Didn’t anticipate one of the bonuses of going to a drag show in a smaller more conservative town would be getting to see a bro who clearly wandered into the wrong part of the bar by mistake experience what looked to be a transcendent awakening upon seeing his first drag show.
Gen Z is awesome and generational fighting is bad, but I do sometimes talk to Gen Z folks and I’m like... oh... you cannot comprehend before the internet.
Like activists have been screaming variations on “educate yourself!” for as long as I’ve been alive and probably longer, but like... actually doing so? Used to be harder?
And anger at previous generations for not being good enough is nothing new. I remember being a kid and being horrified to learn how recent desegregation had been and that my parents and grandparents had been alive for it. Asking if they protested or anything and my mom being like “I was a child” and my grandma being like “well, no, I wasn’t into politics” but I was a child when I asked so that didn’t feel like much of an excuse from my mother at the time and my grandmother’s excuse certainly didn’t hold water and I remember vowing not to be like that.
So kids today looking at adults and our constant past failures and being like “How could you not have known better? Why didn’t you DO better?” are part of a long tradition of kids being horrified by their history, nothing new, and also completely justified and correct. That moral outrage is good.
But I was talking to a kid recently about the military and he was talking about how he’d never be so stupid to join that imperialist oppressive terrorist organization and I was like, “Wait, do you think everyone who has ever joined the military was stupid or evil?” and he was like, well maybe not in World War 2, but otherwise? Yeah.
And I was like, what about a lack of education? A lack of money? The exploitation of the lower classes? And he was like, well, yeah, but that’s not an excuse, because you can always educate yourself before making those choices.
And I was like, how? Are you supposed to educate yourself?
And he was like, well, duh, research? Look it up!
And I was like, and how do you do that?
And he was like, start with google! It’s not that hard!
And I was like, my friend. My kid. Google wasn’t around when my father joined the military.
Then go to the library! The library in the small rural military town my father grew up in? Yeah, uh, it wasn’t exactly going to be overflowing with anti-military resources.
Well then he should have searched harder!
How? How was he supposed to know to do that? Even if he, entirely independently figured out he should do that, how was he supposed to find that information?
He was a kid. He was poor. He was the first person in his family to aspire to college. And then by the time he knew what he signed up for it was literally a criminal offense for him to try to leave. Because that’s the contract you sign.
(Now, listen, my father is also not my favorite person and we agree on very little, so this example may be a bit tarnished by those facts, but the material reality of the exploitative nature of military recruitment remains the same.)
And this is one of a few examples I’ve come across recently of members of Gen Z just not understanding how hard it was to learn new ideas before the internet. I’m not blaming anyone or even claiming it’s disproportionate or bad. But the same kids that ten years ago I was marveling at on vacation because they didn’t understand the TV in the hotel room couldn’t just play more Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on demand - because they’d never encountered linear prescheduled TV, are growing into kids who cannot comprehend the difficulty of forming a new worldview or making life choices when you cannot google it. When you have maybe one secondhand source or you have to guess based on lived experience and what you’ve heard. Information, media, they have always been instant.
Society should’ve been better, people should’ve known better, it shouldn’t have taken so long, and we should be better now. That’s all true.
But controlling information is vital to controlling people, and information used to be a lot more controlled. By physical law and necessity! No conspiracy required! There’s limited space on a newspaper page! There’s limited room in a library! If you tried to print Wikipedia it would take 2920 bound volumes. That’s just Wikipedia. You could not keep the internet’s equivalent of resources in any small town in any physical form. It wasn’t there. We did not have it. When we had a question? We could not just look it up.
Kids today are fortunate to have dozens of firsthand accounts of virtually everything important happening at all times. In their pockets.
(They are also cursed by this, as we all are, because it’s overwhelming and can be incredibly bleak.)
If anything, today the opposite problem occurs - too much information and not enough time or context to organize it in a way that makes sense. Learning to filter out the garbage without filtering so much you insulate yourself from diverse ideas, figuring out who’s reliable, that’s where the real problem is now.
But I do think it has created, through no fault of anyone, this incapacity among the young to truly understand a life when you cannot access the relevant information. At all. Where you just have to guess and hope and do your best. Where educating yourself was not an option.
Where the first time you heard the word lesbian, it was from another third grader, and she learned it from a church pastor, and it wasn’t in the school library’s dictionary so you just had to trust her on what it meant.
I am not joking, I did not know the actual definition of the word “fuck” until I was in high school. Not for lack of trying! I was a word nerd, and I loved research! It literally was not in our dictionaries, and I knew I’d get in trouble if I asked. All I knew was it was a “bad word”, but what it meant or why it was bad? No clue.
If history felt incomprehensibly cruel and stupid while I was a kid who knew full well the feeling of not being able to get the whole story, I cannot imagine how cartoonishly evil it must look from the perspective of someone who’s always been able to get a solid answer to any question in seconds for as long as they’ve been alive. To Gen Z, we must all look like monsters.
I’m glad they know the things we did not. I hope one day they are able to realize how it was possible for us not to know. How it would not have been possible for them to know either, if they had lived in those times. I do not need their forgiveness. But I hope they at least understand. Information is so powerful. Understanding that is so important to building the future. Underestimating that is dangerous.
We were peasants in a world before the printing press. We didn’t know. I’m so sorry. For so many of us we couldn’t have known. I cannot offer any other solace other than this - my sixty year old mother is reading books on anti-racism and posting about them to Facebook, where she’s sharing what’s she’s learning with her friends. Ignorance doesn’t have to last forever.
We don’t talk enough about the systemic health effects of casual fatphobia and how much they fucking skew the data to the point where we literally cannot know how much outcomes are actually related to fatness and how much they are related to society not being designed for fat people, like literal design.
My best friend cannot find a bra.
She’s fat. We won’t get into the ~why~ here because it honestly wouldn’t matter whether it was “all her fault” or whether it was a result of outside forces like genes and such, she still deserves a goddamn fucking bra that fits.
And she cannot find a bra.
She’s short and fat, and Fat Bras are usually full cup, but because she’s short the full cups are usually too tall, or the armbands around them are too tall, to the point where what’ll fit around her chest and over her boobs will also dig up into her arms or have such high coverage that she literally cannot wear a shirt with a neckline high enough. Any bra that goes out enough goes too high.
This affects her ability to find clothing, impacting her ability to go outside sometimes, because she has this tiny selection of bras and she constantly has to wash them and when they’re gone she has no idea when she’ll next be able to find another unicorn bra. They appear in a flash usually in startups that die soon after, and COVID has killed most the small businesses remaining where she had even a hint of a chance of finding a fitting bra.
So she wears bras that don’t fit. Or she doesn’t leave the house. One gives her back pain. The other is, obviously, not very active. She likes to be active.
If she brings it up, people suggest breast reduction surgery.
But the thing is, with a good bra, she does not get back pain.
But if it’s that hard to find a good bra, they say, wouldn’t a reduction just be easier?
Wouldn’t it be easier for you to chop off part of your flesh, they say, then for us to cut fabric and underwire to more sizes? As if that is normal. As if that isn’t horrifying.
It’s not just bras. It’s chairs. It’s benches. It’s goddamn shoes. It’s seatbelts. It’s exercise equipment - I just got an exercise bike for Christmas. I had to shop around to find an affordable one that was also rated to take my level of fat. If I were 100 pounds heavier, which some people are? I don’t think any equipment would have existed in a price range that any working person could expect to afford. I don’t think most people even look at the weight ratings on chairs and couches and furniture. Once you start? They are lower than you think. There are absolutely 100% people you love in your life - whether really tall men or just average kinda overweight fat people - who should not be using the things they are using. Who are not getting support from their mattress, their footwear, their office chair. It might be you! You might be thinking “but I am average size!”, but the amount of furniture out there that’s only weighted to about 200lbs? Or 175??? It’s SO MUCH MORE THAN YOU REALIZE. Get into the Proper Fat? The 350lb, 400lb, 500lb fat? There’s virtually nothing.
Seatbelts are not tested for fat bodies and seatbelt extenders aren’t regulated.
We know about the problems with too small a blood pressure cuff. With too low a medicine dose. With no MRI a really fat body can fit in for a thousand miles.
We know, from multiple studies on multiple oppressed communities, that social bias by itself, with zero other compounding factors, can give people worse health outcomes.
Now add up
+ one of the social biases with the least pushback even from the educated liberal set with
+ having a world that is literally not made for you. Where you cannot get clothes, furniture, or transportation in a way that will actually accommodate you,
+ where society is constantly blaming you for this. And even if you somehow (and if you know how, please tell me) manage to retain some sense of self worth and optimism and determination despite all that
+ that’s not gonna magically give you access to the daily supplies a person needs in their home and out in public that’ll make living safe and healthy life literally physically possible.
If you’re really so concerned about fat people’s health start a bra company. If you’re really so concerned about fat people’s health mandate changes to seatbelt requirements. If you’re really so concerned about fat people’s health have a variety of chairs in your waiting room with at least some being properly Fat Rated. If you’re really so concerned about fat people’s health, make it easier for fat people to be active by making exercise equipment that fits them, swimwear that’ll actually stay on them, athletic shoes that can bear them. If you’re really so concerned about fat people’s health ask they be included in more medical trials. If you’re really so concerned about fat people’s health, promote fat visibility and fat people loving their bodies - because hating yourself has literally never been good for anyone’s health.
If you’re using “concern for health” as a shield to allow you to judge and criticize strangers, you don’t give a fuck about anyone’s health. You’re just an asshole who prefers a veneer of respectability when you bully people. You’re hateful and we can see right through you.
But fatphobia isn’t just bullying. It isn’t just judgment from strangers. It isn’t just medical neglect and medical bias. Even if we could wave a wand and make all that go away, my best friend still wouldn’t have a bra that fits, people still wouldn’t have a chair that supports them, a seatbelt that protects them. It’s literally engineered in. And it slowly kills people day by day by day.
Why the fuck don’t vampires understand animal agriculture.
“Oh we are vegetarian vampires, we only drink blood from animals, so we go out into the incredibly unique temperate rainforest ecosystem of the Pacific Northwest and hunt their rare megafauna” what the fuck dude. Why? Just keep some cows, y’all have so much money! Just keep some goddamn goats! Order some live horses! Leave the local wildlife alone!
“I am a vampire with a soul and I am so tortured with guilt all I can eat are rats off the street” off the street!?! Dude what is wrong with you. Just start a rat rescue. I have friends in rat rescue. Do you have any idea how many rats they get all the time? Rats that aren’t covered in fleas and filled with diseases??? Rats that are pregnant and have baby rats? You’ll be eating for the rest of your life!
All these vampires making eating the hardest fucking thing in the world like we never figured out how to get continuous animal resources for food thousands of years ago why the fuck you think you have to be hunter/gatherer about it like it’s the goddam Paleolithic
When I was Mormon, the ages for missions were 19 for men and 21 for women.
Before my faith.exe program suddenly crashed, I was doing everything I could think of to keep it running. I knew the church had to be true, and I knew it wasn’t working for me, so I knew there had to be something I needed to change so I could make it work, because it had to work.
When I was 19 my faith finally shut off. Without my permission seemingly all at once I didn’t believe any more. And I couldn’t believe again if I wanted to. Some part of my brain working on the problem without me finally saw the magic trick and it didn’t matter what I wanted to believe anymore, because I couldn’t undo what I knew. And what I knew was that actually it didn’t make any sense and it couldn’t be made to make sense.
A few years later, the church changed mission ages from 19 and 21 to 18 and 19.
And I was like, oh no. Because I am absolutely positive if that had been the case when I was that age, while I was in a furor trying to make the the church work for me, I would’ve absolutely signed up for a mission. In an attempt to get closer to god, to the truth, to inner peace, I would’ve tacked all my hopes in this mission to bring me absolute faith. There’s no way I wouldn’t have jumped at the opportunity.
I don’t know what would’ve happened in that timeline. Maybe I would’ve gotten my endowment and immediately been like “actually, I can’t.” Maybe I would’ve made it to the MTC, but given up before the mission proper. Or maybe I would’ve gone on the mission, married a Mormon man, had Mormon babies, and perpetuated the cycle. I don’t know.
But I do know, whether it only would’ve extended my loyalty to the church by a few months or by years or by my whole life, I would’ve stayed longer. They would’ve retained me by forcing a commitment out of me when I was just barely out of high school.
Now imagine if all that social pressure was also funded by taxpayers and proudly displayed on mainstream tv and film.
I keep seeing people try to dismiss my sympathy and advocacy for veterans by saying “Actually, most recruits aren’t lower class they’re middle class! And actually the greatest predictor of who is recruited is whether their family is also in the military!” As some kind of “gotcha”. And I’m just like.
The military is a cult.
Most cults get most of their members by retaining the children of existing members and raising them in the cult. The greatest predictor of whether you will be in a cult is if your parents are.
Stuff about vulnerable populations and poverty only apply to converts. You don’t have to wait for people to be desperate and impressionable if you can get them when they’re kids.
I hadn’t figured out my way out of my cult when I was 18. If I had been expected or encouraged to sign a contract of commitment, I would have. And if breaking that contract was a federal crime? All the more reason not to question it, to protect myself from the repercussions of the answers.
“They’re not victims, they’re just military brats copying their parents” is not the gotcha you think it is.
I can, in fact, still feel sympathy for them, and outrage on their behalf.
The military industrial complex is a machine of imperialism and colonialism and capitalism. The US military is a global terrorist organization. And like most terrorist organizations, it’s a cult. And I have sympathy for cult survivors.
One thing I see a lot in discussions of cults and radicalization and high demand groups is people saying things like “Yeah, be careful, and remember, if it feels wrong, trust your gut!”
And like, I know they mean well, and it’s not always bad advice, but like,
Don’t rely on your gut.
Your gut is gonna think these people are safety and your gut is gonna tell you that leaving is scary.
Sure, you might be picking up on something suspicious. Or! You might be experiencing cognitive dissonance when confronted with the truth, in which case you actually need to lean into and examine the bad feelings to see if they make sense.
The whole way cults operate is by making themselves the primary source of your good feelings and sense of security and correctness. By making everything else feel unsafe and scary.
Yes, you need to be aware of your emotional reactions to things, but not in a trust your gut way.
When TERFs are transphobic, they are trusting their instincts. Their instincts, whether born of trauma related to sexual violence or just born of living in a cisnormative society, tells them men are scary, men are inherently predatory, and women and men are different on a fundamental incompatible level. Their gut is a fucking liar. Having that initial reaction when learning about new people or new ideas is normal, but you have to push back against it - instead TERFs tell people something that feels good, that they want to hear. Their first feeling was right. They should never be asked to question it. They are special for knowing the truth about men and trans people. When TERFs spread the shit that reinforces their world view? It feels good. It feels right. When people present meaningful evidence that they are causing harm, and don’t know what they’re talking about? That feels bad.
If they trust their gut, they’ll keep doing what they’re doing forever.
Being Mormon felt good. Hearing things that made being Mormon feel special and seem right? Felt good! Leaving Mormonism? Felt bad! Felt confusing and disorienting! There was grief in what I was losing, and uncertainty about who I even was or what world I lived in. When I was Mormon coffee was frightening to me, and normal happy people outside the church living normal moral lives while not following its rules was upsetting to examine, and being at a youth service felt good and safe and right.
One of the most important ways to avoid cults, conspiracies, high demand groups, radicalization, and even just spreading false political memes online, is to question your gut. These things live and breathe on manipulating your initial instinctive reaction to them - to feel validation, righteous anger, superiority, safety, certainty.
Question your initial reaction. If something immediately gives you a hit of “so true”, or “a perfect example” or “see???” or makes you feel self satisfied or vindicated? Step back and ask if it was specifically designed to get you to feel that way - and if it was, was it actually right?
If something makes you feel accepted, safe, a sanctuary- what is it keeping you safe from? Is it actually a threat? Do you have other places or people elsewhere that also make you feel safe?
If something makes you feel scared, isolated, misunderstood, threatened, angry, uncomfortable, ashamed - Step back and ask if it actually should, if the feeling is based in fact, if it’s actually proportional to the threat, how common or trivial the trigger is. This makes you scared or uncomfortable, but should it? Are you making enemies out of the benign? Are you vilifying normality? Even if it’s genuinely something bad, is your reaction proportional? This made you so angry you wanted to share it immediately- was it designed to make you angry? Is it a fair representation? Does it have an agenda?
Every single religion in the world, regular or cult, makes people feel good. That’s why the people are there. Every single conspiracy manipulates people’s fears, making normalcy and reason feel bad. Every single high demand group and radicalized group and predatory group does what it does specifically by targeting your feelings.
Don’t listen to your gut unexamined. This applies to cults, but honestly? Also to forming opinions, forging relationships, and more. Abusers know how to play with your emotions, while simultaneously your trauma can lie to you. You have been raised in a bigoted society that might poison you against kind people and allies. Politicians play on your fears and your insecurities to get votes.
You need to develop the emotional intelligence to recognize when your emotions are being manipulated specifically to influence and control you. Since that’s the primary method of spreading misinformation, you actually should constantly be questioning your instincts. Follow the data, the primary sources, the science, and real logical argumentation. Understand how people control you. Understand you are biased and probably wrong about some things. Learn not to be scared of being wrong. Don’t ever tie your identity inextricably to something other people control the definition of. And find peace in uncertainty and nuance. It takes practice, and that means messing up on the way. It’s okay to mess up. You’ve got this.
I just remembered one time in like sixth or seventh grade (we had the same teachers and class both years so hard to remember which) somehow we got into a debate of “who is better, boys or girls?” and instead of stepping in to stop it our teacher formalized it and egged us on by providing thoughtful prompts and counters to each side and by the end each group had built a barricade of desks on either side of the classroom and we were throwing balls of paper at each other and screaming about personal hygiene while our teacher just watched and enjoyed a Baby Ruth candy bar.
I love in Doctor Who that like once a season the Doctor gets to explain who the Daleks are and why they’re scary to a contemporary British human who, canonically, has been invaded or enslaved by daleks like a dozen times or more since 1963, either in a global disaster or just a local one.
I will say, one of the benefits of being a Sailor Moon fan is that Naoko Takeuchi is notoriously private. We go years without hearing anything from her, and when we do she’s just like “Glad you like Sailor Moon! Thank you!” and disappears again. That’s nice.
Unpopular opinion but I think the American Song Contest (American Eurovision) could be good. I’m not saying it’s likely, I’m just saying, I can see the universe where it’s good actually. Like have you ever met a feral Tennesseean? West coast vs East coast rock fights??? I saw someone say “uh, it’s not like they’re different countries, all the music will sound the same” and I’m like!!! Uh??? Okay, so clearly you have never been in college completely ready to throw down with some fucking Yankee saying that Seattle’s music sucks. Or like, a Chicagoan trying to adjust to the fucking pep of Californian music.
I’m just saying I can absolutely see some fucking batshit indie band from Florida playing a theramin with a lawn flamingo or something, like give it a chance. They’re letting EACH STATE enter, meaning that if the show is successful literally every single citizen of Wyoming will eventually have to be on television, and that alone is ripe for entertainment. Also have you ever encountered Rhode Island’s music scene. It is so bizarre. They all live within one square block of each other. That does things to you.
Listen, I'm a firm believer in evidence based medicine. I don't have the kind of mistrust for medical science that leads one to be anti-vaxx or go into crystal healing or homeopathy or whatever. I generally agree that the first person you should ask about your health is a doctor.
After AIDS was mistaken for "a cancer caused by being gay, maybe a symptom of the Disease of Gayness" and all women's issues were chalked up to "hysteria" (aka - You Have A Uterus Disease) and all the many
racist medical practices that have gone on and still go on
I just do not understand the very specific kind of left-leaning individual
who can understand all of that
and is like "No but fatness is the one kind of human diversity that actually just is itself an illness and actually you can just diagnose someone with Being Fat and not explore their healthcare further. Go lose weight if you want basic dignity, chubbo."
Like sometimes I'll get these replies to some of my posts and I'll go to the blog (to block them) fully expecting to see, like, a racist or a troll or something and I find the blog of an otherwise seemingly somewhat socially aware thoughtful individual who apparently lost all their compassion and critical thinking skills the second a fattie was mentioned.
It's not the only marginalized category of people that experiences this phenomenon. But that doesn't stop it from being infuriating. There's a very specific kind of despair and helplessness felt when looking at someone who by all rights should by an ally and hearing them say "We need to end all human suffering.
Me: No. That’s in a bubble. That’s if he has to start and end his self contained story in under 90 minutes. And gets notes from a showrunner with heart. He can’t - he can’t follow through on serialization. Also he hates women and can’t write them.
Past Me: but he made River Song?
Me: and killed her in her first episode! And he will do worse to her! So much worse! Listen to me. Doctor Who is going to infuriate you. I’m sorry.
Past Me: Well, that’s okay. At least I’ll still have Buffy.
Past Me: What?
Me: Okay. Listen. You will always have Buffy.
Past Me: so what’s the-
Me: Joss Whedon is toxic, abusive, and misogynistic.
Past Me: he’s made mistakes, sure, but-
Me: No. Listen. Whedonesque themselves shut down their website because they couldn’t call themselves fans anymore. Whedonesque.