You know what? I don’t give a single solitary fuck how smart or sensitive or deep or broken or sad Mark fucking Conditt was. I mean, I would have, because I’m an empathetic sort of person, right up until he decided to MURDER RANDOM PEOPLE WITH BOMBS. Far as I’m concerned, that makes him a TERRORIST and a PREMEDITATED MURDERER. And not only that, he was a fucking COWARD, too. He was a coward when he made his bombs. He was a coward when he mailed them. And he was a coward right up to the very end, when he decided to become a SUICIDE BOMBER rather than face the consequences of his actions.
Why’d he do it? I don’t know. Maybe cuz he’s just another over-entitled mediocre white boy whose brilliance and inherent awesomeness the world failed to recognize and reward. Maybe cuz he was homeschooled and so he didn’t know how to make friends. Maybe cuz he was raised conservative, which for all its many merits too often comes down to an ideology based on an all against all mentality and violence in the face of fear. Maybe he was just a fucking asshole.
What I do know is that half the fucking country is bending over backwards to find reasons to forgive this poor kid/fucking asshole for murdering people because he’s white, cisgendered, and male. And you know what, I’d almost applaud that if we did it for literally ANY OTHER KIND OF PERSON. But we don’t, do we? We don’t show that kind of compassion for people with darker skin, or different faith traditions, or vaginas, or who feel like they were born in the wrong body and want to make changes so the flesh they wear matches their self-conception. Mexicans are rapists. Muslims are terrorists. Women are hysterical and shrill. Trans people are abominations in the sight of the Lord who made them that way.
So spare me the crocodile tears for poor, misunderstood Mark Conditt, who decided the right way to deal with his issues was to murder people better than he was with bombs, and who took the easy way out when the bill for his actions came due.
Or, you know what? I take it back. I will join you in sympathizing with this lost soul. We can, together, explore the culture and history that might have led him to make the terrible choices he made, to snuff out the promise of his own life and the lives of his victims. We can, together, mourn for him and for them. All I ask in return is you join me in offering the same compassion, the same grace, the same sympathy and understanding to everyone else in the world who is not young, white, cisgendered, and male.
What do you say? Do we have a deal?
The other day a woman I know posted about narrowly escaping being snatched off the street by a man who intended her harm. The vast majority of comments were what a decent person would expect, things along the line of “OMG I hope you are okay” and “Did you report it?” and “WTF?!?” You know, the kinds of things you say when someone you know tells you they were almost kidnapped and raped and who the fuck knows what else.
“Would it have been a hot rape at least? Was the guy good looking, or short, fat, and ugly?”
You excused it as gallows humor. You were “trying to make light of [her] horrible situation.” You “meant absolutely no harm.” You told the original poster — the woman, I’ll remind you, writing about almost being kidnapped, raped, and who knows what else — “You obviously don’t like my crude gallows humor. And for that I apologize” which is about the weaselly-est non-apology I’ve ever read.
Then you blocked her, because despite making a show of how little the dogpile of her actual friends calling your sorry ass out affected you, it was clear that it did. So you took the coward’s way out. Because in addition to being a shit-heel of the lowest order, you aren’t man enough to face the consequences of your shitty action, just like you weren’t man enough to make a real apology.
Just like you weren’t man enough to take what happened to my friend seriously in the first place. 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
I read a lot of great books, is the short answer.
So, a few days ago writer K Tempest Bradford published this article, in which she challenged readers to stop reading white, straight, cisgendered male authors for one year. Sadly (and predictably), certain corners of the internet exploded in rage at the notion (she has assembled a lovely collection of rage-tweets here, if you enjoy that sort of thing). I won’t reprise their objections, which savvy interneteers will likely be able to intuit themselves, nor pass judgement on any validity those objections may or may not have. But it so happens that I recently spent the better part of a year doing something very similar to Ms Bradford’s challenge. From roughly November 2013 until late last year, I read only books by women(*), many of them women of color, others not cisgendered (two of the new favorite writers whose work I discovered are married).
I did so for my own reasons, both personal and (for lack of a better term) professional. On a personal level it was simply the realization that the vast majority of the books on my overstuffed shelves were by men. I fought it for a long time, that realization. I mean, these were great books, each easily defensible on the merits. I have, if I may say, damned fine taste in literature, and reading material in general. Ask any of my friends. I’ve been an obsessive reader since kindergarten, the kind of person who never goes anywhere without a book and hasn’t since he could carry one. But looked at en masse, the unconscious bias in my collection was (and is) painfully clear (in my defense, I actually am a cisgendered white male).
When I was younger, the notion of placing any kind of limitation on my reading material for a whole year would have seemed preposterous. Now comfortably ensconced in middle age, it didn’t seem like that big a deal. It wasn’t like I was going to run out of good books to read, and while it might mean holding off on some things in my to-be-read stack, it’s hardly without precedent for a book to be in that stack for years before I get around to reading it. Really all I had to do was rearrange the order, though of course I used it as an excuse to go book-shopping, which is one of my favorite things to do.
The timing that November seemed propitious. I’d started writing Continue reading