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 - Immigrants: We Get the Job Done

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.

This week’s edition of Heartbreaking News is brought to you by DICKKK (Dumb Insipid Callous KKK). DICKKK, in an attempt to make itself look bigger and stronger than it actually is, decided to go after children this week. Because nothing makes you look more manly and tough than fucking people who have very little to no control over their lives. Dreamers are eligible to be recipients of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and rescinding Obama’s 2012 executive order will put nearly 800,000 people who were brought over as children in a precarious position in an already difficult situation for them. So many of these people have never known another country. They may not even know another language other than English. They also are not allowed to have any federal aid and if they’re working (91% are) they are paying taxes to support US. I’m just trying to figure out what good deporting people who didn’t have a choice in coming here does.

Unless a person is Native American, everyone has an immigration story about coming to this country. The top three stories I can think of are 1) wanting to build a better life for themselves and their family 2) fleeing persecution and disaster and 3) being stolen from their country to be forced into slavery. This country was literally built on the backs of the people that fall into these categories. A group of racist and sexist white men may have written the foundation of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” but it’s us and our families that made it a reality. Clearly, we’re still finding out all the fucked up ways in which the system is still rigged against most of us. No matter how much we have built or served this country, this past year has been a cruel reminder that the advances we thought we had made were just an illusion. The idea that this country is special and the place to come if you are looking for better opportunities is bullshit. A concept cannot function unless it’s put into practice. Otherwise, it’s just a theory.

What this country is, in practice, is racist and stupid. And underwater and on fire. At the same time. While we have made some strides, the system still primarily favors rich, white men.  Rapist Brock Turner raped a woman and only served three months. Twelve-year-old Tamir Rice played with a toy and was murdered by police. White supremacists can march with torches, spewing hate and beating up Deandre Harris with no police intervention. Peaceful protestors in South Dakota protecting the land from DAPL are “provocative” and are shot at with rubber bullets and tear gas. A sexual predator, racist, anti-Semite and liar are elected President of the United States. “But her emails, WAHHHH.” See where I’m going with this?

To the people who believe that immigrants are taking their factory jobs and money: grow up. Those jobs are not coming back. You know why? Because capitalism and because robots are cheaper and more efficient than you. They don’t need benefits, healthcare or sick days. Unless you can compete with that, it’s time to get to the root of the actual problem (capitalism, systemic racism, systemic sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, etc.) and stop blaming brown children for everything from your economic situations to your insecurities and inadequacies.

Katie Louchheim wouldn’t be here if members of her family didn’t escape from Europe and would really appreciate if people would stop being DICKKKs and just let each other live.


Word Vomit Wednesday - Comedic Complicity

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 starting off this series, probably appropriately, with Tina Fey. (I’m pretty sure my use of the phrase “word vomit” began shortly after watching Mean Girls). Recently, Tina did a bit on SNL’s Weekend Update commenting on the events in Charlottesville, VA, which has garnered quite a bit of criticism. Before I get into what was said I want to point out that constructive criticism, especially for things/people we love and enjoy, is important. No one is perfect and we’re going to get things wrong. When it comes to art, in all its forms; music, comedy, film, videogames, fine arts, etc., we are being presented with a microcosm of what is happening in a larger context. We are also dealing with a particular perspective, which is immediately directing that particular microcosm. And what that all means is that, no matter what the intentions of the creator are, the things that are still fucked up (privilege, implicit biases) are going to show up and by being put out there for the public, those sentiments will then be reinforced.

Despite all the bullshit happening, that has actually been going on for way too long, a majority of us are working toward breaking down white, hetero-patriarchal institutions, ideals, and behaviors within society. In order to keep doing that and progressing forward we need to be able to call out problematic sentiments and be listened to rather than policed by people who hold more privilege and don’t understand how a joke can be damaging. Now, without further ado, let’s get into it.

Problem #1: Weaponizing the bodies of drag queens.

Drag queens are fierce as fuck, but that does not mean they should in any way expect to be the front line of defense. Portraying them as if they need to be feared only marginalizes their communities more. Which leads me to…

Problem #2: Weaponizing/creating fear around black men’s bodies.

Again, perpetuating fear of black men only makes black men more vulnerable. We already see how some cops, people that are supposed to have their shit together and protect everyone, lose their goddamn minds over seeing a black child in a hoodie. How is it that people are still equating black men with being inherently violent? Let’s cut that shit out. As enjoyable as it is to imagine people beating the shit out of Nazis, we really don’t have to sacrifice black men to do it. These fucking snowflakes give themselves strokes just by thinking about Fearless Girl.

Problem #3: Sally Hemings.

It took me three times of watching the clip to finally catch this part of her bit, mostly because all I heard was muffled noises from having so much cake in her mouth when she said it. And if it weren’t for the POC in my news feed talking about it I would not have gone back a second and third time to try and figure out what she had said. When it did come through for me, I just felt really confused and uncomfortable. I’m still confused and uncomfortable. This is just me, and I feel like I’m lacking some education as to how that joke was 100% connected to everything else she was saying, but to refer to a woman who was enslaved and consistently raped by one of the most powerful and influential men in our history as a throwaway joke at the end felt really off.

What I did think she did well, but which also upset many people, was the whole “let’s sit back and eat cake” thing. For me, this felt appropriately aimed at white women on the right and left alike. The ones who don’t want to get involved and just want everyone to be kind. The ones who think it’s enough to say they’re not racist or anti-Semitic but don’t do anything to back up those claims. The ones who think it’s enough to spend money at Jewish-owned this and POC-owned that, as if their spare change is going to do anything when those storefronts are attacked by mobs and those families forced into camps, or hiding, or murdered publicly. The ones who felt like it was in their best interest to elect a white supremacist, sexual predator and con man to be the 45th president of The United States.

White women have a reputation for phoning it in. The allusion/comparison to Marie Antoinette seems scarily accurate. Pointing to many white women’s delusions of what is happening and how it affects people and pointing out their inability to see any need to act even when their own heads are on the chopping block. White women are at once, beneficiaries of white supremacy and oppressed by the sexist and misogynistic attitudes underlying it. Seeing all that on display in a comedic context is understandably upsetting.  Mostly because it’s hard to know if the audience it was aimed at satirizing (complacent white women) was able to even recognize it. And it’s terrifying for those of us whose existence in this world is revolutionary in and of itself. Slavery, the Holocaust, the Civil Right’s Movement are all in recent memory. Those of us born with these legacies know that all of these things happened because our white neighbors either turned their heads or were participating in the physical violence.

Furthermore, and I can’t believe I have to lay this out but here it goes: If something someone says or does brings up feelings (positive or negative) it’s totally valid to say, “Fuck, this made me feel (fill in the blank).” The thing that’s not ok to do, is to retort with, “It’s a just a joke, that’s what satire is supposed to do.” If this is you, I have some words: you’re missing the point and you’re being an asshole. Jokes can still be funny when they’re not at the expense of marginalized people. I saw a lot of POC get policed about their feelings about these jokes. I saw a lot of Jews get policed about their feelings about these jokes. WHITE PEOPLE, YOU NEED TO SHUT UP. When marginalized people express concern about something, that’s your cue to take it seriously, put aside what you THINK you know, and listen. It’s an opportunity to see another perspective, and learn some empathy. I’m not saying you’re not allowed to have your own opinions, but fuck, could you please just stop hijacking conversations and making them about you? You don’t know everything and policing the thoughts and feelings of marginalized groups who do have more experience in these arenas is white supremacy in action. It’s called a micro aggression. Get used to hearing that term. You do them. A LOT.

On another note, I would like to point out how much harsher the treatment of women is in any field. In comedy, right now it’s Tina Fey while a few months ago it was Kathy Griffin. There are plenty of men out there who say heinous shit and are not called out on it at all or, if they are, they’re given a slap on the wrist or a career boost. The double standards need to go. If we’re going to put such an intense microscope on a brilliant comedian like Tina Fey, let’s be just as critical with everyone else.


Katie Louchheim likes cake, but likes the end of white supremacy even more.