, as all over the world, people are burning Arianna Huffington in effigy.

PAY US WHAT WE’RE WORTH!

WE WON’T WRITE FOR FREE! 

It’s easy to get caught up in the rhetoric of a demagogue who denounces the Huffington Post for not paying their writers.

Wil Wheaton waged war against HuffPost in this article. It was a shot heard round the world. The online writing community went WILD, tweeting in copious agreement.

I have mixed feeling about this issue, but here is a reality check: As of 2016, Wil Wheaton’s net worth floats somewhere around $2.5 million, depending on which source you check. Not all of us have Star Trek residuals rolling in. If he wrote about ass fucking his grandmother in Macy’s window, he’d still be set for the rest of his life.

 

This is just another issue for us to tear each other apart over, instead of uniting over the pervasive damage being done to women, right this moment. By women who post pictures of their naked bodies on their blogs, their Facebook pages, Instagram accounts – all their social media.

 

I understand that women who display themselves naked on their blogs are doing it to demonstrate their freedom. They feel they are making a strong statement of choice and power. They admit they crave the validation; that it’s a turn on, or that they do it simply because they can.

They point out that nudity is accepted in most other industrialized countries and challenge the stifling conformity of American prudishness.

America is flawed as fuck, but a whole LOT of European countries are based on eroding, unsustainable models. Europe is teeming with calcified labor laws, a negative birth rate,  inflated government spending, expensive costs to businesses, and overly restrictive governments.

In the Netherlands, for example, wiretaps are 130 times more common than in the U.S.

So perhaps you should move to Germany or Spain, and romp around au naturel. Have fun dealing with archaic abortion laws that reflect stifling Christian values on reproduction. I’ll stay in the US, and deal with our anti-nudity laws.

 

Is showing your tits really “freedom”?

I know that story. I WROTE that story.

I worked at a Wall Street strip club in the 90’s, because I felt it was my right to display my body in whatever way I deemed appropriate. The money was flowing in an economy on steroids, and I loved earning $500 a day in cash, working 3 days a week. It left me plenty of time to get into trouble squandering all that money.

Today, if I had a daughter who wanted to climb the pole for a living, I’d chain her to the couch. It wasn’t “empowering.” Strip clubs create an environment where men can openly objectify women. They reinforce the notion that women are more highly valued for their outward appearance than for their intelligence or creativity. And I fueled that system, something I deeply regret.

 

To the bloggers who show their tits:

I understand that for you to love yourself, you need approval from men. All women have been taught that from the time we are little girls.

When you isolate and objectify your breasts, you are confirming the pervasive notion that the most important thing about us is how our tits look. Personally, I would much rather see a painting you painted, read your poetry, listen to you play a song on an instrument, read an essay you wrote about a timely issue, pretty much anything that tells me about who you are inside. Your body is superficial and irrelevant. Give me your mind.

The validation you crave from exposing yourself this way is in no way connected to any kind of “freedom.” It comes from a place deep inside you, a place thoroughly indoctrinated, since you were a little girl, into believing that our naked tits have more intrinsic value than anything else about us. You are not free.

You are simply brainwashed.

 

I think the naked female body is one of the most beautiful images in the world. I’ve even played around with that a little, on my own Instagram account, and have photos of my lower body posing in superhero underwear. That was intended to be a playful statement on how the nerdy girl has grown up, and isn’t so nerdy anymore.

I also don’t show any more of my self than I would show in a bathing suit – actually, I’m more covered up in my geek girl underpants.

But I don’t want people to confuse my writing with my appearance. I write anonymously, but that isn’t why I rarely show pictures of myself on this blog. I can certainly show pictures that hide my face. However, I’m not interested in gaining readers because of how I look, or don’t look.

 

The issue over getting compensated to write is so divisive, it may break apart communities that were created to nurture and support each other. I’m not ready to contribute to that by casting a vote in either direction.

 

In the meantime, why not think about a bigger picture? Let’s not fight about who gets paid, and how those who choose to write for free are scabs on the professional writer’s landscape.

Before we bludgeon each other to death over that first world debate, can we at least ponder the global disempowerment of women? Even in 2016, women remain more likely than men to be poor, malnourished and illiterate. We are marginalized socially and economically.

Let’s put aside our differences about paid writing, and embrace a conversation about how women have been subjugated, and the way in which that connects to domestic violence, female mutilation, higher illiteracy rates, forced child marriages, lower wages, and so many of the areas crucial to a gratifying existence.

Systematic disempowerment of women doesn’t affect only writers. It affects every single woman on the planet, and therefore every human being on the planet.

Today, I’m going to put aside my feelings about paid writing, and instead, focus on what I can to do raise awareness of an issue that has the potential to change lives all over the world.

I just hit “Publish.” Your turn.

 

Am I asking the right questions? 
Talk to me. I’m listening.