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 - Where is the Music Industry's #MeToo Moment?

Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts 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.

 

If you're a human who exists and is somewhat aware of things happening around you, you've probably heard these two words a lot recently: me too. These words no longer hold the same meaning they once had. No longer are they bouncing with excitement when a common interest between new friends is revealed or jumping in to join brunch plans for the weekend. It turns out, those two tiny words in the English lexicon have been carrying an enormous weight and are now wielding their true power. Activist Tarana Burke started the #MeToo Movement nearly 10 years ago as a way to help victims and survivors of sexual assault and harassment feel supported and know they're not alone. 

Fast forward to October 2017, both The New York Times and the New Yorker came out with harrowing stories from women who alleged harassment and assault, by now-disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Since then, stories highlighting everything from inappropriate and harmful behavior in the workplace to coercive and manipulative behaviors by men on casual dates have been starting long overdue conversations and taking powerful men down left and right, across all industries. All except one. The music industry. And because I am not an idiot and you are not an idiot, we know that it's not because the music industry is a beacon of light in the darkest corners of our culture, but one of it’s worst offenders. So, why is the music industry’s #MeToo moment so long overdue? 

Art in itself aims to push the envelope and the boundaries of what is considered “decent” by whatever cultural standards are being upheld at the time. It’s also a way to underscore hypocrisies, build empathy, and look at our lives from different perspectives. Music, especially, is a gift in the ways it can get straight to the heart of feelings that cannot be expressed fully through verbal communication. In the mainstream, Rock ‘n’ Roll became the vehicle, the code of conduct and the badge of honor for, specifically, the men who became it’s stars. But the puritanical American environment it proclaimed to be railing against was just the flip side of the same coin. While it was claiming to subvert norms of the day, really what was it but another pulpit for white men to preach, set the narrative, and do whatever the fuck they wanted with almost zero consequence. Whether it was the men onstage or the men behind the scenes, exploitation (of women, black musicians, etc.) has always been the name of the game. In an industry that prides itself on being anti status-quo with the tagline of “Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll”, it sure does everything in its power to maintain it. The counter-culture as a facade of just our shitty culture. Since it really only applies to men, it also makes the sentiment less rebellious and expressive and much more insidious. 

Everything that we hear and know about going on in these other industries is and has been going on in the music industry. So why is it that, when we know someone can sing or play their ass off or produce some great records, we turn a blind eye. And it’s not like women haven’t tried to fight back. When they fight or attempt to take control of their careers and lives the smear campaigns are brutal. She was on drugs, she’s a diva, she’s a liar, she’s just a groupie looking for a payout, she’s having a mental breakdown, look what she wears onstage, she didn’t write those songs, how many people did she have to blow to get that famous and successful, didn’t she know what kind of business she was getting into, and on and on and on. 

One of the only stories we’ve heard anything about in the past couple of years is Kesha’s battle with producer Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald. Her case went public as she began to fight him in court in hopes of being released from her contract, in which her record label Sony would only allow her to release music if it was with him. Though her collaborations with him on hit songs like “Tik Tok” catapulted her into the mainstream, it was at a steep emotional, psychological, and economic cost to her. It came to light that Dr. Luke put her through a wringer of alleged emotional and verbal abuse, manipulation, drug use and rape. (For a timeline of the case, click here). Who the fuck would want or even be able to muster the energy to try and work collaboratively with a predatory piece of shit like that. But Sony stood by their man and a contract that she signed with him when she was just a teenager. They couldn’t have cared less about her career let alone her well-being as a human. Her recent performance of new music at the Grammy’s was from the first album she was legally allowed to release in five years. And her legal entanglements with Dr. Luke and this nightmare is still far from over for her. It’s still unclear whether she was only allowed to release the music because he gave her permission to do so. Which, if true, means that he is continuing to profit off her and her pain which he has personally caused. This is sickening. 

Her story, though, is not unusual. This industry has a habit of preying upon very young girls and women, turning them into objects of sexual desire for men, and dismissing them when they no longer want to play by those rules. A friend of mine who was in a band that used to go on Warped Tour in the summers, recalled to me that at seventeen-years-old she would be ushered into clubs by music industry men and touched inappropriately and in ways she was not comfortable with. And because she was so young she had no idea what to do about it and probably no one to report to. It’s not like this industry has a functioning HR department. This experience is one of the more tame ones that I could write about here. It’s a predicament that is familiar to a majority of women and it’s the same no matter what part of the industry you’re occupying: executive, A&R, production and engineering, artist. If you’re a woman or female/femme-identifying person you’re facing an uphill battle in a fortress that’s foundation is entirely made out of the objectified bodies and subsequent victimization of women. This excellent article here, highlights just how the industry is set up to fail women.

Another more well-known abuser that literally nothing has been done about is R. Kelly. Not only does he currently have multiple women trapped in various homes, completely cut off from their families and basically being used as sex slaves, HE’S. A. PEDOPHILE. Y’ALL. Remember when he married a then fifteen-year-old Aaliyah (RIP) when he was almost thirty? Yeeeeeaaaaahhh. But because of a combo of him having “talent,” being a punchline on a very memorable episode of South Park, and seeming to only abuse black women people just turn their heads the other way. You best believe though, if he had fucked a fifteen-year-old Taylor Swift when she was starting out there would be no more after parties in hotel lobbies and all of the women trapped in his closet could be set free because he’d finally be trapped behind bars. This industry, literally, let’s men get away with pretty much everything. Women could not matter any less. 

Women don’t have time for this type of fuckery, so we’ve been making our own spaces to create music, polish our engineering and producing chops and pass on our knowledge to female, transgender, and gender non-conforming youth. AND YET. Without a beat there will be a yearly article wondering aloud where all the women producers and engineers are. It is BEYOND fucking frustrating. It is the laziest piece of journalism, if you can even call it that, ever written. There are groups and labels all over the world that exist to support and connect female music professionals. I can name six off the top of my head: Female Frequency, Soundgirls, Women in Music, Women’s Audio Mission, Beatz by Girls, Gender Amplified, Inc. I’ve worked with Female Frequency for the past three years and for about a year I’ve been in charge of their #tbt posts in which I highlight a woman and/or queer artist/producer/dj/engineer etc. and I find them with just a simple Google search if I’m not already thinking of someone specific. I swear to goddess I will strangle the author of the next “Where Are All the Female Blah-Dee Blahh Blahs” if they don’t start talking to actual female professionals in the industry and critically thinking about how the music industry has and continues to shut views out that don’t fit in a nice white cishet patriarchal narrative. Here's one of the only articles I have ever seen to not pull this bullshit. 

A sliver of this ignorance was showcased recently in an interview that NARAS (the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) president, Neil Portnow gave to Variety in which he said, in so many words, that if women wanted to be successful in this industry they needed to “step up.” Just so I don’t go through my intense feelings of anger as I write about this again, I’m going to leave a snippet of a piece I wrote that was one part response to his comments after the most recent Grammys and another part Female Frequency #tbt featuring the incredible Amanda Palmer and her response to his completely out of touch statement: 

“...when an ignorant and brutally out of touch Neil Portnow got on that Grammy stage this past weekend and told women in the industry in the condescending patriarchal way that so many of us are accustomed to that they need to “step up” to be successful, I took a deep breath. He just spoke in front of an audience that included Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson, Janelle Monae, Pink, Lady Gaga and so many other of the most successful, innovative, and vocal women in our industry and told them that they are not doing enough. He stood on that stage that Kesha had just poured her pain and heart out in a song about her healing from sexual assault to an arena filled with people who were complicit in the system that allowed her to be assaulted and abused and even prohibited her from doing her job for four years and implied that those roadblocks were her fault. This kind of vile proclamation is not new to many of us. Palmer released a statement this week in response, “... I stepped up, dear industry dudes, I am making a really healthy salary every year and paying an entire team and hundreds of other musicians and artists and producers to collaborate with me in getting art out into the world. I am doing this all without the Grammys, without the major labels, without the completely corrupt radio stations, without the news media, without television, and without acknowledgement from any of the industry awards or contests, ever. So suck it, Neil Portnow. No woman in the industry needs to be told to ‘step up.’” She goes on to request the following action, “Women have been stepping the fuck up, and you have every opportunity - more than you ever did - to support them, now. When they step up, be the stairs” (you can find her full statement with this link). Be the stairs and lift up marginalized voices. That is the only way parity is going to happen and this is why Female Frequency exists. And Soundgirls and Beats by Girls and Women Beatmakers and WIM and WAM and the list goes on and on. We have stepped up and continue to step up in an industry that has made it clear that our points of view and experiences are not welcome, so we’ve made the space for them to have a voice. We are mastering our crafts and we are excellent at what we do. The #MeToo movement has yet to have the impact on the music industry that it desperately needs to, but I’m not worried about that. In the event of the reckoning about to hit, and it will most definitely hit, I have a suggestion for Portnow and his like-minded ilk: if you don’t want to get steamrolled I suggest, sirs, that it’s time for you to step aside.” 

The backlash was swift and soon reports began coming out about the emergence of a “female advancement” music industry task force at NARAS with a statement from Portnow, “I understand the hurt that my poor choice of words following last Sunday’s GRAMMY telecast has caused… I also now realize that it’s about more than just my words. Because those words, while not reflective of my beliefs, echo the real experience of too many women. I’d like to help make that right.” First of all, a half-assed non-apology is not a great a start. We’re not doing that anymore. Because so many of these statements have a history of being empty and as excuses to save face in the court of public opinion, the idea of a task force whose goal is to “do more to overcome the explicit barriers and unconscious biases that impede female advancement in the music community” sounds like a whole lotta unspecific bullshit. Because this is the thing, if The Academy specifically, and the industry at large wanted to change they’d have to tear the whole thing down and start anew for that to happen, and that’s not going to happen unless it’s forced to. This industry is predicated on the objectification of women as a vehicle for cishet white male rage and desire. Until that view is obliterated, nothing of real value will change. 

 

Word Vomit Wednesday - Yup, That's A Lot of Us

Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts 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; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

 

I’m kind of tired of writing about how fed up I am. This feeling is definitely not exclusive to me. If the “me too” hashtag (which was originated by activist Tarana Burke, a *black woman, ten years ago) that exploded this week is any indication, about 50% of the world population is fed up and tired. But that’s also not news to me and it’s not news to anyone who came out and said “me too.” I also just want to say how moved by the many women who came out and wrote the most poignant, searing, powerful essays inspired by this. I feel like so many have already said what needs to be said and has been saying, basically, forever. I’m not entirely sure what else I can add to the conversation. I’m also extremely grateful to the women that wrote in more detail about their experiences and also what they expect from men in terms of action items.

I’m grateful to these women because 1) I'm not ready to do the former and 2) for the latter: I don’t want to do that. My threshold for explaining things to men, like why I deserve to be treated like a human and not a sex object, is completely full. I can count the men I can have tough conversations with, without feeling like I’m unimportant or on trial, on one hand. My worst nightmare, since I was a child, was growing up and being stuck in a relationship where I have to repeat myself over and over and over again and just have to constantly cater to someone who needs me to ask them to do something instead of them just taking the initiative and doing something because it needs to be done and shouldn’t have to always fall on me. That is my circle of hell. And one of the reasons I have remained perpetually single for thirty years.

I don’t know what it’s going to take for men (particularly white, cis, hetero) to make the effort to change. I’m heartened to know a few individual male people who do stand up, I just wish what they were doing was more contagious. I feel so jaded most of the time. I am optimistic that every time there is a wave of #metoo and #yesallwomen that it deepens the cracks in the proverbial glass ceiling. But can’t we just fucking demolish the glass ceiling already? It doesn’t need to be there. It just takes up So. Much. GODDAMN. SPACE!!! I’m over it.

I’m over being suspicious all the time about what people’s intentions are with me. I’m over developing relationships with people and feeling that deep drop my stomach takes once I realize this person sees me as less than. I’m tired of not being considered. Not being asked what I think or how I feel about something. I’m tired of being called “sweetie” by well-intentioned men who don’t realize it’s only a term of endearment when my father calls me that and otherwise it’s just infantilizing. I’m over Donna Karan and her bullshit. No, Donna, what someone chooses to wear or not wear NEVER indicates "asking for it." Fuck off. I’m over thinking that I’m making friends and then realizing that I stop hearing from folks because they realize that I don’t want to bone them. I’m over the constant reminder that I’m only good for one thing.

I’m really tired of women constantly baring their souls and nothing ever fucking changing. I’m going to conclude with saying that for everyone who wrote a “me too” status, I love you. I support you. I see you. I believe you. And thank you for those who have shown me your support in return. For those who chose not to share, you and your experiences and choices are valid. I love you and I support you. To the activists who are constantly fighting for us and keeping us thinking critically no matter how tired and over it they are, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

*Black women are oftentimes the leaders and originators of our most important social justice movements and are also erased from the stories once white people get involved. It is our responsibility to give credit where credit is due.

 

Katie Louchheim is hopping on another hashtag in an effort for men to take on the burdens of their actions rather than putting them on us. From Liz Plank: “Your shame is not ours. No sir.” #HimThough

Diary of Katie Louchheim

Below are thoughts and feelings of mine that have been brought forth by current events. My expressions below are solely my own, I do not claim these experiences to be anyone else’s or claim to speak for everyone with similar backgrounds or feelings.

Pretty much since the election I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts together. I feel like I’m being torn in a million directions. I wake up every day praying that this is an episode of The Twilight Zone, or a really fucked up dream I’m having and not reality. But I know it’s real. I’ve always known it was real. Growing up Jewish in Arizona was a constant reminder of my otherness while being within the Jewish community was a constant reminder of how much we’re hated solely based on that otherness. The weird thing about never knowing what it’s like to go to your place of worship or day school without security and metal detectors, or that when school gets cut because there was a bomb threat at the JCC or a swastika tagged on one of the synagogues in town, is that these things are not normal. And yet, by the time I was a young child they were completely normalized.

Maybe it didn’t seem so bad because I’ve had a complicated relationship with my Jewish identity so siding with people who were suspect felt easier. Or because that insecurity balanced out with my white privilege.  When people didn’t know my heritage, I definitely benefitted, and still mostly benefit, from that. That’s the lie of assimilation, though. There’s something off-white about living in America while having a Jewish background. (Obviously, for Jews of color it’s a whole other ballgame). Once that part of my identity was known I became “nice for a Jew” and “pretty for a Jew” but I most certainly was not nice or pretty enough to make me human enough to open up the minds of those bestowing compliments to me with their backhand. It would be me; alone, trying to toe the line between making a good and diplomatic impression while also denying a part of myself and any emotional reactions to people and instead, making sure to accommodate their feelings. I didn’t realize how small I was making myself in these situations. And how much responsibility I was shouldering that wasn’t my business to shoulder at all.

One time in high school, a bunch of us choir buddies were asked to sing at one of our friend’s churches. We went, sang a song about Jesus, nailed it (sry, too soon?) and then were forced to listen to this preacher sermonize about how non-Christian people are going to hell. At which point I turned and looked at my friend (an Iranian Zoroastrian) and we both just rolled our eyes because we were so used to this treatment by people toward us. Fucking jaded as fuck from this shit by 17 years old. I think the girl who asked us to go apologized after. I really don’t remember. At this point, and honestly since the dawn of time, apologies are not enough.

Being nice is not enough. There are no “both sides” to this equation. It’s not ok to tell people being brutalized that they need to identify or compromise with their abusers. It is not my job to hold your people accountable. Or hold your hand through your discomfort. White Christian folk, it’s yours. If I had been at that service today, I would have just gotten up and walked out. I don’t have the tolerance my younger self had for bullshit and no one’s fuckery is entitled to my time and space.  It is not my job to constantly try to prove my worth to people who already believe I’m worthless and taking up space that belong to them. All I know, without a doubt, is that my life is more important than White Christian Feelings™. The lives of my friends and family and all the various communities we are members of: POC communities, LGBTQ+, immigrant, Indigenous, Muslim, etc. are more important than White Christian Feelings™. If YOU have feelings it is YOUR job to go to a therapist and work on them and not culturally appropriate the use of tiki torches by using them to throw a tantrum while waving Confederate and Nazi flags, ramming your cars through crowds of people, and beating the shit out of peaceful protestors.

I try to be a good person. I know that majorities of people in this country are also trying to be good people. But, I’m going to level with you white Christian folks. I don’t trust you. I also have a lot of resentment toward you.  If you’re hurt by me saying that, I don’t care. It’s taken me a very long time to admit this. It’s taken an incredible amount of work to unpack and uncondition myself to the idea that I’m a bad person for feeling this way and for not seeing the “many sides.” But, you don’t deserve my trust. You’re not entitled to anything from anybody. Once again, YOUR problem. Tough titties, bro.

When I started seeing images of the gathering of angry white men with torches on Friday night, I had a feeling I wasn’t going to be able to participate in the onslaught of coverage of what was happening in Charlottesville, VA. I was right. The moment I opened Facebook and saw image after image and article after article of the Pasty Wasps Boys parade screaming anti-Semitic slurs, racist drivel, and throwing their arms up in Sieg Heil to Fuhrer Trump I found my breath catch in my throat. Those images turned into the countless hours of footage of the Nazis and their methodical tactics to exterminate our families shown to us every year to make sure we never forgot. The shots of piles of dead bodies found and photographed by the liberators morphed in my head from unknown members of the tribe to my parents and my siblings. Lifeless forms hanging from trees became my friends who dare to be themselves; worship who they wish to worship, love who they love, celebrating being black as fuck (Talia, I am living for you and your InstaStories right now and forever and always). It took me almost a full twenty-four hours and a hiatus from social media to get the panic attacks to stop.

Never again. Our communities make a point to pass down the atrocities we faced so we can make sure these things never happen again to anyone. Why don’t you learn what has happened to us? How is it that our heritage, which is intertwined with yours, weighs so heavily on only our hearts?

 

Do you not have hearts?

 

What exactly is wrong with you.

 

Here’s a collection of other things that have been swirling around in my brainhole:

- Have we past the point of no return for democracy in this country? I’m afraid of staying in this country until it’s too late. I’m afraid of leaving this country that I love and have so much hope for and not knowing if I’ll have more confidence in my survival instincts at the end of it or live with feeling like a coward for the rest of my life. Then again, some of my family made it here in time. Others were murdered and dumped in a grave they were forced to dig themselves.

-I was in Israel with my family in June and I remember I had a moment while sitting on the roof of the hotel we were staying at in Jerusalem with my dad. I remember feeling very quiet and comfortable. I thought of a conversation I had had with my aunt a few weeks prior when she had said that when she went to Israel for the first time 30 some years ago it amazed her that she was in a place where everyone was Jewish. Then, it clicked. I realized that despite the fact that Jerusalem and much of Israel is religiously diverse and that there is still a hugely unsettling political environment present there, that I was in a place where Judaism was accepted. It was a norm. I was in a place where I didn’t have to explain myself to anyone no matter what my actual beliefs, practices or lack thereof are. That’s when I thought, “Wow. This is what it must feel like to be a White Christian back home.”

- I love this country. Maybe, more accurately, I love the concept of this country. I’m a 6th generation American. Which means that my lineage has been here almost as long as this country has been the United States of America. Which also means my lineage has been oppressed while actively engaging in and benefitting from the oppression of others. Immigrants were able to come and build a life for themselves as a result of the genocide of hundreds of millions of First Nations people. My five-times great grandfather fought in the Civil War against the Union. He was not allowed to fight with his fellow southerners and instead was in a separate infantry specifically for Jews. Everything about this sucks. I can only guess that this relative was doing what he felt was right, as way to assimilate, get closer to the American Dream, I’ll never know. Here’s what I do know: The Confederacy lost, as they should have. State’s rights my ass. And failure is a good thing. Failure means things have the potential to be better. It gives us a chance to sit back, deal with our filth, and clean it out. Something this country still hasn’t done.

#BlackLivesMatter

#StopDAPL

#NoBanNoWall

#LoveisLoveisLove

#TransisBeautiful

#WomensRightsAreHumanRights

#ImmigrantsWeGetThe Job Done

#DisabledandCute

#Resist