Just a Little Posty for Fun | RRR the movie

First off, I realize I didn’t post an update about Mom. She’s doing really well; she came through the surgery fine, and all the doctors are very pleased with her recovery. Considering how sick she was, they’re a little surprised at how well she’s doing. But that’s my Mom – an overachiever at all times.

But what I really just wanted to post about was the Indian movie “RRR.” A song from the soundtrack “Naatu Naatu,” won the Oscar for best song, if you’re wondering why it’s familiar. I took 2 nights to finish it because it’s 3 hours long, but honestly I was tempted to watch it all at once; I just started it too late. It’s EPIC.

Y’all, I LOVE this movie. It is horrifyingly brutal in places, which if I’d watched the trailer I would have suspected but I streamed it purely because of the dance scene at the party that the “Naatu Naatu” song is from and thought it would be a bit more Bollywood does Jane Austen-y.

(Link to Naatu Naatu scene on YouTube)

But this is a movie about (real but fictionalized) revolutionaries before Indian independence, so the British are almost uniformly horrifying and awful, often murderous. One English woman is kind, and there’s that party scene, but that’s pretty much it. Fair cop, really – I cannot dispute the horrors of colonialism.

The main gist of the movie, however, besides fighting cruel tyranny to free their people, is best friends. Bros. The two main characters meet about an hour in, and are immediately best superhero bros who are superheroing together in the best-friend-broiest ways they can, despite apparent cross purposes and misunderstandings, long backstories, and the backdrop of tyrannical oppression.

To whet your appetite for superhero shenanigans — at their FIRST meeting (!!!) they both FLING THEMSELVES OFF A MOTORCYCLE (hero A) AND HORSE (hero B) OFF THE SIDES OF A BRIDGE on opposite sides, clinging to a rope, to save a boy from both firey and watery death in the river below, and IT. IS. AWESOME. So if that sounds like fun, I encourage you to watch. (Although if you have adrenaline spike low tolerance like me you might want to wait for a calm day. And know that the good guys win.)

So, here’s the trailer link. I can recommend it. Oh, and all the animals are CGI, so do not worry for the animals. They are all OK.

In the Depths of February

I have to admit to not making a lot of progress with my book since the beginning of January. Much of January was taken up with rehearsals for my dance show in that last weekend of the month, and then performances. And now I’m diving into more rehearsals for a student showcase that I’m choreographing a piece for, and another piece I’m dancing in. Also the May studio dance show rehearsals start next month, which means my weekends are all busy between now and May.

Normally I’d find some time to write, as well as dance. But my mom is scheduled for a big, scary surgery this coming Tuesday, and since she went to the specialty hospital for tests beforehand all the doctors keep saying “You’re really very sick! Your heart is about to give out!” and other scary statements, so we’re all getting more and more worried. The surgery is supposed to have good outcomes, and the doctors say they’re confident she can make a full recovery, but it’s … A Lot. For all of us. Her hospital stay has been extended for several weeks past the surgery date, and Dad is trying to find a place to stay nearby (they’re not anywhere near home). I’m coordinating info for everyone from where I am, so people don’t call/text Dad all the time and wear him out. Of course, that means I feel like I’m wearing him out with all of my questions, but here we are.

I persevere with just keep on keeping on. If the house is a mess and the clean laundry waits days to get folded, well, who cares? I have other things to worry about. I will noodle about with notes for the book, and noodle about with notes for the dance work, and try to keep myself from fretting. It’s the best we all can do.

The Turning of the Year

I had all these grandiose plans for blog posts throughout the last few months, and as one can tell, looking since August, none of them came to fruition. I even had some great ideas for posts for the end of the year, top faves in music or movies or what-have-you, but I haven’t had the energy or brain space to complete them. So instead I will give myself some grace and say I can have small, less grandiose plans for blog posts, and no guilt or recriminations should result. If I end up with a grand post anyhow, then hooray for me. But if I don’t put pressure on myself to make it perfect, then I might post more often.

Easier said than done, of course. I excel in putting unnecessary pressure on myself. A thing to work on. Endlessly.

2022 has been a strange year. It was supposed to be a year of recovery for all of us — from the pandemic, from the terrible politics, etc. And while there was some of that, the fact is the pandemic is ongoing, and there is always more bad news and more awful bigotry. Everyone is exhausted; I am not an exception to that. I think collectively we’re all trying to heal while still experiencing trauma, and some of us are managing better than others but that doesn’t mean we’re healthy yet. When I think about how life works, I’m not sure we’ll ever be. We who live through these times will have our recognizable quirks, the way other populations who’ve lived through collective trauma do. We won’t even know what they are until some other, younger, less or differently traumatized population points it out to us.

On the personal front, my mom’s health has taken a turn for the worse, and while she’s soldiering on, and is in fact better than she was a couple months ago, she is struggling with new bodily restrictions and we’re all concerned, possibly more than is reasonable. She hates that we’re worried and hates a fuss, but everyone wanted to connect just to check in. So I’ve just come home from going home, if that makes sense. I feel better for having been there around and spending time with fambly, and I do feel like Mom is managing admirably and is mostly still able to do what she wants and needs. But also it’s frustrating to know that if she does worsen, or even if she’d just do better with a little more help, I’m not close enough to do anything about it.

Through all of this, I am writing — albeit slowly — the third book in this series. I have it about 1/2 – 3/4ths plotted out, and I’m making progress with my partial scenes and pages of dialogue happening in blank spaces, unadorned with fancy things like setting or facial expressions. I hoped to be fully plotted by now, but I’m missing some crucial ideas for how to get from the middle to the end. And the end is spotty, if I’m being honest. It will likely change as I figure out how I get there. Not the ideal way to be charging through the last book in a trilogy, but it’s what I have. I plan to share excerpts from the beginning here, when I have a chance to edit it more and get it closer to what it will be on publication. The concepts of the beginning won’t change, but some details might. I’d hate to be confusing for anyone who read it here.

I feel like I won’t know what to do with myself when I finally do finish this trilogy, but that is absolutely a problem for future me. I do have other ideas, but I cannot think about them now. It’s too distracting, and I’ll never finish this book if I let my brain wander off to other pastures. I can play a little bit in my brain when I get a draft to my editor, so I don’t obsess, but I don’t get to really play with a new (or old and waiting) concept until I’m done with this one. For pity’s sake, brain.

With that said, I’m going to close this out with a wish for everyone to have a peaceful, kind, and healthy new year, and get back to that writing. Maybe I’ll get a few more pages poured out before the turning of the year.


Book Book Book!

Copies of A Tangled Vision arrived today! Happy Birthday to me!!! Go check out Arus Entertainment’s website for copies to buy!

Or you can pre-order for 8/23 from Amazon or anywhere books are sold! (You can also get the 1st book, A Ragged Magic, from any of those places, if you haven’t yet. I will not stop you.)

Boxes of books!
*gasp* So pretty!
I mean…
Look at it!
Kitten for scale
I tried to add both Castor and Pollux for scale, but they weren’t cooperating
So here’s Mairelon the Magician for scale … large and slightly startled

A Tangled Vision On Sale Now!

(And next week! And also continuously after that!)

Hello reader lovelies! Guess what!? I have links for you. Links with which to buy books! Specifically A Tangled Vision, but also the first book (re-issued with current info) A Ragged Magic! It’s all very exciting.

Look at it! It’s so beautiful.

Technically the release date is 8/23/22, but the ebook purchase link is live directly from my partner/publisher, Scott James Magner, on the publisher website: Arus Entertainment. (Facebook page for Arus) Follow the instructions to get your hot electrical hands on an e-copy right now!!!

Physical copies are on order, and if you pre-order them from Arus (same link above) then we will send them to you once we get the shipment in (we paid extra to get them this week, but … shipping. So *maybe* we will have them Thursday 8/18, which is my actual birthday, is what I’m saying.) I will sign books for you if you order it that way, if you want me to.

If you wish to buy from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, AppleBooks, etc, then we will have those links live on 8/23/2022.

If you want borrow it from your library, then after 8/23 you can request it at your local branch, and they’ll probably buy it to have a copy on their shelves. Which is honestly the bestest best thing about libraries. (Not just for my book, but for all books. Libraries rock, is what I’m saying here.)

Questions? Concerns? Interpretive Dances? Let me know!

Too serious for a flippant title: content warning: sexual assault discussed

I’ve been struggling to write this post – or indeed any post, but this one in particular, for the whole week. This year has been difficult for people who’ve ever been sexually assaulted, and the last week in particular has been ugly. Because there’s always another one, isn’t there? Another abuser, another person who has gotten away with assault because we don’t believe people who come forward; at least not the first 10 times. Or 20. Or 30.

It’s good HW has been outed, kicked off of boards and clubs and companies, forced to admit to his wrongdoing. But it’s always disheartening to hear all of the “Oh, well, what were those women wearing/doing/saying/thinking, and how could they have ended up there? Oh, there aren’t that many men like that. Oh, statistically speaking, it’s really not as bad as it looks….”

Yes. It is. It is in fact, far worse than it looks. Because your math is wrong. The statistics are important up to a point, and that point is when you start to excuse the behavior as not that many, not that bad, not so terrible really.

As I said on someone’s page tonight, even if hashtag notallmen, it IS ALL WOMEN. ALL women, ALL feminine-presenting people, and I’m pretty sure, ALL non-binary gender people, and an extremely large number of men, have been sexually assaulted, harassed. ALL OF US. And if your math is ignoring that, then you’re not nearly as smart as you think you are. Because we have to have a culture that allows that to happen in the first place. We have to bring boys and men up to believe that they get to have any body they want. They have the last word in what happens in any encounter. They get to decide if they’re having sex, or if they’re having sexual contact, and the other person’s opinion means nothing. It especially means nothing if that person is a woman, or is feminine, or is marginalized in any way, because that person is less of a person. We have to have a culture that teaches that expressly, and keeps it so much in everyone’s minds that we even have sayings like “boys will be boys.”

We have a toxic masculinity problem. We have a culture that teaches boys that they are entitled to other people’s bodies. Maybe not every man grows up to believe it, but it’s out there; it’s the air we breathe; it’s the water we drink. Like racism and sexism and other bigotry, we are swimming in it. And I am always going to be someone that the culture says is OK to hurt. That my body isn’t really mine. That I’m not really a person, not truly, not compared to the man in the situation. Especially not the white man. The further you get from our culture’s margins, as far as we’re concerned, the more of a person you are. Which means the more in the margins you are, the less you are a person. I’m not as far into the margins as some, but I’m still in there. And our culture treats me accordingly.

I’m going to preface the next bit by saying – no one owes anyone their story. I’m telling mine now because I’m moved to do so. And mine are nowhere near as horrific as others’ are, so the stigma is maybe less. You should believe people when they say they’ve been hurt. You should believe them. You’re not a judge, or a jury, and you get to choose, but if someone is telling you that they’ve been hurt, they’re probably telling you because they hope you’re a safe person to tell. Oh, and also, content warning for the below. It’s not as bad as some, but everyone has their limits, so fair warning.

The first time I was sexually harassed and threatened I was nine. I was nine years old. It was a classmate and his older brother. I was in the high school where my father was a teacher. It was some kind of school fair. They followed me around making a lewd gesture with their fingers, and saying they were going to “get me.” I didn’t really know what they meant, but I was scared. I’m pretty sure my best friend was with me. Those two boys seemed to be everywhere, every time I turned around. We kept trying to find somewhere they couldn’t find us, but the school just wasn’t that big, or full. I can’t remember what I told my mom and/or a grownup, but I do remember that I didn’t have the vocabulary to tell them exactly what was happening. And that I was so enraged, so confused, and literally worried they were going to touch me in some way. I don’t remember what anyone said to me about that incident exactly, but what was normally said about stuff like that was “they’re just teasing. Ignore them and they’ll go away.” That advice is hardly ever true. But it was all anyone ever told me when I was being bullied in any way. (My best friend totally had my back, but she didn’t have the vocabulary, either.)

The first time I was groped, I think was probably Jr. High. And I want to iterate here, especially for someone who made some comment of every woman having this sort of thing happen to them before the age of 40, that this sort of thing happens to most women, and a lot of other genders, *before the age of 13,* so adjust your fucking math. I had my ass grabbed in 7th grade. Several times, really. And I wasn’t a popular girl, I didn’t dress any differently really, than I had at 10 or 11, so 12 (I was 12 in 7th) shouldn’t have been a big change. And my father was a teacher in the school. Honestly, everyone should have been worried I’d tell. I don’t think I even knew what to do about it. I barely remember what I did next. It was a crowded hallway, I didn’t know who it was, I became known as a girl who would swing her purse or backpack around wildly if upset.

I forgot about that last part until just now. I was a weird kid, is how I remember playing that off. But if someone grabs your butt as you’re walking down a hall and you can’t even tell which someone it was, what do you do?

I remember in 9th grade one boy, who I thought was cute, and who was always nice to me, stuck his hand up my shirt and fondled my bare waist. In math class, as we were walking past each other, either going in or out of class. He just grinned at me, and I stared at him in shock until he walked away. I didn’t know what to do then, either.

I know my ass was grabbed in Jr high a lot, and high school, too. I know a lot of other stories from other girls in Jr high and high school that were much, much worse. Those aren’t my stories to tell. So I always just thought that I’d been lucky.

I want to scream about that. I thought I was lucky to *just* be fondled and have my ass grabbed by friends and strangers.

The most egregious sexual assaults that happened to me I didn’t even think were sexual assaults at the time, because it didn’t occur to me that my body was mine enough to matter to anyone but me. I was frightened, and enraged, but I wasn’t “hurt.” I wasn’t injured, and I wasn’t hit by anyone, so I thought, well, who would care? It was wrong, of course. I was mad. But I didn’t think “sexual assault.”

It was sexual assault.

Just a couple of years ago, a friend of several of my friends, who I considered friendly, or at least a friendly acquaintance, was at a party I attended. He was drunk. The party was crowded. He told me, drunkenly, that the only reason I was with my boyfriend was because he (my boyfriend) “got there first,” as though I were some prize in a race. He then hugged me, which I shruggingly tolerated, and grabbed my ass. I froze. He moved on. I didn’t know what to do that night, but the next day I wrote to him saying it was unacceptable behavior and I expected an apology. He never apologized, and won’t speak to me since. I won’t speak to him either, but he has yet to apologize, so. I’ve told this story to a lot of people. Most have stayed friends with him, because “well, he’s not really like that, or only when he’s drunk/with this bad influence.” My boyfriend is still friendly to him when he sees him. Everyone knows what he’s like, because I’m not the only person he’s gotten “handsy” with. (The man did apologize … to my boyfriend. Who told him “I”m not the one you need to apologize to.” Still. Waiting.)

In the first week of college I was thrown onto a dorm bed and dry humped by a guy I barely knew, held down while screaming and kicking, and the 5-8 other people in the room stood by and laughed. They told me I was over-reacting when I came up swinging and screaming more. That guy was a rapist, and by the middle of the year everyone knew it. I don’t actually know if he was ever stopped.

Some rando dude grabbed my breast as he rode by on his bike while I was walking down the street. I was alone, it was night, and I screamed “asshole” after him, but I was immediately afraid he’d come back and do worse. I hurried back to the hotel I’d been leaving, so I would be around people. My people were there for me, but that dude was long gone, so there wasn’t anything to report.

In high school, a boy I had a huge crush on goosed my ass hard, close enough to my vulva to really hurt, and I jumped about a foot. In front of my male music teacher, that I was trying to talk to, that I was trying to impress. I turned about eight shades of scarlet and nearly broke down in tears right there. I know my voice went whisper soft and I tried to keep talking to my teacher, but he (the teacher) gave me a look. I never really knew if he’d back me up if I made a scene, and I was afraid that look meant that he was disappointed in me, so I stuttered through asking my question. After, I pushed that stupid grinning guy out of the teacher’s office, and told him off, and never spoke to him again, but I was always a little worried that my music teacher thought less of me. Because of someone else’s actions.

I had already learned that it was always my fault. Because if you ignore them, and they don’t go away, then you’re doing it wrong. Because if they embarrass you, it’s your fault. If they hurt you, it’s your fault. That’s the lesson, isn’t it? We learn it very early. And if you tell people what happened, they might just tell you that. And there might not be any repercussions for the person who did the assaulting. And meanwhile now everyone is giving you that look. You know the look. We give the look to ourselves, sometimes. We even give it to other people who’ve been hurt, because it’s an ingrained toxic behavior, that look.

But we don’t deserve the look. It’s not our fault if someone hurts us. It’s not our fault if someone doesn’t believe us, either. And I’m here for all of us survivors, those who’ve survived as bad, or not as bad, or much, much worse. It’s not our fault. And it’s time we were believed.

It’s time we changed the culture. I don’t know if any of what’s happening now will do that, but I can hope. I can hope my story does its part. And I can learn to be a safe place for other survivors, and be my own safe place, too.

To haven thee, well is me, I have thee wonnen in fight.

Hello my blog, hello my website. I’ve been gone awhile. The reasons are varied, but many of them come down to: I have been too overwhelmed by what’s happening in my country to manage regular blogging, too. In fact, it’s taken a terrible toll on my creativity. I’ve been working on getting more done, but I haven’t always succeeded. People who have been creating despite all of this, I salute you. I’ve been feeling much like I did when I went through my divorce – dry of creativity, unable to delve into story the way I need to, to finish novels or pull entertaining posts from my brain. I’ve mostly been either furious or grieving, and neither help me to write.

But – I am coming back. I refuse to let this white supremacist regime keep me from my own life’s work. We need art and stories more than ever, and I will do my best to contribute to that, and get my stories written and published. I will work to find ways around sorrow, around rage, to words and to actions. I will put in the work of creating, along with my work of resisting the harm that my government is hell-bent on doing.

So, here on my 45th birthday, I am making a pledge to myself. Self-care is important, resisting is important, but so is the creative work. I have chivvied myself into a mental place where I can again feel story churning like a stormy ocean. I’m going to dive in, and see where it takes me. I’m going to post about it, and about my feelings, and about politics, and do all of this work. I think it will help. I know it will be good for me. So – a post a month, and several chapters a month, and all the story I can pull from the deep. I’m in the middle of my life, and I’m not letting anything stop me from being all the me that I am.

(Title is from a poem in “Commonplace Book of John Grimstone, 1372,” and also the song “Love Me Broughte,” by the Mediaeval Baebes.) (PS it’s me, I won me in the fight.)


I knew when it came, if it came, the authoritarian changes in our government would be quick and vicious. I just didn’t expect that the US slide into complete fascism would be live-tweetable by the hour.

I haven’t blogged in a long time. Partly because I have been busy, and partly because I have been feeling overwhelmed, and partly because now it’s been so long I feel like there isn’t a graceful way back in. Which means that everything I might want to write about feels either not important enough, or too important to lump in with a “hey there long time no see.” But it’s important to speak. So I’m speaking, so to speak. This will be rough, but heartfelt for all of that.

We’re at a dangerous place here in the US. The Trump regime is already ignoring and subverting the law, and we’ve barely started. If you think I am over-reacting, please do some research into other countries who have gone on the Authoritarian Boogaloo ride, and compare and contrast. And also compare and contrast what our laws have been, and should be, and what is happening now. This website has a list of what has been happening since the election – with very good links and breakdowns – and all of the lies and outright lies and subtle and not-at-all subtle changes since we allowed someone who is supported – and being led – by Nazis and the KKK to come into power over us.

The thing is, it feels normal to be lied to by the GOP. It feels like business as usual. They have been lying about climate change, about women’s bodies, about regulations on businesses, about who is profiting from what, about who our enemy is … for what seems like my entire life. We let it get normal. We let them get away with lies because they refuse to stop lying, and then they say their lies are just as good of an opinion as anyone else’s. No. But we let them tell these lies over and over as they said things like “have to look at both sides,” and “what if we’re not lying,” when it has been obvious to anyone who is willing to do the research that they are, and are taking advantage of people’s desire to pretend everything is OK, to pretend to play fair.

And now a more extreme version of those lies has taken over our highest levels of federal government, and has appointed a Nazi to be in charge of national security. Do not think this is hyperbole. Read what Bannon has written, what he’s said. Bannon is a Nazi and is working to make this country a Nazi country. He just doesn’t want to use the term Nazi because Nazis have a branding problem. But everything he says shows he doesn’t care about good government, he only cares about destroying people he dislikes. And he dislikes a lot of people, mostly for just existing as human. He’s not the only horrible person in charge with Trump, but he’s a major one.

All of them, Trump’s staff and those supporting him, are lying to us, daily. About big and small things, like what size the crowd was at the inauguration, like what Trump publicly said ten minutes ago, like what they talk about behind closed doors, and is leaked, but then they deny. They lie because they can, because it’s a strategy to keep everyone off balance, because they want to control all narratives through brute force. They gaslight and they bald-faced lie and too many people nod along, and decide that they can’t be lying, because who would lie about that? Trump. Trump would lie about that. If he will lie about the size of his inauguration for ego, what won’t he lie about? I think everyone knows the answer to that, whether they’ll admit it or not.

I have family members who are black and brown, family members who are immigrants, family members who are at risk from this hateful, fear-mongering government. But even if I did not, I would resist them. I have friends who are afraid of being deported, of being targeted, of being set on by police because of their skin or their beliefs or their personhood. But even if I did not, I would resist this president, and his rolling back of our laws. I would resist his taking our right to affordable healthcare, and our right to worship however we please. Because he is in the wrong. Because he is harming the entire country. Because he will harm people, will get people killed, through incompetence and vicious self-interest. Because all of his appointees are people who will do immense harm to the institution of our government, and the people they’re supposed to help. Because at every moment of every day he has been campaigning, and coming into power, and now in office, he has looked to harm others and aggrandize himself. Because the GOP has been, for the most part, supporting him in these endeavors, so that they can keep power. Because it feels like the building is on fire and large numbers of our congresspersons and senators are still sitting inside the building trying to convince the arsonists to play chess instead. Pro-tip: you can’t play chess with people who are setting the building on fire. They aren’t interested in chess. (I did not come up with this image, but I think it fits.)

So many of the orders Trump is signing are the death-warrants of millions of US citizens. The arsonists do not care.

The elderly and disabled and chronically ill and the poor will die quickly without Medicaid and the ACA. Then will come anyone who tries to change jobs but can’t get insured, and then gets injured or sick. Then if anyone is diagnosed with say, cancer, or anything else that adds up quickly in healthcare costs, they’ll end up getting lifetime caps on their insurance coverage, and they will die because they can’t afford treatment once they reach those caps. And they will reach them, almost immediately. Any premature baby born will reach their lifetime cap before they’re even well enough to go home and start living. And then if they ever get sick again, their family will have to find money for their care and go into massive debt or watch them die.

And that’s just one issue.

The government is defunding national programs in every area of the country, in every area of expertise, which means that thousands are going to be without jobs, and all of us are going to be without protections to make our food and water safe, or research into new cures for illnesses, or regulations to keep random industries from killing us with unsafe machines. I find that the GOP leadership wants us not only to go into the past, say, the 1950s, so they can be openly sexist and racist without repercussions, but that really what they meant is they want to go back to the 1850s. They want to make us owe the factory store, the monopoly barons, and scrabble in the dirt for what little life there is in our lives. They want everyone except the super rich to be unable to protest, unable to fight back, and to work themselves to death to make them more rich.

This isn’t hyperbole or extreme reaction – this is a basic extrapolation of what they are doing right now, this minute. They are making our lives less livable and safe. They are taking away freedoms and protections for every stripe of U.S. citizen, and they are not going to stop with the Black people, the disabled people, the women. Don’t think they aren’t coming for you, too. Unless you are white and rich and cis/het and ablebodied, etc, they are coming for your rights too. Just look at what they’re trying to pass all over the country. Taking away the rights of women, taking away the rights of people to assemble, taking away the rights of people to even see what the government is doing.

There are some who sneer that “You lost, get over it,” but people who say that often fly the Confederate flag, or sometimes the Nazi flag. Which makes that argument ridiculous on many fronts – but here’s the big hint that those people aren’t paying attention: all of us are losing, now. The rights that are taken away from some of us are taken away from all of us, eventually. Every citizen – Trump isn’t going to take care of people who voted for him, not even the bigots. Not unless you’re very rich. Even then, I wouldn’t trust him. He keeps everything for himself.

This government has ignored the rule of law, is ignoring the US Constitution. Not just the right to bear arms, although no one ever did come for your guns, did they? They might now. The right to assemble in the Constitution, too. And it’s not as though this government has any respect for any of the rest of it. They certainly have proved they don’t have any respect for the laws passed by our judiciary.

The current government is coming for everyone’s rights. They’re on their way right now, more quickly than most of us imagined. We imagined months, not days, not weeks. But here we are. And we have to resist. We have to resist because if we don’t, then we were never good people, and we never had a hope of a good country, not once. This country has had some shitty times, and some shitty laws, but we usually could at least say we had hope of being good. That won’t be true for very much longer. We must resist.

I’m not good at resisting. I wasn’t brought up for confrontation, and I don’t have the personality for it. But I will make calls, I will go to protests and sit-ins, I will make cookies and babysit and bring water to people who go to those things, and I will write. It has been very hard to write, as I watch the fascism slime over our country. But I will write. I will do what I can when I can, and I will not let this country be taken over by Nazis without a goddamn fight. I will resist, because I must resist to still be able to live with myself. We are under siege, and we must resist.

She’s walking on fire….

(Trigger warning for discussion of abuse/rape culture)

I’ve been neglecting writing essays and posts for awhile now, partly due to being busy, and partly because writing isn’t coming easy right now, and I let the non-urgent things slide. But there’s a lot being flung around at the moment about consent and lack thereof, and I find I have something I need to express.

Not that I’ve been silent about the current GOP nominee for president in other social media spaces – DT’s racism, anti-Semitism, ableism, misogyny, etc have not been lost on me, and I’ve been speaking up where and when I’m able. Mostly to pass on the thoughts and essays of other people – elevate and amplify where you can, right? But I don’t think anyone who knows me is unaware of my opinions. He is a garbage person, a white nationalist, and a sociopathic liar.

Since more and more information is coming to us about his harassment and sexual assault of women throughout his life, there has been a larger outcry. I know there are specific reasons behind why now the outcry, and not all of his earlier offences – which have to do with racism and other bigotry, and the fact that a specific subset of religious people think he has now attacked women who belong to them. Which is another problem. But with all of the women and various genderfluid people speaking about assault and consent and their experiences, there appears (again) to be a common thread. It’s that we as a larger society teach men, especially white men, that they get to touch whomever they want, whenever they want. And women are always fair game.

It’s becoming more visible in the past few days, now that DT has said “it’s just talk,”, even though it isn’t just talk. Obviously it’s not – there are reports of teenage boys harassing girls in school with his words, women grabbed by their genitals as they stand on public transportation, the grabber saying “Trump 2016!” and laughing about it, saying “when Trump wins we’re going to force you to….” These types of acts are not new, but the glee in a presidential candidate who embodies this kind of abuse is. This is the kind of abuse that his supporters have been heaping on immigrants, anyone who isn’t white, and/or who isn’t Christian, etc, all along.

We have a large subset of people who think they own everyone else. They think they get to touch people without asking for consent. They believe consent is implied by our leaving the house. Consent is implied by being in public. Consent is implied by existence. These abusers think they have the right to your body. They think they have the right to any body, specifically women’s bodies. They escalate, get angry if they are ignored, or confronted, or rejected, or anything. It doesn’t matter how they are reacted to. They are already angry. They want to dominate someone, and they think women are theirs for dominating. You never know which one will be that man. Every unknown man – and even some known – is always Schrödinger’s abuser: if you engage in any fashion, there’s a high chance he could attack in some way.

I’ve been grabbed, mauled, patted, pinched, groped, poked, smacked, goosed; in public, at parties, on the street, by strangers and acquaintances and friends. I’ve had gay men tell me it’s OK they slapped my ass because they’re gay, so it doesn’t matter. I’ve had friends laugh when I was outraged at being grabbed and goosed. I’ve had men who touched me inappropriately apologize to my boyfriend, but not me, as though being in a relationship implies that I am owned by a man, and I didn’t get any say either way. I’ve been assaulted in front of people I thought were friends, or at least friendly, and they all just laughed while I screamed and tried to get away. Like it was a joke. Like watching someone throw a woman down and hump her against her will is hilarious. I’ve had complete strangers grab my breast as I was walking down the street. I’ve had a constant flow of verbal street harassment follow me as I walk to and from work, or lunch, or the movies, or anywhere.

I’m a woman; I exist here and now. Of course these things have happened to me. We expect, we allow, we pretty much guarantee these things will happen to a woman in this society. And we look the other way. We shrug. “Whaddaya gonna do? Can’t change men – men are just like that.” How insulting to men. Why are men just like that? Because our culture teaches them they’re supposed to be. We teach them it’s OK, it’s how they’re supposed to act, no one will really stop them or retaliate.

Am I outraged that DT boasted about sexually assaulting women?

Of course I am. Am I surprised?

No. No I am not. He has shown us who he is over and over – a predator, an abuser, a sociopath, someone who doesn’t care for anyone but himself.

There are those who will react to this kind of post with “Not all men!” But is that true? We’re told “not all men,” and then with this recent revelation the words change to “all men say those things!” You can’t have it both ways, my friends. I believe that it is not all men. But it is too many men, and it is all women that it happens to, and it is all of us allowing it.

Our culture sets up situations for predators to flourish, and throws out useless excuses for that allowance. We pretend it’s not that bad, that it only happens in specific situations. We’re not complicit; we didn’t know they meant it. It’s just words, and words, as we all know, have no meaning.

And actions have even less meaning than that, am I right? Boys will be predators, and girls just have to be victims, and everyone not identifying directly as either might as well not exist, or exist only as further victims. Despite constant overwhelming evidence that our society’s expectations of masculinity and femininity are toxic and harmful, despite evidence that terrible things happen when we don’t teach what consent is or means, our country, our world, likes to blame the end state, the person harmed, instead of fixing anything before that.

Even worse, we’re not believed. We don’t believe others. To even begin to be believed, we have to crack open our lives and insides like eggs and stir the damaged and bruised yolk out for everyone to pick over – here is where I was hurt, here is where I asked for help and didn’t get it, here is where no one believed me. And media, our friends, our families want to just wipe up the mess and pretend it wasn’t that bad, that we had it coming somehow, if only we had done something different. But there is nothing else we could have done; we didn’t have it coming. No one has it coming. And it is that bad. It is always that bad. For all of us, over and over. So many people, so much pain, so much trauma, and yet our collective first instinct is to blame the person hurt, and not the person doing the hurting.

And it’s so much worse for people who aren’t white, who aren’t straight, who aren’t able-bodied, who aren’t cis-gendered, who don’t fit into our narrow precepts of who is “normal.” We blame them so much more, and we let specifically white men off the hook so much more quickly. There are many varied reasons why, but the biggest reason is white nationalism, and patriarchy. (I won’t go into evangelicalism and what that means in conjunction with white nationalism and patriarchy, but you can read Julie McGalliard’s words about that here. She is smart, and has personal experience, and you should read it.) We have a broken system in so many ways, and they all feed into one another: the racism and the sexism and the homophobia and all of the bigotries. We’ve broken it further by pretending those things aren’t there and that they don’t interact. And we let the broken bits cut into everyone and tell them it’s their fault.

So – let’s start fixing it. Don’t touch people without their consent, as a basic beginning. Don’t let other people get away with touching people without their consent. If you know someone is handsy, step up and say something to them – don’t let your problematic friends off the hook. Don’t harass people, and don’t let others harass people either. Help out people who are being targeted.

I don’t care if you’re a gay man; you don’t get to touch my butt. I don’t care if you just wanted to grab onto someone, I am not someone you get to grab. If I don’t like hugs, don’t hug me. If I do like hugs, and you do too, and we both want to hug one another, great! But my hugging one person is not blanket consent to be hugged by anyone else.

My reading racy romance novels is not blanket consent to have my personal space violated or to be touched whenever by anyone at all. My consent is not blanket at any time, and neither is yours. Nor is anyone’s.

Never assume consent: always ask.

Intoxication does not indicate consent – in fact, intoxication generally means consent isn’t possible. My clothes, no matter what they are, do not constitute consent, my leaving my house does not constitute consent, my existing on this planet does not constitute consent.

Neither does yours. No one gets to touch you without your say so. No one gets to abuse you, no one gets to hurt you. And we should all step up and make sure that is a lesson that we all teach, and that we all learn. Teach your sons not to touch without asking for, and receiving consent. Teach your daughters that it’s OK to have boundaries – you can say yes, or you can say no, but no one gets to bypass anyone’s choice. Teach everyone to recognize and enforce boundaries.

Because if we don’t, if we just let all of this continue, rape culture flourishes, and predators will continue to get away with whatever they want, with little to no consequence.

Just like they do right now. And that is intolerable.

Title is from Alicia Keys “Girl on Fire.”