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Suddenly I’m hearing from people on my facebook feed who are demanding to know why other people on their feed aren’t posting up about Ferguson. They’re offended, and insisting that we tell them why we,”aren’t saying anything important.” And the general impression that I get from that is that they believe we don’t care.
I want to make it abundantly clear that I do care. I also want to make it abundantly clear that the digital world is not where I do my politics or my activism.
I pay attention: I read,* I talk with people, I listen to the radio. I spend a lot of time navigating and having heavy conversations with my teenage son. I make myself available, and I ask questions. I process and process and process. I pitch in where I’m able. I can honestly say that I am engaged and informed and active to the best of my abilities.
And I also engage in self care – I actively maintain a space on my own personal fb timeline where I can breathe and not deal with atrocities for 10 minutes at a time. The news eats me alive. I cannot think 24-7 about the terrible stuff that happens or I will fall the fuck apart, which is of absolutely no use to anyone.
When you don’t see news articles on my page, it does not mean that I’m not aware. It does not mean that I’m unaffected or disconnected or complicit.** It does not mean that I don’t do what I can in meatspace. It does not mean that I don’t believe in being the change I want to see in the world and actively work toward it. It does not mean that I’m living in a pretty pink bubble with my fingers in my ears.*** What it does mean is that I don’t want to argue with people on the internet. What it does mean is that I believe the political is personal, and it doesn’t have to happen on my facebook page for me to make change. What it does mean is that I believe I can be far more effective in person, and I prefer it that way.
Lately there’s been a spate of crap on my facebook feed of judgement, specifically the type regarding what people look like, or how they dress, or what they eat. A lot of it is of the high and mighty variety – commentary on Michelle Obama’s behind, or what dress Gabourey Sidibe should or shouldn’t have worn on the red carpet (and how she’s obviously going to die young, because omg, deathfatz), or coupons leading to even more omg, deathfatz because dontcha know, people who use coupons don’t know how to eat good food. Or the latest, straight up shit talking about Harnaam Kaur’s choice to rock a beard instead of conforming to homogenized standards of beauty, complete with assumptions about her religion and medical status.
And it just irritates the shit out of me. First and foremost because it assumes that anyone who has a little padding or some extra hair is inherently stupid. Secondly, because, holy shit, why is it your business in the first place? Why so judgmental, buddy – got nothing going on by you of interest to talk about?
And I could let it roll off, all duck’s back and water, sure, but the fact is, this shit is personal, hello.
Point in fact, I’m a fat and kinda hairy lady, myself. At 4′ 10″, I’ve been around 167 pounds pretty much all of my post-teen years. I was 190 when I was pregnant, and then around 130 twice, for a hot fifteen minutes apiece. This body involves years and years of fat shame from doctors and strangers, as well as occasional, “concern,” from members of my family,* and, if I may speak frankly, sister, I don’t need that crap from my friends.**
I walk around in this body – do you know that? I look after its stray hairs and lumpy bits, and feed it and bathe it, and exercise it. It’s mine, and I’m in it, and I take it to the yoga mat, and I drag it to doctor’s appointments where it gets weighed and tsk tsked over sometimes, just like Michelle Obama and Gabourey Sidibe, and everyone else. I have two options in this world with this body: 1) I can be ashamed of it and hide it away at home, or 2) I can walk out into the sun and have a life.
Let me tell you a story:
Hello, hello! I am arrived home from NPS 2013. Dearest Will and I spent two days (that’s what we could afford for hotel) out in Cambridge. This was a huge decision, not just because it was expensive monetarily, but because it’s expensive emotionally – I’m anxious in cities and always afraid of getting lost or left behind, bars freak me out (and both our bouts were in bars), and slam judges frequently disappoint me. But it turned out to be a good couple days, in spite of the judges and the traffic and the booze
Favorite frames from the last couple days:
Karen G hugs. Omg, Karen G hugs when she arrived at our hotel room.
The Tribute reading: Weeping silently through the whole thing. Matt Richards reading for Ken Hunt. Talking with Gerry Hardesty about Brenda Moossy. Bill realizing that he was wearing Jack’s socks.
The tiny tiny rabbit in the courtyard eating grass as three of us tried for photographs – and then Dearest Will pointed at Liz’ tattoo for Gabrielle, and we all gasped.
I sat down to write about this dreadful commercial I saw the other night, only to find, upon researching it more, that it has been pulled. Hooray! But the more I think about it this morning, the more I think that just because it’s been pulled and so swept under the rug, the more it needs to be talked about, actually.
Let me check my privilege before I begin here: My mother was a second wave feminist, and she instilled in me some Values. I was in the right place at the right time to be part of the Riot Grrrl movement.* A good eighty percent of the men I deal with are really great people who just, well… get it. The other twenty percent of these guys, the ones who want to take my agency, the guy who pulled the exceptionalism stunt on me in my pigtails at Trader Joe’s last year, I feel empowered enough to deal with them on my own. And I’m privileged enough not to run into the really scary ones that often.** Big. Privilege. Ok, recognized, stated, spoken, there it is: context.
So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about gender, ever since spending the week at Kripalu, engaged in Sisterhood, because this was a different kind of gooey center – I tend to ruminate upon gender in terms of the personal-as-political more than anything else. Men are a very important part of my life, and it helps that I live with two really great men (ok, one of them, at thirteen, is really still a cub – he still has the goofy paws and the learning curve thing happening) who value me as I am – we have a huge amount of mutual respect, a metric fuckload of love, and a really great division of labour (for the record, Will Dearest has changed a few diapers in his time). Which is to say, I am blessed with a home that is a safe place and sanctuary.
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There are things I know pretty well about myself, now, at 40 – things I can trust in. For example, I’m an awful romantic. Or that in spite of being a bad romantic, I’m a little bit hippie – I like stuff like baking bread and growing a food garden and home remedies.* I believe in homemade Halloween costumes. Also, I’m a bit of a Marxist – sharing is big on my list of Stuff To Do, and most of the punk rock community ethos from my 20s is still stuck to me like white on rice. But at the same time, I’m happy to report that I still surprise myself from time to time. For example, I recently had a revelation that stunned me for a full thirty minutes.
Stop what you’re doing and go to the bookstore.
A. Maxims of quality
1. Do not say what your believe to be false.
2. Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.
B. Maxims of quantity
1. Make your contribution as informative as required.
2. Do not make your contribution more informative than is required.
C. Maxim of relation
1. Be relevant.
D. Maxims of manner
1. Avoid obscurity of expression.
2. Avoid ambiguity.
3. Be brief.
4. Be orderly.
Grice was so smart.
So my little writing group is coming up on our one year anniversary, and I want to do something special, but I’m not sure what I should do – because it seems like every Monday when we get together it’s an Occasion, you know?