Thursday, February 15, 2018

On School Shootings, Or God, Not Again

Another shooting.

Another round-and-round about the 2nd Amendment, mental health, societal values, individual liberties, and legislation.

Mostly, I'm heartbroken that it's becoming easy to be complacent about it.

Every time, we go round and round.

Every time, nothing gets solved.

That's the way with complicated issues.

Don't get me wrong: that doesn't make the conversations any less worth having.

It also doesn't make it any less truly fatiguing.

How do we make it better?

Outlawing guns won't work any more than outlawing marijuana has.

Enforcing the laws already in place might help, but enforcement requires manpower, which requires money, which means tax hikes, which, I mean, *I'm* willing to pay, but it's a hard sell to the public, even when the bodies haven't cooled yet.

Providing better mental health services won't fix this particular problem. How do I know? Most people who struggle with mental health issues are more likely to hurt themselves than someone else, and the ones who are likely to commit violence like this are unlikely to seek help in the first place. This is not to mean that I'm not in favor of better mental health services in general, becaUSE OF COURSE I AM, but I am tired of mental health being used as a scapegoat.

An argument could be made for toxic masculinity being the real mustache-twirling villain of this tale. The perpetrators of these kinds of violence are, by a significant majority, men. Young men convinced that the world should work a certain way, that they are entitled to [x] or deserve [y], that their victims "have it coming." Men who are discouraged from seeking counseling because it's seen as weakness. Men who are shown every day that might makes right, so strength and force are the only ways to solve their problems.

So what do we do?

How do we change our society in such as way as to keep these things from happening?

I don't know. I wish I did.

I wish the answer was as simple as saying "Let There Be No More Of This Mass Shooting Foolishness."

It's nice to want things, I guess.

Tl;dr: Gun violence in America is an overwhelmingly complicated problem, and I wish it had a simple solution.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

On Fear, or Black Lives Matter

I have been quiet on this topic for too long.
Partly from a desire to hold comment until I had all the information. On a social level, we have become a product of the 24-hour news cycle in that outrage and indignation are frequently voiced before we even have a clear picture of what happened. I hesitate to participate in that kind of snap judgment and mob mentality because I've had my own personal problems with jumping to conclusions and lashing out. As I've gotten better about that, I have also tried to find patience with sometimes infuriating news stories. To be honest, however, I am coming from a very privileged place as it pertains to systemic racism, so I've had the luxury of patience.
The other part has been nothing more or less than fear. What will people think when I raise my voice? Will I be derided as just another bleeding-heart liberal that's trying to make an issue out of nothing? Will I be written off as just some woman who doesn't know what she's talking about? Or even worse, will I, in my effort to lend space on my stage to those whose voices are so frequently ignored, pave the road to hell with my own good intentions and end up upstaging them or hogging their spotlight, stealing focus and confusing the message?
That fear is still real, and it means that as much as my heart wants to rise up, I can't bring myself to attend marches and protests. I don't much care for crowds in the first place, but add to that all the tension and anxiety that is part of protesting in general and... well, I just don't see me being helpful in that particular medium.
But I won't be quiet anymore.
Black Lives Matter.
I want the people I know that have had to live with this reality to know that I want to help. I want my help to actually be helpful. So I will do what things I can. If you have suggestions, I am open to them.
And while I will gladly have reasoned discourse with just about anyone about just about anything, if you bring any racist or sexist bullshit into the comments, there will be no warnings. There will be no second chances. I will drop you quicker than the Falcons dropped SuperBowl LI. This is the only warning you're getting, so heed it well.
Tl;dr: Black Lives Matter, and I'm done being quiet about it.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

On The Election, Or When Has Telling Someone To Calm Down Ever Actually Worked

There seems to be some confusion, so let me clarify.

Many people who voted for Trump did so because they have felt betrayed by our leaders. They feel that our country has strayed down a path of degeneration and ruin. When he said he wanted America to be great again, they looked at the protesters shouting that Black Lives Matter as they disrupted traffic and destroyed property, they saw manufacturing jobs being sent overseas, and they saw people complaining about war and patriarchy and poverty from a place of anger and war fatigue, and they believed him.

Many of the people who voted third party or abstained altogether are so frustrated and *done* with the two party system that they couldn’t, in good conscience, vote for either of the two main candidates because they refused to be intimidated or allow one of our most cherished and fundamental rights to be ruled by fear.

These people, who are family, friends, and other loved ones still deserve our respect.

That said…

For those of you who see your liberal friends angry, please do not confuse their anger for bitterness over losing. Sure, there may be some that are coming from that place, but the vast majority of us are genuinely afraid.

Because while you see a man that goes against the establishment, that speaks his mind, and that has the confidence with which you want America to be associated, we see a very different picture.
We see an accused rapist, a blatant liar, a braggart, and a racist. And these opinions aren’t based on what we’ve been told by the “liberal media.” These judgments are based on words that have literally come from his own mouth.

And have been met with thunderous applause.

You may see this as just desserts or just the flipped script of what happened when President Obama was elected.

It is not.

This is the legitimization of the very worst of what America is.

It said, “someone can be caught on record bragging about sexually assaulting women and still be elected into our nation’s highest office.”

It sent a message to every xenophobic, racist, misogynist bigot out there that their bigotry is ok.

It sent a very clear message to women, people of color, Muslims, and the LGBTQ+ community that their rights aren’t as important as your comfort.

Now, sure, I know full well that our governmental system is set up in such a way as to keep massive, widespread change from happening in our legislation overnight. That whole Checks and Balances thing is absolutely a thing and will do much to protect our rights.

But that didn’t stop kids in a high school from chanting “build the wall” at their classmates.

That didn’t stop women in hijab from getting their veils ripped off of them.

That didn’t stop racists and misogynists from vandalizing cars and assaulting women based on bumper stickers.

And it didn’t stop 8 trans people from killing themselves rather than face the future.

Don’t misunderstand. I—we—know full well that these people are simply a vocal minority.

But (and this next part is important, so listen up)

That. Does. Not. Protect. Us. From. Them.

They may not have the law backing them, but they will still threaten us, terrorize us, assault us, rape us, and murder us.

And they will feel righteous. They will feel justified. They will feel that they are simply taking their power back from a society that sought to cow them.

And by voting for someone who has vocally supported their beliefs, you have lent your support to them as well. It may not have been your intent, but that was the outcome.

So don’t tell us to calm down. Don’t tell us to suck it up and be nice. People are already dying because he was elected, and he’s not even in office yet.

*deep breath*

I don’t say these things to attack you. I am not calling *you*, Trump voter who is seeing this, a racist, misogynist, xenophobic bigot (although, if that shoe fits, you feel free to lace that mofo up and wear it).

But you have, by electing someone who has campaigned as a bigot, turned a blind eye to his bigotry. You have said “my opinions are more important than someone else’s life.”

And I will not—cannot—stand by and allow that kind of willful ignorance from people I care about to go unmarked.

So yeah. We’re mad. We’re real mad.

And those of us who have the privilege to speak without fear of retribution will continue to try to fight for the rights of those who do not have our privilege.

We will continue to stand in the way of those who would move us from protecting those rights and say, “No. You move.”

I love you all. I know that we all have bad days and good days. I know that, on an individual level, we are all human and want the world to be a better place. We won’t always agree on how to accomplish that, and that’s what civil discourse is for. We have to talk, and we have to compromise. We each have to accept things we find distasteful for the sake of progress and equality. That is what it means to be human. And that is what it *should* be to be American. You may not personally agree with homosexuality or abortion, but it is not your place to determine the course of another person’s life. I may not agree with religion or hateful speech, but it is not my place to police your heart.

We all must make our own choices. And we all want to live in a world where we are free to do so.

Tl;dr - Everyone is angry, but there's a difference between finding a candidate distasteful and literally fearing for your life. The two are not to be confused.

And, for the record, let it be known that the first motherfucker that tries to grab me by the pussy will lose the hand and maybe the rest of the arm too. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

On Ignorance, Or Weltschmerz Is A Great Word

Today, I had a pretty great conversation with some friends about the difficulty of being an aware and analytical feminist in the presence of those that have yet to, as has been coined by those more clever than me and I totally stole it, "see the Matrix." Since I managed to rock some seriously verbose posts, it seemed only proper that I should then translate them into a blog post.

Post #1:
For those of us that see the Matrix, it's quite easy to be judgmental of and angry with those that don't. Like, how can they not see what is so very obvious?! IT'S EVERYWHERE. However, since I find rage is only really gratifying when it is both a) righteous, and b) understood by those around me, I try to temper my dealings with those still stuck in the Matrix to something more manageable and that will help them understand. Although, to be fair, I also come from the place of privilege of taking up enough space (both physically and in terms of personality) that it is generally easier for me to have my voice heard and respected.

Overall, it's crappy. They only see what They've been groomed to see and are confused as to why We are angry about it. We don't understand how They can't see what's wrong and aren't angry.

Still so much work to do.


A friend of mine then had this to say:


The Matrix analogy is possibly the best one I have seen regarding "reading someone in" versus "chewing someone out". The average Joe isn't really aware of the problem, still. The so-called "Men's Rights" idiots are more like Cypher. They are aware of the problem, and they LIKE the Matrix, so they are happy to sabotage efforts to make things better.


To which I dutifully replied that Cypher and his ilk are the reason we can't have nice things. Seriously, that freakin' guy...

Anyway, I then go on to contemplate the pros and cons of reading someone in.

Post #2:
It takes a lot of time and energy to read someone in, and sometimes it's not an investment that will pay off.


Another friend (whose original post, "Heteronormative assumptions are fucking weird," got this whole discussion started) then made this very valid point:


Especially when we're all ALREADY on a RESEARCH MACHINE.


And then, my next dissertative* reply:

Post #3:
That can be both a blessing and a curse. Looking up the name of that actor you've seen in a billion things but can never remember their name or checking out the Wikipedia article on European Swallows is one thing. Sorting through the vast ocean of information there is out there on gender roles/stereotypes, sexuality, and feminism in general is a horse of a different color. What's a reliable source? Who are the people out there that are the reasonable, informative voices? Am I gonna end up seein' one o' them bra-burnin' man-hatin' extremists sites? It's a huge issue to tackle, and there really isn't much in the way of easy answers many of us have become accustomed to finding when we go to the internet for information.

To reiterate, because I don't want my meaning mistaken, I do not now nor would I ever absolve the uninformed of their responsibility to educate themselves. It isn't our responsibility to hold their wittle hands and gently explain everything in detail so as not to bruise their fragile wittle egos. If I have learned anything from my time spent among those training to be teachers, it is that not everyone is cut out to be a teacher. Beyond that, absolutely, if someone is genuinely interested in learning more on the topic, they should show a little initiative. But it is hard. It's hard making the effort to learn, and it's hard bearing the burden of knowledge once you do.


And now we're all caught up! :)

So, this whole situation, as I've mentioned, is a great big heaping pile of suck.

We've got those that are innocently ignorant, having been told all their lives that That's The Way The World Works and were not the personality type to question it.

We've got those that are willfully ignorant, who know that things probably are pretty messed up, but are for any number of reasons (ranging from apathy to stubbornness to fear and anywhere along the way) unwilling to educate themselves.

We've got the Informed Idiots (the aforementioned Cyphers) who know the system is broken, but benefit from its brokenness or engage in some other form of douchebaggery that perpetuates it.

And then there are the rest of us, who fall into a variety of categories, but for now, we're mostly going to deal with two: those who want to teach and those who don't.

As I said, it's hard.

It's hard seeing the Matrix. The burden of knowledge is almost unbearable sometimes, especially when it seems so simple and so obvious once you get it.

It's easy to lose patience.

It's easy to vilify.

It's easy to judge people for their ignorance.

It is so much harder to be understanding.

It is so much harder to be empathetic, partly because it takes more energy and thought, but also because it frequently leads to a very vulnerable place.

It's also hard to be in that understanding, vulnerable place with people who get defensive when you challenge the status quo. There you are, all vulnerable and squishy, and there they are, all bristly and pokey... Not a good combo.

So what's the answer? How do we do this wacky thing in such a way as to inform people without making them defensive, and empathize without getting scarred?

Here's the even shittier part: there is no answer.


Sometimes, you'll be in a bad place and someone will ask you a question. Sometimes you'll be in a great headspace for educating, but the other person will be doing their best ostrich impersonation.

We can all only do our best. That "best" will change from day to day. I say try not to alienate people, but don't let them run roughshod over you either

Tl;dr: Awareness is hard, but don't be a dick.

*Dissertative may not have been a word before, but it sure is now.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

On Scientific Theories, Or "You Keep Using That Word..."

First, we need to make sure we're using the correct vocabulary and everyone understands what everyone is talking about.

Hypothesis: a tentative assumption made in order to draw out and test its logical or empirical consequences

Theory: a working hypothesis that is considered probable based on experimental evidence or factual or conceptual analysis and is accepted as a basis for experimentation 

In everyday conversation, we tend to use theory to indicate an idea, or a passing thought, or how a certain thing should work (but likely may not work since we aren't working in a perfectly spherical vacuum). This isn't necessarily an incorrect usage of the word, but we need to remember that when discussing things in a scientific context, the above definition is the one to apply.

You all should have learned this in, like, 8th grade science. A hypothesis is what you start out with in an experiment. "I think thing A works like this." You then do experiments to test that hypothesis. If your hypothesis was correct, and you and a few other people do similar experiments and you all come up with similar enough results, then and only then do you have a theory. The Theory of Thing A. Or maybe [Your Name]'s Theory of Thing A. I mean, Einstein got to have his own theory; why shouldn't you? 

We have Theories for all sorts of things. I'm sure you all learned about the Pythagorean theorem in your geometry classes. There are theories relating to pretty much every branch of science and math, and all using that same definition: a hypothesis with proof to substantiate it.

So when people talk about the Theory of Evolution, or the Big Bang Theory (not the TV show), those are hypotheses that have the support of evidence behind them. They aren't hare-brained fever dreams or wild speculation, but ideas regarding the nature of the universe that have been supported by the evidence found.

It seems like much of the religious science-bashers keep thinking of this word "theory" in the wrong terms, and it is supremely frustrating for those who separate their faith from facts. I know plenty of people of faith who wouldn't for one second try to argue the validity of the Theory of Evolution because they've read up on the history of the science behind it (it's not a new idea, kids). But they don't see the science as a threat to their faith, but rather as a justification of it. They don't feel threatened by it, nor are they compelled to resort to the "yeah, well, so's yer face" defense. They find the divinity in the miracle and diversity of life as it is, take their stories of creation as the tales they were intended to be (well, at least that's my hypothesis), and go on with their life.

Don't misunderstand me: your faith (or lack thereof) is your business. I'd say it takes just as much faith to say with certainty that there is no God as it does to say there is. We have no absolutely definitive proof, one way or the other. As a friend of mine said recently (after which, I told her I was gonna steal the crap out of this line), the plural of "anecdote" is not "data." If you have had an experience that validates your faith (for either side of this debate), that's cool for you. You probably know several people who have had personal experiences for which they determined the only explanation was that there is (or isn't) a God. It's still anecdotal. It still can't be quantified, qualified, and tested. So can we please try to separate faith from facts? Faith is about believing without evidence. That's fine. Do your thing. But please stop trying to tell people it's fact, that it's certain, and that you have proof, because it isn't, and you don't. That's what makes it faith. Accept what faith means, be cool about it, and let it go. There really doesn't need to be this antagonism between people of faith and people of science. People of faith can stop trying to tell scientists what they should be teaching, and scientists can leave people of faith to do what they will in their churches/gatherings/whatever.

Now, quit being so damned bitchy with each other, or I swear to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I will turn this Internet around and we can all just go home instead of going to get ice cream.

Tl;dr: Faith is not fact. Theories are supported with evidence. Stop being rude and insulting in your conversations with people who don't agree with you.

Monday, March 3, 2014

On Depression, or Getting Through It

First, most important thing to say: I am not diagnosed with clinical depression. I do not constantly struggle with it, and I am in no way intending to insinuate I do. I know several people that are and do, and I know that though I occasionally have depressive episodes like what I'm about to discuss, I don't deal with it in any sort of chronic way. Consider yourselves disclaimed.

Also, you should be forewarned, this post is primarily catharsis for me. I went through a thing, and I really need to let it out. I haven't really been able to talk to much of anyone about it, and while the internet can be kinda judgy, I don't have to endure the looks of pity, sympathy, disappointment, or concern through my screen.

Around about the time of the last post I put up (a couple of months preceding, actually), I was going through a significantly rough patch. My boyfriend of about four years and I had split (amicably) around April of last year, I had been unemployed for most of a year, not counting getting fired from a temp job around the same time I lost the boyfriend, and things were really getting to me. While I had a roof over my head and food to eat, I had no reliable transportation, and therefore no reliable means of obtaining a job or even pursuing any sort of hobbies outside of my house. I will never want for indoor entertainment; I love making things, and reading, and writing, and watching movies, but even these held little joy for me. It was very Curse of the Black Pearl, and I found myself drowning in apathy.

I am NOT an apathetic person, and I have spent most of my life, even after separating from the oppressive faith of my youth, having hope. There is always something to look forward to. There is always something new to discover. So much wonder in this universe, and there is so much we don't know.

But I despaired.

I looked at the wonder of life and the miracle that is this vast and unknowable universe and I thought, for the first time in my life, "What's the point?" I thought of how tiny and insignificant a thing the Earth is in the larger context, and again how tiny and insignificant I am upon its face, and I could see no way that anything I could ever possibly do could make any sort of impact, positive or negative.

I don't honestly know what hurt more: the despair, or the disappointment in myself for losing hope. I felt like the most useless lump of wasted space, and I hated myself for feeling that way. Every rational thought in my mind told me that I was being overly emotional, that I was just down because of stupid, temporary life things, and that I could make it better. For every rational thought, there was an opposite and even louder voice rationalizing why everything was, in essence, ruined forever. I couldn't do the jobs I needed to do to make money and live because I have ADHD, which keeps me from being as effective as I otherwis be. I couldn't do the jobs I love and want to do because I didn't have the money to get to auditions and things. Clearly, I wasn't good/driven/passionate/talented/dedicated/WHATEVER enough to manage to do absolutely anything to get where I wanted, which obviously meant that I didn't deserve that happiness.

God, I write it all down now and it seems so stupid. My ex (with whom I am still very good friends) saw a little of my suffering and strongly recommended I seek help. More rationalizations followed, detailing why I couldn't.

Few people knew how bad it was. I am an actor, after all. But at the worst of it, I couldn't handle talking about myself at all. Like, people, just being courteous, would ask me "how are you" and it was everything I could do to keep up the mask.

But this is how it diverges from clinical depression. My circumstances changed and I got through it. I got a steady job, which brought with it a steady paycheck, a new place to live, and then even a car. You don't even know how big a deal that car is to me. I ended up needing a little bit of help from a friend to actually get it and drive it off the lot, simply because a stupid ticket depleted the savings I'd managed, but I was able to pay him back for that in a matter of a couple of weeks. Other than that, that car is completely in my name, and I didn't have to get anyone else's help just to get the loan. It is huge for me, and I can't be happier with it.

And that's the thing. People with clinical depression suffer, regardless of how well things are going. I have only suffered like that twice that I can remember. They were the only two times in my life that suicide was even a thought in my mind. LET'S BE CLEAR. I am not now nor have I ever been truly suicidal. But it's a testament to the darkness of my state that I even thought of how much simpler it would be to just stop. I am the most stubborn, mule-headed, persistent pain in the ass most of the time, so giving up is just not part of my life. Quitting is for the weak, the lazy, and the entitled. I am NOT a quitter. Dammit.

I did get through it, though. My life turned around, and I moved forward. When I think about that time, it still hurts a little. Granted, it hasn't even really been six months yet, so I think that's fair. And I think it will always sting a bit. But I'm kind of okay with that. Looking back at how miserable I was reminds me of the things I need to do to avoid being there again. I have to stay occupied. I have to have some sort of gainful employment. I have to have a car. And I have to have a performance outlet.

Looking forward, I really need to get better at keeping track of when auditions are for things in which I want to be involved. This year, I completely missed the Shakespeare In The Park auditions by, like, a month, because I'd totally forgotten about it in the fog of "get a job, keep a job, get a car, keep a car, don't fuck up." I'm getting to a point of stability, so hopefully I can find something that will scratch that itch for me as well as fattening my portfolio.

Things aren't where I want them yet, but I have hope. And that's really what's important.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

On Arguments, Or Try Talking With People Instead of At Them

Random observation:

Why do we keep trying to make everything fit binary systems? Black v. white. Male v. female. Blatantly Aggressive v. Doormat.

Maybe this has escaped notice, but we live in a world of shades of grey. There are very few absolutes, and simple solutions are rarely effective.

And I know exactly why people shy away from genuinely accepting that as reality: it's hard. It's really hard. It means we constantly have to think. About our choices. About our thoughts. About whether or not the knee-jerk reactions we have are coming from reasoned, rational places, from outdated instincts, or from concepts and standards that have been imposed upon us by the society in which we live.

All we can really do is tap into our empathy. Try to understand WHY people are doing what they're doing. You don't have to agree with it, and it's understandable to attempt to change someone's mind, but you also have to respect that, at the end of the day, you may not agree, and that doesn't mean you care about each other any less.

So people are different from you. BIG FECKIN' DEAL. Given how vast and unknowable the universe is as a whole, there's bound to be some pretty awesome variety. How's about instead of focusing on the differences, we focus on the similarities? You like cookies? HOLY SHIT SO DO I!! You dig olives? Not really my bag, but that means there's totally more for you. It. Is. All. Good.

When people say things that sound so freakin' ignorant that they make you want to punch them in their whole face, take a breath. Try to think about why they would say that. Odds are they aren't just trying to get a rise out of you, but rather are speaking either from ignorance or belief (which are not mutually inclusive, thankyouverymuch). Ask them why they think that. Help them to see the fallacy in what they believe rather than smacking them over the head with it. Guide them to the light rather than shining a flashlight directly into their eyeballs.