Word Vomit Wednesday - Stop Kavanaugh

 Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts where I attempt to process thoughts and feelings, usually about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own (unless otherwise indicated); I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.


CW: Sexual Assault

As with pretty much all the news about our current state of affairs, the Kavanaugh nomination and hearings for SCOTUS have been extremely triggering and stressful. Even before Professor Christine Blasey Ford came forward with her story of being sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh, this nomination indicated an even darker America to come, as if the one we’re in now isn’t dire enough for women, the LGBTQ+ community, and BIPOC. And, as with so much of the news we’ve been contending with since 2016, I’ve felt a need to pull back from watching it, reading tweets and articles almost ritualistically just so I can take care of myself physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Staying on top of everything going on takes a tremendous toll and I constantly find myself thinking about how the well-beings of marginalized people are constantly looked over and dismissed.

This came up for me again the other night when, after having a pretty relaxed evening watching The Emmy’s with my parents, my dad turned the news back on and that sense of simmering rage and hypervigilance that I’ve learned to just deal with existing as a woman in the world, came bubbling right to the surface. I had to leave almost immediately because that was not the way I wanted to end my day feeling. If I’m going to be active and helpful in any way, even in small ways like writing this blog, I need to be able to sleep at night. But one thing that came up in the few minutes of watching the Kavanaugh coverage that I have not been able to stop thinking about was a quote from someone in the nominee’s camp saying something along the lines of not even knowing the story or who the woman could possibly have been until Ford revealed herself. This narrative is offered over and over again as a way to dismiss women when they come forward in these situations. A narrative that continues to portray women and our experiences as insignificant.

That killed me. The fact that this woman not only went through a trauma where her personhood was never considered from the get-go, has been affected by it for decades, is risking her life for this country (she and her family have since had to leave their home due to death threats) to share her story and make her identity known, to again, be told by men she is not worthy of consideration is devastating. And that seems to be a major key in all of this. Women are not considered. At all. Kavanaugh probably didn’t recall the assault because he got what he wanted out of it. He never considered Ford or her feelings, needs, or wants. He couldn't have cared less. He still couldn’t care less. The GOP, who should care about putting an alleged rapist on the bench of the highest court in the land, but instead made a publicity stunt of having 65 women sign a document (all but two seemingly had no idea what they had signed) that stated they would vouch for Kavanaugh, definitely don’t see a problem if they’re willing to manipulate women to get their man through the confirmation process.

I saw a tweet the other day from @laurenthehough, who shared this sentiment: “You know what would be fucking weird to hear? ‘I did that. It was fucking terrible. I’m sorry. I did years of therapy and soul searching and work and I changed my behavior. I can’t change what I did. But I made damn sure I never did it again.’ Why is that never the statement?”

Why is that never the statement? I cannot tell you how healing it would be if those were the statements that we started hearing. Real accountability. Real apologies. Real work put into an individual’s growth and education. Would those statements start solving all of these problems? No, of course not. But they would at least indicate that these people recognize that the women they’ve hurt are people. And that they understand that they have caused harm, sometimes a lifetime’s worth, to another person. That would create a powerful shift. Because one of the reasons we don’t hear these statements is because these people don’t consider what they do to women to be of any significance. That unless you’re related to a woman by blood or marriage or if you find them attractive, they don’t matter. It’s probably inconceivable to Kavanaugh and his ilk that a situation that was so forgettable for him because “boys will be boys,” had been burned into Ford’s mind. She never mattered to him, he felt entitled to her and her body, and our culture allowed that.

As I’m writing this, I realize that I will be posting it on arguably the most important Jewish holiday of the year, Yom Kippur. Which couldn’t be more fitting for this topic. Yom Kippur translates to Day of Atonement. It comes ten days after Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, wherein those ten days are meant to give us time to reflect on the past year. All the great and terrible experiences and the things we wish we did better or hadn’t done at all. What we are sorry about and who we need to apologize to and when Yom Kippur finally arrives we are supposed to take full accountability for ourselves. Now, one day to hold ourselves accountable for our actions (as well as inactions) and how they’ve caused harm and suffering to others and actively make amends is not enough. Especially if the damage we have caused has had a prolonged traumatizing effect on person’s life and livelihood. Going to shul once a year and reciting prayers are not going to fix things or provide the healing that’s actually necessary. But at least the holiday is there to jumpstart the conversation. To hopefully get us thinking outside of ourselves and give the apologies that we wished we’d been given when we’ve been wronged and make necessary and lasting changes.

I’m pretty sure Brett Kavanaugh is not Jewish, probably has no idea what Yom Kippur is, and, like most cis-het white males, doesn’t think he's done anything wrong and that he's entitled to whatever the fuck he wants. But for those men who do genuinely want to make amends and be better people and because we very rarely have a framework for how to get started with that, I’m going to offer a few suggestions (mostly for men to combat rape culture and inequality, though some of these skills definitely apply in many other areas and for most people) on some things to start focusing on that would be incredibly helpful. This is by no means a complete and comprehensive list, and there is no significance to the order, but a few things to get people started.

  1. Listen to women and believe them. We know our own experiences, so please do not come at us with “what if she’s lying” bullshit. There’s a reason men are conditioned to believe that women are liars and that reason is to keep women oppressed. Learning how to listen, really listen, is one of the most valuable lessons anyone can learn. When you check your egos at the door, unlearn your social conditioning, and learn to center and hold space for someone else and their feelings, especially when they’re in need, it validates their humanity. We all need support and knowing someone is in our corner who’s not going to question our motives, interrupt us as we process whatever we’re going through in the moment, or lash out at us is basic common decency that we are rarely shown, but (as women) are expected to provide for others. It’s also invaluable for the listener because you will get to understand someone else’s world a little better and hopefully gain more perspective on the one you inhabit.

  2. Start asking “What do you need” and “How can I help you.” Practice those questions so much until they become second nature. No one is asking you to bend over backwards for other people, only you know what your limits are and it’s your responsibility to be honest about what you can or cannot do, but this is another small gesture, just like listening, that goes a long way. On the flip side of that, asking for help when you’re struggling is an important skill as well. People will typically show up for you if you give them a chance, especially if you’ve shown up for them.

  3. Hold other men exhibiting toxic behavior accountable. Show by example how a good man acts and let those who are extremely problematic know that you see them and what they're doing and are not here for it. Men listen to other men (bc toxic masculinity, but that’s a post for another day), so you pointing out that some behavior or thought-pattern is problematic or shameful is effective.

  4. Vote for and support women. Not just the ones you’re related to or find attractive. If you can only make room for the former, you're only performing ally ship and you don’t actually support women.

  5. Men built the glass ceiling, therefore it’s your job to dismantle it. Do not put the extra weight of men’s work on marginalized folx who are already carrying and navigating too much.

  6. Go inward and start tackling your own internalized patriarchal proclivities. Do your due diligence to understand toxic masculinity, sexist/racist double standards, and your privilege and the ways in which you help perpetuate a system that gives you benefits at the expense and suffering of others. Ways to start doing that: go to therapy, get a group of your boys together and actually start talking about and identifying your feelings and asking each other questions, read books or watch films/tv by people who come from very different backgrounds than you. You’ll hopefully learn a lot about yourself and the world. And you’ll learn how to take responsibility for your own feelings in a healthier way, rather than putting and projecting that emotional labor on the women and other marginalized folx in your lives.

  7. If you have realized that you have done something wrong or hurtful or it was brought to your attention that you have, you may want to get defensive. Acknowledge the feelings you're having to yourself, but to the appropriate parties try saying something like this: “I did that. It was fucking terrible. I’m sorry. I did years of therapy and soul searching and work and I changed my behavior. I can’t change what I did. But I made damn sure I never did it again.” If you haven’t done the work yet, don’t say you have unless you do actually plan on following through. And then follow through. These are also great growth opportunities for utilizing those new listening and offering assistance tools from #s 1 and 2.

  8. *BONUS*: Do not, under any circumstances, attempt ANY of the above with ulterior motives. You do not get a gold star for being a “good guy.” This is just how people should be treated. Decently, respectfully, and without any expectation of owing you anything in return.

Obviously, this is a very simplified list but when you start opening the door to one of these items, more and more doors begin to appear. As hard as it may be at times, it is worthwhile work that benefits everyone. Also, if you’ve made it this far, please call your senators and tell them to not confirm Kavanaugh to SCOTUS. We, the people, deserve someone on the bench who considers all of us.

Katie Louchheim seriously doesn’t know how she functions on a daily basis with all this bullshit. CALL YOUR SENATORS TO #StopKavanaugh: 202-224-3121.

Word Vomit Wednesday - Flagged

 Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about random thoughts or a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own (unless otherwise indicated); I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

*At the time of posting this, I was and am still partially banned from sharing things on Facebook without any explanation from Facebook.*

Last week I was flagged on Facebook for “hate speech” much to my surprise and to the surprise of pretty much everyone I know. And, if I’m being honest here, I actually felt more inconvenienced than upset about it. I probably should have felt more upset about it because it’s indicative of an enormous and terrifying cultural trend: censoring critical thought and expression while protecting harassment, threats, and bigotry. I have no idea who reported me or what about me or something I posted (I only posted twice last week and I rarely engage with Facebook anymore except to post this blog and work for Female Frequency and maybe “like” some of my friend’s posts) was found to be problematic, which is part of the problem with reporting on social media platforms. No one has any idea what the fuck is going on and nothing is actually accomplished.

I talked to my friend (I’ll call her Viv for this piece) who co-founded and worked for an organization whose intention was to provide support for victims of online harassment. And what she found while working with Twitter and their global trust and safety departments was pretty abysmal. First of all, these are very small departments that employ very few people. Which makes discerning legitimate reportings and enforcing consequences for the hundreds of thousands of claims that come in weekly to be virtually impossible. And because these social media companies don’t want to shell out the money for more manpower on this issue we’re left at the whims of algorithms that end up doing more harm than good. By having bots that are programmed to find keywords and then trigger a ban based on those words removes any kind of discussion about First Amendment rights and protections.

Algorithms have no concept for context and nuance. You can’t define hate speech and symbols without also discussing context and you can’t pretend to care about the First Amendment if you can’t determine what speech is protected and what warrants consequences if there are no people having those discussions while working on cases. By setting up these algorithms you may be able pick up on that Neo-Nazi’s multiple profiles, but you’re probably also lumping people who educate about World War II in with the bigots as if they're in any way equitable. They’re obviously not even close. That's one way in which these social media platforms are doing a great disservice to it’s community members.

While Viv was working at her organization, she had the rare opportunity to personally and directly bring cases to global trust and safety which would expedite the process for her clients significantly. Even then, there were still many obstacles. No two social media platforms have a uniform way they deal with reports and they all require different types of “evidence” from the users filing complaints which users are either not aware of or have no idea how to obtain them. Not only that, but harassment is still just not taken seriously. According to Viv, even after personally bringing forward very serious cases involving death threats it still took 48 hours for any action.

The excuses for not doing more organizationally and even legislatively, is this bullshit idea that the Internet is too fast to even think about putting real protections for people around hate speech, threats of violence, threats to reputation, privacy and consent. Excuse me, but that’s just fucking lazy. So lazy and unwilling to do the work are these social media companies, that they opened up this country to major national security threats (hello, Russia Investigation). And it’s appalling that the people on the Internet who do cause harm and who express themselves with violence are only ever given a slap on the wrist. Why even have a reporting system if no one is going to be held accountable for their actions? Which brings me to my next point. Oftentimes reporting someone (as was in my case last week) is the harassment behavior.

Trolls employ reporting as a harassment tactic CONSTANTLY. My first personal experience with it was last week, but I have seen it happen over and over again to, in particular,  to BIPOC (black, indigenous people of color) activists and advocates (mostly women) that I follow on various social media platforms. And it is enraging every time that these people who are either educating, observing, asking, or sharing are policed at virtually every turn. THAT’S FUCKED UP AND REALLY NOT NECESSARY. But because there is no real discussion or real people discerning the difference between hate speech and a truth that may make someone feel some discomfort, reporting is abused and used violently toward marginalized people. Much in the same way all our other institutions are set up to uphold those same white supremacist and patriarchal standards.

If our society is going to progress in any way, we need to get this mess sorted out. Free speech does not mean one is free from consequences. If someone is being abused they should feel like they’re going to be heard when they reach out. When someone has been flagged, they need to be given specific reasons why something they did or said was deemed inappropriate and be held accountable appropriately, not just given a link to the site’s guidelines. And if someone uses the reporting system in a violent way they should not only be appropriately held accountable for that but also have it communicated to them why what they were reporting was not considered hate speech, etc. Fostering discussion and education through healthy communication practices is something we definitely need in these spaces. If these platforms continue to rely on these algorithms instead of having qualified humans facilitate we are never going to have the resources or professional support that we deserve in these spaces.

Katie Louchheim suggests that if an opinion makes you uncomfortable, go see a therapist before projecting your bullshit inappropriately on others.

Word Vomit Wednesday - AMERICA. Fuck... yeah?

 Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about random thoughts or a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own (unless otherwise indicated); I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

 

 

Tonight I went to my parent’s house for dinner with some family friends, ate homemade pie, and watched some fireworks off in the distance while playing Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.” Today is the 4th of July and in the good ol’ U.S. Of A, that means marking our independence as a country. It’s a holiday that I’ve never given much thought to, but just took as a day to hang out with people I love and eat a ton of food. The past couple years has had me, and many other people, starting to think a little more critically about the habits of our country and what it really means to be an American. To be completely honest, this seemingly benign holiday has become a difficult one to celebrate. In the words of one of my favorite people on Twitter, @OhNoSheTwitnt:

 “Celebrating Independence Day feels weird now. Like when Facebook sends you a birthday reminder for one of your friends who’s dead.”

Yup. Let’s just take a look at some of the bullshit we’ve been dealing with since June:

  • At least 8 white supremacists, including admitted pedophile and rapist Nathan Larson are running for federal and state office.

  • 45 called for Samantha Bee, a private citizen, to lose her job.

  • Scott Pruitt spent $1560 on twelve custom fountain pens.

  • The Pentagon reported that U.S. Military operations killed 499 civilians in 45’s first year in office.

  • The EU filed a WTO case in response to 45’s tariffs.

  • Manafort was sent to jail.

  • At least 2,300 children have been separated from their families at the border since the implementation of the DOJ’s “zero tolerance” policy.

  • Baby Concentration Camps

  • The 45 administration withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council.

  • 45 went from calling the people crossing the border “rapists” to comparing them to vermin “infesting” the country.

  • A white male terrorist with a history of misogyny and white supremacy murdered five journalists in Maryland.

  • Surprise! Stephen Miller is America’s Goebbels. *Fun Fact: He’s a Jew! Wow, a Jew who becomes a Nazi. What a neat party trick!

  • ICE is the new SS

  • Space Force

  • More than 600 members of Jeff Session’s church filed a formal complaint accusing him of “child abuse,” “immorality,” and “racial discrimination.” Hey Jeff, you may want to rethink your interpretations of the Bible when your entire Bible study class kicks you out. Just sayin’.

  • 45 rescinded an Obama-era rule meant to protect the Great Lakes and oceans bordering the U.S.

  • Melania is complicit. Duh.

  • Despite a signed executive order to keep migrant families together, there is no actual plan to reunite the nearly 2,300 already separated children with their families.

  • Reported abuse of the kids in the Baby Concentration Camps.

  • 45 plans to meet with U.S. President Putin next month.

  • The “Unite the Right” organizer received approval to hold a “white civil rights” rally on August 12th on the National Mall.

  • The White House plans to merge the Education and Labor Departments.

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders was kicked out of a restaurant because of her continued ride-or-die chick status with 45.

  • Naturalized U.S. Citizens are beginning to be targeted and stripped of their citizenship.

  • Sean Spicer has a new talk show. I’m not going to beat around the bush that he’s been hiding in, but fuck whichever network decided to give him a platform.

  • Federal debt is expected to exceed the size of the economy within a decade.

  • The United Nations estimates 18.25 million Americans are living in “extreme poverty.”

  • The DOJ is drafting a plan to overhaul the U.S. Asylum policy.

  • Rep. Maxine Waters had to cancel multiple events due to a very serious death threat.

SCOTUS Special Programming:

  • Fake clinics are allowed to lie to and manipulate women bc free speech and who gives a fuck about women they’re not really people just baby incubators. Thanks SCOTUS!

  • It’s totally cool to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people if you have a religiously-sanctioned heterosexual agenda.

  • 45’s anti-Muslim rhetoric is being upheld in the form of the Muslim Ban 3.0.

  • Justice Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court. After the announcement, it came out that Kennedy’s son, Justin, worked at Deutsche Bank for more than a decade and loaned Trump more than $1 billion.

     

    All of that was just ONE MONTH. I’m actually stunned with how we’ve been keeping up as much as we have. I have so many WVW’s that I started and then just wasn't sure if I should post because by the time a week or even a few days passed, whatever I had started writing about seemed almost irrelevant. On top of that, I’ve begun to emotional process the realization that whatever illusion of America I felt like I knew and was real has been completely shattered and I’ve been having a time coming to terms with and understanding what this country is and how it has always been and trying to reconcile how to function in a new, productive, and more informed way. It’s overwhelming as fuck, but our only choice right now is to remain hopeful and channel that hope into action and solutions that get us back on track to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all. This Fourth of July is a clear reminder that we are still not free. We need to fight for our freedom every single day in whatever ways we can.

    Today is a complicated day. We’ll probably scorch our food on the grill to commemorate all the bridges we’ve burned to the ground, get drunk on ice-cold brewskis of freedom that do the double-duty of feeding our addiction to lies and illusions while numbing us from feeling the real weight of the dire situation we’re in or the discomfort of actually having to be accountable for the ways in which we’ve been complicit in getting here. We’ll bask in the glow of fireworks, like bombs over Baghdad and every other middle eastern culture we’ve had a hand in destroying while playing the “1812 Overture,” a composition celebrating Russia’s victory over the invasion of Napolean. A tradition that began when it was first played in a Quaker Oats commercial in 1965. Stealing someone else’s anthem via capitalism and claiming it as our own. There’s nothing more American than that.

     

     

    Katie Louchheim has decided to identify as “tired.” 

Word Vomit Wednesday - "I'm Embarrassed" A Poem by KT

I’m embarrassed

It’s not me, it’s definitely him

There’s no “both sides” to this thing

Honestly, I don’t give a fuck if that pisses people off either

        I didn’t even choose him anyway and he still gets to represent me to the rest of the world

 

It’s embarrassing.

                 He can barely string a coherent sentence together

                                                           He’s ruined one of my favorite Elton John songs for me

Like, I won’t be able to listen to that song and not think about him and the apocalypse he’s promised to bring to the world

HE MAKES EVERYTHING ABOUT HIM UGH

 

You know who else is embarrassing?

His supporters

Ya’ll are embarrassing

And basic

And boring

 

Dear NYT, WaPo, The AP and basically any other journalistic source,

Stop doing pieces about what his supporters were thinking and feeling

WE ALL KNOW WHAT THEY’RE THINKING BC IT’S CONSTANTLY SHOVED DOWN OUR THROATS ALL THE TIME

I could read a thinkpiece from 1930s Germany and it would say the same thing

I could read a thinkpiece from the 50s or 60s in this country and it would say the same thing

Nothing these people say is interesting

How about a story about how the black communities in Charlottesville feel and how they navigate their lives and what they need?

How about speaking to undocumented people about their stories? How they came here, why, what they’ve been through, what they need.

How about promoting the voices of experts in authoritarian regimes, community organizers, and education and peace movements?

How about including indigenous people in the conversations because, I don’t know, this was their country first and for some reason we treat them like shit?

How about that?

 

So embarrassing.

                   Hollywood

                        Stephen Colbert, James Cordon, Jimmy Fallon

                                                                           You really give zero fucks

                                                                                  Did you get those laughs? Did they feel good?

At least we’re all used to being embarrassed by straight white men by now, right?

                                                              Such disappointments

Not to mention dangerous. Normalizing the American equivalent of Goebbels on national television

                                                                             The moment I think the bar can’t get any lower

                                  I think, at this point, we’ve surpassed all of Dante’s rings of Hell

               Who knows where the fuck we are now

Lucifer’s looking down on us thinking his icy cage isn’t so bad after all and musing about what kind of fucked up shit we all did to get here

Now, I’m no authority on Hell by any means

But, are we allowed to make requests down here?

I would like to request a rooming assignment switch so I don’t have to be in the same circle as the dumb-ass politicians who think that giving Trumpcare an even dumber name will be enough to try and trick people into not finding out that the bill is actually Trumpcare because they are evil, vile, embarrassing people

I will pay extra. Thx Satan

 

Should I be embarrassed that when I now hear the song “Rocket Man”

                                                      I fantasize about 45 and Kim Jong Un peeing on each other?

 

I don’t endorse white supremacy, start pissing matches with dictators with nuclear weapons, assault people, incite violence…

so, nah.

 

Katie Louchheim is thinking about everyone impacted by the earthquakes in Puerto Rico, Mexico and LA, and to everyone still suffering in the aftermaths of Harvey and Irma.