We’re starting trade wars with our friends, cozying up to brutal dictators, selling off public lands to extraction companies, giving tax relief to the ultra-wealthy, appointing hyper-conservative judges to the federal bench. We’re stripping away consumer protections, failing to do anything to stop gun violence, leaving millions of Americans with opioid and addiction issues to their own devices, starting trade wars with our allies. We’re separating asylum seekers from their families.
An adversarial regime has been waging informational warfare with us since 2015: we do nothing. Neo-nazis and white supremacists are coming out of the woodwork: some are called ‘good people,’ some of them win Republican primaries for federal office. Oh, and climate change? The looming emergency that might end the human race on which the clock is running out on doing anything in time to obviate the worst of it? Not only are we doing nothing, we are denying it’s a thing, and, in many cases, actively making it worse.
The con man/mafiosi/serial sexual assaulter currently occupying the White House is the most visible face of what’s happening, but let’s be clear: Donald Trump is just a symptom. He’s the devil taking his due from the Faustian bargain the Republican party made with America’s racist, sexist, gun-humping Id. Their policies can’t win on the merits, because they basically boil down to doing or saying whatever it takes to sell tax cuts for the 1%. But in order to do that, they’ve started what amounts to a cult, one that recognizes no limits on action, nor any legitimacy save their own.
They currently control all three branches of our government. The only checks and balances they operate under are intra-party squabbling and the batshit insanity of the Freedom Caucus. The only Republicans willing and able to call out the insanity are those who have chosen to retire. And even they haven’t demonstrated the courage to actually vote against even the worst items on the agenda. As for those trying to hold onto their seats, they’ve got no choice but to drink the Kool-Aid: Trump’s extremely popular with the Republican base, who vote in primaries and mid-terms and make their voices heard.
So, what’s to be done? Continue reading
I knew something was wrong the moment my mom walked into my room. It wasn’t just that she was crying, though she was. In a moment I was crying, too, because it was my mom waking me up to go to school that morning. Which was not her job. My dad was the one who woke me up for school in the morning. The moment I laid eyes on my mom I knew: my dad finally left her.
I was in fifth grade. Not quite ten years old. It was the early ’80s, and I was very shortly to have the disctinction of being the first kid I knew whose parents got a divorce.
It wasn’t a surprise. Like I said, I knew right away what had happened. And to be honest, I can’t — and could not at the time — remember a time when my parents weren’t fighting. I didn’t know what they were fighting about, didn’t really even want to. It was just a thing that happened, and when it did I would go to my room and play with my toys or read a book or I’d go outside and ride my bike around the neighborhood or go knock on a friend’s door or one of the thousand other things kids did back in the days when parents weren’t expected to schedule and supervise their childrens’ entire existence.
That morning was the last time I cried about it.
Because like I knew what had happened the night before, I knew what was expected of me. What was expected of any boy who wasn’t girly or gay or soft or weak. No one had to tell me that boys don’t cry.
So I didn’t. I tamped that shit down, put on my game face, and went on a field trip to Sea World with the rest of my class. As I recall, my dad was one of our chaperones. I didn’t ask him what happened. I mean, it wasn’t like it was a surprise. The real surprise was it hadn’t happened sooner.
I remember being very proud of myself for being so mature.
It wasn’t long after that I started acting out. Continue reading
[Serious trigger warning for survivors of sexual assault. You don’t need to read it. The important bits will be requoted in what follows.]
I didn’t want people to know. More than that, I didn’t want those things to have happened.
But they did happen. I did those things. And if it’s taken this long for me to human up and acknowledge them, well, that’s on me, too.
I could make excuses. I was young, dumb, and full of cum. I didn’t know any better. I came of age in the ’80s, when rape culture was just culture. Men were supposed to want sex, and anything shy of actual or threatened violence was on the table for getting it, be it deception, cajoling, or just getting her drunk enough to let you take her panties off and do what you wanted. I was a product of my environment.
Those excuses are bullshit. Basic human decency isn’t hard to grasp once you admit to yourself that other people are people.
[For the record, I still don’t want people to know, I still don’t want those things to have happened, those things did still happen, and I’m still sorry. Like then, I am still terrified of hitting ‘publish’ when I get to the end of this, because even though I don’t think of myself as a good person, I still prefer that other people do.]
Sadly, and sadly unsurprisingly, not all men took that watershed moment to reflect on rape culture and their place and participation in it, either personally or politically. Sadly, and sadly unsurprisingly, not all men are taking the opportunity now. But some are. Continue reading