Abortion (or How Alabama is Determined to Remain in Top 10 US States with Worst Health Care)

For all you “citation needed” folks: here you go.

I could talk about something funny. Ben Shapiro threw a bitch fit and made a fool of himself on international television because another conservative pundit . . . asked him basic questions during a Q&A. That’s fucking hilarious. But I guess I should probably comment on something that’s actually important.

Note: I do not use pro-choice/pro-life terminology because I think both of them fundamentally ignore what is actually being argued about–abortion–in order to make themselves look better and their opponent look worse. So, with that out of the way, here is this gargantuan, citation-heavy list.

1.) It’s very difficult to find an anti-abortion argument that doesn’t seem religiously rooted.

I’m getting this out of the way first because it is a.) the most obvious and b.) the least substantive. Even so, it is very relevant to bring up, so I’m doing it. Opposition to abortion seems almost entirely rooted in explicitly religious values and religious philosophies of life. I’m not saying secular anti-abortion talking points don’t exist, but they seem to be put on the back burner in favor of whatever arbitrary distinction God has supposedly made about when “a life” starts and stops mattering. For example, here’s a quote from one of the Republican state senators, Clyde Chambliss, who helped approve a bill that doesn’t even let rape victims have abortions:

“Human life has rights, and when someone takes those rights, that’s when we as government have to step in. When God creates that life, that miracle of life inside the woman’s womb, it’s not our place as humans to extinguish that life. That’s what I believe.”

The United States is not theocratic. We have the separation of church and state. Religious values and sensibilities can freely dictate how individual people choose to deal with unplanned pregnancies. If a woman doesn’t want an abortion because she thinks God has blessed her with the gift of life even if she wasn’t planning on it, good on her. I’m an atheist, though. I don’t care that God blessed my uterus with the miracle of life. I don’t think God exists, and I certainly don’t think “God created that life” is something that should impact legal and health policies.

2.) It’s a baby./Life begins at conception./Once it has a heartbeat, it’s a person./etc.

Here’s a website detailing the steps of pregnancy. Here’s another one. Read them. For a quick rundown: It goes from a zygote (a fertilized egg), to an embryo (around 4-11 weeks old), to a fetus (12 weeks and onward, when organs continue to develop and its nervous system is developed enough to allow movement and sensation). The 13th week marks the second trimester. The 27th week marks the third trimester, which is what most people think of when they think of “a baby.” Fetal viability–the point where the fetus could conceivably survive outside the womb–tentatively starts at 24 weeks, though only around 30% survive being born that early.

I’m just going to flat out say that the majority of anti-abortion talking points I’ve heard about when a life “begins” make no sense. From a strictly biological sense, “life” doesn’t stop or begin anywhere in this process. The sperm and the egg are just as much “alive” separate as they are together, so the proclamation that life doesn’t start until conception is odd. The heartbeat bill that has become so popular nowadays just comes across as a totally arbitrary defining point. I know we place symbolic significance on the heart, but the heart developing isn’t some flagship moment in development. The heart is formed enough for a heartbeat to begin when the embryo is less than an inch long and is also in the process of developing all of its other vital organs. The heart is no more or less vital than the liver in terms of survival, yet we for some reason decided that the heart’s chambers developing enough to start pumping blood kinda is when a fetus starts to super-extra be alive, like it wasn’t equally “alive” before that point. Here is what a fetus looks like at the time when the heartbeat bill would disallow an abortion, by the way:

hqdefault

According the CDC’s website, with data collected in 2015, the majority of of abortions-(91.1% of them) were performed during early gestation, by the 13-week mark at the latest. Almost 25% of those were performed before the 8-week mark and were non-surgical/non-invasive, i.e., the woman is given a stronger version of the Plan B pill which induces a very heavy period . . . and that’s the end of that. So, in short, the idea that full grown babies are being gorily scraped out of callous women’s wombs is inaccurate. The overwhelming majority of abortions happen within the first trimester, where the fetus doesn’t have a developed enough nervous system to be a conscious/sentient being, and when it isn’t even physically developed enough to warrant the horrible, bloody surgical removal that anti-abortion activists love to fear monger about. For the minority of late term abortions that do happen, I’ll get to those later.

A fetus is a baby the same way an egg is a chick and the same way an acorn is an oak tree. They can be those things, if the variables of the world line up in such a way to allow that potential development to happen. X having the potential to become Y does not mean that X=Y, and stopping X from becoming Y does not mean you killed Y.

3.) Children are not a “consequence” or a “punishment” or something to “teach people a lesson.”

This is my personal least favorite anti-abortion argument: “You got yourself pregnant, now it’s up to you to take responsibility for your actions. If you didn’t want a baby, you should have kept your legs closed. You shouldn’t be allowed to run away from the consequences of your actions by getting an abortion. You have to do the right, mature thing.”

Okay. Let’s just ignore that rape is a thing. Let’s just ignore that coerced sex is a thing. Let’s just ignore that abusive relationships are a thing. Let’s ignore all of that and the incredibly unfortunate implications that arise from painting pregnancy as something that is necessarily a consequence of a woman’s choices. Let’s also ignore the fact that a very large percentage of unplanned pregnancies happen within monogamous relationships where the birth control measures they take unexpectedly fail, so the implication that unplanned pregnancies are necessarily a result of irresponsible behavior is also not accurate.

Let’s ignore all of that. Let’s assume that every single abortion that has ever happened or will ever happen is undergone by a young, freewheeling, independent woman who just sluts around all the time, having constant unsafe sex and behaving in an incredibly irresponsible and immature manner. Okay. Why do you want those above women to be forced to have a child to take care of? You wouldn’t trust someone like that to dogsit for you. Rover not getting fresh water one afternoon is awful, but a human infant being raised for 18+ years in a household that didn’t want it, wasn’t emotionally or financially prepared for it, and has no idea how to go about it is fine. Who cares if they’re raised in a safe, healthy, supportive environment, as long as their slut mom can see them as a punishment for her own life mistakes and learns a valuable lesson about adulthood. It’s not like the cycle of poverty and just the general lasting effects of a poor childhood exist.

In summary: If you think someone is immature and irresponsible, forcibly entrusting that person with the well-being, safety, mental health, education, and life prospects of another human being who relies wholly upon them for support is not a fair and reasonable way to get them to “grow up.” I’m also having a difficult time understanding why going through the financial, emotional, and social hardship of abortion and then living with the stigma of being a woman who got an abortion doesn’t count as “accepting personal responsibility.” Also, for an anecdote to help back this claim up–I was born as an unplanned child to a young, emotionally unstable single mother in an economically destitute area. My mother did not suddenly become an adult who made better life choices just because I existed. I just became an adult with a crippling fear of poverty and lots of mental health problems! Fun times.

4.) Abortion is not birth control. It’s what you get when birth control fails.

I think there’s an odd misconception going around that women are using abortion as their go-to birth control option, like they’re sluttin’ around having mountains of unsafe sex, and abortion is how they contend with that problem. That’s just not how the world works. I’m sorry. I don’t know what universe you live in where women are totally down to drop at least $800 on an abortion as their chosen contraception method when condoms, birth control, and the Plan B pill exist. I don’t think abortions are some great, wonderful thing that everybody should be getting all the time. I’d rather as few abortions happen as possible. In my opinion, it should be the last resort of women who were unable, for whatever reason, to successfully use contraceptives. I’d much rather have a public that was informed and safe, in a society where contraceptive options are readily available and accessible, than a public that was poppin’ on over to Planned Parenthood for a quick aborsh.

If anything, abortion seems to be used as the go-to contraception method for teenage girls who overtly do not use any of the above mentioned contraception because a.) safe contraception materials are not accessible to them and/or b.) they have no concept of what safe sexual practices are because it was never something they were taught and they were highly discouraged to do any research on their own, and they wind up engaging in unprotected sex. The majority of abortions are performed in hyper-religious areas with limited to no legitimate sexual education, shock of all shocks. Also, for extra shock-points, the same people who don’t like abortion are the ones who don’t want Sex Ed taught, even though sufficient Sex Ed instruction and available contraception in high schools is highly correlated with a decrease in teen pregnancy and teen abortion.

5.) Why don’t you put it up for adoption instead?

American Child Protective Services is overburdened and rampant with internal and external abuse. There are already more kids than adults willing to foster/adopt them in the system right now. That won’t be helped by every unplanned pregnancy adding to the pile of unwanted kids with nowhere to go. To be fair, a newborn is far more likely to be adopted than a grown child because “people don’t want a kid with baggage,” but this is not a guarantee, especially if the newborn in question has developmental issues, which is common in unplanned teen pregnancies in particular. Many girls who get pregnant at 16 aren’t particularly opposed to drinking and smoking while they’re with child, as it turns out. Who’d a thunk it? Plus, adoptions in all demographics regardless of the child’s health are going down.

This is also ignoring the larger issue of a woman’s bodily autonomy. What happens to the child once it is out of her body is a separate issue entirely from the question of whether or not a woman should be required to carry a child to term.

Pregnancy isn’t some walk in the park where you get wacky cravings sometimes and pop a kid out, and whoop it’s over. Prepartum and postpartum depression are very real things that affect women with unplanned pregnancies at higher rates, with that risk rising even more if the woman has negative feelings about the unplanned pregnancy. And that study I linked is for married women with support systems in place to deal with the unplanned pregnancy, so you can imagine what women in less ideal circumstances go through. Ignoring the risk of depression, a normal, healthy pregnancy takes a huge toll on your body and hormones, oftentimes permanently. I’ve known multiple women who’ve had to have various knee and back surgeries that cost them thousands of dollars for problems associated with pregnancy. And you go through the rapidly changing body and hormone cycle of pregnancy for 9 months, before going into terrible pain, and then giving birth in a country (or in the cases of Alabama and Georgia–a state) with ridiculously high mortality rates for mothers in the cases of both natural births and c-sections. Doesn’t that sound fun!?

The United States medical sphere has a habit of disregarding women who want to exercise their own bodily autonomy whenever their reproductive organs are involved, and the “just carry the baby to term even though you in no way want to” argument is just the tip of that iceberg. For instance, many doctors refuse to perform tubal ligation surgery for women who request it–even if they’re already mothers, and even after they reach middle age–all under the presumption that the woman in question doesn’t really not want kids. I’ve had to deal with this personally. I can’t get my tubes tied even though my fiance and I know we aren’t having children, because I clearly don’t understand just how much I’m definitely going to have a baby later. I just can’t be trusted to make that decision about my body because a potential baby is involved, and whenever a potential baby is involved, I apparently don’t get to decide shit.

6.) But aren’t late term abortions bad?

Back to the CDC’s website! 7.6% of the abortions were performed at 14-20 weeks (the second trimester) and 1.3% were performed after 21 weeks. That’s roughly 9% of all reported abortions that count as “late term” in nature. So the most highly contested aspect of the morality of abortion is incredibly rare and in no way indicative of a typical abortion procedure. Ignoring how unrepresentative late-term abortions are, however, let’s actually examine why they happen.

There’s the issue that many people have already brought up–medical necessity. That’s a very legitimate reason and the one even the most hard-core anti-abortionists can usually agree with. From the very limited research that exists on the topic of abortion, however, medical necessity seems to be one of the less common reasons for late term abortions. According to this Washington Post article that has complied and linked to multiple outside data sources and studies, most late term abortions are essentially the direct result of a lack of access to health care.

One study loosely described late term abortions as being split 50/50: 50% women who would have aborted sooner had they been informed of a fetal abnormality within the early developmental stages but who weren’t, either because they couldn’t afford frequent medical checkups or because the medical checkups they did receive weren’t good enough; and the other 50% were women who wanted and tried to get an early term abortion but who couldn’t find a provider and/or obtain funding until after they were past the first trimester. The 50/50 number is obviously just a framework to talk about two of the most common reasons and not a real stat, but those general ideas are reflected elsewhere. Multiple other studies cited “inability to find abortion providers, difficulty funding the procedure, and difficulty traveling out-of-state to a provider” as major causes for delayed abortions. So, in short, if you think late term abortions are evil, making it so difficult to receive an abortion during the first trimester is not helping. It’s actually just making things worse.

Two of the studies mentioned also created a list of the kinds of women who they saw getting late term abortions. Most were unmarried, and very many of them were single mothers with one or more children already. Many of them had mental health or substance abuse issues, and many were from domestically abusive households. Domestic abuse and fear of violent retaliation from a domestic abuser were also commonly cited as a major reason for a delayed abortion.

The profile of a woman who gets a late term abortion for non-medical reasons, then, seems a lot less “evil and irresponsible” and a lot more “marginalized and systemically/individually abused to the point of having even more limited options.” I’m having a really difficult time villainizing the women in these situations even though I also have a knee-jerk negative response to the idea of a non-medically necessary late term abortion. It really just seems like another element of systematically enforced classism where women who have been socially and/or economically disenfranchised are given nothing but shitty options and then further stigmatized for choosing one of those shitty options. You want to be a welfare queen who just popped out a baby so you could get more food stamps, or do you want to be one of those evil women who got an abortion in the second trimester because you couldn’t afford to travel out of state?

8.) What if the father wants to keep the child?

I’m not a fan of some of the more antagonistic commentators who’s response to this question amounts to “FUCK U KILL URSELF!1!! NO VAGINA, NO SAY”. I think we, as a society, ignore and downplay and outright stigmatize the emotional needs of men far too frequently. I don’t think making sarcastic comments about “Male Tears” is all that helpful. That being said: The abortion debate is not the arena in which to talk about men’s emotional needs, even if I think doing so is important.

You have the right to your feelings. They are legitimate. They should be acknowledged. They also do not give you the right to dictate what other people do with their own body. Those feelings are an issue that will certainly have to be addressed before and after the fact between you and the woman if you wish to maintain any kind of relationship. But feeling some kinda way about it does not give you the right to usurp a woman’s body and use it for your purposes against her will. You do not have the right to force a woman to incubate and give birth to your child. Conversely, the woman is not obligated to give you a kid because you want one. If you want kids, if you “would never abort your baby,” good for you. Find a woman who also wants those things, because forcing that belief onto a woman who doesn’t is a bad thing.

9.) Is this all old, white men’s fault?

For reference, here is a very up-to-date Pew Poll that I’ll be taking data from.

That’s certainly the way the American Republican party makes it look. They’re really prone to having “discussions” about abortion between five Boomer-aged white dudes who consult literally nobody else in the decision making process and then decide that the thing they already agree about should be made law. And, in an American context, White Evangelical Christians and Conservative Republicans are really blazing the path when it comes to being vocally anti-abortion, both statistically and visibly.

That being said, the genders seem fairly well-balanced: around 60% of women think abortion “should be legal in most cases,” and around 60% of men agree. That means that there’s an equal proportion of anti-abortion women out there to anti-abortion men; there might actually be more anti-abortion women once you factor in the stat that there are more women in this country than men, though Pew polls typically have equal gender representation, so it’s difficult to say that definitively. The same goes for age: Proportionally speaking, “being old” doesn’t seem to make someone more likely to be anti-abortion. All four age brackets polled are essentially hovering at 60% approval for abortion. Being white also doesn’t seem like much of a determining factor: Both black and white demographics are hovering around that magic number 60% approval, with Hispanics actually being the most anti-abortion racial demographic polled. So saying “old, white men are the problem” doesn’t seem to be overly reflected in the actual stats.

I get why people are saying it–old, white men tend to be really over represented whenever a “discussion” takes place in a political or media sphere, especially when that “discussion” is held in a conservative-leaning forum. That being said, like “Male Tears” and other stereotypical third/fourth-wave feminist buzz phrases, “old, white men” may be the face of the problem, but they certainly aren’t the only ones involved. So talking about abortion in terms of old, white dudes trying to take away women’s rights just isn’t helpful. There are too many people who consider themselves anti-abortion who don’t fit into that easy-to-point-at-and-hate box, and you’re really not addressing them or their talking points when your go-to argument is that “an old, white man shouldn’t get to have an opinion on this.”

For things that actually do have a significant correlation with one’s stance on abortion, we have to look at education (the more education you have on the high school/college/grad school scale, the more likely you are to be pro-abortion) and religious affiliation. Those seem to be the two actual determining factors at play–not race, gender, or age. Another related Pew poll about religion specifically shows that increase in traditional religiosity is correlated with anti-abortion sentiments on almost every scale. Here’s this rundown that further breaks down abortion stances by religion to further back that up. I feel inclined to mention that many of the “oppose abortion with no exception” groups are not white/majority white (Southern Baptist, African Methodist, Hindus), so that’s yet another reason why we shouldn’t be equating “old, white men” with the face of religiously-informed patriarchal tendencies.

Aaaaaaaand, that brings me back around to point number one about this whole thing just being way to rooted in religion for me, as an atheist, to take it seriously. So that’s a wrap, folks.

Advertisements

Another Look at Toxic Masculinity

Hey, guys! I haven’t posted in a while because a.) grad school is hard and b.) I haven’t been overly inspired to comment on any recent events. I can only be sarcastically unsurprised about the wacky antics of my fellow man for so long. I need to start talking about stuff I like. . . . So Record Store Day was a thing that happened recently. It’s the first time I’ve participated in that event and it was a fun time. I got a Freddie Gibbs limited color pressing vinyl that’s pretty sweet. I live in Indiana, so I didn’t even have to try that hard. No one in Indiana was gonna stand in line for three hours and then fight me over a hip-hop album. Yay, capitalism! Oh, and I recently discovered Souls of Mischief, which is a hip-hop group from the early 90s that definitely deserves more credit for being a precursor to jazz rap, and I know I’m a good 30 years late on that hype train, but I’m on it now.

Alright, enough of that. I’m well aware of the internet’s low tolerance for hipster shit.

Let’s talk about toxic masculinity . . . again.

A while ago, I wrote an article called Let’s Talk About Toxic Masculinity. I actually don’t agree with everything I said there anymore. My overall thesis statement –“If prototypically gendered traits can be toxic, it stands to reason that toxic femininity exists in addition to toxic masculinity.”– is one I still agree with. I also haven’t changed on my stance that third/fourth-wave feminists oftentimes pathologize “maleness” as inherently domineering and oppressive, therefore making “toxic masculinity” an inescapable state of existence that doesn’t seem to have much to do with a man’s actual behavior but his mere presence.

That said, I’ve been trying to separate the worst actors of feminism from its base ideas, and while there are many notions about how the world works from feminist theory that I still fundamentally disagree with, “toxic masculinity” isn’t one of them. In my previous post on the topic, I called toxic masculinity “fictional” and said that “explicitly gendering negative behaviors and traits is useless.” Let it be known here that I don’t agree with those assertions anymore. After discussing the topic more with my fiance (who is not a feminist) and many male friends (some of whom consider themselves feminists, but who are all very reasonable humans irregardless of labels), I’ve come to believe that there is a very real case to be made for why addressing toxic gendered behavior is a thing that should happen.

I think attributing certain negative behaviors/traits to a particular gender is useful when we’re speaking of them in the context of social upbringing. The fact of the matter is that boys and girls are, more often than not, raised differently and disciplined differently, and that difference in treatment does lay the foundation for “gendered” traits that can potentially be more negative than positive. This isn’t me saying that girls can’t be stoic because that’s not a “girl” trait. It’s me saying that stoicism is regarded differently in women than it is in men, and men are more often than not raised to value it as an admirable trait whereas women aren’t. So when we’re talking about boys growing into men who aren’t comfortable expressing their emotions even when doing so would be helpful, you have to address that the reticence to express emotion stems partially from gender norms dictating how they, as a male, were raised. A woman being shitty at expressing her emotions is likely coming at that problem from a very different direction. Gendering stoicism as a trait, then, is actually somewhat necessary. Addressing the notion that they may have been brought up to think that talking about feelings “isn’t what men do” is a crucial motivation to go over if/when refusing to talk about their feelings is causing problems.

This is not something that “red pilled” people like to hear because they have, at least understandably, conflated any mention of “toxic masculinity” as an attack on men as a gender. I agree that feminists have largely dropped the ball on constructively addressing this *coughmaletearscough*

But it’s resulted in the red pill crowd essentially doubling down on defending gender norms, particularly in regards to men, in a way that I view as being actively detrimental. Take this article, for example. It’s from the Philly Inquirer, titled “Men’s cuddling group aims to redefine masculinity and heal trauma.” That is a clickbait title, by the way. The group, from what I can glean, is mostly about creating a space where men who are starved for human affection can be physically/emotionally affectionate without anyone calling them faggots for daring to be a guy who wants a hug. I’m okay with this. Babies from social species wither away from not being touched enough, and the negative impact of “touch deprivation” can continue into adulthood and have series psychological and even physical consequences. So if a bunch of guys want to get together to combat the very real stigma of it being “gay in a bad way” to want physical affection, I think that’s a good thing. What were some red-pilled reactions to this, though?

 

“We already have a men’s cuddle therapy; it’s called rugby, or for that more intimate experience, wrestling.”

I like how wrestling, aka the most homoerotic thing this side of Fast and Furious, is considered “manly” by the same people who scoff at the notion of men physically touching each other outside of a competitive context. Sitting close together and touching shoulders is too femmey, but groping each other’s ass and crotch-area is manly as fuck as long as you’re doing it in the context of fighting, I guess.

“Congratulations I guess? Doesn’t change the fact that this is not the way men typically connect with one another . . . and that’s coming from a gay guy. Point being, we don’t want your modes of engaging with one another.”

I love how men are treated here as a monolithic “we” that doesn’t want “your” gross, girly way of interacting with each other. Also, clearly some men do wish that they weren’t constrained by the gender norms of what constitutes an acceptable range of male affection. I agree with feminists like Christina Hoff Sommers, who point out that we shouldn’t be pathologizing many men’s preferred ways of interacting with each other. A man not being openly affectionate or not wanting to overtly talk about his feelings is not inherently negative; and a man not being as comfortable verbally/emotionally expressing himself as a woman is not automatically a sign of him being emotionally stunted. Having other, preferred means of working through emotional issues is fine.

That being said, there are certain situations where the typical man’s preferred way of dealing with emotions is not helpful (just like there are situations where the typical woman’s preferred way of dealing with emotions isn’t helpful). If this group of guys has decided that going outside to pass the football around isn’t sufficient for contending with their emotional/psychological needs, that is also fine. You are the same people who bite feminists’ heads off for not caring about male depression rates and male suicide rates. Clearly, the royal We of men isn’t doing that great when it comes to dealing with psychological distress, which logically should lead to the conclusion that, just maybe, the royal We should do some self reflection to see if his long-standing, preferred method of dealing with emotional issues could use some revamping.

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” as people egregiously misquote Einstein as saying. If you care about the demonstrable problem men sinking into suicidal depression, maybe you should sit down and naval gaze for a few minutes to see if your “typical way of interacting with each other” is contributing to that problem even a little bit instead of looking at people who are at least trying to address the problem by trying something new and declaring it “too weird and not what ‘we’ do” by default.

I am grateful I am old enough to remember male bonding as getting drunk, and getting into trouble with my friends :)”

It’s still that. It’s not like being more openly affectionate sometimes precludes you from having drunken shenanigans. What world do you live in where feelings and booze are two circles that never intersect?

“Can we sing some gay songs too?😂😂”

“That’s another expression of their homosexuality”

Those are just two good ‘ole fashioned examples of 90s-style homophobia where we didn’t hate the gays anymore, but we did see the concept of gayness as a joke in of itself.

Knock, knock.

Who is there?

A gay guy.

Whaaaaaaat. That’s not what most people are! Fucking hilarious! 😂😂

“Why does masculinity need redefining? Do you hate men?”

See my above statement about how what your lot considers to be “traditionally masculine ways of interacting” don’t seem to be helping you all that much in the long run. I’m not saying you need to deal with your feelings “like women,” but clearly dealing with them “like men” could use a little redefining. Gender roles can and do change all the time, and not because evil feminists force them to. Masculinity is defined differently by different cultures at different times, and we seem to be in a transitory period in “the West” where people are coming to the realization that maybe “masculinity” can include more openly sympathetic behavior. Shifting cultural standards aren’t an attack of masculinity as a concept, even though loud internet armchair activists are obnoxious about it. You sound like the narrator from Money for Nothing who hates how “effeminate” glam rock singers are more successful than him, and the narrator of Money for Nothing is supposed to be a bitter asshole.

See the little faggot with the earring and the makeup
Yeah buddy that’s his own hair
That little faggot got his own jet airplane
That little faggot, he’s a millionaire

51 Ways to Make the World Less Hostile to Fat People: Another Response

Uuuuuuuuuuuuugh. This exists. Let’s do this.
It is an article written by Dani Beckett, a name that gives me PTSD flashbacks to her first listicle about [Insert Ridiculously Large Number Here] Things X Group Needs to do for Y Group to Make Y Group Feel Better. As you may recall, I didn’t make it through Dani’s last list on account of it being intolerably, mind-numbingly obnoxious and repetitive. This is a request. The things I do for you.

Hey, feeling like you want to be a decent person? Awesome! Let’s talk about fatphobia.

*Weeps uncontrollably*
This list is going to break me a second time, isn’t it?

Yes, I’m talking to you, my non-fat friends. I’m inviting you to educate yourself about the experiences of fat people as we move through the world, and to challenge you to be our ally in creating a utopia of fat acceptance.

I’m not usually a fan of identitarians. But I would be more than welcoming to any gay, black woman in a wheelchair who wants to roll on up and tell Dani Beckett off for co-opting and appropriating the rhetoric used by actual marginalized groups to talk about how hard it is to be fat. Can somebody do this, please?

Sure, maybe you don’t directly ridicule fat people and you really like Melissa McCarthy. That must be enough, right? Wrong. Fatphobia is fundamentally built into our societal structures and sits on a foundation of racism and colonization that’s the perfect base for privileging thinness.

*WEEPS UNCONTROLLABLY*

Fatphobia is racist, guys. FATPHOBIA IS RACIST.

Fatphobia is built into our day-to-day lives—the clothes we wear; the healthcare we receive; the TV shows we watch—and it’s going to take all of us unlearning our preconceptions, behaviors, and language to make space for all bodies in our world. Here’s 51 easy ways to start.

Don’t unlearn your preconceptions and find fat women attractive, though. That’s a fetish. And that’s racist. Or fatphobic. Whatever.

1. Learn to cope with the word “fat.” We fatties refer to ourselves in lots of different ways. Some people prefer “plus-size,” “bigger,” “curvy,” or “person of size,” but plenty of us describe ourselves as “fat”—and it’s not self-deprecating.

So . . . someone else describing you as “fat” is a-okay, then? I could have sworn the last list you made had a point about it being unacceptable for people to comment on women’s bodies at all, but I guess commenting on bodies is fine as long as it’s your own?

2. If someone refers to themselves as “fat,” don’t fall over yourself trying to correct them. Instead, ask yourself why you’ve attached a negative value to the word.

There Dani goes again, ignoring social context entirely in order to make grand, sweeping claims about how people should behave. I’m pretty sure most people can read social cues well enough to know if someone is fishing for praise/condolence or if they don’t require the fanfare. I know plenty of people who refer to themselves as “fat” because they want someone to say, “Oh, no you’re not honey.” You can pretend they don’t exist all you want, but they do, and it’s generally easy to tell who they are.

3. Consider that we might actually like our bodies. Yes, really. Imagine that.

Sure. Though I have a hard time believing that anyone who writes a 50+ point list about how the world needs to change to make their life better and give them higher self-esteem is also someone brimming with self-confidence. It kind of gives me the opposite impression, to be honest.

4. Understand that diets don’t work and are the evil child of capitalism and body-shaming culture. Over 95 percent of people who lose weight through dieting put the weight back on within five years. If diets worked, the diet industry would be financially unsustainable.

They do, though? Yeah, the diet plans you see advertised on late-night television don’t tend to work because, as Dani points out, a successful TV-diet is a quickly failing business. It’s an exploitative racket that relies on the failure of its consumer base. But the general concept of regulating the amount of food you eat and the kinds of food you eat to avoid any excess sugar usually works unless you have a metabolism or glandular issue. If you stop drinking soda and only eat desert once a week, you’ll probably lose a few pounds. That’s not a named diet, but it’s technically diet. Are you seriously saying that keeping track of the food you eat has nothing to do with weight loss/gain?

5. Learn about the damage that yo-yo dieting does to the body. Here’s the CliffsNotes version: It does much more damage than happily staying the size you are.

I agree. That’s not an argument against dieting. That’s an argument against shitty dieting, just like the last point was an argument against shitty dieting.

6. STOP TALKING ABOUT YOUR DIET. If you want to lose weight, fine, you do you. But understand how damaging it is for us to constantly hear how unwanted and unacceptable fat bodies are.

Low self-esteem? What?! I don’t have low self-esteem! I love myself how I am right now! That’s why I don’t even want to listen to other people trying to get their body into a size they’re happy with, because the size they would be happy with is smaller than me!

Seriously though, for a “movement” all about self-love, the fat acceptance crowd sure does fucking hate it whenever someone feels they would personally be more comfortable if they lost some weight.

7. More specifically, stop talking about your diet at meal times. It can take years to detach the feeling of shame from food, and hearing people talk about “syns,” “cheating,” and “naughty” food while we’re literally trying to eat can be massively triggering.

Once again. Not a fan of identitarians. But if a feminist rape survivor wants to stroll on in and tell Dani off for co-opting language used to talk about traumatic experiences to refer to how hard it is to be fat, I’d welcome that right about now. Also–no self-esteem issues here, folks! That’s why I can’t even listen to someone talk about dieting during a meal without feeling bad!

Note: I recognize the possibility that someone might actually have abuse-related trauma attached to their weight. People with eating disorders, or people who were horribly bullied or abused for their appearance, etc. But Dani Beckett isn’t talking about those cases, she’s just superimposing trauma onto fat people as a whole, as though fat people as a whole can be universally “triggered,” which is not the case.

8. Refrain from giving a fat person unsolicited advice about weight loss. Even if it totally worked for you, even if you think you’re being helpful, even if that person is related to you. STOP THIS.

Sure. Unsolicited advice is generally annoying, no matter what it is about. Though there is a ceiling. Like, if someone is obviously being self-destructive, unsolicited advice is going to be the only advice they get, and that advice is necessary. If Bob is 400 pounds because he eats nothing but McDonald’s fries and Coke floats, give all the unsolicited advice about weight loss you want.

9. Don’t call yourself fat if you’re widely considered to be slim or ‘average’-sized by most people. “I feel so fat today” is not equal to living in a fat body every day.

Once again, again–I’m not an identitarian, but if someone struggling with bi-polar personality disorder wants to show up and tell Dani off for co-opting language used by mental health advocates to talk about how hard it is to be fat, go right on ahead!

I though we were supposed to be comfortable with the word “fat,” Dani?

10. If you want to compliment a fat person on what they’re wearing, avoid saying it’s “flattering.” “Flattering” means, “Your clothes are hiding the bit of your body that society doesn’t like.” Just tell them they look great!

You realize “flattering” can also mean, “Your clothes are showing off the bits of your body that look good,” right? Someone could actually just be complimenting you. Fat people can have attractive features just like anyone else, and those features can be emphasized in a manner that could be described as “flattering.” What’s with this weird glass-half-empty view of compliments? [Insert the 100th joke about how Dani Beckett has poorly concealed low self-esteem here.]

11. Watch out for pity in your response to fat people. We don’t need your pity. We need your acceptance and your action to help other thin people get there, too.

We don’t need pity. That’s why I wrote a 51 point long list about all the things that make our lives hard, in a way that invokes . . . pity. Yeah, this was a poorly thought out argument.

12. Stop fetishizing fat bodies. Don’t expect fat folk to be grateful because you deem them fuckable. We’re people.

If you find [insert demographic feature] unattractive, you are _____phobic/___ist, and brainwashed by the discriminatory standards of beauty beat into you by society. If you find [insert same demographic feature here] attractive, that is a fetish and a sign of you contributing to a ______phobic/_____ist society.

Repeat this point on every SJW list about literally any topic until you perish. It is the one constant of the universe.

13. Don’t desexualize us, either. Fat people are plenty hot and are having great sex, thank you very much. All shapes and sizes of people have sex—there’s nothing you can do about that, and it’s weird and telling if you’re put out by it.

You know what’s also weird and telling, Dani? You being really defensive about the fact that you have sex. That above statement sounded like a closeted gay guy unconvincingly bragging about all the girls he’s totally banged.

Other people’s thought crimes about whether or not you have a sex life shouldn’t bother you. Their opinion about your sex life should be just as irrelevant as your opinion of theirs. This is not Dani Beckett asking for acceptance and for people to stop judging her. She just wants them to stop judging her negatively. Positive judgement about how she must be totally having great sex all the time is perfectly fine, apparently.

14. Understand that fat women get harassed and assaulted, too. Even if fat bodies don’t do it for you, remember that sexual assault is about power, not attraction. The fear of being ridiculed or disbelieved for speaking out about assault is often heightened for fat women.

Yeah, I’m gonna need a better citation than an unreferenced article from a failing Jezebel-style feminist rag if you’re going to make sweeping factual claims about rape statistics. I’m not saying this isn’t true. But you’re not doing a great job at getting that truth across, if that’s the case.

15. Remember that eating disorders affect fat people, too.

Isn’t that the stereotype? Whatever.

I highly doubt Dani Beckett’s screed against the concept of dieting and aversion towards the very notion of someone wanting to lose weight for any reason makes her the best person to go to if you have an eating disorder. See a therapist, kids, don’t go to Vice.

16. Understand that “fat” and “unhealthy” are not the same thing.

Sure. “Skinny” and “healthy” aren’t the same thing either. Can you stop condescendingly talking down to me like I’m a bad person who needs to be taught about the Good Book now?

17. Stop commenting on others’ weight under the guise of “concern” about their medical health. Are you my doctor? No? Your opinion isn’t necessary here.

Why does Dani Beckett hate context? Seriously. If someone is having health problems that have been very clearly linked to being overweight, commenting on that isn’t operating under the guise of concern. It’s actual concern, Dani. People can actually be nice and well-intentioned some of the time, you know? If you’re having knee problems and you’re 300 pounds, your friend being concerned that your weight is adversely affecting your knees isn’t trolling you to make you feel bad.

Remember one point ago when you said that “unhealthy” isn’t the same thing as “fat”? Well, they’re also capable of overlapping. Shock of all shocks. Totally excluding the influence of weight as it intersects with overall physical health is goddamn stupid. And these “Fat Acceptance” people know it.

18. Never ever, ever, ever pressure your partner to lose weight. Believing in bodily autonomy for your partner extends to supporting them in the choices they make about their body, shape, and size.

Since when did “bodily autonomy” mean never commenting on someone’s physical appearance ever? Telling your boyfriend that he might want to hit the gym isn’t the same thing as spiking his morning coffee with laxatives. This is, once again, contextual, and Dani Beckett is totally discounting the idea that a couple can sit down and have a genuine, welcomed conversation about whether one or both of them should lose weight. That doesn’t happen, I guess. It’s just all abusive patriarchal husbands telling their wives and gay partners to lose weight because they look like a fat cow.

19. If you care that much about what other people eat, donate your time and money to organizations that campaign for affordable, nutritional food in poor communities.

I thought eating nutritional food had nothing to do with weight and didn’t work?

This point is fine. One of the cyclical issues of poverty is lack of access to healthy food stuffs and then over reliance on expensive, debt-inducing reactive medical intervention for health problems that a shitty diet contributed greatly to. We’re one for nineteen, folks!

20. Critically examine the information you’re given about fatness. Investigate who is sharing the material and question what they might have to gain from it.

Can I critically examine the information I’m given about “body acceptance” too?

21. Erase the words “obesity epidemic” from your vocabulary. Demonization of fat bodies is a classic scapegoating tool employed by governments. When they talk about the “obesity epidemic,” they’re using coded language to get you to blame systematic societal problems (poverty, crime, climate change) on poor communities and communities of color. You’re smarter than that.

Well, that sentence made me barf in my mouth a little bit. It’s referred to as an obesity epidemic because we’re seeing a huge influx in obesity-related health issues and early, preventable deaths, Dani. Referring to it that way is how we’re trying to fix that whole “systemic poverty and lack of healthy resources” thing you brought up two fucking points ago. This is like saying the “AIDS epidemic” was called that because we hated the gays and not because people were dying disproportionately.

22. Learn about how the medical community treats fat bodies. As one example of very many, fat people are routinely denied kidney transplants unless they lose weight, even though they experience the same level of success with a donor kidneys as thin people do. We are consistently disbelieved and misdiagnosed because doctors cannot see past our fatness. We are often denied health insurance.

Well, I think universal health care should be a thing, so the general idea of someone being denied insurance is one I disagree with fundamentally. That being said, in our current system, people are denied insurance if they are a liability. People who smoke are denied insurance too, based on the assumption that they’re ultimately going to cost more to cover than they put in–you don’t see smokers making a group comparing their trials and tribulations to the fucking Civil Rights movement, though. If you want to talk about how fucked up the medical system is and how often it denies people care for bottom-line profits, go right on ahead. But this continued insistence that doctors have no reason to attach any poor health assumptions onto any fat person ever is getting you NOWHERE.

Worse, this continued insistence that eating healthy and exercising are exploitative myths created by racist, sexists colonialists is one of the things making universal health care in the United States an impossible fucking dream. Universal health care only works if you have a citizenry that does what it can to be proactive and negate the need for medical intervention. A country full of people with high blood pressure, poor circulation, and cholesterol-coated hearts going around insisting that “losing weight  is a scam and anyone telling them to go jogging occasionally and eat healthier is discriminating against them” is not a country where universal health care works. Fuck you, Dani Beckett, for being a part of the problem is the point I’m making here.

23. While you’re at it, read up on how BMI has been widely debunked as an inaccurate and misleading measure for health.

God, I hate this argument. Because it’s technically right, and nothing stokes the unnecessary victim complex of an SJW more than technically being right. The Body Mass Index is a very flawed measurement of health because it attempts to apply a hyper-generalized universality to something that’s affected by multiple factors. All the BMI takes into account is height and weight, and it doesn’t distinguish between different kinds of weight or different body types.

If you’re someone who has packed on a lot of muscle, the BMI would list you as “overweight.” If you’re someone with an ectomorph body type (ie, naturally very tall and thin), the BMI would list you as being “underweight” even if you have a healthy weight distribution for your body type. The BMI is also pretty bad at letting anyone know what health problems a person who is “overweight” actually has because that depends, once again, on how body fat is actually distributed. A woman with a pear-shaped frame and wide hips isn’t going to have very many health problems if her extra fat is mainly in the thigh-area because her body type can handle that. Someone with an A-frame body type carrying a lot of extra weight in the stomach, though, is going to have issues. This may be giving Dani a little too much credit, though, seeing as how most people, regardless of base body type, carry excess fat in their lower abdomen, i.e., the worst place for it in terms of health risks.

So, sure, the BMI isn’t that great of a measurement. The moral of that story isn’t, “See, being fat is totally okay and anyone who says it causes health problems is a liar!” The moral of the story is that “too much body fat” and what the averse affects of that will be varies due to a myriad of factors that the BMI doesn’t address.

24. If you are a doctor, stop prescribing weight loss as a remedy. Got depression? Try losing some weight. Heartburn? Go on a diet. Broken toe? Maybe cut down on the takeout. Come on—this is ridiculous. Do your job better.

It’s not the doctor’s job to prevent you from being unhealthy, Dani.

A.) Exercise actually does help depression for many people. Physical activity leads to a release of neurochemicals that would otherwise be blocked off. Exercising releases dopamine, for instance. And if you’re a depressed person not getting enough dopamine from your normal interactions, using that alternate channel of physical activity can be a way of “tricking” your brain into releasing dopamine by using a different stimuli/trigger that isn’t affected by depression. Fuck you for utterly dismissing an actually helpful technique for contended with depression because it makes you insecure.

B.) Heartburn is literally caused by eating certain foods/having a low tolerance for certain foods. A doctor telling you to not eat those certain foods if you don’t want heartburn isn’t “fat shaming” you.
C.) Bones break when too much pressure is put on them. Bones become brittle and break more easily if pressure is put on them consistently. Having excess body fat puts consistent pressure on the bones. This may not apply to your toe breaking example specifically, but dismissing this outright is fucking idiotic. Again.

25. Learn to criticize people without referencing their weight. There are enough things to criticize Trump for without bringing his body into it. Making jokes about his weight doesn’t hurt him—it hurts the nice, everyday fat person just trying to get on with their life.

HOLY FUCKING SHIT. A stereotypical internet liberal just said we shouldn’t criticize Donald Trump about something.

What a racist. I bet she hates immigrants.

26. Make sure your allyship extends to all fat people, not just small fat folks, not just white fat folks, and not just able-bodied fat folks.

I’m really done with this list. Why do fat people need an Oppression Olympics too?

*WEEPS UNCONTROLLABLY*

27. Know that skinny-shaming is not a thing. Ridiculing someone for being “too” slim is unacceptable, but it comes from a very different place than fatphobia. Thinness is seen as desirable by society and people, particularly women, are attacked only when their size begins to shine a light on the toxic fetishization of thinness. Fat people, however, are shamed for any deviation from the “acceptable” size and, more often than not, held in contempt for being that size. Concern trolling exists in the lives of thin people too, but discrimination against fat people is systematic and pervasive and damaging to entire communities.

Good to know that fat people have their own version of “black people can’t be racist.” Go tell the plus-size model that dropped a few sizes and who was subsequently attacked for it by “fat acceptance” activists that skinny shaming doesn’t exists. Is “Real Women Have Curves” not skinny shaming? Double standards get you nowhere. Either bodyshaming is universally wrong, or it’s not. You can’t talk about it like it’s a systematic issue then deny the impact is has on everyone who isn’t you.

28. Understand the link between capitalism and fatphobia. For instance, the companies that profit from the hard marketing of indulgent food at Christmas are often the same ones selling diet products in the New Year.

Companies exist to make money?! WHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAA. Hey, Dani, Dove markets itself as being all about body positivity even though the same company that owns Dove sells makeup. I hope you weren’t one of the people fawning all over that Body Acceptance campaign.

29. Sometimes, you’re going to sit next to a fat person on a plane. You’ll cope. I can guarantee that person is far more physically uncomfortable than you are.

I thought people above a certain weight had to buy two seats to avoid the whole “suffocating the person sitting next to you” problem. Also, way to be a total asshole about someone being uncomfortable. It’s not my fault that having some stranger’s love handles roll onto my lap is unappealing. I have social anxiety. I don’t like being touched by skinny people. Way to be ableist in your assumptions that everyone can cope with that, Dani.

30. Find out about the physical pain endured by not only fat people on planes, but on rollercoasters, in theater seats, on massage tables, and other size-specific areas. Then, contact your airline to ask them why they scrimp on their seat sizes. Leave positive TripAdvisor reviews for restaurants with sturdy chairs. Encourage your office manager to purchase accessible seats for your workplace (no arm rests, please). We need you to be doing this labor, too.

HOLD UP. Rollercoasters?! You realize those seats are the size they are because people would fall out of them and die if they weren’t, right? That is literally the least logical thing to insist should be made for fat people. Also, all of those trials and tribulations are also faced by unusually tall people, and unusually short people. Guys also would like a little more seating space to make room for their physical attributes, but you called that man-spreading, by the way. So clearly you don’t care about providing people with the space they need for all parties. There’s a reason the ADA laughed “fat acceptance” people out of the fucking building. “Fat” is not a disability. It is not something that people should be legally required to accommodate for.

31. Also, make sure your guest towels are the biggest size they have in the shop. Don’t make me scoot around your house in a towel that leaves me half naked.

It is not my fucking job to cater to you. It is my house. You are providing an example where you go to someone else’s house and tell them what to do, and you’re painting yourself as the non-annoying person in that situation. How demanding are you? I don’t go to your house and judge your linens.

33. Learn about the pay gap and employment bias faced by fat people. Yes, this is a very real thing.

If this lady proposes affirmative action for fat people, I am going to quit. There’s not even going to be an outro. I’ll just be done.

34. Stop assuming that fat people are lazy. Catch yourself when that bias creeps into your mind.

People can assume whatever they want. This list is nothing but Dani Beckett making assumptions about other people and what they think and do. It’s only fair that you allow them that same capacity.

35. Put your money into art that showcases fat people as romantic leads. Hamilton in London, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and the upcoming remake of Little Shop of Horrors have managed it, and many more should take their lead—and be supported by audiences when they do.

Are we getting into yet another round of “Dani Beckett looks down her nose at me and tells me what art I am and am not allowed to like”?

Fuuuuuuun.

Kill me.

36. Call out your favorite authors when they only write about fat characters as a shortcut to make you dislike them. (I’m looking at you, J.K. Rowling.)

But . . . there are fat characters in Harry Potter who you’re supposed to like as well. What, Dudley and all the fat jokes surrounding him exist, so I’m just supposed to forget that characters like Neville, Slughorn, Professor Sprout, and Hagrid are described as overweight and are likable? What about the fact that J. K. Rowling also uses thinness as an indication that you’re not supposed to like someone (Aunt Petunia, Snape, Malfoy, fucking Voldemort)? I’ve focused on this point way too long.

37. Call out your favorite comedian when they resort to fatphobic jokes.

No.

38. And actors wearing fat suits for comedy effect? Absolutely nope.

Well, I guess I agree that this is shitty comedy. Way to go.

39. Read critical thinking about fatness by fat writers: Cat PauséKivan BayRoxane GaySofie Hagen. These people, and loads more, do great work pulling apart the common misconceptions about fatness. They’re not just doing that work for fat folks. Thin people need to read it, too.

There is nothing I would want to do less than sit down and take time out of my life to read a pop sociology book about fatness. I would rather do math homework.

Note: You are not a welcoming and accepting movement when you require your members and allies to have done high-brow, esoteric academic readings before associating with you. This point is the epitome of the snooty, college-educated liberal elitist stereotype.

40. Fund critical analysis through Patreon, crowdfunding sites, and direct donations to research institutes. There’s hardly any cash in fat research…I wonder why.

They’re asking for money. What a surprise.

41. Never forget that fatphobia has its roots in racism and white supremacy. In the early 1800s, colonialist “scientists” used fatness as one of the markers for social hierarchies, with fatness as one of the “uncivilized” characteristics attributed to the Black and indigenous people placed at the bottom of this scale.

Well, Dani Beckett is at least proudly continuing the grand tradition of privileged, white armchair anthropologists being problematic as fuck.

42. If you have children, be cognizant of how you talk about food around them. Many women, in particular, cite comments from their mothers as instigating factors in their shame around food. Teach your kids that their, and others’, bodies aren’t something to apologize for.

Don’t be an insecure housewife who’s constant onslaught of passive aggression turns my daughter into an anorexic. Got it. “Stop projecting your own ideas and insecurities onto your children” is good advice, but I highly doubt that an ideologue like Dani consistently applies this rule. Her daughter’s gonna be a feminist, doncha know?

43. Understand that there are different kinds of fat bodies. Not all fat people have hourglass figures or carry their weight in societally acceptable places.

And those different kinds of fat bodies are prime pickin’ for the Fat Oppression Olympics. Don’t be skinny-fat, ladies! The importance of your opinion in this movement is directly related to the size of your waistline! Size larges get to the back of the fucking line. XXX-large is where it’s at!

44. Listen to the stories of fat people. We will experience problems in our daily lives that you won’t know anything about. Some of this may sound alien or unlikely to you, but believe these stories and let them inform how you treat people.

Nothing says “take me seriously” like co-opting language used when we talk about rape.

45. And telling us, “Well you could just lose weight” is not ok. Heard of victim blaming? Yeah, this is it.

Nothing says “take me seriously” like co-opting language used when we talk about rape: Part II, Electric Bugaloo.

46. Call out your friends, family members, and co-workers when they fat-shame people in front of you. Remember that your silence gives them permission to keep doing this.

Fat-shaming isn’t okay for the same reason that bullying and generally being an asshole are not okay. I’d be inclined to agree with this point if it weren’t for the fact that it has been made very clear that any mention of weight or weight loss whatsoever, regardless of context, is considered “fat shaming,” apparently.

47. Don’t expect every fat person to respond the same way to harassment. Fat positivity is complex. It involves years of undoing internalized shame and, often, the misogyny, racism, classism, and ableism that’s linked to that, too. Some days, your fat friend will be angry and ready to take on the world, other days, she’ll feel shit and sad about it.

I like how it’s “fat positivity” now. “Body positivity” included those skinny bitches, and we can’t have that. Dani Beckett is the last person you want to go to for how not to be classist or ableist, by the way. This list, combined with her previous entry in the Vice listicle genre, are more than enough proof to me that she is incredibly socioeconomically elitist and incredibly insensitive towards disabilities, particularly of the mental/emotional health variety. Also the fact that she’s so ready–right out of the gate–to co-opt language used by rape victims and people struggling with systemic racism gives me the impression that she’s not much of a source of wisdom when it comes to misogyny or racism either.

48. Don’t leave it to fat folk to call out fat-shaming—the emotional labor of defending yourself is exhausting. We need you to also send the message that it’s unacceptable.

It is not other people’s job to make you feel good. If you expect the world to shoulder the burden of your insecurities for you, you are going to be sorely disappointed.

49. Report fatphobia on online platforms. More of us need to do this if we want Facebook and Twitter to take it seriously.

Yes. Do encourage more incompetent community policing from the already stunningly incompetent social media platforms. There’s no way that can go wrong!

50. Okay, sometimes you’re going to accidentally assume that someone is pregnant. You probably shouldn’t go around pointing out (or, fucking hell, touching) every pregnant belly you see, but, once in a while, you might mistakenly offer your seat to someone who isn’t pregnant, and is just carrying weight on their stomach. There’s no perfect way to respond to this, but please remember that, in this situation, your feelings do not matter. Take your lead from the person you’ve affected, and don’t make it their job to make you feel better on top of their having to process it to begin with.

This happened to one of my friends once. She thought it was funny. Are we allowed to think these kinds of situations are funny, Dani, or must we all have the same cynical, the-world-is-out-to-get-me, perpetually indignant reaction that you seem to have?

51. And lastly, never forget that if you’re not advocating for fat women and non-binary people, then your feminism isn’t intersectional. Because—and say it with me now: Fat-shaming and diet culture are tools of the patriarchy!

*WEEPS UNCONTROLLABLY* 

Jordan Peterson and the Lollipop Guild

If that is not already the name for some random French-Canadian indie rock band, then that is a shame. Anyway, onto the actual content.

Note: I’ve been trying to suss out what I would say in this piece for quite a while. Though it may look like I’m jumping on the bandwagon of anti-Jordan Peterson content–and, in a way, I am–just know that this post has been sitting in my archives, revised and edited and added to for nearly four months at this point. I simply required a few other hot takes to help me organize my own thoughts, and it just so happens that those hot takes are comin’ at ya now.

You have TJ Kirk who was prompted into writing a book on the subject of disagreeing with Peterson. Hugo and Jake from the Bible Reloaded have discussed Peterson’s questionable track record with transgender pronouns and Bill C16. Matt Dillahunty had a debate with Peterson about religion. And, most interestingly, one of Peterson’s colleagues recently wrote a lengthy article detailing why he thinks Peterson is falling into a dangerous position with his popularity.

Now, I don’t agree with every point made in every one of these examples. Do you trust that I can generally agree with something without finding it 100% perfect? Good.

Those above examples tackle the Jordan Peterson issue from multiple viewpoints. I highly recommend all of them. As you may remember, I do have some fondness for Peterson. I think he was the public figure who best elucidated why the commentary surrounding the American presidential election was such an ethically reprehensible shit show. I still think that. I think his academic work on the rise of authortarianism is very interesting. I don’t absolutely hate the guy. Part of the issue is that his rabid fanboys think I do because I don’t see every single word that falls out of the man’s face as a gospel Truth of the highest order. Had he remained a fringe figure well-like by certain circles on YouTube, I doubt I’d have much of a problem with him. But his shining star has burned bright enough to wear holes through the facade of intellectual excellence he’s been selling.

I am an atheist who did not take very kindly to Peterson pulling the 2004 Christian apologist move of saying, “Atheists who don’t run around acting like psychopaths are actually just Christians, they’re just stupid and confused so they won’t admit it.” I’m also technically a nihilist, so I don’t think his fears of nihilism are founded on much besides cherry-picked philosophical navel gazing. And though the “We already use ‘they’ as a singular pronoun in this one linguistic context totally unrelated to the context you are asking us to use it in now, so checkmate!” argument is stupid as fuck, there is something to be said for flexible language use and the practical purpose of pronouns that Jordan Peterson seems not to want to address.

That’s been talked about, though. For my part, I’m going to point out something that I haven’t seen many people touch on: Peterson’s intellectual influences that he quotes all the time and pulls examples from all the time and espouses the validity of all the time . . . are kind of stupid. And by that, I mean Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud are hacks.


Jordan Peterson confuses me very, very much in this regard. He’s a clinical psychologist who, from what I can see, does generally good work and conducts acceptable and scientifically valid research. His seeming obsession with Freud and Carl Jung as two of the frequently-referenced pillars for his sociopolitical beliefs, then, is the most paradoxical thing I’ve come across in quite some time. I’m not going to pretend to be some expert on the subject, but I do know quite a lot about both Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Hopefully, after going into their work more, you can see why it baffles me so much to see a modern-day clinical psychologist quoting Freud and Jung like they’re authorities on anything, let alone men whose advice is warranting of building an entirely new conception of Truth around.

Being important and interesting historical figures in the field is not the same thing as being legitimate sources to choose from in regards to psychological or philosophical argumentation. Peterson is an intelligent man, and he’s very good at making what he says sound intelligent even when it’s really not; and his constant invoking of Freudian and Jungian theories just comes across to me as a smart person taking advantage of the fact that most people don’t know enough about the topics he’s discussing to realize he’s making no sense and quoting people who no one takes seriously outside of philosophical circles.

I want to make that very, very fucking clear, because Peterson never has: Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung are not guys you go to for psychology. Their ideas are seen as very interesting philosophical frameworks. As an anecdote: I’ve done most of my readings from Carl Jung under the context of studying classical mythology. I studied Freud in psychology courses as a Significant Figure (TM), not as someone who was right about things. Peterson using his authority to lift his pet-thinkers up as psychological figures to people who don’t know any better annoys me to no end.


Let’s start with Sigmund Freud. He’s a very important guy. He is the founder of psychoanalysis, ie, trying to address mental and behavioral problems through dialogue between therapist and patient that uncovers the psychological underpinnings of one’s actions. For some context, before Freud came along with his (genuinely revolutionary for the time) idea that maybe having conversations about mental states would help mental health, people were still doing things like determining someone’s psychological traits by looking at skull shape.

Freud is one of those founding figures of psychology who–like many founding figures in many fields–was in the right ballpark . . . but not much else. The very generalized, very basic ideas that he pioneered are correct, but acting like he was in any way accurate beyond that point is getting into “Intentionally Misleading” territory. The main issue with most of Freud’s more detailed theories is that they are conveniently unfalisfiable.

“You do X now because Y happened when you were a kid, and you just don’t remember,” or “You do X because you subconsciously want to do Y, and it’s so subconsious that not even you know it.” There’s not much you can do with either of those statements, and that’s what Freud-style psychoanlaysis is. If that seems familiar, it’s because Jordan Peterson uses the same method of unfalsifiable psychoanalysis in his own speeches and claims constantly.

Look no further than his “Feminists who defend Islam are secretly yearning to be brutally dominated by a man.” comment. That’s a very nice example because it also ties perfectly into Freud’s insistence that most anxieties, neuroses, and eccentricities can be tracked back to sexual repression or being stunted during a (totally not accurate to actual human development) stage of psycho-sexual development as a child.

Peterson also takes very generously from Freud’s penis envy idea — that “young girls experience anxiety upon realization that they do not have a penis . . . that is a defining moment in the development of their female sexuality and gender identity.” While that may have been an accurate depiction of the 19th century aristocratic woman’s plight of living in a genuinely patriarchal society that meant her lack of a dick limited her social mobility, it’s been rightfully criticized as a not-at-all-accurate depiction of generalized female psychological development. Peterson’s own views on the importance of well-defined gender roles/societal responsibilities and the ultimate societal harms of androgyny/less defined gendered behavior (up to and including trans people and their pronouns) fits well within the boundaries set up by Freud; Children learn to not only notice the differences between the sexes but see similarity to the other sex as something anxiety inducing. A boy’s realization that girl’s genitals are different is referred to as “castration anxiety” for crying out loud.

If you want more examples of Peterson ripping off Freud’s technique of ascribing motivations where he logically cannot know them, I will gladly send them to you.


Then there’s Carl Jung and his most frequently referenced theory about collective unconscious. AKA the reason Jordan Peterson thinks that everyone with morals is religious and that art cannot exist without religion. To put it very simply: the collective unconscious refers to psychological structures or ideas that are shared among all people (with the more wishy washy point that they have a collective meaning and understanding cross-culturally and between individuals, not just a collective undefined presence in our psyche. Not all Jungian subscribers believe this.). More contentious still is the idea that those structures are ones we as humanity find extremely significant in informing our moral frameworks. That, I believe, is what Peterson is arguing for. This is one of the topics that he’s notoriously vague and word salad-y about.

The key word here is Archetype. A universal symbol that we all have some inherent understanding and connection to the symbolism of. People have used to to explain why most known religions oftentimes have the same character archetypes and stories (the Savior, the Wise Man, the Great Mother, the Great Flood, etc.).

I don’t think I have to go into why this isn’t scientific. This is philosophy if we’ve ever seen it. And there’s nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that Peterson uses it as fuel for his social commentary on psychological issues. I don’t even get how. He models a huge chunk of his rhetoric after Freud, who was a proponent of the idea that everyone’s unconscious mind and anxiety had some very individualized work put into it; but in the same breath he’ll mention Jung, whose entire shtick was that everyone’s unconscious mind is tapped into this collective where we all get our understanding of human morals and where deviation from those collective archetypal ideas is what causes anxiety. I’m not saying you can’t like both, Jordan, but you have to be better at explaining it, because right now I’m at an utter loss for how you can hold these two theories of where anxiety comes from at once.

 

That discrepancy doesn’t even touch upon his tendency to use the collective conscious to uplift socially traditionalist Christianity as the inexplicable go-to for social order and moral rightness. This confuses me because Jung makes it clear that religions are not the source of these moral archetypes, just a very salient expression of them that happen to hold the social zeitgeist. Peterson himself shows this very clearly with the high regard in which he holds the Pinocchio story and the archetypes found within it. Apparently, Jordan Peterson can find Pinocchio to be morally informative and beautiful, but if an atheist says they get their morals from somewhere other than a religion, they’re just lying or misinformed. Now, if he explained that as “Oh, the moral lessons you like come from the same collective unconscious as religious parables that teach similar moral lessons,” he’d at least be consistent. But he has yet to explicate it that way.

He also seems to have missed Jung’s point about religions not being the only expression of the collective unconscious and that religious stories having those archetypes does not therefore mean that those archetypes are owned by religion or are religious in nature, inherently. This is where I assume his comments about us not having any art without religion come from. I assume. The Blue Fairy from Pinocchio being like an angel does not mean Pinocchio was really a Christian story this whole time. It just means that angels and the Blue Fairy are separate expressions of the same archetype, one in  a religion and one in a fairy tale. That’s the entire point of the collective unconscious as an idea, to show that these values exist within humanity universally.

And Jordan Peterson has somehow managed to obsess over that and yet turn it into the utter antithesis of what it  initially was at the same time. He’s somehow managed to take an already questionable philosophical idea that tried to level the playing field for all stories, religious or otherwise, and turn it into a pitch about how the religion he likes the most should be the one we all look to for moral guidance. What?!

I’m getting worked up. I’m done. Read the article I linked to. It’s really interesting. Good night.

100 Easy Ways to Make Women’s Lives More Bearable: Another Response

Oh, God. This article exists. Why? I don’t understand who this is for. The 100 Things White People Can Do To Kiss POCs’ Collective Ass (But Not Too Much, Because Then It’s Weird) list has a companion piece, guys! Isn’t that great? Isn’t that fun? Now there’s a list for self-hating men to jerk off to, not just self-hating white people. It’s written by Dani Beckett, whose ideal man is one who walks around shirtless and attractive, bringing her tea in bed, according to the image accompanying this list. Because when you have the title 100 Easy Ways to Make Women’s Lives More Bearable, double standards about sexual objectification are bound to happen, apparently.

A few years ago I started compiling a list of easy actions that men can take to meaningfully support gender equality. Every year, I would post it on social media. Slowly, other women started contributing suggestions. So the list grew. And grew. It will likely never stop growing.

Keep the “meaningfully support gender equality” point in mind, guys. Make sure to keep a tally of things that do that as opposed to having minor, hyper-specific complaints about first-world problems. I’m also forced to question the validity of your victimization when a 100-point list of what men need to do for you to make you happy and fulfilled is apparently not even scratching the surface of Good Enough. The problem might be with you, honey. Just saying.

To the men reading: You may already do some of these things, and others you may not be in the position to do. But a good place to start is by, at the very least, reading the list through—in its entirety. And remember: These apply all year, not just during the annual 24 hours dedicated to half of the planet’s population.

How much you want to bet Ms. Dani Beckett gives no shits about International Men’s Day?

Edit: I tried treating this with the same point-by-point response to all 100 as I did the companion piece, but this one just broke me, guys. She apparently boiled this list down from multiple hundreds of suggestions, and it still manages to be repetitive, rambling drivel that couldn’t make a clear point to save its life. I couldn’t do it. It’s been days since I’ve started trying to write this and I’m still not done. Screw it. I’m picking the ones I had the patience and will power to answer and leaving the other ones on the cutting room floor here. I’m a failure, I know.


1. Before explaining something to a woman, ask yourself if she might already understand. She may know more about it than you do.

So . . . we’re starting off with man-splaining, huh? This is point numero uno. Okay.

I was going to bet money that at least 80% of the list is going to be the exact kind of patronizing condescension that Beckett accuses the entirety of men-kind of being so guilty for, but that’s just a rigged game. I wouldn’t do that to you.

2. Related: Never, ever try to explain feminism to a woman.

What if it’s a male feminist trying to explain feminism to a woman who is a part of the 70+% of women in Western countries who don’t consider themselves feminists? I suppose it’s only fitting that we get the woman=feminist point out of the way early. While we’re on the topic of feminism, I like how your movement that’s all about equality and eliminating gendered double standards apparently forbids men from being able to explain it to the uninitiated.

3. Trans women are women. Repeat that until you perish.

That was worded in a really needlessly aggressive way. Being a dick is not how you encourage people to to not be dicks.

And, yes, if someone decides to take on the social identity and appearance of a woman because it’s conducive toward their mental health to do so, fine. There are still plenty of people in the world–men and women–who think that’s it’s some sign of moral and intellectual fortitude to tell other people how to present themselves to the world. But engaging in unprovoked aggression towards someone who may already fucking agree with you is not helpful, and it certainly doesn’t make those aforementioned “red pilled” people want to listen to you and honestly consider your points. If you don’t treat them with basic levels of courtesy, there’s no reason for them to extend that to you.

4. RESPECT PEOPLE’S PRONOUNS. It’s not hard.

It is pretty hard when you’ve got people making up pronouns they want to be called. There are parts of human language that are fixed grammatical features (like pronouns) and parts that are flexible (vocabulary). Asking people to change the way they use fixed grammatical words actually is difficult, especially when you have people wanting to be called “they,” a fixed grammatical form that is typically only used to refer to a single person when it’s an unidentified single party, not a specific and named one.

I don’t want to make it seem like we’ve got a shit ton of people running around wanting to be called “xir”; The pronoun debate is mainly about using the preferred he/she pronoun of a trans person. And, sure, if someone wants to be called “Tom,” I’m not going to insist on calling them “Thomas” just to lord my own superior understanding of properness over them. The same goes for pronouns. Once again, though, you beating people over the head with this REPEK ME hammer and implying that they’re coming from a place of hate for not immediately toeing the line is not helping your fucking cause.

5. Remember that fat women exist and aren’t all trying to get thin. Treat them with respect.

I’m sure we all known fat women exist. It’s kinda hard to miss them. Ba dum CHING. I can make that joke because I’m a size 12.

6. In fact, just never comment on a woman’s body.

I’ll make sure to tell my loving, long-term monogamous boyfriend that he can stop telling me he thinks I’m hot. It’s not like I appreciated that or anything.

7. Be kind to women in customer service positions. Tip them extra. (But not in a creepy way.)

Okay, this is gonna seem like a tangent, but it needs to be addressed at this point. Can we please talk about how classist these people are? The companion piece to this article had a very consistent overtone of economic elitism wherein it treated “white people” as interchangeable with “upper middle class to wealthy members of of urbanite intelligentsia that donate money and go to culture clubs and sit in on panels,” with the one time it even acknowledged poor white people as a thing being to overtly and unashamedly say it didn’t care about them or their issues.

Then you have this article, telling people to give preferential treatment to the help if they happen to be women. Because being the help is apparently a peachy keen, high-paying gig where people treat you with respect and dignity as long as you’re a man working that job. It’s not like working in customer service sucks for everyone, but I’m sure that guy making $8.50 an hour to wait on you and your entitled friends really appreciates you lording your moral do-goodingness over him by paying him less to compensate for the privileges he has over you.

8. Trust women. When they teach you something, don’t feel the need to go and check for yourself. And especially do not Google it in front of them.

Are women just incapable of being incorrect now? If someone tells me something that I think is questionable, I’m going to Google it in front of them. It’s the 21st fucking century. I’ll do what I want. My group of friends is me and four guys; we fact check each other all the time. In our conversation about early 2000s anime, they can apparently question each other’s knowledge all day, but everything I say just has to be taken wholesale. If I say the Death Note anime came out in 2003, my friend isn’t allowed to say, “I don’t think it came out that early. You might be thinking of the manga. I’ll check,” because he has a dick. You’re essentially applying a double standard to any co-ed conversations. Way to go.

9. Don’t maintain a double standard for… anything, ever.

tenor

10. CLOSE YOUR LEGS ON PUBLIC TRANSIT, OH MY GOD.

Men have external genitalia. That’s certainly a better excuse to take up slightly more room on the subway than the perpetual old-lady-taking-up-three-seats-with-her-inexplicable-number-of-purses, or teenager-who-stretches-out-across-entire-benches-because-fuck-you.

11. Trying to describe a woman positively? Say she’s “talented,” “clever,” or “funny.” Not “gorgeous,” “sweet,” or “cute.”

What if she isn’t talented, clever, or funny? What then? What if she’s Caroline from Roses, who is mighty fine but not much else? Are you under the impression that some random man off the street is going to be complimented for personality traits he doesn’t have?

The thing is, I would actually agree with you if you didn’t constantly engage in this ridiculous implication that women should be complimented for positive traits that they don’t even have just because it’s not politically correct to acknowledge their appearance or femininity in any way. The “women are, men do” social standard wherein men are complimented on accomplishments (like being funny or clever) and women are complimented on internal characteristics (like being pretty or sweet), actually is a thing that actually does contribute to some arbitrary gender norms. This is my issue with internet feminists: Every time you have something resembling a point, you ruin it.

12. Examine your language when talking about women. Get rid of “irrational,” “dramatic,” “bossy,” and “badgering” immediately.

What if they are irrational, dramatic, bossy, or badgering? You are certainly all of these things, Dani Beckett. At least according to this list. Alex Jones is irrational. Kanye West is dramatic. Stanley Kubrik is bossy. Donald Trump is badgering. These are words that describe behaviors. You are telling people to not use words to describe things that those words describe.

13. Don’t think to yourself, I describe men like that too. A) You probably don’t. B) If you do, it’s to criticize them for acting like a woman.

Wow, I didn’t know Danni Beckett was a fucking mindreader. That’s impressive! I like how you have a built-in response to the inevitable criticism of that last point. And even in your forward-thinkingness, the best you could come up with is “you only use those words to deride people for being too womanly.” That’s sad.

14. Do you love “fiery” Latina women? “Strong” Black women? “Mysterious” Asian women? Stop. Pick up a book on decolonial feminism. Read.

I’m not sure about the third one, but the first two are stereotypes actively perpetuated by left wing people. Why don’t you stop it?

15. Stop calling women “feisty.” We don’t need a special lady word for “has an opinion.”

That’s not what “feisty” means. Even in it’s colloquial usage, it’s not a “womanly” thing, it’s a word used to describe someone/something that is unexpectedly intense or energetic. A cute dog that that barks and snaps at people is called “feisty.” An adorable little kid who mouths off to authority figures is called “feisty.” If you’re a 5’2″ blonde girl with resting nice face, you might be described as “feisty” if it turns out you’re really sarcastic and caustic in conversation. No one’s looking at Sheryl Sandberg or Ronda Rousey or Michelle Obama and calling them “feisty,” because they all have an overtly intense look and demeanor about them already. You are once again telling people to just stop using words that mean what they mean.

 

18. Examine the way you talk about women you’re attracted to. Fat women, old women, queer, trans, and powerful women are not your “guilty crush.”

It’s not enough to find atypical women attractive, guys. You have to own that shit. But not too much, because then you’re fetishizing us, and that’s sexist and wrong. This is the “find POC people attractive, but don’t think our race is an attractive feature” talking point all over again.

19. Learn to praise a woman without demonizing other women. “You’re not like other girls” is not a compliment. I want to be like other girls. Other girls are awesome.

Wow, I’ve never seen an SJW straight-up admit that they don’t want to be an individual person. I mean, it was implied, but . . .

This point is ridiculous. The guy is telling you that you are special, Dani. He’s calling you one-of-a-kind. He’s saying there’s no one else out there quite like you. If your response to that compliment is, “Nuh uh, I’m entirely mediocre, just like every other girl you’ve ever met! And that’s fine!” that guy should run away from you, full speed, never looking back.

I guess if your version of doing you is is being like everybody else, go ahead, but don’t get your panties in a knot when someone assumes that you value uniqueness as a trait.

20. Share writing by women. Don’t paraphrase their work in your own Facebook post to show us all how smart or woke you are. I guarantee the woman said it better in the first place.

This seems like a problem faced solely by the woke liberal crowds that seem overpopulated with enlightened ally men who talk the talk on social forums and rape the rape in private.  

Also, casual misandry is always fun. “I guarantee the woman said it better.” Try swapping that noun out with literally any other demographic and see how well that works out.

21. Buy sanitary pads and tampons and donate them to a homeless shelter. Just do it.

This is fine. Homeless shelters could always use more supplies of various kinds.

22. How much of what you are watching/reading/listening to was made by women? Gender balance your bookcase.

I don’t know. Let’s see.

According to Netflix, my most recent watches are John Mulaney’s new stand-up special, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Bojack Horseman. I don’t think any of those are made by women. Reading-wise, I just finished The Book of Dust by Phillip Pullman and am currently reading a memoir called My Own Country by Abraham Verghese.  And as far as music goes, I’ve been obsessively listening to The Voidz, then there’s Jack White’s new album, ZelooperZ, and Death Grips.

My media is pretty male-dominated at the moment. You know why? Because all of those things are awesome and worth my time. I care about quality, and when women make things that I like–as they frequently do–I’ll give them my time as well. It’s almost like that’s how taste and interest work.

23. Feeling proud of your balanced bookcase? Are there women of color there? Trans, queer, and disabled women? Poor women? Always make sure you’re being intersectional.

This is why young people are turning to conservatism in droves. It’s not your policies turning them off. It’s not even that the conservatives are inherently more appealing. It’s this. You are not cool anymore, Dani Beckett. You are not the voice of a generation. You are not the counterculture.

You are the dowdy 40-something housewife with nothing better to do than observe from a safe, untainted distance the art other people like and turn your nose up at it for being uncouth. You are the geriatric whiner huffing and puffing about how the hip-hop and the rap music are destroying good morals and family values. You are the evangelical Christian forbidding your kid from reading Harry Potter because it promotes witchcraft. You are the concerned parents coalition that bans Marilyn Manson’s music from your households because he promotes degeneracy. You are the cringey youth pastor who passive aggressively tut-tut-tuts at the kids in his youth group not supporting enough good Christian artists. You are the AM radio conservative talk show host who wants to boycott Disney because Elsa from Frozen is a lesbian and those are bad morals to promote to children. You are the parents from Footloose, the elders from Happy Feet, the dad from The Lego Movie.

You are a moralizing pearl-clutcher who wants to control the kind of art and creativity other people are allowed to enjoy and take part in.

You are LAME, Dani Beckett. And that is why people are tripping over their own feet running away from you.

24. Don’t buy media that demeans women’s experiences, valorizes violence against women, or excludes them entirely from a cast. It’s not enough to oppose those things. You have to actively make them unmarketable.

You know, I don’t tell you that you’re not allowed to have shitty feminist media. I think you can like and buy and make and support on Patreon whatever the fuck you want. I think you can dislike and refuse to buy whatever the fuck you want.

I hate Tyler Perry movies. I think they perpetuate awful stereotypes and talk down to their black audience by assuming they are idiots amused by idiocy. But I’m not gonna go on the internet and say that we should start making Tyler Perry movies unmarketable just because I personally don’t like them. Because I acknolwedge that not everyone on the planet has to like exactly what I like, and want exactly what I want, and make exactly what I want them to make, and connect to the things I connect with. Why can’t you give other people the same courtesy? Why do you feel the need to police what other people are allowed to do, down to something as benign as what music they like or what movie they buy on Blu-Ray?

29. Stop raving about Woody Allen. I don’t care if he shits gold. Find a non-accused-abuser to fanboy over.

Midnight in Paris is a good movie that is worth watching. Woody Allen could have actually been a proven abuser–which he isn’t–and that would not detract from the fact that Midnight in Paris is a good movie that is worth watching. Fuck off. I’m done tackling these “people are only allowed to like art that I, Dani Beckett, personally approve of and curate first,” bullshit.

34. Share political hot takes from women as well as men. They might not be as widely accessible, so look for them.

Can I share political hot takes from Tomi Lahren, Candace Owens, Diamond and Silk, and Lauren Southern? Or are they not the “right kind” of women to be supporting and uplifting?

35. Understand that it was never “about ethics in journalism.”

It was though? Gamergate was started when the boyfriend of Zoe Quinn, a female game developer, had a very public emotional breakdown over her cheating on him repeatedly with some guys who, lucky her, happened to be media journalists who helped further her publicity and game-making career. That is as far as her involvement in Gamergate went. It quickly became not at all about her as the topic of discussion extended to the multiple kinds of corruption, nepotism, and brown-nosing found in that industry, of which she was only a single example. All of the people insisting that it was about Zoe Quinn and gamers “not wanting women in video games” have no fucking idea what they’re talking about.

36. Speak less in meetings today to make space for your women colleagues to share their thoughts. If you’re leading the meeting, make sure women are being heard as much as men.

Women are strong, guys! We swear. That’s why we’re in constant need of your help and support. If you are not working to uplift us and make space for us and encourage us 24/7, than we’re just not going to be successful.

38. Promote women. Their leadership styles may be different than yours. That’s probably a good thing.

More casual misandry again. Women are just better than men at most things and superior in most ways, guys. No big deal.

39. Recruit women on the same salary as men. Even if they don’t ask for it.

Once again–women are strong! That’s why you should entirely get rid of salary bartering as a possibility because women don’t take advantage of it as much as men, and that’s not fair. So now men can’t do it either. Gotta even that playing field somehow, and asking women to do something about it is just too much work, you know?

40. Open doors for women with caring responsibilities by offering flexible employment contracts.

I think the United State’s lack of sufficient maternal and paternal leave is stupid, so sure.

45. If you find you’re only interviewing men for a role, rewrite the job listing so that it’s more welcoming to women.

Women are strong! That’s why we have to be specifically catered to and ensured that we will continue to be specifically catered to in the future if you want us to send you an application.

47. Tell female colleagues what your salary is.

I make more than every single one of my male colleagues. It’s called bonuses and asking for a raise when you think you deserve it. But wait a minute, that required me showing something resembling initiative, and expecting women to have initiative to receive higher pay is stupid when you could just get rid of the concept of asking for a raise instead. Silly me! I forgot.

50. If you manage a team, make sure that your employees know that you recognize period pain and cystitis as legitimate reasons for a sick day.

As with the maternity/paternity leave thing, I think the United States’ utter lack of employee health standards in the work place, glorification of going to work while ill, and abysmal to nonexistent sick day policies is stupid. So yeah, give people more available sick days and make it clear that being bowled over by period cramps is sufficient reason for using one. I have no problem with this.

51. If you have a strict boss (or mom or teacher) who is a woman, she is not a “bitch.” Grow up.

Stop telling people how to use words. You’re straight up saying we can’t use insults and profanity if the insult-ee is a woman now.

We’re so strong, guys. It’s unbelievable how strong you can be from the safety of a fainting couch.

57. If you see women with their hands up, put yours down. This can be taken as a metaphor for a lot of things. Think about it.

I’ve thought about it, and it’s stupid. Stop telling people to socially demote themselves for the sake of making you feel better. It’s patronizing to everyone involved.

58. Raising a feminist daughter means she’s going to disagree with you. And probably be right. Feel proud, not threatened.

Or, or . . . you could not push your socio-political beliefs onto a child with no concept of what they truly mean or entail, answer their questions when they have them, and let them develop their own thoughts and opinions about things. You could do that.

God, you’re like those cringey conservative parents who give their newborns Baby Republican onesies or tell them they’re a Christian before they even know what the concept of God is.

65. Challenge the patriarchs in your religious group when they enable the oppression of women.

Does this apply to Muslims, Dani? Or just the safe-to-criticize, white people religions?

67. Trust women’s religious choices. Don’t pretend to liberate them just so you can criticise their beliefs.

Called it.

68. Examine who books your trips, arranges outings, organizes Christmas, buys birthday cards. Is it a woman? IS IT?

If it is, so what? Those are extraneous things. You know, the stuff you do because you want to do it. Nobody’s reluctantly booking a vacation or grumpily planning fun amusement park day trips. These are things you do because you want to do them. You’d think a woman who wrote a 100-point list on everything she wants from other people would get the concept.

69. And if it is actually you, a man, don’t even dare get in touch with me looking for your medal.

What the fuck is this list, guys?!

“You’re being a bad ally to women if you don’t do the things on this list, but if you do the things on this list, don’t expect me to be happy about it! You’re still a piece of shit who deserves no credit for doing anything good!”

What?! And I bet you wonder why more men aren’t allied with you and your cause. The whole “treating them like shit even when they behave exactly how you want them to” thing probably contributes to it, if I had to make a guess. Just a shot in the dark here.

70. Take stock of the emotional labor you expect from women. Do you turn to the women around you for emotional support and give nothing in return?

So . . . don’t be the emotional leech in a one-sided relationship? Wow, Dani, you’re so insightful into the human experience. We definitely required your enlightened list of grievances.

74. If a woman tells you she was raped, assaulted, or abused, don’t ask her for proof. Ask how you can support her.

What’s with these liberal circles and insisting that we take one specific group and regard their experiences and their claims in ways we would never regard other, similar situations? In the first list we have the idea that a POC perceiving a slight against them should just be taken wholesale even when we don’t treat anyone else that way. And in this list we have the idea that we should just believe a woman who says she was assaulted/abused wholesale even when we don’t treat any other crime that way.

But no double standards, ever. Amiright, guys?

77. Do not walk too close to a woman late at night. That shit can be scary.

Can a black man walk uncomfortably close to you at night, Dani? If you perceive that as scary, you’re being racist, remember? Intersectionality is important, Dani. Don’t half-ass your commitment to equality.

78. If you see a woman being followed or otherwise bothered by a stranger, stick around to make sure she’s safe.

Way to ask people to white knight for you in real life situations that could get them hurt, Dani. If you see a woman in a possibly dangerous situation, call the respective authorities–the cops, a bouncer, security. Don’t ask people to be civilian vigilantes on your behalf.

Also, women are strong, guys. That’s why we need random strangers to keep an eye on us to ensure our safety.

80. If you are a queer man, recognize that your sexuality doesn’t exclude you from potential misogyny.

Nope. Nope. You can’t be all intersectional on me yet, Dani. I still haven’t gotten an answer to the “Are women allowed to find black men scary?” question. Don’t bring the gays into it now. That overcomplicates things.

83. Remember that you can lack consent in situations not involving sex—such as when pursuing uninterested women or forcing a hug on a colleague.

Maybe don’t make implicit connections between being hugged when you don’t want to be hugged and being raped? Maybe don’t do that?

Fuck, I’m so done with this list.

85. Trust a woman to know her own body. If she says she won’t enjoy part of your sexual repertoire, do not try to convince her otherwise.

What do you mean, “Don’t try to convince her otherwise.”? That’s how experimenting sexually works! You are made aware of a kink or a fetish, and you’re not sure if you’d be really into it. Or you think you’d be into it, but you haven’t tried it. Then you go to someone and ask them if they want to try it out. And maybe they do say no that one time, but why does that then mean that you’re no longer allowed to bring up the topic again? Why does that then mean that you’re not allowed to bring up some counter-arguments to their worries or pre-conceieved notions to try to get them to meet you half-way? Relationships are about communication, and you’re essentially telling people that they’re not allowed to have discussions about topics that the woman involved is initially unimpressed by. There’s a difference between badgering your wife to do some sex act she’s repeatedly refused to do and trying to persuade your partner to be open to a sexual experience they’re unsure about, and absolutely no distinction between the two is being made here. Shocking.

How much you want to bet Dani Beckett is single and wondering why?

87. It is not cute to try to persuade a woman to have sex with you. EVER. AT ALL. Go home.

What is with this idea that women are these unshakably certain creatures who never change their minds about anything ever, who cannot be persuaded, who cannot be swayed from their initial opinion on anything? Once again, there is a difference between harassing a woman who has made it clear she wants nowhere near your dick and coy dating games wherein a woman says no to a man’s initial sexual advances as a step in the flirtation process, and it’s usually clear which situation it is for anyone who isn’t actually autistic. For someone who just wrote a point about body language and non-verbal cues, Dani sure as fuck loves to ignore them when they pop up in contexts she finds annoying.

89. Accidentally impregnated a women who doesn’t want a kid? Abortions cost money. Pay for half of it.

It takes two to tango, and abortions cost like $1,000, apparently. So sure, split the fee. Make it easier for everyone.

90. Accidentally came inside a woman without protection? Plan B is expensive. Pay for all of it.

What? What is the logic between points 89 and 90? As I said, it takes two to tango. Either you go halfsies on expensive Plan B pregnancy prevention measures, or you don’t. I don’t even get the internal logic of this one. A woman should be reasonably expected to pay $500 towards an abortion, but paying like $40 bucks towards a Plan B pill is just too much?

92. Examine your opinion on abortion. Then put it in a box. Because, honestly, it’s completely irrelevant.

Fuck you, Dani Beckett. Sincerely. You’re going to draft up hundreds and hundreds of points all about what men need to do for you, all about what men aren’t allowed to do, all about all the ways men fucked up, all about what men should do to be better–but men aren’t allowed to have any opinion on “a woman’s issue.” You can tell men what to do all fucking day. But their opinions on what women should do? Totally irrelevant. We don’t need to hear them.

But no double standards, guys. You know what? I take back my response to Number 89. Because if a guy’s input on the topic of abortion is totally worthless, I guess you don’t need any of his totally worthless money to help pay for one.

95. Believe women’s pain. Periods hurt. Endometriosis is real. Polycystic ovaries, vaginal pain, cystitis. These things are real. Hysteria isn’t.

It is though? Yeah, the old-timey definition of hysteria as “any mental or physical issue that makes a woman slightly discontent” is from a bygone era, obviously. But hysteria as a specific sub-type of anxiety is a thing. Congratulations on being so woke on mental health that you ignore an actual mental health issue because at one point the same terminology was used in a sexist manner.

All of those other things are also real. We’ve already talked about the various womanly pains and how they’re real and should be taken seriously. What did you cut out of this list if this repetitive bullshit is what you decided was crucial to keep?

97. Lobby your elected officials to implement high quality sex education in schools.

Heeeeeey, something that would actually be helpful. That’s a pleasant surprise for this list.

99. Do not ever assume you know what it’s like.

You’re not fucking special, Dani. And wait a minute, did you take it upon yourself to mindread and assume what’s going on in men’s heads and assume you know what their mental and external experiences are like in this very list? Multiple times?

Is that lack of an understanding only a one-way street where men perpetually know nothing but women just understand the trials and tribulations of all genders instictually?

100. Mainly, just listen to women. Listen to us and believe us. It’s the only place to start if you actually want all women to have a “Happy International Women’s Day.”

Oh, I wish I hadn’t taken it upon myself to listen to you, Dani Beckett.

This was fucking exhausting.

The Young Turks Supports Misogyny

Yeah, how’s that for a clickbait title? I can do it too, Buzzfeed. I can do it too.

To make things perfectly clear, I don’t think the folks over at the Young Turks support misogyny. I’m just doing some clever role playing, providing some ironic commentary.

So what happened? Cenk Uygur is the creator of the Young Turks (TYT), a very popular left-wing news commentator on YouTube. He also helped establish the Justice Democrats, a left-wing party that is against neo-liberalism and corporatism, with the intent of getting said Justice Democrats elected into major offices. And almost twenty years ago he made some very crass and insensitive comments about women while online. That may not seem like such a big deal to you, but, to quote ‘Bino: “Because the internet, mistakes are forever.” And, boy, did this mistake hit him hard, to the point where he may or may not resign as the face of the Justice Democrats because of it.

Here is the official Justice Democrat’s response:

We are deeply disturbed by recent news regarding & David Koller. Their language and conduct is horrifying and does not reflect our values at Justice Democrats. We would be hypocrites to not act immediately and ask for their resignation.

I bring this up because it raises some interesting questions about how we, as a society, should proceed. We are living in the midst of a full-blown societal moral outrage, where anything that we don’t perceive as perfectly aligned with our morals and values needs to pack its shit and GTFO. This is not me throwing leftists and liberals under the bus, by the way. The last widespread moral outrage in the US had right-wing evangelicals to blame, and there are plenty of triggered alt-righters and garden-variety conservatives cropping up in the mean time.

The thing stereotypical SJWs, right-wing and left-wing identitarians, and modern day populists have in common is that they all seem to require constant virtue signalling in order to remain a part of the club. This effectively means constant policing of morality of those both within and outside of their respective clubs. What’s happening to Cenk right now is the same thing that happened to the Bible thumping, anti-gay marriage Republican senators who were found out to have frequented gay bars back in their college days. It’s the same thing that happened to Lauren Southern when her significant number of alt-right fans found out she dated a brown guy once. It’s the same thing that happened to Pewdiepie, where some hack “journalists” scoured old vlogs for any off-color jokes they could find. It’s the same thing that’s happening to all of these liberal actors and entertainment stars who maybe touched a girl’s ass without asking once, thirty years ago. There’s absolutely no room for compromise. As the Justice Democrats stated outright, they would be hypocrites if they didn’t immediately excommunicate Cenk Uygur from the church for violating one of their most sacred laws.

And I’m just wondering how much longer the Morality Police and its ridiculous, ever-fluctuating standards of “what is moral” will be able to sustain itself in this day and age. All of the aforementioned shitstorms occurred because of the internet. Old photos uploaded to social media, old blog posts, old e-mails sitting in a forgotten account somewhere, people they used to know cropping up on Facebook or Twitter and letting the world know all these new and interesting things. If you make it your job, not only your job but your moral imperative, to make sure everyone you associate with is clean and pure from beginning to end with no regard for context or how much time has passed, then no one is going to be spared from this.

It’s almost 2018. The people who are young adults now hardly remember a time when they didn’t have some kind of online social media. The 18-year-olds just entering into the adult world have never lived in a world without online social media. And yet here we are, using the internet and digging up things from decades ago–almost two decades in Cenk’s case–in order to cast moral aspersions on people who may or may not even stand by what they did as though that moral judgement is totally and completely valid, no caveats necessary.

Cenk said piggish, sexist comments about women and how they’re defective because they don’t put out more back when the iPod was a new thing. This isn’t me saying that his comments were totally fine. This isn’t me saying he’s a great guy who gets too much flack. This isn’t me saying that the comments should just pass under the radar because “it was a long time ago.” What I am saying is that you can’t judge people for things they did or said in the past as though that questionable action just occurred, as though its something you can do anything about now, without even bothering to address the situation any further. And, when you’re playing Morality Police, it’s certainly not something you can use as a legitimate form of moral judgement. Can you imagine what kind of precedent this is setting for future social and political discourse?

“Senator, we have written verification that, thirty years ago in a YouTube comment section, you called someone a fag. Why are you homophobic? Why do you hate the gays? I can’t believe how immoral you are.”

“Our records show that, back when you were twenty-two, you made insensitive comments to one of your friends on Facebook. Why are you such a sociopath?”

“We have footage of you fifteen years ago given a speech at a Democratic convention, so why are you running as a Republican now? You hypocrite. You’re just taking advantage of people.”

It completely and utterly lacks any sense of scale. If you did something once, if you said something once, that must mean you stand by that thing forever. We can act as though nothing has changed whatsoever. And if nothing has changed, or they committed a legitimate crime, sure–rake them over the coals. Go through all the legal things necessary and called for and expected. If they most they ever did was give voice to a thought crime or do something a bit asshole-ish, that’s a situation that requires more thought than immediate banishment from the tribe.

Have they changed their opinion since then? Have they changed their behavior since then? Have they actively denounced the bad thing they did? Is the “bad thing” only a bad thing by some ever-changing societal standard that it’s unrealistic to judge any past actor by? Is the “bad thing” only a bad thing by your own incredibly subjective standards? Can they explain themselves and their past thoughts or behavior in a satisfactory fashion? That’s all very relevant to how we should currently be judging them and their character, and none of that shit matters, apparently. Because when you’re policing someone’s Moral Character (TM), the broader the brush, the better. If that thing’s any smaller than an industrial paint roller, you’re doing it wrong.

And, oh yeah, go ahead and add Cenk Uygur to the list of Men Who Respect Womyn who just seem to be compensating for being an asshole either in the past or currently.

One Black Woman’s Genuine, Desperate Plea to the Progressive Left

Dear Progressives, Democratic Socialists, Anti-Racist College Campus Activists, Left-Leaning Media Commentators, and Any Other Relevant Parties:

Introductions are in order. Hi, I’m a blogger. I’m old enough to remember floppy disks, and orange Nickelodeon VHS tapes, and that class I had to take about this new-fangled thing called the “world wide web.” I’m young enough for “terrorist” to have been a vocabulary word I knew before I learned basic multiplication tables. That one scene in Fight Club where Tyler Durden laments the lack of wars and higher purposes, the societal ennui psychologically castrating an entire generation, does not apply to people my age. People my age have had our fair share of perpetual war, and our cup is running over with causes and higher purposes for us to devote ourselves to. I get it.

The Bush Era was awful–proxy wars, and incompetently handled natural disasters, and spying on civilians, and GitMo, and militarized police forces, and education plans that plummeted our international rankings. Then we had the great Hope, Obama, a man of so much cultural heft that most left-leaning people opt to forget that his unsustainable executive orders about affordable health care and dreamers (TM) were supplemented by further war mongering and American-killing drone strikes, by criminalization of military and corporate whistleblowers, and the further empowerment of the NSA. Trump may not be worse than those yet, but he’s certainly not any better. Politics haven’t worked out too great, not for a very long time.

That’s not even mentioning the right-wing evangelical moralizing that characterized the late 80s and continued into the early 2000s. Books and music and films and television had to be censored and altered to protect our morals–and, later on, our American values. Speaking out against The War was deplorably anti-American, and sympathizing with the ragheads made you worse than a terrorist. The gays were sinful and mentally ill. Abortion was an act against God and all good morals. Video games caused violence. And the police were allowed to violate your rights as a citizen as long as it meant stopping you from doing vague drugs, the more innocuous the better. We’re still dealing with many of those things to this day. I get it.

I get it.

What we’re seeing here, though, in 2017, is a pendulum swing. And it’s one that’s going to kick us directly in our collective ass if it isn’t acknowledged. It’s a cliche, a tried-and-true stereotype of How the World Works that can be depended upon and expected and planned for. But it never is. Since the dawn of time, people have been prone to acting as though their behavior has no effect on the rest of the world–and if it has an effect, it’s only of the positive variety, the kind of effect that goes down in the history books as a good thing. We’re only ever on the right side of history. People never want to sit down and admit what hindsight makes obvious: Social movements and norms feed into each other. They don’t arise in a vacuum, effected only by the already-present ideals of those already within it.

Do you think the war-hating, free-loving hippies would exist if it weren’t for the societal pushback against the war-mongering, stuck-up traditionalism of the 1950s? Do you think the evangelical outrage of the 90s would exist without the secular hedonism of the 80s? Do you think the 2010’s obsession with social justice would exist without the late 90’s and early 2000’s obsession with curbing personal liberties in the name of God and Country? And do you think the uptick in racial populism now would exist without that earlier obsession with social justice?

We as liberals cannot keep pretending like white nationalism has nothing to do with us. And we can’t keep pretending that it’s only connected to us insofar as it being the evil underbelly of society’s reaction to us doing such great things, to us being on the right side of history. Societal pushback doesn’t happen unless the people before you take things too far. It’s like that one overused symbolic story about the frog who automatically jumps from a pan of boiling water, but who will die of obliviousness if the water is heated to a boil slowly, increment by increment.

The hippies didn’t arrive en mass until the Red Scare led to Americans being openly and brazenly persecuted. The right-wing evangelicals didn’t gain power until the hedonism of the 80s led to multiple health and safety epidemics. And the right-wing populists didn’t gain mainstream traction until “social justice” overstayed its welcome. That’s not to say that these ideas and inclinations didn’t exist before, but their societal popularity was dependent upon being a 1:1 negative image of what came before, upon being a contrast in every way to the current status quo of the old guard overextending its influence and violating the values it claimed to support. The McCarthyists who cared so much about protecting America’s freedoms curbed America’s freedoms in the name of that protection, so they had to go. The stereotypical 80s businessmen living the quintessential American Dream that was supposed to reward “American values” gave no shits about those values, so they had to go. The activists and proponents of social justice who care so much about fighting racism and sexism and classism have slowly morphed into a group that encourages racism and sexism and classism. So they have to go.

I know what you’re thinking. “What?! We don’t encourage any of those things. We fight against them! Anyone who says we encourage those things is just personally invested in maintaining societal inequality where they have most of the power and afraid of the True Equality we’re trying to bring to the country.” But hear me out, please. I’m actually begging you. Please. PLEASE, consider the idea that your detractors may have something resembling a shadow of a glimmer of a mirage of a point to make. You talk all the time about how we need to listen and believe and take people’s professed lived experience seriously. So do that. Do it for everyone, not just for the people who you’ve already deemed worthy of the time and attention. That selective, very conditional empathy is the thing that’s backed progressives into a corner in the first place. So take a step back for a moment and really look at what progressives have been saying and how they’ve been treating people recently. I’ll give a few examples:

The BBC, a publicly funded organization in the UK (that part is important), actively excludes white people and white people specifically from their hiring processes, even for jobs that have nothing to do with physical appearance or being on camera. This is a public institution, one those white people help pay for but apparently aren’t allowed to take part it. Another example: feminist activists in Canada got the country’s only abused men’s shelter shut down under the pretense that it was misogynistic and detracted from the seriousness of violence against women, curtailing any attempts its founder–a victim of domestic abuse himself–did to try to reinstate it. This is in a country where men make up just a little under half of domestic violence victims, where many domestic violence shelters actively wouldn’t admit men. Another example: activists in America railed against statements made against affirmative action in college acceptance, calling it racist and a result of “white fragility.” White males are one of the least educated groups in America, above only non-native English speakers. Their high school retention rate is extremely low, their college retention rate is plummeting along with college application rates in general, and white males have one of the highest rates for genuine illiteracy in the country. And yet anyone who thinks it’s no longer fair to treat white males as the gold standard for education quality in America is just being racist or “fragile,” according to progressives.

These are just a handful of examples, off the top of my head, of progressives not practicing what they preach. They are examples of progressives proclaiming to care about victims and proclaiming to care about inequality . . . unless the victims are part of a group we’ve already determined to be not worth caring about. These aren’t esoteric niche issues, either. Non-discrimination policies in the job market, domestic abuse, and education are not something you can sweep under the rug as some small, irrelevant thing. And yet you have people openly laughing at the hilarious notion that white people can be treated poorly or that men have problems. It’s just “white fragility.” It’s just inborn privilege making them uncomfortable with positive change. Are you starting to see why there’s pushback against you? Are you starting to see why people don’t think you have their best interests at heart?

I’m biracial. I have the privilege of being very aware of how normalized this has become, this conditional empathy and justified disdain for entire groups of people. I have to be aware of it–that’s half of my family that you are constantly disparaging. I’ve sat in rooms where, whenever white people are mentioned, I’m expected because of my skin tone to wrinkle my nose at the very concept. And, yes, disparaging is an appropriate term for it, whether you want to admit that or not. You should, because it would go a long way to help mitigate the problem of white nationalism that’s on the rise, but I understand how that would be difficult.

In the end of the day, you want to help people. You want to be kind and understanding and welcoming, and you want to fight for the underdog against the powers stacked up against him. You want people to be safe and happy. You want to love people who are different, not push them away. But all the good intentions in the world do not make up for the fact that you have assigned a very clear label to a very certain group of people: the label of them. The them who just doesn’t get it; who is always on top, stomping on the little guy; the them who couldn’t possibly have any problems or ever possibly be mistreated; the them that’s only looking out for itself; the them who is always in the wrong; the them who can never do enough or say enough or act enough in our favor; the them who is never enough. The them who we are morally obligated to see in a negative light unless we want to be accused of being on the wrong side of history. Along with them.

I get it. It’s difficult to have a movement when you don’t have anything concrete to point to as The Problem. But you can only treat someone like them for so long before they take on the title willingly. So here we are now, and I’m not a fan of the way the discourse is heading. I’m not a fan of people wanting to “incentivize” me to leave the country I was born in because I have the wrong skin tone. I’m not a fan of segregation. I’m not a fan of well-meaning people making enemies where they would have naturally had friends by insisting that someone who is part of them is always The Problem, no matter what they say or do or believe. I’m not a fan of denying the existence or seriousness of real world hardships because the people facing them don’t look the right way.

This is me begging you. Please, look at what you are doing. This growing fire can be contained if you would stop feeding it. Let it burn itself into a few sputtering, barely-relevant embers, like any other flame that doesn’t have enough to fuel to grab onto. This isn’t me saying that you can’t be an activist or that you can’t fight against discrimination. But countering bad things with normalized resentment and knee-jerk disparagement of your own doesn’t help. To quote the actually successful soda advertisement that shamelessly panders to the left-leaners in its consumer base:

Just buy the world a Coke and keep it company.

Love,

B