Songs for the Struggling Artist


How We Can Win

I’m in a café. It is quiet. Scattered around the room are people studying, working, reading, silently doing their thing. Then suddenly, out of the silence, a man’s voice booms. He is making a phone call. It is a Very Important Business Phone Call that features price points and million dollar offers. It is insufferable.

And all around the room, the rest of us are looking up from our tables, looking at one another, catching one another’s eyes and laughing. There were even some exclamations from around the room. Someone proclaimed it to be like a sketch from Saturday Night Live.

And Mr. Businessman, Mr. Old White Moneybags Businessman kept going – completely oblivious to the room around him. A room full of people laughed at him together and were absolutely united in our mutual disbelief in his inconsiderateness. He never wavered. Meanwhile – if we’d wanted to, we could have organized and overthrown his loudmouth self.

The crowd was made up of mostly women, one man of color and a teenage boy and we were all able to quietly connect to one another with ease, with just looks and laughter and not one of us was ever noticed by the buffoon on the phone. And I thought – “Oh. We’re not people to him. He thinks he can make his business deals in the middle of a crowded café because none of us matter to him. He even mentioned to whomever was on the other end of that call that something he’d just said was confidential. And he’d literally just shouted it in a crowded café. But he didn’t worry about us in any way – because to the wealthy old white man – a bunch of women, a man of color and a kid just don’t exist.”

And it occurred to me that this sense of invisibility is something we could use to our advantage in the right circumstances. We could, in fact, organize ourselves right under the power brokers’ noses and they wouldn’t notice until we were throwing them into the moat.

It reminds me of that tweet that’s been going around. (“ladies: What’s your makeup routine? i’m looking for a new foundation, preferably liquid but still matte and now that the men have stopped reading we riot at midnight”)

While I find this hilarious, I also think that, since the tweet was by a woman, probably men weren’t even reading in the first place. I mean, seriously, we could pick a date and riot at midnight and plan the whole thing in plain sight, without even having to veil it in make-up tips.

I think I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to be seen – but this experience in the café made me think about the power of being invisible. And maybe, just maybe, I’m feeling a little ready for a serious upending of things. I’m enjoying listening to The Coup’s “The Guillotine” a LITTLE more than I should perhaps. (“They own the judges and we got the proof” and “We got the guillotine/You better run.”)

But, shhh, don’t tell the guy on the phone. Then again, if we did get the guillotine, he would not see it coming.

This blog is also a podcast. You can find it on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

If you’d like to listen to me read the previous one on Anchor, click here.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are now an album of Resistance Songs, an album of Love Songs, an album of Gen X Songs and More. You can find them on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

*

Want to help me imagine the revolution?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

*

Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

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One Woman’s Dystopia Is Another Man’s Utopia, I guess.

The day that Frat Boy McRapeFace was confirmed to the Supreme Court, when my dining companion asked me what I wanted to eat, I said Senator Grassley’s heart. Not that I’m 100% sure Grassley has one, but assuming there’s at least a little dried up something there, I would like to take a big bite of it then spit it out on the Senate floor.

I’m a little bit upset, I guess you could say. Earlier in the day, I watched the police mobilize and prepare to arrest the women who were protesting on the steps of the capital on the Women’s March livestream. I watched the police line up. I watched them strategize. The troops were mostly men in uniform with their zip tie cuffs – the protestors were mostly women, fully prepared to put their bodies between a rapist and the supreme court seat.

It was a stark illustration of who has authority and who does not. All day and all evening I tried not to sink into despair about the continuing kleptocracy in our country. It feels better to rage than to despair – but despair is close the surface. Living with corruption in every corner of the federal government is taking a bigger toll than I ever imagined.

Anyway – it was already hard. Then that night, at 1 am, these guys somewhere outside who had been indiscriminately yelling for a while started chanting some racist stuff. They chanted: (“F— you, Obama. F— you, Obama. F— you, n—-s.”) I was shocked. And terrified. I mean – I was safe in my apartment, of course. They were out there and I was inside and they weren’t coming for me. But groups of men engaged in hate like that are terrifying for a lot of us – even from a distance.

I felt like I’d stumbled into some horrific dystopian novel that I absolutely did not choose. I mean, I moved to NYC in 1999 and I have never heard anything like that anywhere before. I have heard people shout all kinds of hateful things at each other but never like that. And it felt like the events of the day had unleashed this horrific behavior that had somehow lain dormant, even these last couple of years. It was the final release valve, I guess. I went from fierce dragon to terrified maiden in a minute – not because I thought this pack of douchebags would come for me – but because so many of them have just been empowered – with no obvious check on their behavior. I later learned that that same weekend, hateful anti-immigrant posters had gone up all over Sunnyside, Queens. Were the perpetrators celebrating their racist postering back in my neighborhood? Was that their victory party? Or was that an entirely different group of racist douchebags? Then, too, similar propaganda popped up at liberal arts colleges, where, like in Queens, they are decidedly unwelcome. It all feels of a piece. The final release valve of douchebaggery has been let go. They can take their misdeeds all the way to the Supreme Court apparently.

Roving packs of douchebags have always run rough shod over America but any sense of consequence on their behavior has just been removed. That is why I cried my face off when I heard them across the courtyard.

But if they have been released, they have also been revealed. We know where those racists live. The GOP can no longer pretend to care about women. They can no longer get away with their Benevolent Sexist Protectionist bullshit. They have revealed their cards and they have hands full of bluffs. It is clear that the America they dream of is one where we let the white men do all the shouting and governing, where they can rape and rob with impunity, where consequences only exist for the rest of us. They remain the kings. The rest of us are only here to serve.

As I watched this vision of the future dystopia emerge, I wondered if this is really what they want. Is this the Republican dream? Maybe it is. Maybe white supremacists shouting in the middle of the night is utopia for them. Maybe a depleted environment full of polluted rivers and flattened mountain tops is their fantasy. Maybe all the dystopian stories we read, they see as utopias. The Hunger Games? A story of a pain-in-the-ass girl who disrupts a perfectly balanced authoritarian state. The Handmaid’s Tale? A manual for how to create and maintain a religious autocracy – disrupted by a woman who just won’t obey.

Their dream of America is my nightmare. In their dream, women lose all bodily autonomy, immigrants lose their children and only old rich white men have power and resources. Prior to the last couple of years, I would have thought that the holocaust was a universally dystopian time. But even that horrific hellscape was and is utopian for some.

And very probably my utopian dream for America would be a nightmare to them. In mine, women finally gain equality and have total ownership of their own bodies. Women are believed and respected. There is wage equality, racial equality, economic justice. In my America, people come together from all over the world and are welcomed. Trans people and people with disabilities are especially honored and cherished. We delight in diversity and put our resources in things like the arts and education. In my utopian America, we care for each other. We look out for the most vulnerable. We prioritize caring for the natural world.I know it won’t be easy to get there – especially now – but it does feel important to hold on to a kinder vision of the world I want to live in.

Kavanagh’s confirmation may have signaled to everyone, white supremacists and douchebags included, that we’re headed to that dystopian future. But maybe just, just maybe we can pull it back – to hold tight to a sense of possibility even as the racists and sexists emerge from under their rocks with celebratory screaming.

The thing of it is, a week later, I have figured out what I ought to have done. Instead of trembling and not sleeping for hours, I could have sung into the night. I had gotten all caught up in trying to come up with a scary sound – a dragon roar, a wolf growl – but my voice can be just as loud as the douchebags – particularly when I am singing. I’m sure my neighbors hear me singing all the time (though I try to pretend they don’t) and I know that in the same way that I know there’s an opera singer in an apartment nearby. I know she can be louder than those racist douchebags. What I’m trying to work out now is what exactly to sing in these dystopian situations. It feels key to sing something, if not for myself, then for all the people in my neighborhood who are more vulnerable to attack.

My first thought was to make up a song – something to call to my fellow women outside, something they could join me in singing. I found myself inventing a little ditty called “Ladies, Don’t Fuck a Racist.” However, I realized as I walked past my neighbor’s door, that there were quite a few young children in the buildings near us and maybe this wouldn’t be the best way to support them, even if it might feel vaguely cathartic.

But what is the answer? How to drown out the voices of racist douchebags with the voices of women and their allies? How can we make the racists know we hear them and do not approve and empower our targeted neighbors? What song invites joining in to defeat the forces of hate? I feel like I want a plan in place, in case we really are in a dystopia and this keeps happening. I want a song ready to go so I can skip the maiden trembling and the visions of dystopia and go straight to raising my voice.

This blog is also a podcast. You can find it on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

If you’d like to listen to me read the previous one on Anchor, click here.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are now an album of Resistance Songs, an album of Love Songs, an album of Gen X Songs and More. You can find them on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

*

Want to help me raise my voice against the rising dystopia?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

*

Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist



Maybe It’s Something. Maybe It’s Nothing. Or, Much Ado About a Black Square

Last Saturday, women began to message one another about a social media blackout “tomorrow.” The message included a little black square to use as a profile picture. This was the message:

“Tomorrow, female blackout from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Its a movement to show what the world might be like without women. Your profile photo should just be a black square so that men wonder where the women are. Pass it only to women … It’s for a project against domestic abuse. It is no joke. Share it.”

 

I was instantly suspicious. First, because of the timing. In the middle of a profound protest movement developing among women, at the apex of women’s rage, suddenly we are being asked to go dark on social media all day? To disappear? Just stop the outpouring of rage and movement building so men will “wonder where the women are”?

 

Huh?

 

My first red flag was: No one EVER notices an absence on Facebook. How many times have you seen someone pop up with a status that says something like, “I’m back! It’s been a crazy year! What did I miss? Did you miss me?” Um…nope. Hadn’t noticed that you were gone, to be honest. Not because I don’t care about you, Mr. Example Person, but because the algorithms that Facebook uses mean that I don’t see all KINDS of people all the time, whether they are there or not. So – strategically, this plan seemed dumb and self defeating.

Next: It wasn’t connected to any particular idea – not A Day Without a Woman or A Day Without Immigrants. It was not connected to any organization nor to any movement.

And that’s not even getting into the problematic use of the word “female” here.

I began to investigate because something about it smelled super fishy. From the vague “project” to the phrasing of the message, to the fact that it was unsponsored, to the strange air of secrecy around it, something just didn’t seem right.

 

I copied the message and googled it. Turns out, this exact same wording has been used multiple times before in the last few years. I couldn’t find any debunking or source of it – but its strange repetition was enough to confirm for me that I would not be joining the black out, no matter who told me to.

 

I decided to post my decision and my research because someone had asked me what I thought about it and I figured others were also likely in a quandary. My quick post about this was shared about as widely as one of my most popular blogs. I was not expecting that. And having suddenly been put into a position of authority on this topic by virtue of a couple of google searches, I felt obliged to think about it even further. I saw a lot of comments about it on my post that others shared and those of others as well.

 

One thing that stuck out to me was the notion that the message was received from a trusted source. This meant, I came to realize, that they got it from a friend they trusted. And those friends got it from friends THEY trusted. It came in our messages, not on our walls. The messages are where the real friends are, where there are no advertisements, even. (Yet.)

 

It occurred to me that this notion of receiving something from a trusted source is something that someone who wanted to spread mis-information on social media might exploit. People spread that pizzagate nonsense because they got it from a trusted source. That is, their friend. Everyone assumes the person before them vetted the thing. I have been guilty of it as well. I don’t have time to be vetting everything I see on the internet! But I do TRY to vet everything I POST on the internet. That’s why, even though I received the invite from my most trusted source, I still investigated it. Have I done this every time? No, I haven’t. But this experience with the black square will make me a lot more vigilant.

 

But – if it’s something as easy as changing a profile photo and taking a little break from posting things, what’s the harm? We could all use a little social media fast, couldn’t we?

 

That’s the other comment I saw going through. Something along the lines of: “What the big deal? So what if it’s politically motivated? Or another Russian manipulation of Facebook? It’s just a profile pic. I won’t go silent, as suggested, now that I’ve seen people upset about that idea. But just posting a black square won’t do any harm!”

And maybe it was all totally harmless. Probably it’s just a harmless little meme in support of “domestic abuse.” Probably. Or it could just be some random meme that cycles through occasionally. Forbes says it was spam, basically. Big deal. What harm is done?

 

Now – I don’t know. I’m just a struggling artist. I’m not a cyber terrorism expert. But I do have an imagination and pay attention to just enough tech news to know that few of us are as savvy about the way we’re technologically vulnerable as we should be. I can imagine a scenario wherein bad actors* try out a “harmless” support meme that targets large groups of women at a time. Given that the Resistance is something like 85% female, someone figuring out how to throw women into silence or disarray could be an important goal.

 

I heard a lot of women say that their “trusted source” had been a prominent, active women’s advocate. That is, I suspect, the top line of the Resistance, the especially active, the organizers, the leaders. It is not a stretch to imagine that bad actors* from several angles would be interested in manipulating large groups of women on Facebook – the place where large groups of women center their social movements. It also makes sense to me that those same bad actors* would know who to target at the top of the pile to make the thing travel as quickly as it did. I mean, have you ever tried to get thousands of people to do something? Millions of people? Or even just, like, dozens? I am chilled by the fact that in the space of a day – someone could orchestrate an event for the NEXT DAY. That is extraordinary.

 

I don’t want to be an alarmist on this point, it probably is harmless. It’s probably just spam, as Forbes reported. But I do think we have to learn to be a little warier.

What’s amazing about the message is how it exploits two major triggers for women. It speaks to our desire to help other women and to be finally appreciated, or even just acknowledged, by men.

 

It reminds me of a workshop I took in self defense. We had to learn how to say “No” really loudly. We role-played so we could practice saying no in real life scenarios. The man in the role of the attacker was so skilled, though. He knew how to manipulate each person so well that even when we knew we were supposed to say “No” it was still incredibly challenging. With me, I remember he tried to get me to help with his kids who were in trouble outside. Oh, I wanted to help. But I eventually found the strength to say No and then later learned how to say No while kicking him in the balls and poking him in eyes. (He had a protective suit on, don’t worry.)

 

Anyway, I’m not writing this to shame anyone for posting a black square or going dark. Your intentions were sweet and good. You wanted to help. You were like me hearing that there were kids in trouble out in the car! And I’m not even saying you SHOULD have said “No!” to this and punched it in the balls or poked it in the eyes. I’m just suddenly keenly aware that to really look out for each other, sometimes we need to investigate for each other. We need to have each others backs by being willing to be skeptical sometimes, by being willing to change our minds. One of the things that I watched happen over the course of this black square day was a kind of digging in of heels. I saw women fiercely defend a thing they’d only heard of hours before. It was as if, in having made the choice, they took any skepticism about it as a personal affront. There were some serious rifts happening between women and communities over something as seemingly minor as a profile pic. (I mean, wouldn’t this be exactly what you wanted if you were trying to disrupt a democracy via Facebook?)

 

This particular post may not have been nefarious. Maybe it wasn’t an attempt to distract furious American women and cause dissension among them. Maybe that photo they sent to everyone wasn’t encoded with some sort of virus or malware. Maybe it wasn’t practice for future nefarious plans. Maybe it was just nothing. No big deal.

 

But. The thing is. If it WAS an attempt at cyber manipulation (and we know this is a real thing that happens on Facebook in particular,) it was targeting women specifically. And, I fear that by talking about this to you, by making you aware of this possibility, I may have made myself a future target. So I’m gonna need you all to watch my back and if you see me heading outside with some guy I’m supposed to say no to, I’m gonna need you to shout “No!” really loudly and kick him in the balls. You know, in a digital sense. Thanks in advance.

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*Note: I’m using “bad actors” in the sense that the tech industry uses the term, that is, people with bad intentions. Of course, if you’re like me, you just picture bad actors, like, saying lines in a wooden fashion and being totally awkward in their bodies on stage – but in tech. That’s not what it is though. It’s bad guys. Evil doers. Tech villains.

This blog is also a podcast. You can find it on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

If you’d like to listen to me read the previous one on Anchor, click here.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are now an album of Resistance Songs, an album of Love Songs, an album of Gen X Songs and More. You can find them on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

*

Like the blog? Want to help me keep doing it?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

*

Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

 



I Am Also Part Witch

Since I became a dragon, I have found myself on the streets of my city, eyeing possible prey. Becoming a hunter after a lifetime of being prey feels amazing. I know I can eat anyone I like and the power is intoxicating.

Then, while watching a long conversation between two men in a play about how hard it was to be rejected by an incandescently beautiful woman, I discovered my ability to make people spontaneously combust. I opened my hand and a bubble of flame surrounded the man in the middle of a long speech. That show got a lot more interesting then.

The advantage of this power is that no one knows it’s me. When I breathe fire from my dragon self, it is a big production and the source is obvious. When I use my witchy combustion powers, I can be completely incognito.

Everywhere I go, I have been turning men into balls of flame. I’m angry. I can’t help it. I have to do something. My dragon self requires fear to feed itself and no one is afraid of me yet. They are not afraid of women at all. Some say they are – but I don’t believe it. So until I get the respect I deserve, I am combusting men on the street. I look at each one I pass. “Is he combustible?” The decent ones don’t have whatever chemical make-up that allows my magic to work – so I don’t know if every flame will light. Most of them do, though – because I have a lifetime of training in identifying which men will be trouble.

Generally, if he’s with a woman, he’s safe. (Men – if you’re worried and I hope you are – you might want to get a woman to walk you from place to place, for your protection.)

If he has a nice smile, I let him pass, uncombusted.
But if he has Resting Douchebag Face, it’s over pretty quickly.

I’ve scorched every white man in a fancy suit I’ve seen so far. I’m not saying every be-suited man is combustible but I haven’t been wrong yet.

Because I’m a white lady, I usually let men of color off the hook. I figure I should let a witch/dragon of color make that call. Unless I see them harassing a woman, in which case, they’re toast.

Men pushing baby carriages or walking with their young children are safe.

I notice an impulse to spare feeble old men who may be somebody’s grandfather but then I remember that Senator Grassley is a grandfather and I torch ‘em. Sorry Grandfathers – those dudes in the Senate are ruining it for the rest of you. Maybe bring along a woman or a grandchild if you want to remain uncombusted.

Maybe a campaign will arise to defend them. “He’s Somebody’s Grandpa! He’s Somebody’s son! He’s Somebody’s husband!”

I don’t care so much. If he looks combustible, he’s asking for it and I will combust him.

Men might be tempted to travel in groups the way women do. They might think a strategy for safety that women have employed for ages will work for men. They’d be wrong. Men in groups have historically been quite dangerous for women. There’s nothing I would enjoy more than combusting a whole party of hedge fund managers at once.

But, my fellow women and aspiring witch/dragons, what can you do if you don’t have magical powers like I do?

I mean, you could just pretend. It feels almost as good and can make you feel powerful as you eye your prey on the street. That’s definitely not what I’m doing, though. Not at all. I’m a real dragon witch.

I have a friend who is practicing her growl. And I think hissing might be fun, too. One friend suggested acting like a Shakespeare heroine in a mad scene. You could just go full Lady Macbeth. “Will these hands ne’er be clean?” “Here is the smell of the blood still.” “One. Two. Why then ’tis time to do it!” I might try this myself, just for fun. You know, before I combust him.

Do you have ideas for how to instill fear in the predators around you without the benefit of magical powers?

Share them here.

And I’m sorry in advance if I combust your grandfather.

 

This blog is also a podcast. You can find it on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

If you’d like to listen to me this post on Anchor, click here.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are now an album of Resistance Songs, an album of Love Songs, an album of Gen X Songs and More. You can find them on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

*

Dragons need support. Also witches.

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

*

Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

 



I Am a Dragon Now. The Fear of Men Is My Food.

I am nice. I am so nice. My whole life I have been told I am nice. When I received criticism, it was that I was too nice. And not just once either. Over and over and over again. “You’re too nice!” they’d say.

But that’s over. It’s over. I am a dragon now. Tell me I’m too nice again.

*
It didn’t have to be this way. The arc of the universe could have bent toward justice a little sooner and I would have remained as I was. I could have stayed that person who wrote sweet plays that mostly worked out in the end – you know the kind, the ones where smart women hook up with slightly dorky temporarily clueless men and everyone’s happy. You could have had more of those plays. You could have had love songs and dream novels and light sparkling in the trees. I would have happily smiled my way through the rest of my life. I would have looked past a lot of bad behavior to have a seat at the table. But you didn’t give me a seat at the table so I brought a folding chair, as the great Shirley Chisholm advised. But now I am a dragon and every chair and the table will be burnt to the ground.

Yesterday a man sat at my table when there was plenty of other space at the café. He could not tell I was a dragon. He chewed his ice loudly and ostentatiously, oblivious of the fire and fury so close to him. He was not afraid. I was hungry. So I ate him.

Going up the subway stairs, I was behind a man. I was in his blind spot. He did not see me. But he could feel my wrath. He was afraid. I ate his fear and it nourished me so I let him live so he could feed me again.

Across the internet, men are terrified. If white men endowed with every privilege can be accused of sexual assault, then who’s to say you are not next? “Who is safe anymore?” they say. Who is safe? Not you. I want you afraid. All those years of fearing violence, particularly sexual violence, have given me a hunter’s instinct. I can spot a predator from very far away and I am coming for your fear.

Yes, you’re right. Being accused of sexual assault is, of course, just as bad as experiencing it. Worse, even! Yes. Be afraid. You are not safe. Not from me, certainly. I ate an ice chewer whole. What do you think I’ll do to you? I don’t care. I’m a dragon now. The thousands of years of women’s fear of men are stoking my craving for destruction, for the terror on the other foot.

I am all rage. All fire. All destruction. It did not have to be thus. But this week of patriarchal entitlement paroxysms and the reenactment of the trauma of innumerable women has made me a dragon. Now might be a good time to finally enact some of that gun legislation you’ve been so loathe to get going on – because my dragon self is keen on getting her hands on the tools of war, on the tools of men’s rage. If you do not fear me yet – perhaps you will fear your own death machines. The dragon will lap up the flop sweat and your terror.

But #NotAllMen, right? Wrong.

Yes. Yes. ALL MEN. Is that what you’re afraid of? That we mean all men when we talk about these things? That I mean all men now? Is that your big fear? Then, yes. ALL MEN. All of them. Especially if you are asking this dumb ass question. Then yes. I mean you. I am coming for you. Your fear of “all men” is especially tasty. Yes. ALL MEN, then.

Do you want to be saved from my path of destruction through ALL MEN? Do you want to be an exception? Try smiling more.

I will be inclined to exempt those that love me and be merciful to those that please me. Try laughing at my jokes. All of them. I am hilarious. I am a genius. Don’t you think so? Oh, women aren’t funny? That’s funny. And now you’re my lunch.

I will pardon those who understand. Try listening. Those who have heard me – even before I was a dragon will escape my wrath. They will be treasured in my castle along with the rest of my dragon horde.

My fury has become indiscriminate but I can be placated. I can be soothed. But I cannot be reasoned with. Explaining why I should not turn you to dust will not save you.

If you need some survival tools for adapting to a world full of indiscriminate rage, ask your grandmother. Or any woman who has soothed angry men around her all her life. I think those same tricks might work on me. Maybe. That doesn’t mean you should not be afraid. My fire is sudden. It is fierce. And I do not look like a dragon. I look like a nice friendly lady who won’t cause any trouble.

But I will. Oh, I will. You should be afraid of every single one of us now. We are coming for you. And your fear is delicious.

If you’d like to read my follow up to this post, you can just click through to: I Am Also Part Witch

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And as this post travels around the world, I am delighted to report that I have heard of the changing of many a social media profile pic to dragons. If you feel so inclined, please share your dragon developments and inspirations with me!

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Songs for the Struggling Artist is also a podcast. You can find it on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

If you’d like to listen to me read this on Anchor, click here.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are now an album of Resistance Songs, an album of Love Songs, an album of Gen X Songs and More. You can find them on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

*

Even dragons need support.

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

*

Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

 



This Post Is One Big Trigger Warning

If you’re a woman, you’re probably totally triggered right now and I hope you’re taking care of yourself and not actually reading anything on the internet. Including this.
TW: All of it.

Anyway – here we go.
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I thought I was younger. But when I looked up the dates of Anita Hill’s tribulations in the Senate, I discovered I was not the young teen I thought I’d been – but 18 and in college. I thought I was younger because of how much those hearings impacted me. I thought I was only just learning about the bizarre sexual politics of the adult world – but I guess I’d already gotten an inkling.

I’m thinking a lot about my teen self and how she experienced Anita Hill’s experience for reasons that are probably obvious, given what’s going on in the Senate now. Those who are teens now are much savvier than we were and are already full participants in the digital world. Emma Thatcher’s tweet is incredibly self aware.

While the content is different, this response reminds me of my experience of the Hill Hearings. In that case, the picture the hearings painted of the working world ahead of me did not make me relish the prospect of growing up into it.

As Katie Anthony said in her blog post This Is What Triggered Looks Like – I’m also triggered. I have been trying not to be – trying to pretend that none of this has anything to do with me. But in fact, I am triggered, triggered, fucking triggered by all the rape apologists coming out of the woodwork.

The subtext of much of what I hear coming out of the GOP defenders amounts to, “Who among us hasn’t raped someone? Or at least tried? Who among us hasn’t covered the mouth of someone to stifle their screams?” There are GOP women saying this sort of thing is completely normal and happens all the time and there’s nothing to see here.

Someone call some more hearings, I think we have a whole lot of cold rape cases to prosecute.

But why am I triggered? No one ever did anything so horrible to me as what happened to Dr. Ford. I am lucky. I am so lucky.

And I suppose that’s what’s triggering me. I have some intense survivor’s guilt.
I was always a hair’s breadth away from such an event.

There’s been a lot of talk of “This was the 80s. It was different back then.” And sure, I suppose it was. And realizing retroactively how many rapes I dodged is part of what’s freaking me out about all this. It’s also making me furious.

I mean – I’m finally getting some perspective on the teen sexuality of the 80s and early 90s and have realized that it was a goddamn war zone. Rape and sexual assault bullets were just whizzing past me and I just happened to have never caught more than a light grazing. Meanwhile, so many of my peers ended up with bullets lodged deep and scars that will never heal.

I mean, sure, I knew at the time, that boys were encouraged to try push past girls’ boundaries and it was up to girls to figure out how to avoid getting raped. But I think we all recognize how Dr. Ford’s experience goes the extra awful mile. At least all the women do. Yes. If you were a girl who wanted to make out with boys in the 80s, you probably got really good at moving hands away from places you didn’t want them, at pushing boys away, at saying “stop,” at saying “No.”

All the rapes I missed so narrowly are coming forward in the current climate. What’s cycling through my brain and body are all the times I had to raise my voice, push harder, shout, get out of the car, call a taxi or walk swiftly away.

If only one of those boys had turned up the music or covered my mouth or decided he enjoyed a fight, I’d have not been so lucky. It would have only taken one.

What I find myself turning over is how I experienced sexuality entirely on the defensive as a young women. Every time I went on a date, I was fully prepared to defend myself against rape and I fully expected to have to. Every time.

Where was the joy in sexual intimacy? I had no idea such a thing was even possible then. There was no opportunity for pleasurable exploration. There was no hope for shared experience in that paradigm. Boys tried to get some and it was up to girls to stop it. That’s just boys will be boys stuff.

Like most of the women I know, these proceedings of the last week or so, have made me furious in ways I thought I’d figured out how to manage these last couple of years. I was mad about Kavanagh’s nomination before this parade of rape apologists began. Now I have become a mass of stones just ready to smash anything before me. I am stone piled on stone and I want to smash things to dust.

After discussing my rage with my therapist, I told her she’d done a public service by seeing me as I was now a lot less likely to murder random men on the street for no reason at all. Before I got some mental health care, I was ready to go full Dietland on any unknown man I saw, extra points for total destruction if he was in a fancy suit.

Luckily, I did get some mental health care (and I am, in reality, not interested in violence) but not every one is so lucky and I’m going to guess that a lot of women have recently developed murderous impulses that they never imagined before.

The rage is real. It is powerful. It reaches backward and forward in time.

I am furious for the current moment and for what happened to Dr. Ford and all the other victims in the past and what’s happening to them now.

I’m furious about the rape culture of the past that is so much worse than I realized. I’m someone who knew the stats that 1 in 3 women would be raped in her lifetime even back in the 80s but somehow didn’t put it together until I saw Adrienne Truscott’s amazing show that that ALSO meant 1 in 3 men were probably rapists. (#NotAllMen – just 33% of them.)

I’m furious about that for the past and for the present moment.

I’m furious about the teenagers getting these messages now and furious about the messages I got when I was a teenager.

I’m furious about the cupcakes that Kavanagh’s wife handed out to the press.

I’m furious that #WhyIDidntReport is necessary and furious that so many women feel like they have to disclose some of the most painful moments of their lives in order to save the country.

I’m furious that I can’t really bear to read the writing of some of my favorite women writers right now because we are all furious at once and I have to regulate how much rage I can be exposed to each day so as not to accidentally self-immolate.

I’m furious that I am here writing about sexual assault again even though I don’t want to write about sexual assault but I have to because I will be furious either way and it’s better to get this out of me than allow it to fester.

I’m furious about what the future will hold if this doesn’t change now. I’m just fucking furious and furious that I have to be furious some more. I do not know when this fury will end. And that makes me furious.

Me at the National Walk Out #BelieveSurvivors

This blog is also a podcast. You can find it on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. I’m working on Dionne Ferris’ “Don’t Ever Touch Me Again” for this episode.

If you’d like to listen to me read a previous blog on Anchor, click here.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are now an album of Resistance Songs, an album of Love Songs, an album of Gen X Songs and More. You can find them on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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Want to help me own my own expertise?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

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Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

 



Owning Our Expertise: One Way Zephyr Teachout Is Inspiring Me

There are dozens of reasons I want Zephyr Teachout to be the next Attorney General of New York (see her endorsements in the New York Times or New York Daily News for some of those reasons.) I have admired her for years and am thrilled to be able to vote for her for a job she is so right for. I’ve never been very interested in political mechanics but I canvased for the first time ever to help get her elected. She could be running against all the great fictional lawyers of all time combined into one person and I’d still be zealously in support of Teachout’s campaign. (Vote on Thursday if you live in New York state!)

But aside from things like refusing to take corporate donations and campaigning while pregnant, one thing I keep being impressed by, every time I hear her speak, is how she talks about her expertise. She specializes in corruption law. She wrote a book about corruption in America. She teaches the subject at a law school. She is legitimately an expert in the field. And she does not hesitate to claim it. I can’t tell you what a thrill it is for me to hear a woman say “I am an expert in…” without the slightest hint of apology or hesitation. To hear a woman, who is about my age, declare her proficiency and prowess inspires me tremendously. Every time I hear her say, “This is my area of expertise –“ I get a little shock. I am also impressed by how often she says it and I get that little shock every time.

I recognize that there are those in the world who will get that shock in a less pleasurable way than I do. I imagine that there are many who hear a woman unapologetically declare she is an expert and take an instant visceral dislike to such a person. I suspect that such people exist because of all the misogyny that’s wriggled its way to the surface these last few years. I also know such people exist because this sort of language from a woman is so unusual. I know many women who are, in fact, experts in many things but would never dare to say so. Many of us have learned to downplay our accomplishments, to soft pedal our expertise or diminish our achievements. Women who don’t soften their proficiency are often vilified. So to hear Teachout own her own skill and expertise in such a powerful way has been one of the great thrills of election season for me.

I’m going to try to claim my own expertise more and I hope to hear other women follow Zephyr Teachout’s lead in declaring theirs.

CODA:
Please, please, please, if you’re in New York, please vote in the Democratic Primary on Thursday, September 13th. I would love to see Zephyr Teachout in office, as well as Cynthia Nixon and Jumaane Williams. All of them are running their campaigns without any corporate money and they need all the support they can get – especially when real estate companies are pouring money into their opponents’ campaigns.

But whomever you vote for – the more people vote, the more voice we’ll all have in New York’s democracy. The state has been rife with corruption. (The way real estate interests have played a role in our state politics probably has a lot to do with how we ended up with Donny Twimp on a national level.) Participation is key for making changes. And here in New York – most of the real decisions happen at the primary level. This is also where turnout is the smallest. Doing my small bit of canvassing, I saw just how small the primary voter numbers can be. So if you want to make the most difference – turn up on Thursday. Help us get more expert women (and those who support expert women) into office. Please and thank you.

This blog is also a podcast. You can find it on iTunes.

If you’d like to listen to me read a previous blog on Anchor, click here.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are now an album of Resistance Songs, an album of Love Songs, an album of Gen X Songs and More. You can find them on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

*

Want to help me own my own expertise?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

*

Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

 




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