I Like To Watch

I Like To Watch

I’ve been exploring the cultural and artistic implications of Game of Thrones on Ordinary Times all winter to keep my head out of the trainwreck that is American politics, and a couple times it’s spilled over here to my blog.

As I stated in my recent piece, Game of Thrones: Bad Romance, I think the one of the biggest flaws in Game of Thrones is the utter lack of a female viewpoint. 

While there are certainly women in GoT, and many of the female characters are strong, interesting, and have their own agency, I don’t feel like my experience as a woman is, generally speaking, well represented.  Game of Thrones* is a man’s story, written for men, by men, representing the interests and passions of men, and that it has come to be seen as “feminist” or “empowering”, I think, is a damning statement on the lack of choices that women face when it comes to our fiction.  

I believe women have so few female characters in fiction we can truly relate to, that even something subpar as Game of Thrones appeals.  We’re so desperate to connect with a fictional woman revealing some part of a real woman’s experience  (even the shittier parts) that we’ll glom onto anything that gives just a taste of what speaks to us, even if it’s otherwise problematic. 

This lack of female representation comes in many forms, but one of the most obvious is the physical.  The actors in the tv version of GoT are universally attractive – I personally don’t think there’s ever been a more physically appealing male cast assembled in any program ever, if for no other reason than that there are just so many of them. Watching Game of Thrones, if you are a female person, is like going to Baskin Robbins – there are flavors there you didn’t even know you wanted to try – I mean, what DOES Rum Raisin taste like, anyway?  Even the guys who are supposed to be “ugly” in some fashion are sexually attractive.  There’s some dude on GoT likely to appeal to every woman’s taste, or one totally hypothetical woman, and I have no idea who you are talking about here whatsoever, with a lot of different moods.  

And yet the entire show caters not at all to the female gaze, but to the male one.  (do I really need to define the male gaze at this point?  I mean if you don’t know what the male gaze is, turn on your TV and wait till a woman comes on, and see how she’s portrayed.  You’ll get the gist).  With the exception of a little Khal Drogo action back at the start at the start, we ladies really don’t get a lot of what I consider eye candy.  Considering how many good looking men there are in Game of Thrones, that shit is like water, water everywhere with nary a drop to drink.  And I am a very thirsty girl.

There are, certainly, men shown in erotic situations in GoT.  But these scenes are not meant to appeal to women, even if there are naked man butts in them.  

Why?  Well, to explain that, we need to understand what the female gaze even is.  As with everything involving women, it isn’t straightforward, because women’s sexuality tends to be more complicated than men’s: “Me See Booby.  Me Like Booby” vs “I suppose it all goes back to the eighth grade, when Robby Moran moved to my school from Cincinnati.  Back then I collected scratch and sniff stickers on my Peechee, and I always wore Bonne Bell cherry flavor lip gloss.  At the time, I was reading a lot of Sweet Dreams romances, and I had just finished PS I Love You.  This doesn’t seem important, but it will matter later on.”

Suffice it to say, it would probably just take us less time to talk about what the female gaze ISN’T.

The female gaze is, despite having the word “gaze” in it, is not primarily visual the way men’s is. Thus the female gaze is not delighted by a big long sex scene in which the woman is naked and the man isn’t, BRONN, you coward.  But it’s ALSO not a big long sex scene where everyone is naked, either, OBERYN, put that thing away.  Dudes, that’s porn.  It may be soft core, but it’s still totally porny.  For reasons I do not understand, people seem to think that the solution to objectified naked women on TV is naked objectified men on TV and that’s simply not the case.  

You know why?  Because men LIKE BEING OBJECTIFIED, and when they see other men being objectified, they think “hey, someday that could totally happen to me”.  So creators, when you objectify men, you’re still only doing that for men, get it?  

Brief aside, I’m not saying women don’t like or enjoy porn, don’t @ me please, but I don’t think as a general rule, that porn (at least as it is usually presented, and certainly how the man-centric soft core porn was presented in GoT) is targeted to please women.  It’s designed around what men find titillating, from beginning to happy ending, and sometimes us gals just get kinda caught up in that X-Rated web from lack of choice, even though we would prefer some other thing entirely if only we had the option.

The female gaze is especially not satisfied by graphic sex scenes that feature two men.  Your mileage may admittedly vary, but when I was researching for this piece I found it INSANE how many articles I read where homosexual sex scenes were put forth as examples of “the triumph of the female gaze” in GoT.  May I have your attention please: by definition, male homosexual sex scenes are not for women.  They are for men, doubly so.  They are, somehow, as tough as it is to believe, even less appealing to the female gaze than straight porn is, because they are ONLY for men.  Again, maybe some women like them (not me, sorry, but you guys look like you’re managing just fine without my input) but it’s by default, not design.

As for lesbian sex scenes, my answer is, it depends.  I personally am super, super straight (so straight, lord have mercy you would not even believe how straight I am, dear my critics who think I am a hairy-pitted man-hater, you are moronic buttheads, because my love for men is as deep as the ocean and equally as destructive) but not all women are, and I leave it to lesbians to inform us if they like to see lesbian sex scenes in entertainment, knowing as I do that the primary recipients of lesbian sex scenes are straight men.  Personally I’m suspicious of graphic lesbian sex scenes in anything because straight men enjoy them so much.  (Or written, in the case of the Dany + slave girls and Cersei lesbian scenes in the book, which in both cases were really egregious and unnecessary IMO George, you naughty) But lesbians if you like them, carry on, and report your findings if you’d care to because I honestly don’t know if that’s a cool thing for you or not.

There’s more coming, but before I go on, I’ll give a quick example that sort of sums up my feelz about the pornification of GoT on HBO here: One of the things that really pissed me off in Game of Thrones is the massive expansion of a character who was minor in the book (played by a porn actress, who I am sure is a perfectly nice woman) and the creation of a character who wasn’t in the books at all (played by a burlesque performer, who is also in all probability a delightful gal) in order to include more graphic sexual content, not only at the expense of any and every vaguely romantic element that existed in the book (scarce as they were) but even AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHER CHARACTERS and the overall plot of the show.  Call me crazy, but a writer should not remove plot and character development, particularly of other non- or less-sexualized female characters, to shoehorn actual, literal, porn actresses (god bless em!) if you are allegedly making a show that is at all female-friendly.  Cause that shit ain’t for me, you know it, and I know it, so let’s not pretend otherwise. 

Moving on…

I don’t think sex scenes where a man is obviously supposed to be a stand in for the male audience are appealing, either.  You can see this in Game of Thrones, where Daenerys has sex with Daario Naharis.  Now, that dude is certainly cute, but it’s really not a particularly hot scene to me.  Because it’s so obviously meant for the men at home to sit there thinking “Hmm what if that was me and that smokin hot chick was telling me to take off my clothes, that would be totally awesome, and also it could totally happen if only I was that ripped.”  

And by the way, how silly was it for the writers to then, after having Daenerys be all like “Take off ur clothes stud” to Daario, not to mention her skillfully sexin’ up Drogo, that they’d turn around and have Jon Snow, bear of very little sexual experience, being the seducer and Dany the coy timid seducee??  It’s freaking ridick how they did that, and also offensive, though I haven’t quite sussed out yet why it bugs me so much.

Above all else, and I cannot state this strongly enough, I do not think that scenes in which women are brutally tortured for a man’s pleasure (I ain’t talkin 50 shades here, tho I don’t love that either, I’m talking where it’s clearly a psychopath man hurting women for his own pleasure, and not relatively tasteful descriptions of BDSM that both parties are into) are worth my time. Yes Ramsay Bolton, I’m looking at you here, and how could I not, because you have massive amounts of screen time.  Again, this is something that super pissed me off in the show version of Game of Thrones, how really important plots involving other characters were shunted to the side to bring us the Ramsay Bolton Torture Porn Hour.    

You see, in Game of Thrones, the pro-male-gaze mentality goes beyond actual sex scenes into overall characterization and even plotting.  Whenever you have scenes that are shot for the SOLE PURPOSES of pleasing the tastes/desires of men, while simultaneously women’s tastes/desires are left totally unfulfilled, and female characters themselves are even ignored in favor of porn actresses (they’re GRRReat!!) and psychotic rapists, you cannot sit there with a straight face and call that “the female gaze” or “feminism” no matter how many actresses are cast in the show.  Or in other words, I really would have preferred if my favorite character Sansa had not been shunted off to the side in favor of Shae the Suddenly Wise Prostitute (as fab as she undoubtedly is) and then offered up to Ramsay Bolton as a victim. And both Daenerys’ and Cersei’s plot arcs suffered greatly due to lack of time to develop them properly, reducing them both to nutty harpies.  

Honestly, as much as the male gaze stuff detracted from my enjoyment of something I really really wanted to love, I maintain that Game of Thrones would have been twenty times as good a show if they hadn’t had the sex stuff in it at all because it would have given them time to handle the characters and plot who were actually meant to be in the show instead of subsuming necessary plot advancement for the endless brothel scenes.

So ok, that was a pretty satisfying rant there, but it’s probably got a lot of folks wondering “Seven Hells, what do women want, anyway?  Why has this woman not taken the scraps of leftover manporn we have offered her and made us sandwiches out of it?”

Mmmm, Manpornwich!

In other words, the menfolk say, enough about what you DON’T want, tell us what you do.

And that’s fair.

As I’ve written about in the past, I’m not too sure that women really like down and dirty sex scenes the way men do.  For women, especially this woman, it’s the journey, the cast of characters and why they’re doing what they’re doing, and their dreaded FEELINGS that matter and not the way the genitals fit together or the overall attractiveness of any individual body part.  It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy seeing, oh, I don’t know, like two hot men getting in a fight over the hand of a fair maid, and accidentally ripping each other’s shirts off, because I totally do, it’s that I need the underpinnings for max enjoyment.  Why are the men in a fight, anyway?   Were they childhood friends together at boarding school in rural England, or was the one the groundskeeper’s son and the other the heir to Penobscott Manor, but he was wounded in the war and now he struggles with his demons? What’s so fair about this maid?  Obviously she’s beautiful, but is she also clever, though misunderstood due to her sharp tongue and love of books?  These are the things I want to know!  

But I’m really not doing it justice.  Because it’s not the mere externals that matter when it comes to the female gaze.  It’s not all about the ripped bodices and tight jerkins and pastoral settings.  This I know, because you can find the female gaze in stories set in the present day, and even in the future, in which no bodices are ever ripped due to everything being made from space age materials. 

The female gaze comes down fundamentally to three elements – emotion, connection, and passion.  The characters have to have these things between them for me to find something hot.  Me looking at Bronn fucking Generic Prostitute Number 17 in a whorehouse does fuck all for me because it has none of those things.  Daenerys and Daario getting it on is barely any better because it’s all so darn PERFUNCTORY.  It’s like someone went thru and checked off all the boxes on the male gaze checklist and none on the female gaze one.

Here, have a look at this compilation from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie society instead.  Same guy, much hotter, even though he never takes off his sweater at all.

HE DOESN’T NEED TO TAKE HIS SWEATER OFF!  Because they know each other!  They like each other!  They have come to CARE! I don’t need to see his naked chest or any gyrating to get off on it.  They have an emotional connection, and that’s where the passion comes from, even if they do NOTHING but send smoldering, longing looks back and forth.  Emotion, connection, passion, it’s the female gaze trifecta.

I would rather watch a man pick a flower out of a woman’s hair than see them fuck any day of the week.  Is this a great movie?  NO!  Is this prestige TV? NO!  Does it cater to the female gaze?  Oh hell yeah.  Two people walking on a scenic beach in the aftermath of World War Two, actually talking to each other, simmering with unspoken sexual tension that they cannot act upon because of Reasons, and the dude is wearing an adorable British hat.  Forget the guy, I’d have sex just with the hat. 

There is this bizarre phenomenon where Stuff Women Like is oft crammed into programming that is maybe not quite as good, she said diplomatically, and at the same time we’re all supposed to stand around oohing and aahing over the courage of GoT bringing us such important fictional elements as women getting shot to death with crossbows for a teenage boy’s sexual satisfaction.  Enough!  I want Stuff Women Like IN my prestige TV show, Powers That Be!  How’s about you satisfy MY gaze for a fucking change, even though it’s not actually a gaze per se and more a set of fairly elusive criteria to be fulfilled?

It would take so LITTLE to please me.  I’m desperate here.  I just watched a completely weird show called The Book Group (which is apparently better than I am giving it credit for because all I’ve done since I watched it is wonder what happens in the two seasons I didn’t watch.) It’s written by a woman instead of by a chubby older gent or two frat boys, and thus it has a pleasantly surprising number of female gaze moments in it, including one of the hottest kisses I’ve ever seen. 

Let me relive, er, I mean, describe it. 

After this huge setup which is too complicated to get into, but it involves talking rapidly, embarrassing misunderstandings, and books, an attractive guy with a sexy accent kisses this neurotic woman in a taxi and says “Goodnight, Gorgeous,” and then…nothing else happens.  They don’t have sex, they don’t get together, there are no man butts at all.  I don’t know.  I can’t explain it.  It was magic.  If the man butt had been shown, I would have looked at it after that kiss, and I think I would have approved.

I never had a moment like that in Game of Thrones despite all the super incredibly hot men in it, including the attractive guy with the sexy accent.  I don’t remember ever feeling much of anything below the equator once poor Drogo died, despite there being like 400 guys I’d throw it down with in a heartbeat on the payroll of HBO. In seven seasons, the most attractive male cast ever assembled – I mean, these guys are like the Avengers of sexual desirability – and I felt absolutely nothing.

Something about that just ain’t right. You don’t have to call it misogyny, but I do.

*The books are better, but do still have some of the fatal flaws of the show, in addition to having their own set of fatal flaws too.  

but men suffer too tho

but men suffer too tho

As some of my readers know, I’m doing a winterlong deep dive into Game of Thrones on Ordinary Times, mainly because I am so sick of even thinking about anything having to do with American politics that I needed a completely fictional palate cleanser.

My latest piece was about the lack of romance in Game of Thrones, and how it was representative of a larger issue where male creators eschew the female aesthete, forgoing traditionally female fictional interests like romance and love and marriage in favor of sex and boobs and rape scenes.

The reaction to it was somewhat interesting.  Despite me writing what I thought was a piece about me explaining that I enjoy romantic tropes, and mourning their absence in Game of Thrones, chalking it up to (and I think quite accurately) a male-centric worldview held by the show’s creators, several people said something along the lines of “It’s silly to complain about women getting mistreated in Game of Thrones, because bad things happen to men in Game of Thrones too!”

Now, I’ve gone back and read my piece a couple more times and I’m really not seeing the “Kristin ignores men’s pain” angle (as I’ve said 123,456,789 times because I talk too much, Dear Readers, I’m already on the wordy side, I simply can’t fit every angle into every piece I write and you would hate it if I tried; I know this because when I do try, you tell me how much you hate it).  I was writing about a particular thing, and NOT writing about a particular other thing, that’s all.  And I’ve heard from several people who clearly did get the point of what I was saying, so this misreading was in no way universal.

But in the interest of being as fair-minded as I could be, I considered that possibly I had some underlying attitude that was coming through subconsciously.  Yet after giving the notion some careful thought, I honestly don’t see it. 

I have read – and enjoyed – into the thousands of books where women are treated badly.  Quentin Tarantino is my favorite director and I think The Hateful Eight in which a woman is brutally abused is his greatest masterpiece.  I literally just watched a horror movie in which a woman is gang raped and then sewed inside the belly of a cow to be eaten alive by stomach acid, and my primary complaint with it was not the violence, but that she was a “nature photographer” – a job very few young good-looking women have.  And I certainly don’t shy away from violence done against women in my personal writing at all whatsoever, please read my story Women In Fridges lest you doubt it.  

Fictional violence against women is a narrative tool I respect and use in my own art, WHEN IT MAKES SENSE TO THE PLOT AND TO THE GREATER THEME.  Violence against women is a thing that exists, it’s the overarching theme of far too many women’s lives, and so of course it should be included in fiction. Truth, it would be unbelievably patronizing if it wasn’t, if that part of life so very critical to the female experience was glossed over entirely because our delicate pink brains couldn’t handle it.  I really, really do not think it makes any sense whatsoever based on my personal aesthete and my history as both an artist and a cultural critic that I am secretly squeamish about violence done against women.  It is only when it is done poorly, cheaply, and in a misogynistic way, feeding the worst instincts humanity possesses, as it was in the tv version of Game of Thrones, that I take issue with it.

But since “but men suffer too tho” is a criticism oft levied against feminist Game of Thrones pieces, it seems worthy of a closer look.

(Since this is more of a feminism issue and not as much a pop culture issue, I decided to write this as another exciting installment of the “but men tho” series here on my blog rather than at OT, even though way fewer people will read it.  Them’s the breaks.)

Before we get started, a brief statement about why my job being a conservative feminist is so hard:

The Culture War.

By virtue of the Culture War, everything has been politicized so greatly that even innocuous and apolitical viewpoints that are genuinely arrived at and sincerely held tend to get wrapped up into it.  Like, for instance, if I were to say that I “stand” with JK Rowling, for instance, you might make some assumptions about me, even if I was actually saying that she and I were riding in an elevator together.

I suspect that some of the people who said “but men suffer too tho” after reading my recent piece were coming into it with a similar set of assumptions. They saw me “standing with JK Rowling” as she pushed the button to go to the 4th floor, and I pushed the button to go to the 9th, and drew a conclusion that they shouldn’tve drawn. They saw a chick with a feminist blog writing about Game of Thrones, disliking certain elements of it and attributing that dislike to a lack of female viewpoint in the show, and then levied the same criticism against me that fit many other GoT thinkpieces a whole lot better.  

But I’m just on the elevator, friends.  JK Rowling may be in here with me, and I may be standing right alongside her, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that she and I are in lockstep about any particular issue.  Even if we are talking about the very same subject, she will have her take, and I will have mine.  Even our takes did happen to be pretty close to identical, we may come at our viewpoints from two different directions only to arrive at the same spot.

I can have a set of beliefs that for some may appear to hover perilously at the fringes of what some deride and discount as “feminism” and yet have come to that place through an entirely different path, with a completely different set of beliefs and observations underlying my viewpoint, observations that I believe are in keeping with my moderately conservative values both in terms of human dignity and art.  But if one were to come into reading one of my pieces and immediately assume that what I’m writing falls under some umbrella of radical feminism, and view things through that lens, I suspect such a reader would likely bring a set of assumptions that might color their interpretation of said piece.

The ongoing politicization of everything has left people not only in perpetual states of misunderstandings regarding the actual meaning of thinkpieces, but defending some pretty heinous shit. I think this is a mistake, and I urge all thoughtful people out there (all seventeen of you) to maybe take a step back to realize that some of the things people on “your side” do are not great, and some of the things people on “their side” do are not inherently eeeevvuuulll.   Like maybe, just maybe, we all need to take a step back before gloating about Rush Limbaugh roasting in Hell, and maybe we really don’t need to be defending Ted Cruz going to Cancun this week either.  

Or maybe we should make the effort to not go into a thinkpiece that was Actually About Something and assume it is Actually About Something Else because we have such a hefty set of political blinders on that we can no longer see the word forest for the philosophical trees.

So my question is this, for those people who hate feminism and feminist-adjacent thinking –  both conservatives who should know better because cons are supposed to be civilized folk and celebrate female modesty and sexual restraint and all that, and liberals who claim to support women’s rights but (rightfully) despise the depths to which the feminist movement has sunk – do you hate feminism so much that you’re actually defending women being depicted as graphically raped on television for the delight of the modern male porn-addicted libido-gluttons JUST BECAUSE feminists also dislike it?  

Is being team anti-feminist so important to you that you’re really going to play the “but men suffer too tho” card here?

That’s a big question, so before we tackle that, let’s see if the complaint holds water.  DO men suffer on Game of Thrones just as much as women do, and even if they DO, does that make all the rapeyness therefore ok?  

(WITH A REMINDER THAT I WAS NEVER SAYING THE SHOW SHOULD NOT HAVE DEPICTED VIOLENCE, AND EVEN SEXUAL VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN! I never ever said that. I was merely pointing out that Game of Thrones featured exclusively female-violence-themed scenarios explicitly catering to the sexual tastes of men, while giving the audience little or nothing that catered to the specific sexual tastes of women. I felt the lack, and personally I find that interesting and worthy of rumination.)

Some pretty heinous things happen to men at the hands of other men on GoT, and also at the hands of some women too.  It is known, as the Khaleesi’s handmaidens would say. The world we are being shown in GoT is brutal, nasty, terrible, and populated with some utterly sadistic fucks of both genders.  Yes, men are the recipients of great violence in the fictional Land of Ice and Fire.

But you know what?  No men are raped.  

In the vast majority of cases, the violence done to men is in battle or in some other form of physical confrontation that was entirely voluntary on the part of the male character. 

To give an example, it’s shocking and stomach-turning when the Mountain gouges out Oberyn Martell’s eyes, but Oberyn VOLUNTEERED and was in fact super into the idea of fighting the Mountain.  In most cases of male-on-male violence in GoT, it involves men waging war against men.  If said men had chosen a different path, they would not have ended up in the situation where violence is done to them.  Even in the case of Ramsay torturing Theon, if Theon hadn’t been so eager to be a warmonger and then a betrayer of the Starks, he would not even have been in that situation to start with.  And no, I’m not blaming the victim (going to war is not the equivalent of wearing a short skirt!). I am simply pointing out that violence one encounters fighting in a war voluntarily against other men has a different vibe than whatever the fuck this is, which is NOT in the book (in the book, the Hound simply rescues Sansa from a crowd, without the gory details).

Reminder, this brave child was 15 years of age when she filmed this scene (with the aid of some clever camera trickery, but even still).  And upon watching this scene, just having reread A Clash of Kings, I realized that unlike in the book where the riot of King’s Landing is intended as character development for both the Hound and Sansa, this scene was shot with the primary purpose of making sure the audience knows the Hound is not that bad, really.  Sansa’s suffering is used as a prop to make the Hound look like an ok guy.  It’s a scene shot for the benefit of the type of men who get off on watching stuff like that, for the purpose of making a male character look more admirable, and it was done on the back of a 15 year old girl.  I’m not saying it shouldn’t have happened; at 15 I was definitely capable of making that decision for myself and if Sophie Turner and her family were ok with her doing that scene, so be it.  I’m not saying this to remove her agency, not at all.  

I am saying LOOK AT THE MOTIVATION underlying a) changing this from the books in such a salacious way b) the gratuitous nature of what did not have to be THAT outrageously gratuitous and c) the way it is all centered around making a male character cooler.  And then add to that d) David Benioff and DB Weiss largely dispensing with the interpersonal relationship between these two characters, a relationship that Book Sansa is still dwelling on books later, wrapping it up by having the Hound basically insult Sansa for actually being raped, blaming it on her because she didn’t let him save her, and Sansa saying “no seriously, please don’t feel bad, Person-Who-Just-Insulted-Me, it’s ok that I was raped because it made me a better person, and stuff” which is fucking appalling.

Oh yeah and did I mention no men are raped?  Why is that?  Well, I believe it’s because men don’t find other men getting raped to be a turn on, and so that definite actual thing that really happens (remember, it’s the REALISM, or so we keep being told, the realism of Game of Thrones is why, in a world chock full of rapists, women are walking around with their tits out constantly and yet no one save Gilly ever has a single living baby over the span of ten year’s time, because of REALISM) is excluded from this glorious pageant of REALISM because men find it makes their peepees sad.

Because that’s what this boils down to, and that’s what I was driving at in my last piece.  Game of Thrones is full of imagery and events designed to turn men on, whether it’s watching that sexy sexy violence against women or seeing cool dudes act even cooler thus fulfilling men’s power fantasies, and not so much stuff that turns women on.  That, that right there, was the point of my piece.  Not that men don’t deserve to enjoy stuff that they enjoy (even when it’s a bit naughty and makes the extremo-feministas screech), and not that there should not have been violence against women in GoT, and BEYOND NOT that I thought in any way shape or form that bad stuff in tv shows should only happen to men while women IDK swoon on cushions or something.  Not even a little.

I just wanted something in GoT that I liked, too.  Was that so much to ask?  Why am I some sort of unhinged zealot freakazoid for asking for something slightly romantic to be included in a show that is replete with things that are meant to turn men on? In a world stuffed full of every goddamn kink the people at Vice Magazine can invent, all of them waving their multicolored flags proudly, is there really, truly NO ROOM in the world for people like me who just want to see a boy meet a girl and then maybe they kiss sometime? 

So let’s go back to our original question.  Is being team anti-feminist so important to you that you’re really going to play the “but men suffer too tho” card here?  

Or as Casey Bloys, programming director at HBO said, trying to justify the abundance of sexual violence against women in GoT, “No, you haven’t seen men raped, but the point I would make is that in Game of Thrones, men are castrated, a guy is fed a cake made from his sons, the violence is pretty extreme on all fronts.  I take your point there that so far we haven’t seen a man raped, but my point is, the violence is spread equally.”

Spread equally?  Not exactly.  Because one of these things is not like the others.  Can we be fucking real here and stop pretending that a dude getting stabbed with a sword in a battle and a sobbing 15-year-old being held down and raped by several men (almost) is just exactly the same? The fictionalized glorification of women getting abused and raped is problematic because a whole lot of men are into it, while NO ONE except maybe the ghost of Jeffrey Dahmer is getting off on watching Walder Frey eat a cake made from his dead sons.  In Game of Thrones, we have highly eroticized portrayals of female pain for the sexual enjoyment of men, alongside the complete removal of traditional romantic elements that women enjoy (some of which are present in the books) also for the enjoyment of men.    

On both fronts, Game of Thrones is a show for men, by men, focused on men, for the benefit of all peniskind, except for maybe Theon.  And if you don’t see a huge double standard with that, I don’t even know, man.

Let me reiterate once again, I am not coming for your titties, me boys.  Keep em.  I’m not even worried about the rapeishness of it all.  I merely, humbly, respectfully wanted to point out how sad it is that women are so desperate for anything featuring female protagonists, that we’re willing to call Game of Thrones empowering when it isn’t, and sexy when it isn’t (at least for a real whole lot of us.  YMMV).

Look, I am writing these stupid GoT pieces not because I have a feminist axe to grind. I’m writing them because how Game of Thrones went so terribly wrong is this delicious puzzle for me to solve, and I definitely think that a lack of things that women find appealing to make room for more of what men find appealing was a part of the problem.  Not all of it, but part of it.

We all on the same page now?

Even though I’m riding in an elevator with the feminists, I promise, I’m getting off on a totally different floor.  But for some people, apparently I’m tainted by my proximity. For these people, either I go all in and support every goddamn bullshit misogynistic chunk o tripe regurgitated by the men’s movement without ever questioning it, or else I’m a traitor to the cause and will be joining Team Lena Dunham at any second. 

Lest we forget, ladies, we are supposed to be satisfied with the scraps we are thrown from the men’s table, and never question the status quo or we will be labeled as difficult or whiny, or worse still, FEMINISTS!!!  GASP!

But there’s a whole lot of wiggle room between the MRA and the radfems, and to view the world solely as a “yer either wit’ us, or yer agin’ us” dichotomy is going to end up with otherwise reasonable people missing out on a whole lot of nuanced positions, and it may even mean ya end up standing with some pretty gross people and defending positions you don’t even hold.

not all men tho

not all men tho

One of my greatest joys in life is having male friends. As a general rule I find I mesh better with humans of the dude-ly variety than about 90% of my fellow females (but oh, that 10%, couldn’t live without them). I assume this was because I was born without the scented candle gene, but it may also be because I could never afford to buy any large flags with seasonally themed pictures of Winnie The Pooh on them.

When I get to writing about men and women, some of my male friends often scratch their heads and say “but atomic, I thought you were cool”. Some of them even get mad at me, I think, which is unfortunate, but I didn’t start this writing journey to win friends, I did it to influence people.  

I started this blog because there is shit in this world that needs to be said and no one is saying it, whether that is talking about Woke Fascism, or whether it’s talking about the day to day issues that real women face. Not feminist harpies who only care about “womyn” to advance their Woke Fascist political agenda of putting a penis in every bathroom that presently lacks them, and not crazed-with-entitlement Karens smashing dishes and shrieking at their underlings up to and including their husbands. I’m speaking to and for the rest of us, the majority of us, the gals just going about their day wiping snotty noses and Swiffering the floor, just doing the best we can.

At times this task that has been thrust upon me requires me to be somewhat of a bitch. You may be surprised to learn this, but I actually don’t like being a bitch. It doesn’t come at all naturally to me, and I would very much prefer it if I could sugar coat the stuff I write and still have everyone get the jist. Like, maybe I could just drop a few subtle hints, and then have people search their hearts and do a little research and come around to my way of thinking in their own time. 

Sadly, that doesn’t appear to be how it works; people seem to pay a lot more attention to things that piss them off than gentle suggestions. So piss, I shall. 

There’s a reason why they say “the truth hurts,” it’s because sometimes recording unpopular facts for the consumption of your fellow human stings and the more it stings, the closer it is to the mark.

And I don’t much care if that surly guy over there doesn’t like it. I wasted ⅘ of my life learning this stuff that I’m trying to express to my fellow women, and I don’t want anyone else (especially not my daughter) to have to waste the best years of their lives relearning the same goddamn lessons that nearly broke me to learn. Nor do I want other women to remain unwarned, unarmed, and completely vulnerable to the copious amounts of lies and bullshit that men and the so-called “feminist” movement spew on a daily basis.

Here is the point where I am required by law to interject “some men, not all men” which is, of course, what this piece is about. 

Because even though culture has deemed it perfectly ok to say or at least imply that feminists are universally evil ball-busting harpies who want to emasculate men and then tack on the notion that all women are incompetent nagging manipulating users who can do nothing but whine for a man to squash spiders for them without issuing even the slightest disclaimer, it is decidedly NOT ok to ever generalize about men, no, nu-uh, no way. Not even when it’s something that is inarguable, such as that men commit sexual assault more than women or that women have more chronic health problems than men do or that women have periods and menopause and babies and not “people with uteruses”. Or even just basic, obvious, day to day stuff such as me writing that women are far more likely to crochet than men are. It’s fucking amazing the incredible stretches men are constantly making to be sure they’re injected into every facet of female existence all the time.

Some. Men. 

Please notice how that standalone two word sentence does absolutely nothing to improve the flow and readability of this piece.

A few months back I was followed on Twitter by a seemingly nice fellow who posted a lot of animal pictures of interesting European animals like hedgehogs and stuff, and knew some obscure historical factoids. I like animals, and I’m am absolute sucker for obscure historical factoids, so we struck up a bit of a friendship and had a couple interesting discussions. Now, I should have gotten a little heads up about this guy when I wrote something about women’s health* and he played the “but men tho” card, the catalyst for my previous piece on this subject, but men tho

But for some reason, probably because I am nice and I truly believe most people mean well, I understand I’m fighting an uphill battle with my weird atomic brain that doesn’t work the same way other people’s do and makes me have all these unusual thoughts and shit. So I forgave that minor irritation and kept him around. After all if I got rid of everyone who irritated me that would be an awful lot of people, starting with myself.

The past couple months have been super busy for me. I have a lot of real life stuff going on and so I was forced to really cut back on the amount of stuff I was writing (which was supremely profoundly infuriating considering there was an election approaching) and the amount of time I spent on social media (which was probably for the best). During this time, I stumbled onto an article about the singer Don McLean, and set it aside to share it on Twitter eventually. 

This article encapsulated a lot of attitudes I tend to hate – incessant navel gazing on the experience of being a Baby Boomer, a nonsensical celebration of a dude who wrote precisely two good songs a million years ago yet he’s still in the media for some reason (the most famous of which, American Pie, is a total celebration of being a Baby Boomer), not to mention a comfortably rich person eschewing property like a Buddhist hippie when the truth is he’s giving an interview from a mansion he has in rural Maine whilst discussing the dispensation of his countless possessions (by his admission, including a collection of both guns and hunting knives. This will be important later on).      

Then, to top it all off, when asked about a domestic incident committed against his wife of 30 years, Patrisha (this is spelled correctly. Don McLean constantly spells her name ‘Patricia’; I’ll let you read into that what you will) in 2016, McLean replied that he had only pled guilty to “provide closure for his family” (a term so laden with hippy dippy psychobabble BS I can’t EVEN with that). I don’t know about you, but I always plead guilty to crimes to selflessly provide closure for others, don’t you?  Surely that statement was entirely true and not at all deceptive.

McLean apparently felt NO responsibility for his actions whatsoever; in his mind he was waylaid by some lying crazed harpy spinning fables who managed to trick him into being married to her for three decades before launching her master plan to ruin his life at that point for no apparent reason whatsoever. He went on to say “Patricia (sic) wrote me a love letter every month for 30 years and they immediately turned to salt” and “I can truly say that my ex-wife is the worst person I ever knew.”  

This, to me, told me everything I needed to know about one Mr. Don McLean. It’s narcissistic gaslighting and abusive, controlling behavior. On the one hand, he was married for 30 years, evidently happily enough, since he’d continued the relationship even tho he’d been divorced once before. And who was he married to? A woman who wrote him love letters on a monthly basis for three decades. The sole criticism that popped into his head when asked is that when she left him was that the love letters that she had written no longer had any appeal for him. It was all about how HE was affected by no longer being the center of her universe. (I’m fairly happily married, also for 30 years, and I’m quite sure my husband could come up with worse than that about me even on a good day).  

And then after HE abused HER and she left him (in her words, only after being away from him long enough after his arrest that she could see reality…again, classic gaslighting) he saw nothing wrong with using his bully pulpit in the media – a position of significantly more power than his wife had – to run her down and make himself look like the victim. The dude is a piece of shit, ok? People who aren’t pieces of shit walk away from even pretty bad relationships and wish their partner well, or at the least don’t take every opportunity to publicly humiliate them.

But because I wanted to be fair-minded, I tracked down and read the police report (which was filed against Patrisha McLean’s will at the insistence of police) and more about her story, which included Mr. McLean’s lawyers tricking her into signing a non-disclosure agreement so she couldn’t fully tell her side of the story without legal repercussions, and then him trying to sue her for taking part in a “woman’s voices” project. 

A powerful man using that power to silence a woman regarding his abuse. 

I also read more about Don McLean and found out he’d left a long string of bizarre, narcissistic behavior and thinly veiled threats of violence in his wake – which certainly put those guns and knives he was talking about in a different light. 

Satisfied that the spousal abuse in question had actually occurred, I posted the article on Twitter with a tweet in which I used obvious hyperbole and exaggeration in the form of humor to make my point about Don McLean being a real piece of work. I post articles all the time about a variety of issues; this one didn’t stand out to me as any different from the rest.

Why did I do this? Why did I even care? Well, because a lot of women are in this position, and seeing men in the media saying things like “once I was arrested for terrifying my wife with a fit of rage for several hours, threatening to strangle my her, chasing her through the house till she had to lock herself in the bathroom to get away from me, attempting to smash down the door to get her and only then did she call 911 and still didn’t want to press charges against me, I realized she was actually the worst person on earth and her precious love letters had no more meaning for me, wahhh!” with absolutely no one calling them out on their fucking bullshit, I can imagine would be mighty discouraging.  

One of the hardest elements of spousal abuse to overcome is that women feel like no one will believe them. In many cases, women don’t even believe themselves, having been gaslighted for so many years they don’t even know truth from fiction any more. I can imagine reading an article in which a narcissistic abuser WHO WAS ARRESTED AND PLED GUILTY was praised, enabled, and given a public forum to say that his victim was “the worst person on earth”? In 2020 I find that just about infuriating.  

Ladies, I believe you.  Patrisha, I believe you.

The words and acts of Don McLean seemed so egregious that I didn’t even find my tweet even the slightest bit controversial. I am actually SHOCKED that anyone found it controversial. Even if I was being completely unfair and hadn’t done my due diligence investigating before posting, I would have hoped my readers (friends!?!) understand that perhaps I have some deep seated and personal reasons for sharing said article. I would have hoped that in a world in which women’s needs garnered a fraction of respect that men’s most fleeting wants do, the need for women to call out to each other in solidarity and support outweighs the want of some wronged dude to tell me “not all men tho” on behalf of a millionaire wife beater who had a raging case of the sadz that his precious love letters didn’t carry the romantic punch they used to.  

Well, along comes Wronged Dude, taking me to task for “not investigating fully” and “rushing to judgement” and “perhaps the woman was the real abuser here”. I don’t recall the exact words. I didn’t screenshot it because truly, I just couldn’t wrap my head around anyone taking issue with what was clearly half-joke, half-vent on my part that I had expected everyone to ignore as atomic being atomic or maybe even to view with a smidge of sympathy for the women who have to put up with constant public badmouthing by their abusive exes from here to eternity. I certainly couldn’t wrap my head around anyone taking the side of a man who was arrested and pled guilty to spousal abuse badmouthing his victim in an internationally published article (especially after tricking her into signing an NDA and then suing HER for talking about it.)  

How is that even OK? How can anyone even think that’s ok? 

Regardless, I gave the benefit of the doubt and I clarified that I had actually read the police report, and I thought surely that would ameliorate the situation. Though FFS, why is it that ~I~ should have to prove I did my homework, when Wronged Dude clearly hadn’t bothered! Why is HE the authority figure who gets to lecture, and I am the uninformed ninny who deserves a stern talking to? I suspect it’s because I have a vagina.

I really did go out of my way to be fair to Don McLean before sharing the article, because hey, I’m a fucking journalist even if I’m only an amateur, and I’m sorry, but I completely believe he was an abuser. I simply do not feel that the world is in any way diminished by me being ever-so-slightly unfair to a famous millionaire who threatened to kill his wife.

But no, apparently that wasn’t enough to satisfy Wronged Dude. He came back at me again asking me how I knew that the police report was even accurate. Then he went into the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard situation, claiming that Amber Heard was “proven to be the real abuser”. 

Let’s just take a moment to recall that Johnny Depp called Amber Heard a “mushy, pointless, dangling, overused flappy fish market” and said “Let’s burn Amber!! Let’s drown her before we burn her.  I will fuck her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she’s dead!” 

Yes, clearly, that was a little hyperbole Mr. Depp was engaging in, but please recall that I was engaging in hyperbole about Don McLean too. 

Are men allowed to use hyperbole but not women?? Is that how this works? Men can tell jokes about murdering a woman and raping her corpse and society explains it away as just frustrated venting, but a woman telling a joke about a man she doesn’t even know being a wife beater (after he pled guilty to spousal abuse, no less) well, that cannot be allowed, because the sanctity of the male sex must never be diminished even for a moment?  

Nah.

Even setting all that aside, a British court just agreed that the evidence supports Depp WAS a ‘wife-beater’ – their term, not mine. Thus appeals regarding the probable innocence of one Mr. Johnny Depp really don’t carry a lot of weight for me.

Dammit, I am just SO FRICKING TIRED of the automatic assumption of “the woman probably drove him into beating her.” I am SO FRICKING SICK of apologists for abusive men. Women are NOT TO BLAME for abuse. Even if they’re bitchy, shrieky, demanding, disobedient, or Amber Heard, women do not deserve to live in a situation where they are bullied, threatened, called names, humiliated, demeaned, gaslighted, pushed around, have their hair pulled, things thrown at them, and a hand placed around their throat, let alone the more egregious, obvious forms of physical abuse.

In fact, anyone who entertains the notion that “the woman drove him into beating her” surely, in the interest of fairness, must acknowledge that it’s ENTIRELY possible that a man being abusive could indeed drive a woman to respond in kind. But women are expected to either be inert passionless lumps and take endless amounts of abuse with gentle good humor, or else be told they had it coming if they fight back (in many cases even if they simply have a tart tongue.)

She drove him to it? Well, maybe he drove her to driving him to it in the first place!

Two can play at this game. Yet society as a whole circles the wagons time after time to stick up for men and immediately blame women. Why is that? 1.5 million people have signed a petition to get Amber Heard fired from her job for reporting Johnny Depp’s abuse. 1.5 MILLION PEOPLE. Yet I can’t even write a tweet about a dude who was actually arrested and plead guilty to spousal abuse?

Really?

There are, indeed, terrible and even abusive women in the world. (WHY DO I NEED TO ISSUE THIS DISCLAIMER??? WHY DOES DISCUSSING THE FACT THAT MEN ABUSE WOMEN REQUIRE A DISCUSSION OF WOMEN WHO ABUSE MEN??? FFS!!!!!) but there is already a cottage industry of men’s rights activists and apparently major media organizations like the Irish Times, standing ready to ride to the aid of Don McLean, Johnny Depp, and the men like them.

Who stands up for women? Surely not the feminist movement, whose sole solution for male violence appears to be Marxist politics and lesbianism, which is a fine solution if you’re a Marxist lesbian but most women aren’t. I am not. I love men, for all the good it does me. I just want men to give women some room to fucking exist without having to constantly, constantly, I mean literally every second of every day, take into account men’s delicate egos, putting them first, making sure we women can’t ever discuss anything, even our own health and own abuse, without being sure to put men front and center in the conversation.  

These requests for the “not all men tho” disclaimers sometimes read a lot to me like having to ASK PERMISSION from men to have a conversation with other women. Like some big silverback gorilla stalking through the tribe eavesdropping on the female gorillas talking to each other about their female gorilla concerns, and standing over them threateningly till they meekly say “not all men tho” and then he’s like “ok, I’ll allow this conversation.”

Guess what, fuckers? I don’t kneel for Marxists and I don’t mouth meaningless mottos like “not all men tho” in order to earn the right to speak. Certainly not for a person on the Internet who I barely know, who is defending a man who pled guilty to spousal abuse, by invoking the name of another man who was found by a court of law to be a “wife beater”.

(Reminder, this is not a longtime male friend with whom I have had many interesting conversations and respectful differences of opinion with. There ARE several guys out there who have the standing to have this discussion with me because they’ve earned the right through respectful discussions in the past, and I welcome them to always, always open the lines of communication and I promise I won’t write a scathing essay about you). 

This person was basically a stranger, and rather than a discussion, he was lecturing me about how I should be kinder to men when they are not only accused of, but pled guilty to, abuse. And without any knowledge of my life or backstory whatsoever. Without even any knowledge of the case itself!

There is one man on Planet Earth whose balls I happily butter and that man is my husband, who I have lived with for 30 years, who has been by my side through a hell of a lot of shit over the years, both good and bad, on both of our parts, and has earned the right to request, even demand my emotional support. 

The rest of you must look elsewhere for your affirmations, I’m afraid.

So anyway, I found myself unfollowed (even though I think I was relatively polite, all things considered) and then this doozy was posted:

Yes, it is bye, Wronged Dude. Because this is a perfect example of the attitude I’m talking about here. An attitude in which men are the arbiters of everything women do and say, and women must take men’s very delicate feelings into consideration in every encounter. Indeed, a woman must put the wishes of a total stranger who happens to be male ahead of her own wants (because hey, I wanted to post this article, or else I wouldn’t have done it) and ahead of the needs (NEEDS) of her own sex to come together in support and solidarity when their lives are literally in danger.

I posted, on my own private Twitterfeed, an area of the Internet I am meant to have control over, an article about spousal abuse that rubbed me the wrong way. I did this for the benefit of other women who may occasionally need to see some semblance of a world in which giving abusers a public media platform to continue harassing their victims is not ok. And also for the benefit of myself, for a variety of reasons I won’t go into. 

Nary a soul was hurt by this, as Don McLean does not follow me on Twitter (yet).  

Wronged Dude picked a fight over it (Not a discussion, but a fight, and I know this because another male friend started a respectful discussion over the same subject in which they also disagreed with me. Trust me, I do know the difference.) in an intellectually insulting, mansplainy way where I was assumed not to have done my research into this issue, without doing any research into it himself. 

Then he refused to be satisfied with my explanation that I had indeed done my research, refused to believe a police report and a guilty plea, refused to see anything wrong with a powerful man badmouthing his ex-wife in a newspaper, acted like all men accused of abuse should be assumed innocent even when proven guilty because “she provoked him”, invoked the name of a man the British court system has just deemed “wife beater”, in defense of a man the American legal system ruled was an abuser, and then claims “no one gets to tell someone else they should put up with abuse” and “dancing on my nerves at length to make it all about them”.

Like, unironically.

WTAF? Who is telling who they should put up with abuse? Who is the one really trying to make it all about them? Who came onto whose Twitterfeed to lecture and berate? Who was really the aggressor, here?

NOT ALL MEN THO!! You better say it or I’ll hold my breath till I turn blue!! You better say NOT ALL MEN THO or else!! You better do what I say or there will be consequences! You better say NOT ALL MEN THO or I won’t LIKE YOU ANY MORE!! I will withdraw my friendship and my affection unless you do what I want you to do!! SAY NOT ALL MEN THO!!!! SAY IT, YOU FUCKING CUNT!!!!!

Oh oh, was that hyperbole again?? Well I figured since it was ok for Johnny Depp I could get away with it too.  

*Yes, men have health issues, but that doesn’t preclude the need to discuss women’s health needs, and doing so doesn’t detract from the massive amount of time and energy and scientific research that is focused on men. 

cornered snakes bite

cornered snakes bite

Once upon a time, when I still thought people were reasonable and convincible, I used to spend a lot of time on my fave site Ordinary-Times.com trying to patiently explain to liberals how scary and threatening some of their behavior appeared to everyday folks like me in the hopes that I could somehow help to encourage détente.  Because I understood that a whole lot of conservatives just wanted to go about their lives and mind their beeswax, and were perfectly willing to let others do the same, but that was awfully hard to do considering the levels of hostility and even outright aggression that seemed to be coming from liberals.

This mostly fell on deaf ears which has brought us to where we are today, on the brink of a civil war, just like I predicted it would.  

Somewhere along the way, I said the following: 

Cornered snakes bite.

One of the things that people assume about me is that because I point out some stuff that’s going on on the left, that I never have problems with anything people on the right are doing.  And that, of course, is complete nonsense.  I often complain about the stuff people on the right are doing here in my blog, I just don’t do it on Ordinary-Times.com for a variety of reasons, starting with the fact that I have a limited amount of time and there are already enough people on Ordinary-Times.com doing exactly that.  I literally cannot write about every subject I’d like to write about, there just aren’t enough hours in the day and most of you think I write too much as it is, so why would I not simply let people who want to do it, do it instead of me? 

The reason I blather on about the stuff on the left so much is because so many otherwise smart and awesome people are willfully ignoring it, and for too long conservatives just tried to pretend it was all going to go away while we were busy doing other things. But while we were living our lives, the Woke Fascist doctrine has been embraced by the media, the corporations, tech industries, the educational system, and virtually every too-powerful American institution that there is.  Seriously, regardless of your personal politics, we ALL should have some very grave concerns about this development of what is tantamount to a religious movement being in bed with so many American institutions, and I find it incredibly concerning that people who should have those concerns, don’t.

Here and now, I feel my limited energies are best suited by focusing my energies on the Woke Fascist elephant in the room, no matter how much some of you would prefer to ignore its existence.

None of that means that I ever think that the right is above reproach.  Far from it.  There are some gross and problematic people on the right, just like there are gross and problematic people in every dogma.  Gross and problematic people are not rare, but fortunately, the grossest and most problematic people in any given dogma do not necessarily represent widely held beliefs regardless of how many “news stories” “journalists” “write” where they take a tweet from a freak with six followers and act like it’s some sort of a trend. No, when it comes to fascism, it’s the fascism of the powerful we should be concerned about rather than the action of a couple Internet cranks.  

Thus, when people take me to task for pointing out Woke Fascism, and assume that because they can come up with some example of a lone wolf whack job that did something evil and terrifying that they’ve negated my argument, they’re entirely full of shit.  Like I’ve said in the past, the difference between conservatives and liberals is that both of them have some fucked up and troubled people in their ranks because fucked up and troubled people abound.  But the conservative ones are mostly outside the mainstream while the liberals allow these people to rise to positions of prominence in their movement – you can tell by the blue check marks by so many of their names.

All that having been said, ideas…even ideas that come from gross and problematic people…have a way of being contagious.  Some wacky norm-destroying notion…say, I don’t know, getting rid of the electoral college, or packing the Supreme Court, for example…appears on the fringe, and then it enters the mainstream, even infiltrating to the intellectuals, the leaders, the people who are supposed to hold themselves to a higher standard.  We’ve certainly seen that happen again and again in the past.  (Personally I think this phenomenon dates back at least until the Clinton administration, but hey, let’s just do something we all can agree upon and call it the past four years.) 

Beyond that, even non-gross and non-problematic people do have the undeniable tendency to get caught up in moments, and once the mob mentality takes over, independent thought evaporates.  Thus there’s wisdom to be had in making a stand whenever you see something that just cannot be allowed, even when you kind of understand the reasons why people might have gotten caught up in something they didn’t especially think through. Because ideas spread even better than coronavirus does, and they aren’t killed by disposable wipes.

The last couple days it’s been a thing for Trump supporters to show up to Biden rallies and heckle them.  While I don’t think this is at all necessary, and in pretty much any other set of circumstances I’d call it enormously bad form, I’ll admit that after seeing many major media organizations celebrate things like armies of Tik Tok teenagers requesting tickets to Trump rallies to prevent people who wanted to go from being there, and protestors surrounding people just trying to eat a meal in a restaurant or get some sleep before work the next day and screaming into their faces or their windows, and censorship of media organizations and journalists for running stories unfavorable to Biden whilst having spent years running any rumor about Donald Trump a homeless man outside CNN muttered, it felt a little bit to me like turnabout is fair play. Like this time maybe it’s the Right who gets to indulge in one of the raw displays of cultural power the Left constantly trucks in.

Because that’s what it is.  These things are meant as a display of power, that’s why the left engages in these practices and why the leftist media celebrates them, to remind conservatives how little power they have in the Culture War.  These acts are acts of aggression, meant to cow and intimidate, let there be no mistake.  Alinsky’s First Rule of Radicals, people.

Well, speaking of trucks, this happened: 

Come on guys, that’s no good.  That is not badass, that is just bad, ass.  

That’s not the way politics (even the bare knuckle brawling “Look Fat” type politics both Trump and Biden excel at) is meant to work.  You just can’t DO stuff like chase your political opponents on the FUCKING FREEWAY.  ARE YOU EVEN KIDDING ME WITH THAT?  You think the leftists are shattering norms?  Well, they certainly are, but you can’t deny that surrounding a campaign bus on a public road is shattering norms too. 

Can you imagine what would have happened if one little thing went wrong with your little convoy there (aside from the liberal’s white car veering into the pickup, either accidentally or in my opinion, accidentally on purpose?)  There could have been a horrible accident, people could easily have been killed, and for what?  Dunking on the libs?  Even setting aside issues of right and wrong and looking at it from a purely political PR perspective, do you think that would have played well in Peoria if a bunch of “crazed Trumpists” caused a multi-car pileup? 

It wouldn’t have.  It simply gives fodder for those who would try to bring us to heel.  And while I understand that even if they didn’t have fodder, they would simply have manufactured some in Fake News Labs, surely we don’t have to play into their hands by actually doing shitty stuff to people.  Make em spin their lies, don’t willingly offer up examples of the flights of fantasy the cosplayers on the left love to engage in. 

Don’t sink to their level, because this IS their level.  They’re the aggressors.  They’re the ones destroying our country and shattering the peace.  Not us.

I mean, what would have happened if the bus had been forced to stop by traffic or a flat tire or even one of those fringe whack jobs we were talking about earlier?  Y’all gonna pull someone out of the bus and threaten them?  Make them kneel on the freeway like Black Lives Matter did and swear a vow of fealty?  Reminder, it was DISGUSTING that BLM did that.  It was DISGUSTING that the media celebrated it.  It TERRIFIED me seeing that happening and watching as the Democratic leadership shrugged not only said nothing, but also bent their knees.  How DARE YOU, Texas conservatives, mimic the Woke Fascist’s shitty, awful behavior in my name?  Using threats of violence to intimidate your political opponents is the act of power-drunk totalitarian pigs and NOT conservatives who believe in the rule of law.  

That is NOT the type of people we want to be.  It’s not the type of people we ARE.

Look, I get it, ok?  I have written about it in the past, how the liberals keep pushing their agenda forward, even as the conservatives have tried to meet them part of the way.  I know that it feels like all we have done is retreat and retreat and retreat and yet somehow still get called the aggressor by the lying and deceiving Democrats and their media lapdogs.  I have written about how scary it is for so many of us the sentiments coming from not only rank and file liberals, but from powerful people who have real control over our lives and livelihoods.  I understand how tempting it is to respond to violence in the streets, to harassment and intimidation in kind.

I really want my compatriots to understand that it is NOT that I don’t understand. I do understand, boy howdy do I ever.

This has been a long month.

But someone has to be the adults here.  If we can’t push back on Woke Fascism without engaging in this type of shit, then we’ve already lost, because if conservatives don’t maintain our full commitment to the rule of law at all times, there are two possible outcomes of this Civil War we have coming at us, and neither of them is good.

Either the Woke Fascists win (and we simply make that easier for them by helping to erode the rule of law and the norms of civilized behavior), or we win, and because we are no longer dedicated to the rule of law and the norms of civilized behavior, we become the monster under the bed.  Neither of these things is a desirable outcome for our country, for liberty, for the American way of life…which I know, conservative pals, that you love and value just like I do.

Protect it.  Maintain it, in your thoughts and in your deeds. Even when it isn’t easy.

Now, a shout out to the liberals who probably think this is a pretty great essay right about now.

Again, I say, cornered snakes bite.

The reasonable people among us (kristin waves at like 3 other people) can appeal to the better angels of everyone’s nature only so far.  If a person has turned every cheek in their body and not only gotten slapped, but gotten a Molotov cocktail that is then somehow called “free speech” thrown at them, at some point, that better angel goes back to heaven, abandoning us in hell on earth.  Liberals, if you well and truly think that conservatives are fascist gun-toting whack jobs with hair triggers and a sinister agenda, my advice is to quit poking them with a stick, you fucking morons.

Up until now I have been stunned, wowed, and amazed by the level of self-control conservatives have engaged in, in the face of some major provocation.  Kudos, guys, kudos.  I’m proud of us.  But even I have started to feel pretty fed up of late, and I am, contrary to popular belief, very far from a hothead.  I know that a good number of my con chums have got to feel way more fed up than me, and are also hotter-of-head.  Again, truly, you have done so, so very well keeping the darker instincts that all human beings have within us, in check.

But cornered snakes bite, and so I call upon liberals to grow some self-awareness and self-control, stat, even though I know this call is pointless and many of you are completely incapable of it.  Because as I keep trying to express to you, every way I know how, you’re not going to like the world you’re creating, and I don’t just mean by lovingly nurturing that adorable baby gorilla, which is now a surly teen gorilla, called Woke Fascism with HGH, testosterone, and radioactive waste because it’s only going to get bigger.  

No.  You’re not going to like the world you create when the sleeping conservative basilisk (even though technically a basilisk is a kind of lizard, those of you who read Harry Potter growing up, which is apparently all liberals until you cancelled JK Rowling for Badthink, know that a basilisk is ACHTUALLY a really big snake) that you have spent the past 30 some-odd years dancing around, mocking incessantly, throwing spitballs, then water balloons, then flaming bags of dog shit, then frozen water bottles, and now, finally, Molotov cocktails at, wakes up.    

No step on snek, seriously.

I couldn’t stop a basilisk even if I wanted to, and the funny thing is, after four years of being treated pretty shabbily by some liberals (not all, some of you are quite lovely and I joyfully and hopefully in perpetuity count you as dear friends) I repeatedly tried to reach out to and find common ground with, I’m not even sure I want to.  I am about the most reasonable conservative person you’re ever going to find, libs, and you’re losing even ME.  By “you”, I of course mean, the notion that there is a peaceful resolution to any of this mess we’re in, and not “you” personally, because I know you personally don’t care about losing me even a little.

But losing my vision of that peaceful resolution is a loss, whether you realize it or not, Woke Fascists. You may have this fantasy of how you’re going to win and it will be easy like flying into the big alien ship and destroying the queen, and all the conservatives will poof into dust. Then everything will cheer from happy happy joy joy and people like me will crawl back into Middle America and continue providing you, the glorious citizens of Panem, my rulers, my betters, with food and other consumer goods. 

But you see, the thing is, when you unleash a giant monster, like a radioactive fascist gorilla on steroids, for example, the only thing that can fight it is unleashing another giant monster, like a basilisk that really just mostly wanted to drink beer on the weekends and watch some football, but you couldn’t even let it do that, you had to fucking get in the basilisk’s program on everything all the time and wage your stupid Culture War in every walk of American life regardless of the consequences.

And cornered snakes bite.     

The Myth of Over 35

The Myth of Over 35

Dear Readers, I wrote this piece some time back and then sat on it because I didn’t really want to have a bunch of arguments about fertility issues.  For whatever reason, people just DESPISE older women having babies, and will get really bent out of shape over it, choosing to argue by dredging up old studies that have been completely debunked while ignoring all other studies and all anecdotal evidence (there’s nothing wrong with anecdotes, peeps, the word “anecdote” simply means a case study that was never published). This leaves me to expend massive amounts of time looking up studies to prove what I say is true, studies which are then typically ignored because people just despise older women having babies and will stop at nothing to try to prevent it.  Not only is this BORING and a pointless waste of my precious time trying to convince the unconvinceable, it also bears a stunning resemblance to what I do all day at my job as a fertility counselor, and since I write for fun, that’s an unpleasant experience for me.  

Additionally, and more importantly, the message I impart in this essay is hurtful to some women who have experienced premature ovarian failure, who wanted to conceive at older ages (and in some cases, even at younger ages) and couldn’t.  And hurting anyone’s feelings is never my intent.  It is entirely true that because odds of conception do wane with time, some women cannot get pregnant easily or at all over 35, 37, 40, and me sharing the reality that most women CAN is in no way meant to invalidate these experiences in any way.  I am simply trying to impart biological reality to women who have been terrified by liars and charlatans into imagining that all their eggs poof into dust on their 35th birthday, because for the majority of women, that simply isn’t the case.  This myth has caused misery and stress to SO MANY WOMEN and it is past time that someone begins to push back on it.  

I heard about a bit of a brouhaha on Twitter a few months back involving Stefan Molyneux, who’s some kind of terrible MRA pundit-y person.  He posted this little factoid:

This is the kind of thing I find outrageous because I run a fertility website and it’s blatantly, pathologically untrue.  And it’s the worst kind of untrue – just true enough to trick people into believing it.

On the surface of it, it is true.  Technically It’s from a study called Human Ovarian Reserve from Conception to Menopause

And here’s one of the scary, scary graphics from that study.

But if you go to the article and read the fine print, you’ll see that the “0” is actually 18-22 weeks before birth and the steepest part of the curve when egg reserve drops the fastest is between conception and age 20 (very few legitimate people are calling for women to have babies when they’re less than 20 years old, not even Stefan Molyneux, and to my knowledge no one is calling for babies in the womb to get pregnant, not even the Quiverfull Movement).

The reason why 90% of a woman’s eggs are “dead” by the time they’re 30 is because 50% of them are dead by the time she is BORN.  That’s right – the age at which a female human being has the most eggs she ever will is at 20 weeks’ gestation – somewhere between 7-10 million eggs, for most of us.  Then, for reasons we do not understand, while that little baby girl is still growing in her mother’s womb, half of those eggs die.  And they don’t stop dying, either.  They keep right on dying – a process called “atresia” – until puberty begins, at which point girls have about 300,000 eggs left.  And those eggs continue to age and die throughout our entire lives.  But despite all this, it is still more than enough as women will only ever ovulate about 300-500 of those eggs.

If that sounds unbelievable, let’s quickly do the math: Let’s assume you get your period at the age of 12, and have menopause at the age of 50.  That’s 38 years of ovulating, 12 months in a year, 456 eggs released.  And most of us skip out on at least some of those months due to irregular cycles, pregnancy, and breastfeeding, so we don’t even need that many.

So for Molyneux to claim “90% of all your eggs are dead by the age of 30” may be technically accurate, but it’s realistically bullshit.  It’s a math trick framed in frightening language.  If you start off with a very high number of something, and explode 90% of them, but only need a few, you still have plenty left.  Women only ovulate 300-500 eggs over their entire lives and most couples only want 1-3 children.  Although it’s true that we lose eggs very quickly before birth and up to puberty, and continue losing them across our whole lives, at age 30 the vast majority of women have plenty of eggs left to have 1-3 children!  Even the vast majority of women over 35 have plenty.  You only need ONE EGG to conceive, you don’t need to have millions of them waiting in the wings (which is fortunate since not even 20 year olds have millions of eggs!)  Most women can get pregnant at the dreaded 35 without difficulty, and many of us, myself included, conceived without trouble even over 40.  By the time you’re 43, 44, 45, the picture is less rosy, of course, (although still not insurmountable for some) – but that doesn’t mean that 30 year olds need to be in a panic over their dying eggs.

Eggs are bizarre things.  Most of them are truly born to die – in our mother’s womb, when we’re little girls, when we’re surly teenagers, and then every month we ovulate until menopause.  We actually develop 15-30 eggs in each ovary every month and only release the best one or two.  Additionally, 1000 eggs per month die without being developed.   These eggs are not “wasted”.  They are clearly serving some purpose that science does not yet understand, and rather than viewing them as precious resources that are being squandered by our stupid bodies doing stupid things stupidly, view them as an important and fully necessary part of the reproductive process instead.  For some reason we do not understand, we NEED those eggs.

We NEED those eggs to form and then die when we’re in our mother’s wombs.  We NEED those 1000 eggs to die each month.  We NEED those 15-30 eggs to start to develop and then stop along the way leaving only the best one to be released to greet their hordes of admiring spermy fans.  Because if we didn’t need them for something, those eggs wouldn’t exist, and our bodies would have some other method of ovulating (many animals do).  Those eggs are serving some purpose and it’s silly to act as if they were precious potential babies poofing into dust.

I mean, seriously – men make as many as 500 million sperm in one ejaculate, but only about 200 of those make it to the egg.  Do we look at those extra sperm as wasted, as a biological mistake, of course not, because historically most doctors have been men and men tend to see things their bodies do as right, and the things women’s bodies do as wrong.  Through most of human history we were in a kind of Medical Dark Age where women’s bodies (which are freaking insanely cool – it’s AMAZING how it all works, and if you have a female body, give it a hug! your body deserves it!) have been made out to be deeply flawed and in need of men to fix them, either by having sex with them or treating them medically.  The notion that women’s bodies are these ticking time bombs constantly about to explode in everyone’s faces while men’s bodies function the way bodies are supposed ta be is misogyny at its most insidious.

When some began to push back on Stefan’s ridiculous math, he changed tactics, but continued to mislead.

First of all, you can see how neatly he changes tactics within this tweet – he started off talking about women age 30, and then switches to 40-45 when called out on it.  I somehow managed to get into a Twitter spat with some other MRA wack job again recently over the same study, and he pulled the exact same trick – started off tweeting about how 30 year olds are “90% infertile” and then switched over to talking about 45 year olds immediately.  But this doesn’t pass the smell test – after all, all of us know lots of 30 year olds who get pregnant easily, and even plenty of 35-40 year olds, thus we all know instinctively that saying “90% of all eggs you ever have are dead” does NOT translate to “90% infertility rate” regardless of how someone tries to twist a study.  At age 37 you still have about 25,000 eggs left on average and that’s plenty to conceive with for at least a few years.

Telling 30 year olds they’re 90% infertile by using data regarding 45 year olds is a massive “how to lie with stats” switcheroo, isn’t it?  But beyond that particular act of sophistry, the rate of miscarriage across the ENTIRE population is believed to be 30% if you include chemical pregnancies (pregnancies that end very soon after a positive pregnancy test).  The rate of pregnancies that end after being medically confirmed by a doctor (including recurrent miscarriages) is 17-20-28% FOR EVERYONE regardless of age (the range of numbers is depending on the stats you use…different studies have found different rates because they were done in different sample groups).  So going from 17/20/28% to 34% is really not the huge jump that people might assume that it is.  And at least some of that risk can be mitigated by taking folate supplements, avoiding smoking, coffee, alcohol, and medication (including herbal supplements YE GODS ladies please enough with the herbal supplements, they are HARMFUL TO YOU no matter what your “naturopath” says), and following a lower carb, but NOT very low carb diet when trying to conceive.

Rates of Down Syndrome do rise with age as well but again, Molyneux goes directly from arguing about 30 year olds to much older women. 

Even accepting these stats at face value, they mean 999 out of 1000 women at age 30 will not have a baby with Down Syndrome.  399 will not at age 35.  99 will not at age 40.  And very few women have babies at 49!  The guy is using numbers that while gleaned from legitimate sources, he frames in a manipulative, smoke-and-mirrors way to scare 30 year old women – who have in most cases a solid decade of fertility ahead of them with risks only slightly higher than they did in their 20’s.

Brief aside, I feel the need to point out here that most women at the ages of 45+ DON’T WANT TO have children.  I think these scumsucking MRA play upon the natural desire of women in their 30’s to have children to trick people into subconsciously envisioning this barren future in which women sit around with a raging case of the sadz because they can no longer bring life into the world.  It isn’t like that.  It’s been shown in studies that women are HAPPIER after menopause.   Your life doesn’t revolve around your period or lack thereof!  Think about it – those years between 25-50 you had time to do all these things you like to do, well, the years between 50-75 last just as long only you have even more time to do them in!  Just because you have different priorities rather than being pregnant and whatever mischief your toddler is getting into and going to shitty school programs, that does not mean you are unhappy, depressed, longing for youth/death, or any such thing.  (I kinda wonder if this is men projecting their OWN fears about old age onto women…hmmm…)  When you get here, you’ll know, but in the meantime, take it from an old chick, 50 is fabulous.

This is what 50 looks like:

No dried up old crones here.  Still happy, still healthy, still energetic, still surrounded by friends and family, still brimming over with purpose in my life, still looking forward to the next 25 years and all the crazy shit I’m gonna pack into it. 

And another brief aside, why do we act like Down Syndrome is the worst thing that ever happened, anyway?  Ya ever met anyone with Down Syndrome?  They’re fucking AMAZING and if the worst thing a person ever experience in their lives is getting to know and love a person with Down Syndrome, that is a blessing, not a curse.  QUIT ACTING LIKE DISABILITIES ARE PRISON SENTENCES.  They aren’t.  People live with disabilities and loved ones with disabilities every day, and the fact that so many conservative men particularly (because this is a conservative feminist blog, y’all, in case you forgot) have fallen under the spell of MRA and buy into the notion that women over the age of 35 must not be allowed to breed under any circumstances because they have a higher chance of a baby with Down Syndrome flies in the face of what being PRO-LIFE even means.

You may wonder why this matters, I mean, srlsly, why do I even care, whatever, forget it Jake, it’s Molyneuxtown.  But it matters because a lot of women are TERRIFIED at 30, at 35, at 38 – that they’re infertile or will be any minute.  Women are in a panic and going to see specialists and taking countless herbs (which in many, many cases DIMINISH your odds of conception, make your cycle highly irregular, and can even cause miscarriage) and dangerously high doses of vitamins/fish oil/aspirin (high doses of blood thinners can also cause miscarriage, and may even KILL YOU) and having Mayan Fertility Massages (yes, that’s an actual thing) out of this totally misguided fear that their eggs are all poofing into dust when they aren’t – or they are, but it’s by design.  Women are making insane life-altering decisions like marrying irredeemable douchenozzles at freakishly young ages and passing up on career opportunities because of this misinformation.  Women who DO NOT NEED IVF are mortgaging their homes and charging up credit cards pursuing IVF after only a couple of months of trying – taking the doctor’s time and energy away from actually infertile women who DO need IVF to conceive.  Women are spending their entire pregnancy stressed thinking they’re “high risk” (stress – not good for pregnancies!) when they’re only 30 years old.

IT IS ALL BULLSHIT.

At the tender age of 30, let alone 35, a fairly huge chunk of women have been brainwashed into worrying themselves into a state of panic thinking they won’t be able to have kids or more kids because some click-seeking pundit on the Internet posting a misleading study.  Women, and not a few of them, either, are existing in a perpetual state of existential terror thinking they have to fall pregnant in a month because they’re 32 and they JUST KNOW they’re like totally infertile or whatever if it takes them three months instead (this is totally normal!!).  Lest you think I exaggerate, I have to talk people down off this fertility ledge every darn day because of misinformation like what Molyneux is peddling.  Literally just yesterday I had a 28 year old worried that she “wasn’t as young as she used to be.”

It’s ridiculous.  Completely and totally ridiculous.  But is there any truth to what he’s saying?  We wouldn’t be doing our jobs here if we didn’t look at how this all REALLY works. So look we shall.

We’ve all heard that fertility drops suddenly, precipitously, dramatically, drastically, shockingly, like a stone, insert your over-the-top frightening adverb of choice here, once a woman hits 35.  I regularly, REGULARLY have people who come to me and think there is some magical event that happens on their 35th birthday, like a switch gets flipped, a bomb goes off, and good eggs suddenly turn bad.  This is NOT SO. 

There is, absolutely, a gradual decline in overall fertility and egg quality that starts off…you guessed it – back when a woman is in her mother’s womb, and continues over the course of an entire life.  But declining fertility is like walking down a hill – as we age, we start walking a little faster over time and the hill gets a little steeper.  Our eggs do decline gradually in quality as we age.  But there is no appreciable difference between a woman’s eggs a month before her 35th birthday, and a month after, or 2 months after, or even a year after.  35 is simply the age where across the entire population, this decline in fertility becomes statistically observable, and rising rates of negative events such as miscarriage, chromosomal abnormalities, and high risk pregnancy also begin to become statistically observable.  

Despite this, a woman over 40 has about a 5-7% chance of conceiving in any given month.  But considering that 30 year olds only have a 20% chance of conceiving in any given month, this is not as huge a drop as you might think.  And this is BY MONTH and NOT overall (huge misconception!)  These statistics do not mean that only 5% of women over 40 will ever get pregnant, but that in every month that passes, 40-plus year olds who are trying, 5-7% of them get pregnant.  (this number is higher for the average 40 year old than the average 45 year old, of course, because they’ve walked further down a steeper hill.) Keep trying, and if you’re still fertile, even though you’re not as fertile as you were at the age of 22, you can expect that 5-7% chance every month.  

That sounds scary low, but consider this – even younger women only have a 20-30% chance of conceiving every month!  It takes fully fertile couples an average of 3-6 months to fall pregnant.  According to the NHS, women 19-26 92% will get pregnant in a year and 98% after 2 years.  Women 25-39 82% will conceive after 1 year, and 90% after 2 years (hey, wow, that 90% includes even those women over the dreaded age of 35!!)  If you use timed intercourse (being sure to have sex in the fertile window, which lasts 2-4 days for most couples) the average couple can boost their chances of conception per month from 10-15% to 14-23% depending on their age. 

Even at 40, your chance of conceiving within a year is 40-50%, much higher than the gloom-and-doomers would have you believe.  And it may be even better than that for many women.  A peculiarity of medical studies is that when you’re studying a group of people who does something that is inherently not random (such as, women age 40 getting pregnant, which has historically not been terribly common) it skews the results.  Until very, very recently, relatively few women got pregnant over 35, let alone 40.  Because women tended to marry young and have children right away, most women had already completed their families by 30, let alone 40.  They were no longer trying, so we cannot know how easily (or not) they might have conceived. The vast majority of women who were trying at age 40 (again, until quite recently) were women who for SOME REASON had not had children by then.  Such reasons include fertility issues and overall poor health both of which lower chances of conceiving considerably.

That’s right, all those scary numbers you’ve read about were based NOT on a random sample, but on women who were basically handpicked to be more likely to have fertility issues to begin with.

The truth is, we honestly do not know what a woman’s real chances of conception at 40 are.   We do know that by the time a woman is my age, 50, she is at a pretty high risk of infertility/miscarriage/chromosomal abnormalities/pregnancy complications were she to get pregnant, if she could, which I probably couldn’t, thank heavens, because I already have so many children I have to lay them down to sleep in laundry baskets and the bathtub.  But this decline in fertility/rise in risks is MINOR especially at first.  A woman who is 39 is at a much lower risk than a 49 year old, and a woman who is only 35 is significantly lower still.  And if you’re 30?  Fugetaboutit, girl, you’ve got time!  Your eggs poofing into dust is not something you need to be worrying about. 

Tell Stefan to eff off and you do you.  

Again, this is across the entire population.  A good many problems that affect fertility or raise chances of miscarriage and pregnancy complications, are treatable, controllable, or avoidable.  A good part of the reason why pregnancy risks (aside from egg quality issues) go up as women age is because more people in that cohort have those problems.  High blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid disease, autoimmune disorders and many other ailments become more widespread as a population ages and all of them can cause reduced fertility, greater rates of miscarriage, and for a pregnancy to be higher risk.  But if you don’t have these problems – or if you do, and you’re being medically treated for them – and are in otherwise good health, the odds are excellent your pregnancy will go just fine for both mother and baby, even IF you do suffer a complication.  

People are bad at analyzing risk.  It’s just a fact.  So people who are less bad at it like, oh, I don’t know, DOCTORS, who go to school a really super long time to learn…something, right?…ought to be far better at breaking this information down for people.  Doctors and other medical professionals have GOT to do better at communicating the reality of risk becasue otherwise Stefan Molyneux is going to do it instead.  The vast majority of people over 30 are able to get pregnant just fine.  Most people 35 plus, even up till 40, and maybe a little beyond, are able to get pregnant just fine.  It may take a bit longer and older moms may have slightly more miscarriages and slightly higher risk of complications than the population as a whole, but if they’re in good health and living a reasonably healthy lifestyle they can have healthy pregnancies with healthy babies.

Why is it that we’re not told these things?  Because we are NOT being told these things.*

I was amazed to learn most of the numbers that al legedly “prove” that women have trouble conceiving over 35 came primariy from birth records compiled in the 1600s through the early 1800s.  That’s right, those oft-quoted statistics come from a time before prenatal vitamins, before antibiotics, from a time and a place where diseases that left both men (during the past, in many cases if a couple did not have children it was assumed to be the woman, but we now know it’s just as likely to be male factor infertility) and women infertile such as syphilis, mumps, and rickets, were endemic.  More recent data paints a much happier picture of the ability of 35-40 year olds (let alone 30-35 year olds!) to conceive.  

I think the most likely explanation for this phenomenon is that the medico-industrial complex doesn’t want to admit they were wrong.  They’ve spent the past several decades declaring loudly and constantly that you’re risking your own life and your baby’s life if you get pregnant over 35 IF you can even conceive at all, and for them to turn around and say “welp, as it turns out we were using data FROM THE 1600s-1700s TO PROVE THAT and oopsie it appears we were just a tad bit wrong” I’m sure would be pretty embarrassing.  So they aren’t saying that. 

For the less cynical in the audience, even if it’s just the idea that OBGYN’s and pediatricians don’t want to deal with any elevated risk factor since it’s stressful for them and makes more work – hey, I understand how that could be.  I can understand that.  You’ve seen some horror stories, you may be overly proactive in warning people from taking even remote risks.  But if you’re a skeptic like myself, you may even stop to wonder “hmm, fertility doctors are actually profiting on promoting this myth, scaring every woman who got two negative pregnancy tests in a row into thinking they’re infertile and need IVF to the tune of $30k” and it seems a little more sinister.  I’m not saying it’s true, but I’m just saying it occurs to me it could be true – and I’ve seen enough clients go to visit a reproductive endocrinologist and come out convinced they need IVF, only to conceive naturally on their own with ease, to find it plausible.

And don’t even get me started on the herb and vitamin peddlers, who have made a cottage industry out of giving women herbs that actually CAUSE fertility problems in the guise of “curing” fertility problems that women don’t even have.  That’s a whole ‘nother article there.  Suffice it to say, if you’re over 35 and want to conceive the very best thing you can do is not take herbs or massive doses of vitamins even if your chiropractor told you they were great and that you had “adrenal fatigue” or “estrogen dominance”   or some other medical-sounding issue that is probably not even real or is a pathologicalization of a normal biological state.  If you’re taking herbs (while wondering what became of your period and why your hair is falling out now) because you read online that “women over 35 are infertile” please toss them in the trash, and if you’re not on them, I beg you to never start.  Herbs cause fertility problems for a great many people who start taking them and if you go to your naturopath with this problem and their solution is “take more herbs” please throw your naturopath into the garbage as well.  

Diet quacks are also partly to blame.  The whole “eat lots of carbs, not much meat, and everything low fat” diet that was recommended by “experts” most of our life is proving to be utterly terrible for egg quality.   The second best thing you can do to help yourself conceive after ditching herbs and those who prescribe them is to eat a lower carb (but not VERY low carb), higher protein diet that has good levels of healthy fat.  Keto diets can also be quite bad for fertility, disrupting the menstrual cycle of many women on it. Your best bet is a Mediterranean-style diet with whole grains, healthy fats, fruit, veg, low or no sugar, and a good amount of protein and healthy fat.  And exercise MODERATELY – not too much, not too little.

Lastly, like I mentioned in the intro, people have SUCH a passion for hating older moms!  It seems almost primordial to me, like it’s tapping into some sort of vestigial animal programming or something.  And who knows, maybe it is.  People have a vested interest in controlling others’ behavior, from an evolutionary perspective.  Historically, it very well may have been the case that the villagers didn’t want to see Abraham’s wife Sarah getting pregnant at a very old age because they might have had to care for the baby when she died.  These kinds of primitive fears hang on in our guts even though we live in the modern world.  We may have anxiety about older parents written into our very DNA – but like Katharine Hepburn said in “The African Queen”, nature is what we were put on earth to rise above.

But did you notice what I noticed about all those people?  All of them are benefiting in some way or another from scaring women into thinking their fertility is tanking at a very young age.  Whether they’re selling IVF, herbs, diet programs, or are just busybodies who like to tell other people to run their lives, none of these people necessarily have women’s best interests at heart when they terrify them with horror stories about dying eggs and pregnancy complications.  I’m not saying they are evil monsters out to get innocent women, of course, but I’m just saying they have their own motives for keeping women insecure about their fertility.

The unfortunate thing about this essay is that I actually share Molyneux’ outrage about some of this stuff.  The fact is, even though it’s not as sudden a drop as people claim, fertility does decline with age and risks do increase.  That’s just reality.  Please don’t take my pushing back on scaremongering as a denial of that reality.  There are women, quite a few of them, who did postpone having children and ended up childless or having fewer children than they desired as a result.  

I can’t disagree with the guy here.  Really can’t.

The women of at least 3 generations – the Boomers, my cohort Generation X, and the Millennials, were indeed sold a pretty massive bill of goods about their ability to get pregnant at older ages (Millennials, it’s not too late!!  Learn from our mistakes!)  We were told that we HAD TO have a solid career and a long term, very stable marriage to a man who was “ready to be a father” before we could even consider having a child.  And that left a whole lot of us looking 45 in the face and realizing we had done everything but that one thing that mattered the most. 

But the answer to this is NOT to turn around and sell women of future generations some OTHER bill of goods that is equally untrue.  Stefan Molyneux should have made his case without resorting to deceptive fearmongering with a healthy dollop of misogyny, and if he had, I would have applauded and agreed. 

*While I was lucky and had a supportive doctor and great medical care for my pregnancies at 37, 39, and 42, the stories I have heard from many of the women on my fertility website are haunting – medical professionals saying absolutely inexcusable things, offering unsolicited life advice, outright lying about a woman’s chance of having a healthy pregnancy, denying women medication that is medically indicated because “you already have enough children”, even pushing people to have highly invasive tests (despite there being better tests available now) like amniocentesis, that in a few cases caused the loss of genetically normal babies. This is not ok.

Are Women Over 40 Useless?

Are Women Over 40 Useless?

Let me just preface this piece with a big ol’ NOT ALL MEN because of my many, many posts in which I rag on men, this post in particular does not apply to any man I personally know and is directed solely at that certain subset of odious dudebros who crawl around under the rocks of the Internet.

Last month there was a shitpost on Twitter that got everyone all riled up.  

Some scumsucking waste of space MRA-type posted “Women over 40 are useless” and then made fun of everyone who replied.  I didn’t take a screenshot, because I prefer not to give the guy free publicity.  Besides, this is a sentiment we’ve seen repeatedly over the past couple decades, as misogynists gradually realized that SCIENCE!!! ™ was a great way to shit on women and scientists were like, IDK whatevs, we’re mostly men too. So it was neither clever nor original, and thus deserves to fade into oblivion.

If you have been so fortunate as to never having encountered this notion before, according to some people, it doesn’t make any sense for women to stay alive and continue to function into our old age, because we’re no longer reproductively “relevant”.  According to some men, women should curl up and die if we make their peepees sad because anything they can’t stick their dicks into shouldn’t exist.

Of course, men are not exactly discriminating when it comes to sticking their dicks into things, after all you can see men fucking literally insane things like vacuum cleaners (damn, I went to link to this news article I read a few years back of a man who was seriously injured pursuing carnal knowledge of a Hoover and it turns out there is an entire genre of porn based around this concept.  Men, ru ok?) and exhaust pipes.

For whatever reason, rather than minding their own business, some men seem hell bent on going out of their way to tell older women that they wouldn’t have sex with them under any circumstances and using SCIENCE!!! ™  to make it seem like a logical step rather than assholery.

(brief aside – not only it is assholery, but it is assholery based on a huge and entirely erroneous assumption that older women even WANT to have sex with such men anyway, that we’re dying of a raging case of the horn-horns and crave some douchebag’s dong to make our world complete, which not so much.  A whole lot of older women have experienced a series of tedious, painful romantic relationships with chronically disappointing males and have decided to take a hard pass on them in the future, and find that we do not miss them one iota. Additionally, many of us find that gray hair and wrinkles a very lovely gift that for the first time in our entire lives, allows us to navigate the world not being constantly harassed and predated.  This is not a sad state of affairs, but a cause for joy, as it is a cause for joy any time one has a 250 lb tumor excised.)

Some pretty important people take this concept quite seriously.

Et tu, Discover?

As it so happens, evolutionary biology happens to be one of the 7000 subjects I am pathologically interested in. I went through a phase of several years in which I read dozens of books and articles on the topic, to such an extent that while I’d never call myself an expert, I’m certainly a knowledgeable layman.  I don’t often talk about evolutionary biology though, because even though I find it a tremendously helpful lens through which to view the world, bringing it up invariably starts an argument, either with a person who cannot wrap their heads around the fact that human beings are a particular thing and thus have behaviors that are innate and not a social construct, or worse, people who think they know a lot about evolutionary biology because they read an MRA website once.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Now, the logical answer to the question of “why do human females outlive their fertility” is that obviously it helps in some way to pass down our genes to future generations.  We don’t really need to know why it’s good, it’s obviously and inarguably good, because if it wasn’t beneficial, it wouldn’t BE.  We mature mamas would have died out a long time ago if we were actually useless, hanging heavily around the neck of society like a pair of dimestore reading glasses dangling on a chain. If the existence of older women was truly pointless, we our genes would have not survived to this generation, not unlike the genes of a man who exclusively fucks vacuum cleaners.

You see, armchair evolutionary biologists, that’s how evolutionary biology actually WORKS when you’re engaging with it in intellectual honesty rather than as a means to an end.  Women over 40 are clearly not useless, because if they were useless, they wouldn’t exist.

But that would be a really short essay.  So rather than dismiss the question out of hand, because I’m an inquisitive person and I never dismiss anything out of hand, even gross and pathological ideas, let’s take a peek at the question through that useful lens of evolutionary biology, and see what lies beneath.  After all, the question of why human females outlive their fertility is not actually gross or pathological because questions asked from legitimate scientific curiosity are never either of those things.  Why human females outlive their fertility so significantly is completely scientifically legitimate and very intriguing, even though it’s a shame that pop-culture mansplainers choose to publicly phrase to the question as “Dude isn’t it FUCKED UP that bitches don’t just like up and DIE when we’re through shooting our penises into them?”

To start off, let me explain what I mean when I say “human beings are a thing and our behavior is innate, and not a social construct”.  People sometimes get confused by this notion because it’s clear that samurais and Zulu warriors and the Kardashians are all human beings and yet they act wildly different from one another.  But underneath the surface, human beings have things in common, and this is because we are all human beings.  A dog has more things in common with a dog than it does with a cat, for example – even a chihuahua will bark at a stranger, and a Great Dane, even though it is as big as a lion, has far more in common behaviorally speaking with the chihuahua than it does the King of Beasts.  So it stands to reason that human beings, who ARE ANIMALS, are gonna have some qualities that are innate to our species.  

Scientists have compiled a list of these qualities and it’s referred to as the List of Human Universals.  These things speak to what it means to be human.  Every human culture ties knots, for example, isn’t that crazy??  All humans use metaphors despite the fact that they’re as unnecessary as a soup sandwich. Every human culture does their hair in SOME fashion; obviously not the same fashion across all humans, but all humans style their hair (even Nancy Pelosi; perhaps she’s not a lizard after all). Every human language has nouns and verbs, every human culture uses baby talk when speaking to infants, every human culture has some type of poetry.

There are, of course, bad things innate to humanity too, like jealousy and war and rape and greed, and they are a part of us just like it is a part of your dog’s nature to sniff the butt of any new dog he encounters. No matter how much liberals like to pretend they can erase these fundamentally human qualities if only they get the magic just right, unfortunately pretending and believing in magic are human characteristics as well and these qualities are as innate as your cat licking itself and a deer bounding along.  They’re real and inarguable.

Some of these qualities are sex-based in nature.  Because just like with those deer I mentioned above, where the boy deer ram their antlers into each other to win the favor of the girl deer, in the Animal Kingdom, there are things that males do that females don’t and vice versa.  So, like, for example, if two human women get into a fight, neither one says “I’m going to rape you and force you to bear a child against your will”.  That is something a man might say, so if you see someone saying that, they are probably a man, no matter what they call themselves.        

And believe it or not, this is still Arnold Schwarzennegger:

So sometimes, it can be the case that men may not understand the value or worth or usefulness of some things women do and are, because the things that men value and find worthy and useful are not always the same thing as the things that women do. And vice versa! Sure! I guess! If you say so! Though I do find men have much better PR people than women do as a general rule and we have all long been expected to look at the amazing things men do and ooh and ahh over them, while the things women do are often denigrated and belittled. Because oohing and aahing over the stuff men do while surviving on no praise and no recognition for our own phenomenal exploits is one of the things women do best.

Anyway, a lot of men across the political spectrum like to treat evolutionary biology like an all-you-can-eat Chinese Buffet in which they get to pick and choose the stuff they like and leave behind that disgusting tofu-veggie stirfry because they’re scared of anything that isn’t deepfried and covered in gravy.  But unlike an all-you-can-eat Chinese Buffet, that is not how evolutionary biology works.  Evolutionary biology is not a fair weather friend in which when it works for you, you use it, and when it says something you don’t like, you ignore it. If you purport to believe in SCIENCE!!™ you have to take a bite of everything laid out on the evolutionary biology smorgasbord whether you like it or whether you’d rather have a second helping of 24 year olds.

So open wide, because here comes a great big old bite of reality!!

Why do women over 40 exist?  Because society NEEDS THEM.  Because our families NEED US.  Because older women are protectors, providers, and preservers of the cultural wisdom that rash and inexperienced younger people may not be privy to.  Because when older women survive past their fertile years, their children and grandchildren and nieces and nephews and all the people in their tribe or village or nation who are distantly related to them are all more likely to survive.  

Older women – we know shit and we can help you.  

It doesn’t take a rocket, or any other kind of scientist either to ponder the many, many useful roles that older women fill in all sorts of cultures and societies historically and around the world.  All it takes is some intellectual honesty and a smidge of knowledge that didn’t come from a YouTube video made by a guy called TestosteroneDaemonALPHA69. Older women, are, shockingly, much more valuable to the survival of the species than an Instagram model.  And interestingly, women live longer on average then men – six to eight years, as a matter of fact, and no, this isn’t just because daring men die younger, SCIENCE!!! ™ has shown us that men are more vulnerable to a whole host of health issues. Which just goes to show you that older women are actually MORE valuable than older men are, since you guys weren’t even valuable enough to keep alive as long as us. 

Those who live by the sword of evolutionary biology, must die by the sword of evolutionary biology, and evolutionary biology tells us that older women are super important because we keep right on existing.  Things that are beneficial to the species – useful, even – survive.  Things that don’t, don’t.  And older women survive.

Lo and behold, the ability to shoot a feeble stream of semen into Anna Nicole Smith at the age of 89 is, evolutionarily speaking, much less useful than the ability of a 42/52/62/72/82 and yes, even 92 year old grandmother to provide childcare, gather and prepare foods, make clothes and other household goods, toss a log on the fire now and then, charm friends and form alliances with neighbors and strangers, care for the injured or sick (our superior immune systems plus a lifetime of exposure to germs give women the advantage against all sorts of bugaboos), and serve as a living font of wisdom and knowhow collected over the course of a lifetime – critical back in the days before written language was invented.

Old ladies, the world’s original memesters.

How can this be, that something many men don’t particularly want to ejaculate into has utility in other ways?  Because SEX IS NOT THE ENDGAME, gents!  I know some of you have had your brains addled by the supernormal stimuli of Internet porn to such extent that you think sticking your dick into a hole is the end all, be all, but it isn’t.  Passing down genes to future generations is the endgame.  Sex is merely the mechanism. Yes, sexual selection drives evolution, but sexual selection ain’t shit if your offspring does not survive to reproduce, themselves. 

You can have the most beautiful woman in the world, let’s say IDK, Margot Robbie, or whoever, she seems hot right now, and if she was plunked down in nature, red in tooth and claw, without anyone to help her, even if she was filled to overflowing with your precious seed, she would not survive and nor would your genes. Game over, man, game over. Even if she had YOU to help her, you big strong brute you, the minute that baby started to come you would have no idea what to do and would run around boiling water and tearing sheets because you saw that on some old sitcom somewhere and you would LONG for a grizzled old gal who knew what the fuck she was doing to show up.

If a woman got to the age of 40 (really, more like 45, after all I had baby at 42 and it wasn’t even hard) and then keeled over dead the second her uterus closed up shop, what would happen to those kids she had at 39?  Little tiny humans need care, a lot of care, a lot of care for a very long time, so much care you would literally not believe how much care if you have no children yet, and so it only makes sense that women would live at least a childhood’s length beyond when they can have a baby. 

Fun fact, you can’t trust Debbie from the secretarial pool to raise your kid for you once you’re gone. This is because no matter how young and perky she is, Debbie is a cunt.  There’s a reason why there are so many fairy tales about evil stepmothers (my stepmother is the world’s greatest, but there are a lot of fairy tales about them for a reason).  And that’s because you can’t trust another person – anyone, let alone someone whose interests may run completely counter to the interests of a child she is completely unrelated to – to raise your kid. 

Researchers call this “The Cinderella Effect” – stepparents are far more likely to kill their partner’s children than biological parents are. It’s gross, it’s ugly, it’s one of the harshest truths there is, but stepparents are among the most likely people to kill your offspring.  It would be evolutionarily insane for nature to program women to stay fertile till 45 and then keel over dead leaving Tiny Adorable Children in mortal peril in the clutches of a 22 year old whose biggest claim to fame up till that point is that she can tie a cherry stem in a knot with her tongue. 

And here’s the weirdest part – actually sex IS the endgame.  In a world where men’s brains are not addled by the supernormal stimuli of Internet porn to such extent that they cannot wrap their peabrains around a woman having any use other than as cum dumpster, men are actually attracted to women for all sorts of reasons.  Men find things like a woman being smart, hard-working, kind, generous, wise, affectionate, domestic, friendly, well-rounded and I don’t mean in a physical way – whatever, insert your fave non-sexual descriptor here – sexy.  That is why, not so very long ago, people actually sought out human connections with people they found compatible and companionable rather than just swiping right on Tinder on those nights their ShopVac had a headache.  Being attracted to someone is based on more than just appearance; I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true.

Because EVOLUTION ITSELF has programmed you, YES YOU, my masculine friend, with the desire to get with women who not only have curvy hips and glorious titties, but who are capable of surviving – not only surviving themselves and keeping your offspring alive, but even keeping YOU alive.  Again, YES YOU, and any man in denial about the usefulness of his trusty ol’ wife to keep him alive has never stopped to consider that before very recently, women – those same women you like to decry as lazybone bon-bon eaters – did a huge amount of work to keep the family, up to and including her husband, alive. 

Mundane shit like washing dishes and fetching clean water and keeping the fire going and milking the cow and dumping the chamber pots used to be, even just a century ago, matters of life and death.  Women who were clever and creative and charming could even give their spouses a leg up on the competition by using resources frugally, gathering or creating resources herself, and forming social alliances that men could then exploit to gain more resources.  And science support this too – married men make more money than unmarried men, and even live longer than unmarried men do.  The longer a man is married (or in other words, the older his wife gets) the stronger the effect. That’s right, we actually get MORE useful to you over the course of time, even though we aren’t quite as shiny as we used to be.

This is a two-way street, of course.  Men who stay alive are themselves able to continue to protect and provide for their wives and those little knee-biters they sired, and the more shady customers amongst the ranks of maleness may even end up with more opportunities to spread their seed because of their mate’s efforts.  Because your first wife kept you alive, nursed you back to health after that nasty encounter with the saber tooth tiger and prevented you from getting intestinal parasites, even helped you to gather up scarce resources in a hard cruel world, men may be more able to take on a second wife or even a third, or at least hit a couple chicks on the side now and then.

Evolutionary biology weaves a pretty tangled web sometimes.

Bros, if you weren’t attracted to things beyond pretty faces and shapely bods, the whole human race would have died out a super long time ago.  Including YOU.  Especially you, my dudes, because of all the men who have ever lived, only 40% of them have genes that survived to this day and male genes dying out happens quite a bit really – not only from greater odds of accidents and disease, but because every time Genghis Khan rolls into town the first thing he does is kill off all the adult males. The truth is, it’s very, very likely those non-Margot-Robbie-esque qualities that attract you that matter the most to the survival of your genes. The things women bring to the table beyond appearance alone matter hugely and they render us very, very far from useless even once we stop releasing eggs every month. 

And if that still isn’t enough, I have one more little cherry to drop on top of our evolutionary biology sundae here – when you mate with a long lived person, you ensure that your genes are then mixed with genes for a long lifespan, improving the survival and pass-down-ability of your genes even more so.  Thus it is entirely possible – indeed, likely – that one of the many reasons women live as long as they do is as an advertisement of what you’re gonna get as that young nubile thing you’re smitten with, ages.  For unlike Hollywood portrayals where the 16 year old nymphet inexplicably has a hideous ancient old crone for a mother, in nature, 16 year old nymphets often have 32-50 year old mothers who are still young and attractive and are able to not only help raise their children’s offspring, but are also a living testament to healthy genes running in the family.

Long story short – the question is NOT “why do human females outlive their fertility” but “why WOULDN’T they outlive their fertility, all things considered?”  The answer is obvious and clearcut if you believe in evolutionary biology half as much as you claim to, dudes. 

But hey. If you are a person who looks at your fellow human as nothing more than a hole to stick your genitals into and decries people as useless on that basis, may I suggest simply buying a vacuum cleaner instead?

everything you ever wanted to know about WAP but were afraid to ask

everything you ever wanted to know about WAP but were afraid to ask

While we have experienced some incredibly stupid controversies over the course of the past four years, my nominee for the stupidest controversy of them all has got to be the brouhaha over the Cardi B song WAP.  If you are a wise person you know nothing about this song and I regret to inform you that it exists.  I’m not going to post a video because I just really don’t see the point; by now you’ve either seen it or you don’t want to and it’s not a good song anyway.

WAP is one of those songs that is allegedly meant to celebrate women’s sexuality by viewing it through the lens of what men like.  Because the initials WAP stand for “wet ass p—-”.  I mean, ok, that’s fine, whatever. The existence of this song reminds me of this classic Simpsons gag in which Bart demands attention from everyone.

 

I think it’s gotten to the point in our culture where everything has been so in our faces screeching so loudly for so long, and so many barriers have been broken along the way – barriers of politeness, civility, good taste, and good sense, that people who intend to shock have to resort to ridiculous lengths to do that. That’s the only reason why this inane song even exists.  WAP is just a barrier of politeness that hadn’t yet been broken so someone broke it to make money.  The tiredness of the gimmick BORES me. 

But this isn’t about any of that. I don’t care that there is a song called WAP.  It doesn’t bother me that it exists because so far it exists in adult spaces and the kiddies aren’t even in school to come home asking a lot of questions about it.

The thing that pisses me off about WAP is this – the song has enabled some people on both sides of the aisle to further politicize and pathologize the natural functions of the female body in ways that are gross and wrong.

As some of you know, in my day job I run a women’s fertility website and on that website I am the official “sexpert”.  For the past twelve years, people have come to me seeking answers to questions about how their bodies work.  Unlike most sex researchers, people seek my counsel when they’re trying to get pregnant (rather than knowing they’re a part of a Very Important Research Project, in which case they might make themselves sound more outrageous or more tame depending on what they think the researcher wants to hear).  So they tend to give me honest answers so I can better assist them in the process of conceiving.  They don’t exaggerate, they don’t keep secrets from me, they give it to me straight because they want to get pregnant and I need the facts in order to enable me to do that.  

The people – 99.99% of them women – come to me from all six continents (no one from Antarctica yet) and again, unlike most sex researchers, I have the privilege to assist quite a large swath of people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures.  All are extremely forthright with me, not only about what is going on with their junk, but what they think and feel about it, and at this point I can state emphatically that regardless of ethnicity or nationality, the ties that bind women in terms of our sex are universal.  Some people I spend years with, taking this journey at their side, chatting with them several times a week, and as a result of this incredible opportunity the fates have granted me, I really feel that I’ve got a window into female sexuality that other people lack.

The truth is this – a shocking number of women don’t understand their bodies, are told a lot of insane and ridiculous half-truths and untruths about their bodies even by people who call themselves “experts” and “doctors”, and carry shame and embarrassment about their bodies as a result.  And a shocking number of men don’t understand the female body, don’t want to understand it, are told a lot of insane and ridiculous things about the female body, and feel quite entitled to add to the shame and embarrassment women feel about their bodies.  Sometimes this male entitlement borders on abusive, or is abuse outright.  And lest you think this state of affairs affects only women on certain continents and in certain socioeconomic classes, think again.

One of the biggest arenas in which this disconnect occurs is the issue of vaginal lubrication and since the WAP controversy is stirring up this whole hornet’s nest it seems like a good time to talk about it.

Since ignorance on this somewhat taboo subject abounds, let me do a brief rundown for you on how the female body ACTUALLY works.  Brief, I promise.

Women in their childbearing years have this pesky little thingy called a menstrual cycle that governs our lives just as much as chronic and insistent boners govern yours, my dudes, if not far far more.  Contrary to popular belief (I’ll be using that phrase a lot) the menstrual cycle is not always regular, and it doesn’t always take 28 days (in fact it’s much more common to have cycles that vary a bit and are sometimes a little shorter or a little longer than it is to always have precise 28 day cycles).  By cycle, I mean it’s just a series of events that happen in a particular sequence – NOT that it is always set in stone, the same for everyone, but the events that occur happen in this particular order cause that’s how the body works.  The menstrual cycle is not even the same for every person every month, it changes over time, and that too is ok and totally normal. 

During the first part of the cycle, which is called the follicular phase, women make a lot of estrogen and a couple other lesser known hormones that stimulate an egg to develop and be released called follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone (men make these too in different amounts than women do – our bodies use these hormones for a couple different purposes, not only ovulation).  In addition, during the follicular phase estrogen stimulates the uterine lining to grow nice and lush to allow a fertilized egg to implant there.

But estrogen does some other pretty cool things too.  It causes numerous changes in our body, one of which is the production of fluids all throughout our reproductive tract that enable sperm to survive (without these fluids, sperm quickly die in the vagina) and swim to the egg.  We call the form of this fluid we are the most familiar with “egg white cervical mucus” because it’s mucus, made by the cervix (not the vagina itself, but it flows down into the vagina from the cervix), and it has an appearance kinda like egg white – stretchy and clear.  We’ll nickname this EWCM for short.

(brief but important aside – that having been said, just because this mucus is called “egg white mucus”, it is NOT EGG WHITE, like out of an egg.  They are different things.  Anyone who tells you to use egg white as a lubricant in your vagina to help you get pregnant for any reason (egg whites do NOT make you have a boy!) is wrong and is setting you up for a horrible vaginal and even uterine infection – the kind of infection that could possibly end a pregnancy.  I don’t care how many titles they have after their name, egg whites in the VJ is not a good idea.  I don’t care that your friend used them and everything was fine – some people win games of Russian Roulette too.  Egg whites may be natural, but so is botulism.  Not only do egg whites have potential contaminants in them such as salmonella which are known to cause miscarriages, their pH is super high, much higher than the pH of either semen or cervical mucus, and this high pH favors the overgrowth of nasty microbes that exist naturally in the vagina and on the penis that would normally not pose a problem.  NO EGG WHITES!)

It is true.  WAP DOES NOT simply come from arousal fluid.  In fact, it’s entirely possible to have increased hormonal vaginal wetness at certain times of the month and have NO interest in sex whatsoever.  Women often experience greater arousal at the same time of the month they have this egg white cervical mucus courtesy of our buddy estrogen, but both the EWCM and increased libido are caused by the rising hormones.

After ovulation has occurred, we enter the luteal phase, and the hole in the ovary that the egg came out of turns into this neat little critter which we only have half the cycle, called the corpus luteum.  The purpose of the corpus luteum is to make hormones, and the most important hormone the CL makes is progesterone.  Progesterone does three very important things.  Firstly, it stops the development all the other eggs, since women develop 15-30 eggs per ovary every month, and only the best one or two are released.  You won’t ovulate again after having ovulated already thanks to progesterone and the rest of those eggs will be absorbed rather than turning you into Octomom.  Secondly, progesterone helps the uterine lining to thicken and prepare even more for the arrival of a fertilized egg in about 7 days.  And finally, this rise in progesterone causes the EWCM to dry up and our cervixes, which were soft, swollen, and open, to harden and close.  This is to prevent infection – EWCM is great for conceiving but it also can encourage microbial growth as well so we only make it when we need it.

Progesterone makes some other things happen which are more irritating – our sex drive drops, some of us get a bit crabby or depressed (contrary to popular belief, PMS for many people happens not only right before their period arrives but in that post-ovulation week), and many of us find our self-control is a bit lower leading to binge eating and impulse buying (ask me how I know).  And that lack of EWCM means that most women do experience vaginal dryness particularly the week after ovulation.  Luckily, in about 7 days’ time, our body will release another burst of estrogen to help sustain the uterine lining, and at that point many women experience an improved mood, a boost in sex drive, and resurgence in WAP then – though rarely the levels that it reaches prior to ovulation.  If you conceive, the corpus luteum hangs around and makes progesterone to sustain a pregnancy (till well into the first trimester when the developing placenta takes over and the CL goes away) and if you don’t, then it withers up and both progesterone and estrogen drop sharply, and your period comes.

EWCM aside, women do make a natural vaginal lubricant fluid for sex that can happen at any time of the month.  Please note, this naturally occurring lubricant is NOT always tied to arousal per se.  Our bodies can make that lubricant even when we do not want to have sex at all.  It’s natural and intended to prevent our delicate girly bits from sustaining injury during sexual intercourse.  It is entirely possible – just like it is possible for men to get an erection they don’t want if their genitals are stimulated or sometimes even if their eyeballs are – for there to be a release of vaginal lubrication when a woman does not want to have sex at all.  Even in cases of rape this can happen and so the presence of this natural lubrication in the vagina does not directly equate to a woman feeling aroused. AT ALL, and so menfolk, please do not doubt a woman’s word when she says not tonight, she has a headache.

But regardless of arousal fluid, the primary source of what most would recognize as WAP is the natural rise in hormones, estrogen in particular, that occurs prior to ovulation.

Now, some stuff can interfere in this process.  Medication (including hormonal birth control and fertility medications such as Clomid), herbs (vitex, saw palmetto, mint, licorice root…and please ladies, do not use any licorice root, even in the form of tea or candy, when pregnant or even when trying to conceive as it may harm your baby’s brain development…and many other herbs too numerous to list, even many that are said to help improve cervical mucus), supplements (even seemingly benign things like Vitamin B6, certain amino acids, and bee pollen can muck up your cycle…and this is true even if a naturopath tells you to take them!)  Even drinking alcohol to excess or too much green tea can make cervical mucus scanty.  Stress, lack of sleep, being too thin or dropping a lot of weight even if you aren’t too thin, having been ill, exercising a lot, sudden changes in diet, breastfeeding, the natural results of the aging process – all these things can affect your hormone levels in ways that may alter the amount and consistency of the cervical mucus a woman produces. 

Just as women can experience lubrication without arousal, it is equally true that women can feel extremely aroused and have little to no vaginal lubrication due to hormones at certain times of the month, or those things I mentioned in the previous paragraph that interfere with hormones. This is why they sell those tubes of goo at the drugstore.  Buy them!  They’re good!  If you don’t like one, buy a different one!

Just like we all have different facial features and hair color and skin tone we all have different patterns to our cycles as well.  You aren’t a broken person if you don’t have a lot of cervical mucus, I promise – believe it or not, the opinion of Cardi B really doesn’t reflect biological reality.  Nor are you a broken person if you DO have a lot.  MANY women have 7-10 days of EWCM, before, during, and slightly after ovulation.  (EWCM does not, contrary to many people’s belief, appear only the day of ovulation.)  And MANY women don’t!  And all these variations are ok!  It’s just how the Good Lord made us!  Some people have EWCM visible for a day or so, but it’s up inside where we can’t see it.  Please don’t go spelunking, tho – you can injure yourself doing that and also introduce microbes that can cause infection.  I promise you it is up there.  

EWCM, aka WAP, is natural and normal and a part of how a vagina is meant to work.  I occasionally encounter a client who tells me she has been self-treating (and in a few very sad and enraging instances, was being treated by medical professionals) for “chronic vaginal infections” that “come back every month!” when what she was really experiencing was simply her body’s natural cyclical production of EWCM.  

So that brings me to Ben Shapiro.  Ben Shapiro is a right wing pundit who happens to be married to an OBGYN.  When WAP dropped Shapiro decided to take issue with it since this is 2020 and I guess it’s the fate we all deserve.  That’s his choice I suppose; personally I have bigger fish to fry than worrying about a silly song and I think it makes conservatives look like prudish morons when they do.  But to each their own.  

The thing that infuriated me about Ben was that he chose to do this by medicalization, contributing to the “women’s bodies are ticking time bombs” trope that I despise so greatly.  

ben

And, no.  As I already described in detail that many probably thought was too much already, it is normal and natural for many women to have a lot of vaginal discharge at some parts of the month.  EWCM is not pathological, vaginas are not diseased or gross, it just part of the way the female body works.  It’s a part of our bodies like men’s morning wood is part of theirs.  Yes, women can get some issues with that part of our anatomy at times as any parts of anyone’s anatomy can sometimes misfire, but you don’t just go jumping from a little extra joy juice to “diseased whore” in a single bound, dude.

Not to be outdone, Cardi B then released a video in which she then took it upon herself to call out and shame women who DON’T have a lot of EWCM, which she called “DAP” (dry ass p—-).  She claimed it was due to “pH balance” and uncleanliness and in my opinion this was just as gross and wrong and misogynistic as what Ben Shapiro said.  Look, Miss B, don’t pretend to celebrate a woman’s body to sell albums and then turn around and mock women who experience with issues of vaginal dryness, act like they have a medical problem and that it’s caused by a lack of sanitation, when the damn fact is that at least some of the time we ALL have DAP (even u Cardi B) and it is completely out of our control! 

Please note, this has the n-word (which I completely do not endorse in any way) and some very foul language in it even for me.    

 

Now, you may be wondering why all this matters.  Celebrities gonna celebrity.  Why am I taking time from my day to write this essay (trust me I’ve asked myself the same question about 38 times over the course of the last couple hours).  But the thing is, it is because this kind of shit is BAD FOR WOMEN and when it comes in the form of a video like WAP it is bad for women in the guise of being good for women!  And complaining about things that say they are good for women when they are actually bad for women is the whole freaking reason I started this blog anyway.

Seriously – I get questions again and again from women around the world who feel like freaks because they have what they perceive to be too much vaginal lubrication or not enough vaginal lubrication or are experiencing entirely natural fluctuations in the amount of lubrication they produce.  This chronic failure on the parts of basically everyone to recognize that there is a normal cycle in which sometimes we have WAP and sometimes we have DAP, and that there is wide ranging variation across the female population in which some of us make more than others and even individually we have some months that are more WAPpier than others causes women to be plagued with self doubt on a good day.  

On a bad day, it’s very much worse than that.

You see, it isn’t just that it gives us the sadz.  It is that women are maltreated and actually ABUSED because of male perceptions of their vaginal levels of hydration.

In some parts of the world and among immigrants to our part of the world, having a lot of EWCM is seen as a sign of either disease (thanks, Ben, for contributing to that, you misogynistic a-hole) or more often, a sign of promiscuity, because women’s desire is seen as so dangerous they actually remove the clitoris of young girls as they reach sexual maturity.   Women in many cultures use caustic agents in their vagina to dry up cervical mucus and give a perception of “tightness” that is wrongfully associated by some to be a marker of a lack of sexual experience.   This practice causes vaginal infections and UTI, injuries such as tearing which can be quite severe, prevents conception (which can lead to spousal abuse and even murder when a man or his family becomes enraged that his wife has not produced offspring because sperm can’t survive the toxic brew of drying chemicals) and even enables HIV to spread more easily.  

Women DIE because of the stigma against EWCM, a thing our bodies make naturally.

In other parts of the world, AKA OUR part of the world, a lesser known but still misogynistic and abusive practice is when men refuse to let their partners use storebought lubricants because they claim any time a woman is experiencing intermittent vaginal dryness it’s a sign of unfaithfulness, lack of interest in sex/her spouse, or that she is broken/damaged in some Freudian way.  Some men claim that using a store-bought lubricant is a method of trying to hide infidelity or physical flaws (just like some MRA claim that using makeup is “lying”, they also claim using lube is “lying).  These men would rather their wives experience sexual pain than to use a lubricant.  Here’s a lovely example where a woman who just had a baby 3 months ago that she is still breastfeeding is being punished by her partner for vaginal dryness.   And here is another one about a woman on birth control experiencing the same issue.      And here’s one more just for those who still doubt.  This is a story I hear over and over again, FAR more often than the women who are forced to use drying agents, and I don’t hear many sexperts like the people who write for Vice or Teen Vogue saying an official word despite how ubiquitous it is.  

And then if that’s not bad enough, around ovulation when a woman is naturally having EWCM, some of these men then take that as an additional sign of infidelity.  “Wul, she’s dry sometimes, and wet sometimes, and that must mean she’s cheating on me, guess I’ll beat her”.  This is a real thing, people.  Men, maybe even some men you actually know, are regularly accusing their wives of cheating and threatening divorce or violence against them on this basis of the amount of vaginal discharge they have.  (this is not only something that has been reported to me hundreds of times, but is something I have personally experienced in a relationship, so keep it to yourself, there, Doubting Thomas).  

The solution Cardi B offers…WAP, supposedly meant as female empowerment, simply further promotes the idea of having a lot of vaginal lubrication naturally as being the “right” way for a woman to be because men like it that way.   

No.  No, Cardi B, that is not female empowerment any more than it was empowering to women when you had your vagina bleached.

I’m gonna be honest, I didn’t even watch this one, you’re on your own.

 

There is one commonality between men who punish their wives for being “too wet” and men who punish their wives for being “too dry” and that commonality is men.  Men, who in many cases have no understanding of the way the female body even works, imposing their sexual desires onto women, and becoming enraged and abusive when our bodies fail to comply.  Helpful hint dudes, the WORST thing you can possibly do for your sex life is to make your wife feel a lot of pressure about sex.  Nowhere in the song WAP will you read any lyrics about how Cardi B or Megan Thee Stallion’s boyfriends hollered derogatory names at them till they got WAP (and considering Megan was actually shot by her boyfriend, that’s saying a lot.) 

Yelling at women, saying they are frigid, getting butthurt and inconsolable because a woman’s body doesn’t work the way that some early 2000’s era PUA led you to believe it should, and refusing to just open a goddamn tube of KY during the times of the month when women happen to need it THROUGH NO FAULT OF OUR OWN simply ends up with women associating sex with fear, stress, and pain. And that, dear chums, will spoil your sex lives FOREVER. 

And I wouldn’t even fucking care for your sake, but it will also ruin HER sex life forever and she deserves better.

This is not about you, dudes.  It’s just the way we gals are built.  Please quit viewing everything a woman does and experiences through the lens of “is this good for my peener”.  Because expecting…nay, demanding…WAP at the times of the month and in circumstances when DAP is what is happening is like asking you to start breathing out your asshole – doesn’t matter how much you might want to, it’s not gonna happen, because it’s biologically impossible.   

The female body is a weird and wonderful thing.  It does some amazing shit, but just like every body system we possess, our lovely vaginas follow rules we can’t just set aside because you watched a lot of porn growing up and had this vision of the way women’s bodies worked that just so happens to be completely untrue.

Learn the rules, just like you learned the rules of how to play fantasy football and set the timing on a 1968 Ford Fairlaine and all those many many many hard and challenging things u brainy brainy men learn along the way. 

And rejoice! The female body is actually a lot less challenging than a lot of stuff you guys set your mind to.

 

 

 

but men tho

but men tho

Please note, while this piece was precipitated by couple of recent encounters, it is not directed at anyone individually (not at all and I cannot stress that enough). It is a piece that I have had brewing for a good long while, since I first wrote the words “but men tho” in response to a conversation that happened several months ago. It just so happened to crystallize before my eyes this morning but it has been a long time coming and is based on hundreds of conversations I have had and thousands of observations I have made over the past 4 years.

I don’t want anyone to take any offense at this personally because it’s just some stuff that I wanted to say for a while, that I got into the mood to say today, and is not a reaction to any particular person or encounter at all whatsoever.

Whenever I get into battle of the sexes stuff someone always comes along to say “but men tho”. Men have problems too, I am told, and I agree.

Men do have problems, and I only mean that slightly sarcastically.

Problems are like nipples. We all got em. But problems are also like nipples in that men’s and women’s nipples, despite the fact that both of us have them, are not the same, neither in form nor in function. Women’s nipples are bigger due to biology, and men respond to the sight of a bare chest differently than women do also because of biology. Women’s nipples do some pretty crazy shit while men’s sit their on their chests and look nonchalant. The biological differences between male and female nipples and the reactions to them have triggered/created cultural differences based on that difference in biology.  (that’s why women in most cultures cover up our boobies and men don’t.)

Sometimes two different groups of people can both have a quality or a characteristic or a problem in common but there are undeniably differences in terms of severity, intensity, and/or how the characteristic/problem manifests. For example, both men and women can go bald, but you’d be a lunatic if you claimed that it was JUST AS BIG A PROBLEM FOR WOMEN AS IT IS MEN (if, in fact it is a problem for men, and let me just tell you as someone who doesn’t mind a chrome dome – it isn’t). My point is simply that more men go bald than women do, and that is simply a fact we all agree on because it hasn’t been all imbued with political insanity (yet).

By virtue of biology, women experience physical challenges that men do not face. Women are smaller, weaker, we are much more likely to experience autoimmune diseases and ailments of the reproductive organs, most of us have a period every month which affects our body in unique and oftentimes life-disrupting ways, most of us experience menopause, and we spent huge chunks of our life (like, way more time than you spent fixing up that 1968 ‘Stang, bro) propagating the human race. Having a kid, YOUR KID, requires 18 months of massive and undeniable biological transformation and sacrifice (it’s 18 months because the physical changes that come from pregnancy, not to mention lactation for those who choose to go that route, linger for the better part of a year after giving birth and you just ain’t right till at least 9 months after) and 18 years of life transformation and sacrifice as women do the lion’s share of the childrearing.

Undeniable. Inarguable. As different as a set of nips on a dude vs. Dolly Parton.

Then in addition to those massive physical and hormonal differences, there are also huge psychological differences that are also biological in nature but are a little more amorphous and arguable. But I think most of us would agree that not only are men and women shaped differently, we behave differently too, because we are all animals and in most of the animal kingdom the male and the female of the species don’t act the same. For some reason I do not understand, biologists and anthropologists can dispassionately and accurately rack up descriptions of sex-based differences all throughout the animal kingdom and yet when it comes to Homo Sapiens, with an entirely straight face mind you, be all like “no way man nu-uh men and women are exactly the same in every way and we act and think and feel exactly the same and we always have the same motives.”

I mean, come on. Are you even serious with that? And the answer is of course no, they are not serious people, at least not serious about garnering a deeper understanding of human nature. What they are serious about is destroying all of human civilization because they think they can build it back up again, better, by which I mean in this version of civilization they will be the one with the power.

The psychological differences between men and women is a hell of a huge ball of wax to get into first thing in the fucking morning even though I drank a LOT of coffee, so I’m going to cut some corners and sum it up this way: by dint of being the subject of men’s desire, women are subject TO men’s desire, and this carries with it challenges and threats that men don’t face, particularly given that men are like twice the size of us. I am the average height and weight for an American woman and yet my husband is a foot taller than me and weighs 100 lbs more. Not to mention there are not strangers lurking out there who potentially want to sexually harm him.

Can he possibly experience the world the way I do? Of course he can’t. He can walk across a dark parking lot whenever the fuck he wants to and never feel the slightest concern. This doesn’t make one of us less than human, it simply means we have different sets of experiences within the continuum of humanity. It has an effect on your psyche just like a guy who went to war will have a different set of experiences and a different psyche than a guy who simply played a lot of Call of Duty growing up. It may even be that when it comes to men and women, women have EVOLVED some psychological differences that helped them stay alive in a world full of dangers (because up until very recently, the world was a much more dangerous place than it is now, for women most of all). Beyond the effects of culture upon our psyche, women may have nipples of the mind in which we react to circumstances and stimuli in a different fashion than men do that are written right into our very DNA.

(I know, I know “women rape too, women abuse men too, hurr de durr”, can we ever be honest that it is by and large women who face this danger at the hands of men and that we should probably take that into consideration when designing the rules, regs, and customs of our society? I mean seriously, this is a CONSERVATIVE blog folks, leave the lying about human nature and pretending that black is white and up is down and social engineering based on utter stupidity and fake statistics and deceit to the fucking liberals, wouldya?? Don’t be all Steven Pinker in the streets and a men’s rights activist in the sheets, my conservative dudes.)

The only real genetic difference in all of humanity is our sex. Did you catch that? Want me to say it again? THE ONLY REAL GENETIC DIFFERENCE IN ALL OF HUMANITY IS OUR SEX. Black folks and white folks are genetically all but identical. Gay people and straight people are genetically all but identical. Christians and Muslims and atheists ARE genetically identical. Men and women are NOT genetically identical and the people who say that they are have political agendas. Men and women of all races have, in their freaking genome, 6500 known genetic differences AT LEAST and scientists are discovering more every day.

Men and women are NOT THE SAME on a genetic level and that difference in genes has consequences for human behavior and culture that spread from that truth like ripples on the water. You know it men, and I know it, and everyone knows it deep down inside even the people who have to pretend to believe in fantasies because their political movement has gone so far off the track that it left reality far far behind.

So don’t give me your “but men tho” shit and call yourself a conservative because conservatives are supposed to be about NOT denying reality so you can remake society in a way you imagine would be better. Being a conservative is about ACCEPTING reality and understanding that people are a thing like dogs and cats and ducks and wombats, and then setting up societies based on that reality. Pretending that every problem a woman faces is ACHTUALLY experienced by men too just as much is not only fucking bullshit, but it isn’t even fucking conservative because it denies biological reality.

Right now, women’s rights are under assault. Not only in the traditional ways, but in a new insidious way as men dressed in women’s clothes who are sexually stimulated by doing that, try to lay claim to women’s private and safe spaces by PRETENDING TO BE US and then forcing us to pretend not to notice or else we’ll be in big trouble. In the meantime, other men impart messages to young women experiencing mental health challenges, at their most vulnerable stage of development, that being a woman is so wrong and so unpleasant, and they are so flawed and inferior in every way they should erase their femininity completely by the use of strong hormones that will leave them sterile and cause permanent harm to their health. And those of us who question this process are facing threats of rape and murder and being deplatformed for supposedly being “abusers” even as our likenesses are being hung in effigy by these so-called civil rights activists.

brief aside – Feel free to call me a TERF if you would like to, but this is not an anti-trans position to hold. I believe fully that people have a right to present as whatever gender they would like to, to wear whatever clothes they would like to and live their lives however they want. God bless America. I can to some extent even comprehend how someone could feel they were born into the wrong body because during the 70’s the fashion was to dress your daughter like an androgynous tomboy when inside I was and am a much more girly girl than I was allowed to be. But at the same time, I also believe that people have a right to associate with whoever they want and to live their lives in some semblance of safety and security and men accost, bully, threaten, frighten, shout down, grope, intimidate, abuse, stare at, leer at, and yes even rape women. Thus I will fight to the death for the rights of WOMEN. Not “cis women”, not wumben, not wimpund, not woomud, but WOMEN! The real deal!  Accept no imitations!

And conservative men, you had fucking better have my goddamn back on this. If, as you claim and I have never had any reason to doubt you, that the role of a conservative man is as a protector of women, have my back. This is NOT the time to say “but men tho” and try to make this about YOU. Because not everything is about you all the time.

Let me make this one thing perfectly clear. I LOVE MEN. (probably more than is good for me at times, le sigh) I have four sons, a husband, a father, a kid brother, two uncles, two nephews, and the best goddamn group of male friends/coworkers/Twitter followers any chick can lay claim to. I freely acknowledge that men face challenges that women don’t and that being a man can suck in many huge and undeniable ways that society should grapple with and account for just as it must grapple and account for the unique challenges that women face. But can the spotlight ever shine on women and our problems for a moment without men coming along with one of those big hooks to try to pull us out of it so they can get in there and say “but men tho”? EVER?

I know what you think. I know you think “the spotlight is always on women it seems like to me” and I know you believe that with every fiber of your being. But it isn’t. By all rights, using straight 3rd grade statistics and nothing else, the spotlight should be on women 50% of the time because we are 50% of the people. Sometimes when someone else is getting something that is a fair portion and is what they deserve, and you maybe feel you aren’t getting your fair share, it can SEEM LIKE that other person is getting more than they should be getting and I know this because I have five children. But just like with splitting up one cupcake between two kids, even when it seems like Johnny is getting a bigger piece of the cupcake THIS time, it may be because Jimmy got a bigger piece of the cupcake the last time. That’s very easy for Johnny to forget in the heat of the cupcake.

Not to mention that in some arenas the spotlight should be on women more because women are more interested and active in a certain arena of human existence or are more affected by something – like women’s health for example. Surely it is reasonable that women should be able to discuss matters of their personal health without men butting in to discuss their health instead, right? Just as there are arenas and endeavors that are mostly men and SHOULD BE mostly men without anyone coming along to say “the real problem here is how drinking beer and watching the Super Bowl affects WOMEN.” You instinctively and rightfully roll your eyes at that (and I agree with you, even at my most ridiculously liberal-iest I thought it was off-putting, even offensive when women forced their way into every facet of men’s existence and wouldn’t shut up about themselves ever). So RESPECT MY AUTHORITY when it comes to talking about women and women’s shit and don’t do the exact same thing to me, would you?

“but men tho”. Sheesh.

I understand, completely completely understand that many men hate feminism for reasons. I further understand that some of my male chums do not understand why I have this blog in which I put the word “FEMINIST” right up there at the top when otherwise I am so totally cool. But it’s because feminism is just wanting what is good for women. I just want what is good for women. That’s all. I have no dark agenda here, no sinister purpose where I want to see men wiped off the map so I can take their position at the table of power. What is good for women can also be good for men because we are meant to be in some sort of partnership just like the boy lion gets to chill in the shade while the girl lions go hunting. What works for me can work for you, I promise.

Keep your piece of the pie and I’ll even squirt some whipped cream on it for you, baby.

I just want what is good for women. And the truth is, liberals don’t have it. What liberals say is good for women is a childless existence spent slaving away for a nameless faceless corporation in which we get treated as a cum dumpster for whoever swiped right on Tinder this weekend and then using our money to buy products that the nameless faceless corporation provided for us until we die of chick cancer we got because we never had any children. And what liberals say is good for men is a loveless sexless existence looking up ever more extreme versions of tentacle porn and wondering why life is so empty all the time even though your apartment is full of products that the nameless faceless corporations sold you, until you die of suicide.

I am simply looking for a better way.

Much of what passes for “feminism” in our country is either “Aunt Jemima feminism” in which the most hollow of gestures is made loudly (like ensuring that actresses paid millions of dollars make millions more dollars even though everyone went to see the Matt Damon movie and not the forgettable starlet he’s costarring with) while actual issues affecting women are swept under the rug, or are brought to the forefront solely in service of an insidious political end. Like the #metoo movement – a movement that was basically tailor made to erode civil liberties and get rid of some “old white men” in positions of power and was immediately dropped in favor of the next outrage of the week. I admit, freely, the word “feminism” has been corrupted by Actual Bad Guys and used for evil purposes. You hate that, rightfully, and I hate it too.

But this doesn’t mean that women don’t still need to advocate for their rights. Women as a class – truly, more than any other class, because all other classes were created in the brains of human beings rather than based on fundamental genetic differences – have a need to advocate as a group sometimes. Just because some people have implemented feminism badly and subverted it for their own ends doesn’t mean it isn’t still necessary to protect women’s rights and that women don’t still continue to face unique-to-our-sex challenges across the spectrum due to our biology.

I’m trying to make a better feminism, one that has room for both men and women to find happiness and self-fulfillment – sometimes even finding that in each other rather than being at each other’s throats all the time. We are allies with a shared cause, not enemies, I promise.

We left some pretty excellent shit in the past. Those old timey people, for all their flaws, understood some stuff we have forgotten. I personally think conservatism has a lot of answers that women are desperately seeking. I am begging you, conservative men, please don’t through the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to feminism. Please don’t write me off as a crank and a weirdo for trying to reclaim a perfectly good word that has been co-opted by evil people. What is good for women is what is good for HUMANITY even if the liberals deny that. Don’t play their game for them by living up to the worst stereotypes they try to create of you – being a mansplaining a-hole who can’t ever resist the temptation to butt into every conversation like the Kool Aid Man to blurt out “but men tho” every time a woman has the temerity to complain about anything.

 

 

 

Deceive? All Women?

Deceive? All Women?

Can we talk about women?  And I don’t mean platitudes about bravery and persistence, I mean the ugly stuff, the nasty stuff, the stuff that makes us look bad, the stuff that gives cannon fodder for the MRA’s and causes even the good guys to lock eyes across a crowded room and spend a moment in a mutual flashback, thinking back on those cray-crays that gave them relationship PTSD.

I’m talking about women and lying.  Lying on an epic scale.

Now, I’ve written in the past about the main – and legitimate – reason women lie in a piece about honesty, viewed through the lens of Better Call Saul.  I think most female deceit is an understandable survival mechanism borne from having to deal with people – parents, bosses, romantic partners – who are highly controlling and even borderline abusive.  Women, by virtue of our sex, are all too often put into positions where we are a junior partner in a relationship (not just romantic, but any relationship), where we have no power and no control over circumstances that are largely inflicted upon us, and some women lie to simply achieve a small amount of wiggle room in which to exist.

But there is another kind of dishonesty that some women partake in.  I wrote about its fictional manifestation in my Valentine’s Day piece on Gone GirlI’m talking about dishonesty on a level that is absolutely unbelievable, where you really cannot believe a person would ever do something so twisted, so conniving.  I’m talking about the kind of lying in which a person creates a false reality – literally a persona that doesn’t exist, or a chain of events that never occurred – to manipulate others, to play on their heartstrings, to trick people into believing things that are not true about the world and another person and even reality itself.

There are probably some men who do this type of thing too, and in fact it sounds as if some women have encountered them a time or two.  But I haven’t seen any personally, whereas I’ve encountered a fair few women who fall into this category.  Men absolutely gaslight, it’s true, but it’s for different reasons, to seize and retain control of any given situation.  I have experienced, and utterly despise this type of gaslighting (you have no idea how much I despise it) but to some extent I understand it; it often happens in the heat of the moment and from a dysfunctional need to control ingrained into men by both biology and society rather than a distinct desire and active decision to manipulate.  I can forgive that type of not-really-intentional gaslighting because I don’t think it’s evil inasmuch as I think it’s a flaw borne from fear and insecurity.

But there are some people, in my experience mostly women, who are willing to literally fabricate evidence and twist the bounds of reality to get people to do and think and feel what they want them to.  Some carry this even to the point of incriminating innocent people and entire classes of people, for what appears to be no better reason than to tug on people’s heartstrings and get a little attention.  I have, in my work as a fertility counselor, encountered several women who told incredible and heartbreaking stories about children who died, multiple pregnancies that ended in a loss, fertility clinics that had badly wronged them, husbands who cheated, who were eventually revealed to be lying.  Some of them were spinning their sob story to try and get free stuff out of me (silly, because I spend 80% of my time helping clients for free). But a good number were doing it just for fun, for sympathy, to garner attention they couldn’t get elsewhere.  And while I do try to understand the loneliness and emotional need that could drive a person to do something like this, often enough I’ve seen this chicanery coupled with actual acts of cruelty committed against others that I can’t, quite.

BethAnn McLaughlin is a neuroscientist who at one point in time had been deeply involved in the #MeTooSTEM movement.  Over time some very serious accusations were levied against her – accusations including that she had marginalized minorities and harassed victims of sexual assault.  So McLaughlin was known to be a chick with some issues, that’s for sure, but none of those red flags prepared people for what was about to come.

A few days back, McLaughlin posted about her “friend” sciencing_bi, a longtime Twitter activist (since 2016), claiming she had died of Covid 19.

beth31

sciencing_bi was purported to be a bisexual Hopi anthropologist or paleontologist who spoke English as a second language, was a victim of sexual assault and harassment, who as it so happened was good friends IRL with BethAnn McLaughlin.  sciencing_bi was pretty much the poster child for marginalized people – she ticked off every box you can possibly imagine – and then if that wasn’t enough, she developed Covid on top of it all. Interestingly, McLaughlin was the only person who seemed to have ever met sciencing_bi in person and posted “pictures” with her that later were revealed to be of McLaughlin’s daughter.

sciencing_bi_mclneuro_2018tweet

(by the way, this isn’t even yosemite)

Later on, perhaps unsatisfied by the level of sympathy she personally was receiving in the wake of her “friend’s” death, McLaughlin implied that she and sciencing_bi had been lovers – which, by the way, would have been quite sketchy considering that sciencing_bi was allegedly a complainant in a #metooSTEM case and McLaughlin was meant to be in charge of that movement.

sciencing_bi_mclneuro_crying

There is a huge, and considering the state of race relations in America right now, highly concerning racial component at play in all this.  It is especially troubling given that sciencing-bi’s racial heritage was only revealed after McLaughlin got in trouble for racial insensitivity herself, and that sciencing_bi made extremely untrue claims about her “employer” at Arizona State University forcing her to prove her racial identity and claiming she was made to continue working during the pandemic – both patently untrue and harmful to the reputation of ASU.  sciencing_bi even claimed that the entire state of Alabama was full of people who had persecuted her for her race and sexual orientation.  This is worthy of a deep and prolonged discussion, but I don’t feel it’s my place to comment upon any of that; I’ll leave it to folks more knowledgeable than me to unravel those elements.  

beth41

What I want to discuss is the glaring and unignorable implications of the person who perpetuated this act was in charge of a significant wing of the #metoo movement!!!  A person willing to lie to an extent high enough to manufacture a FAKE PERSON and do active harm to ASU and those who work there has been going around calling out men as sex pests at best, rapists at worst, as oppressors, as villains, as fundamentally untrustworthy perverts, and claiming that we need to believe all women without evidence of wrongdoing.  This person who was living and breathing deceit was calling out men over rumors, innuendo, and even anonymous tweets and anyone who questioned the #metoo movement, who wondered if we were taking things too far, and asked for proof were called complicit in the patriarchy.

beth22

 

My collective Lucys, we got some ‘splainin to do.  

Now, you may find this outrageous, may claim I’m calling out my fellow women over the actions of one, but remember, that was our rallying cry.  BELIEVE ALL WOMEN.  All women.  Not most women, not the vast majority of women, but all women.  Believe all women, without proof, without due process.  Believe.  Don’t reserve judgement and wait for proof.  Those of us who questioned the process were shouted down. We were supposed to believe, unquestioningly, without hesitation, because we were told that no woman would ever lie about such a thing.  No woman would ever lie about something as serious as sexual assault to garner attention or to get revenge.  Men were getting tried and convicted in the court of public opinion on the basis not only of uncorroborated charges but on Tweets and rumors and hearsay and our defense, ladies, was that no woman would ever lie about being assaulted.

Well, as it turns out, one of the lead accusers has revealed herself willing to lie for attention, to make herself look like a better person, to garner respect she hadn’t earned, to get revenge on those she thought had wronged her (her technical term for these people SHE had harassed was “harassholes” – she uses this term in one of the tweets I shared above).  In the guise of sciencing_bi, BethAnn McLaughlin jumped on a bandwagon to make false claims against two men who worked at Harvard.

One of the biggest promoters of one of the branches of #metoo was so deceitful she invented a whole ‘nother person and we know beyond a shadow of a doubt she invented claims of being assaulted and harassed.  That freaking MEANS something.  It is a reality check that cannot be ignored, a dust bunny of lies that cannot be just swept under the rug.  This woman was so prominent in the #metoo movement this picture exists of her from when she won the “Disobedience Award of 2018”:

BethAnn_preview

And yet knowing all this, we’re still supposed to “believe all women”.  We’re still supposed to take delight in seeing men excoriated in the public eye over claims that are not only unproven, but unprovable.

I think we need a reset button on the #metoo movement until we have some sort of process in place to investigate claims of assault without ruining men’s lives.  Not because #metoo is unnecessary; indeed, I think it’s incredibly necessary and long overdue.  But because it is so important, we cannot approach something as important as keeping women safe by creating a world in which men are now subject to the whims of an accuser who may be making false allegations for their own ends.  Women do face disproportional dangers in the workplace, academia, and the world. It’s simply a fact, like gravity is a fact.  Claiming that all women are paragons of virtue who always speak true does not keep women safe, it simply means that society is so busy hunting down innocent men that the guilty ones can sneak past in the chaos of false accusation and constant denial.  

The truth is, you can’t believe all women.  Women CAN lie, Beth McLaughlin aside.  Women can lie because all human beings do lie on occasion, and in a climate that rewards lying without any consequences, more people will lie and many others, even people who are generally truthful folks, will find themselves exaggerating even when they don’t really mean to be dishonest.  That’s why when #metoo founder Alyssa Milano quotes “rates of people lying about sexual assault” she’s such a nincompoop – those rates are not tracking a physical law, set in stone and unvarying.  They are measuring human behavior at a point in time, and if the circumstances change, human behavior can – and will – change right alongside it.

Mobthink operates as if there’s something toxic in the air, it spreads like a contagion.  This is how witch hunts and Red Scares happen.  The truth gets stretched to fit a narrative and then it gets stretched a little further to fit a fantasy that supports the narrative.  It is undeniable that some women are willing to lie about some pretty crazy and important stuff, to an extent that boggles the mind – BethAnn McLaughlin has proven that to those who doubt it.

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SHE IS TALKING ABOUT A PERSON WHO NEVER FUCKING EXISTED.  This is one of the people we have put in charge of the #metoo movement.  This is one of the people telling us we must “believe all women”.

The saddest part of it is, I don’t think “believe all women” helps anyone, even the accusers.  It doesn’t make anyone happier or better off and it doesn’t even make anyone safer.  Because as muddying the waters by pursuing a zillion false claims simply makes it that much harder for women to seek redress for actual wrongs.  It leads people to continue to doubt our word, to question our honesty, to assume we are exaggerating and overreacting. “Believing All Women” makes women less safe,and less likely to be believed, not more so.  And it closes doors that women have heretofore had open to them by making men afraid to mentor women, afraid to take meetings one on one with women, afraid to grant women opportunities for advancement to prevent rumors of favoritism based on sexual relationships from flying.

So where does that leave us?  Women want to be safe from unwanted predation.  Men want to be safe from false accusations.  Organizations want to be free from predation and accusation that happens under their watchful eye, since we are now holding organizations responsible for creating a safe work environment. We all need a world in which the system is not so clogged up with claims of dubious merit that we have a hard time separating wheat from chaff, and we need a world in which fears of being guilty till proven innocent are not actively harming women in the workplace. 

How do we make that happen? 

You know, it’s funny, but as dull as it sounds, we have a system already in place.  It’s a system in which allegations are made through proper channels (not broadcast all across social media), innocence is presumed until proven otherwise, and investigated by impartial parties.  Then and only then guilt is ascertained and punishment is decided.  It isn’t a flawless system; sometimes the guilty are wrongfully exonerated and the innocent are falsely punished, but on the whole, it’s worked pretty darn well for any group that isn’t in the throes of a witch hunt.  It’s pretty much the basis of Western civilization as a whole.  We cannot build a functioning civilization if anyone can make up anything about you at any time and you get fired without any evidence whatsoever beyond one person’s word (or even two or three, because BethAnn McLaughlin was apparently two people!)

Now, for a couple-three decades there, that system didn’t work too well when it came to sexual assault and harassment, but I am convinced the reason it didn’t work well wasn’t because of any issues with presumption of innocence per se.  It was because of cultural issues where men and women were put into unsupervised situations they probably shouldn’t have been in (many of which involving copious amounts of drugs and alcohol), in a climate of Dionysian indulgence in which fulfillment of sexual desire was seen as not only a virtue, but one of the highest goals a human can possibly attain.  And men’s desire was seen as more powerful, more valid, more immediate and undeniable than a woman’s wish to be left alone. 

In this climate, women have truly felt – and I know this because I am a woman and I myself have felt this way many times – that not giving in to a man’s request for sex means we are mean, cruel, bad sports, not a team player, and pathologically uncool.  A woman saying no to sex (or a drink, or recreational drugs, or to meetings in hotel rooms any of which may lead to sex) has been historically, since the dawn of The Pill anyway, been painted as an uptight prude who is Officially No Fun, a hairy-legged feminist harpy who shouldn’t be treated with kindness or respect.  Women, particularly within the borders of certain fields like media/entertainment, have up until quite recently faced a terrible amount of pressure to say yes to sex they do not want, and this doesn’t even get into the cases where force was involved.

This doesn’t mean the system itself was flawed.  Presuming innocence till guilt is established is a sound and admirable goal in any case where two parties disagree.  It simply means that in the sexual climate we were dwelling in for a few decades, forces were at play that undermined and diluted our ability to properly adjudicate issues of sexual assault.  Without those forces, the system would have worked far, far better.

Doing away with a fundamental assumption of innocence because it hasn’t been always implemented perfectly is like tossing out the baby with the bathwater.  And doing away with this cornerstone of our system of jurisprudence in a pointless attempt solve a separate and unrelated issue in our culture is lunacy.

If you want to start a REAL movement of reform, a movement in which women will be safer from harassment and assault and men will be safer from false allegations, we first need to change the culture in which partying and putting out are seen as noble endeavors for adults to be engaging in in the workforce and within academia.  We need to change the culture in ways to empower women to say NO and for men to not think ill of them when they do.  If this seems impossible, that’s silly, because up until 1960 women used to say NO all the time and men did indeed respect them for that, because everyone understood the risk of unwanted pregnancy.  

Or to put it another way, as I’ve said in the past, what good is consent anyway when there is enormous social pressure (starting as soon as we are old enough to lay our eyes upon the media) put upon women to consent? 

Changing absolutely nothing within our culture and simply saying “believe all women, hurr de durr” is not a solution.  Changing absolutely nothing in our culture and saying “believe all women” will create a freaking army of false accusers and a world in which no man is willing to extend his hand to help a female co-worker up the ladder for fear that she may end up knifing him in the back.  It will create a world so full of false allegations that the real creeps can hide in plain sight.  “Believe all women” is a recipe for a world in which all of us are worse off.  But at the same time we can’t just go back to the way things were the past 50ish years either, because that didn’t work.  Women weren’t safe in that world, that’s why so many of us have horror stories about handsy bosses and pushy coworkers and regrets about things we did that we really didn’t want to do, but we kind of felt like we had to. 

Solving the problem of sexual assault and harassment in the workplace is going to take a two-pronged effort.  We have got to change the culture to make it ok, truly ok, for women to say no to men without facing negative consequences for that.  And simultaneously we need to return to a system in which innocence is presumed until proven otherwise.  Not one or the other, both.  Because he said, she said is too open for misinterpretation in a world in which people are pursuing questionable consensual relationships.  It’s too easily abused, in both directions. 

The more we incentivize her existence, the more BethAnn McLaughlins will exist, yet we cannot deny that #metoo came into existence for a reason and the reason was that many women felt pressured into sexual situations that may have been technically  “consensual” but weren’t exactly wanted.   

I know, men, that it may bring an end to the workplace all-you-can-sex buffet for some of you.  But it prevents the creation of monsters who are willing to stop at nothing to bring you down, for no better reason than they’re lonesome and want the attention.

Because we can’t believe all women.

See Guile?

See Guile?

I’d love to credit this cartoon I share in the piece but I found it uncredited.  If you know who created the art let me know so I can give credit where it’s due. UPDATE: I found the artist – it is the amazing Tatsuya Ishida. If you can, support them on Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/sinfest?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=creatorshare

I’ve found writing has been a challenge for me lately.  I’ve tried on and discarded several potential causes ranging from existential worry due to Covid19 to having too much on my plate right now to perimenopause (turning 50 will do that to you).

This morning I woke up at 4am at long last fathoming what my problem is.  It’s that up until very recently, I put a lot of faith in the notion that people are convincible.  By a lot of faith I mean that one of the core tenets of my personal philosophy is that people are reasonable and can be talked into doing the right thing.  Because people are both reasonable and convincible, therefore you don’t need to use government force to make them do stuff.  You just explain your position until they get it, and if they don’t get it, you explain better.

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But I’m not sure I believe that any more.  Because there are two parties in a speaker-listener relationship, and the motives of the listener matter far more than I ever realized.  If the person receiving your message doesn’t have good intentions, it doesn’t matter how brilliantly you make your case.  They’ll never hear it, not really, even if your words reach their eardrums.

Convincing people who don’t want to be convinced is impossible.

In 2016 when I started this blog whilst under the influence of too much Freddie deBoer (just kidding, there is no such thing as too much Freddie deBoer), I thought I could help people understand some stuff about the world that they didn’t seem to, like why Donald Trump was elected and that there was nothing wrong with Princess Leia’s gold bikini.  After four years of doing that – many times at the expense of my family and my sanity – it has gradually dawned on me that I have changed precisely no minds.  People do like some stuff I’ve written and I am so grateful for that, but it’s been people who were inclined to agree with me anyway.  Simultaneously I’ve watched with dismay as person after person, many of whom I like and respect, and even a few I love, have fallen under the control of a philosophy that is both dangerous and nonsensical.  Some of them have even been espousing beliefs that are polar opposite to views they held just a few years ago.  How polar opposite?  Well, the term “Pod People” comes to mind.

Thus I have had to conclude that while people evidently are convincible, they are apparently not reasonable.  People can be persuaded, clearly they can, because I know of several people who believe things they never believed in the past.  But apparently it’s possible for decent folks to be persuaded to believe heinous things not by reasoned arguments because there are no reasoned arguments for Cancel Culture, but by  rhetorical gimmicks.  Rhetorical gimmicks like the motte and bailey, the straw man, the bandwagon, and everybody’s favorite of late, the ad hominem attack.  People ARE being persuaded, persuaded to accept a political philosophy that hinges on a Kafka Trap.  People are being persuaded to accept this political philosophy against their own best interests and even against things they used to believe quite recently.

What’s a Kafka Trap, you ask?  It’s a no-win scenario imagined by the writer Franz Kafka, in which a person is accused of something and there’s no way for them to prove their innocence.  The modern day example, of course, involves unproven accusations of Badthink (insert your fave flavor of Badthink here).  If you ignore the accusations, you’re clearly guilty because you refuse to care enough to try to clear your name, and if you protest the charges that is also proof of guilt because of course a guilty person would say they’re innocent.  There’s no way to win if you’re caught in a Kafka Trap, because everyone is guilty until proven innocent, and there’s no way to prove your innocence because trying to clear your name is taken as evidence of guilt.  So you better put your head down and toe the line and keep your mouth shut and go along with the mob, lest you be the next one accused.

The only way to avoid guilt in a culture based around a Kafka Trap is to never be accused of anything.  Of course, that hands over a terrible amount of power into the hands of people willing to make accusations, and the way folks are bestowing upon accusers special privileges nowadays ends up making accusations even more attractive.

It’s a no-brainer – if you design a culture where people are rewarded for making wild accusations and face no punishment for doing so, you’re going to have more and more people making wild accusations.

We’re dealing with straight up Salem Witch Trial mentality here, and even though it hasn’t gotten to that level yet, that doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t.  If you’re one of those people who will now be all like “faugh, you’re making a Slippery Slope argument here atomic, because things are nowhere near that bad, after all JK Rowling is a billionaire!”, I would just like to humbly submit that the time to stop the witch hunt is when people start saying “dude I think there be witches about, hast thou seen my blighted crops” rather than while the inquisitor is setting the torch to the wood piled up round someone’s feet.

There are no witches about, just a free society, free-ish anyway, for now, if you have the luxury of not being easily fired, but it’s getting a lot less free every day that passes.  I know you know it deep down inside even though many of you refuse to acknowledge it openly.

My old buddy liberalism is succumbing to fascism.

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Now some would say that it’s impossible for left-wingers to be fascist because fascism is a right wing philosophy, yadda yadda.  But I think that’s semantics and silliness.  So I’ll lay out the case for Woke Fascism and then you can decide for yourself.

1) What fascism is, at its core, is a movement that is nationalistic and xenophobic – which Wokeness absolutely is.  It may not be nationalistic towards a specific country, but it is nationalistic towards its own movement – highly nationalistic, patriotic even.  And the Woke Movement is basically trying to take over several countries of the world right now.  A Fascist movement in search of a country to rule is still a Fascist movement even if it doesn’t yet have the country to rule.  Woke Fascism, like other Fascist movements, is also extremely intolerant, even xenophobic, of other viewpoints, of other intellectual schools of thought.  This includes freely using moral terms like “evil” to describe their “enemies”, by which I mean anyone who has a slightly different take on just about anything not officially approved by Woke, Inc.  Like other Fascist movements, Woke Fascists regularly call their political foes unclean and compare them to vermin and garbage and filth*.

(Look at her using her free speech to decry that her free speech is under assault, I hear some of you saying, but I reiterate – the time to stop the witch hunt is at the beginning rather than once it’s well underway and anyone disingenuously trying to make me look like a paranoid weirdo for doing so simply confirms to me that I’m on the right track here.  You don’t wait till your house is engulfed in flames before you try to put it out, and a person criticizing the chick with the fire extinguisher wants to see the house burn.)

2)Fascism is obsessed with symbols – both their own and other people’s.  If millions of people were to go out on the streets simultaneously wearing a matching hat, for instance (not just individuals acting on their own wearing a hat similar to the hats of others – imposing an anti-hat ban would actually be very fascist, of course – but going out and marching in those hats to prove a political point and intimidate opponents) there’s something kinda fascist-y about that, IMVVVVHO.

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The only thing Fascists love better than their own symbols is destroying other people’s.

I’ll just leave this here.

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3)In a Fascist system, violence is seen as a means to an end, and it’s inarguable that violence has become more and more acceptable amongst the Wokes over the course of the past decade or so.  All these trends – the violence, the lies, the hate speech – started long before Donald Trump even if you personally didn’t happen to be paying attention till 2016.  Donald Trump was the Molotov cocktail people threw to try to stop Woke Fascism – a terrible, destructive solution but many felt it was the only way.  If you’re one of those naive, good-hearted folks who believes the unrest in our nation is a Donald Trump problem and everything will just go back to normal if you vote for Biden, with all due respect, you are wrong, and you need to start operating in the world that IS rather than the world you might like to exist.  I know we grew up being taught that there are two parties and they work together peacefully towards a mutually acceptable outcome.  But Woke Fascism will be satisfied by nothing short of complete victory.

4) Just as all Fascist systems do, the Wokes have created a handy set of scapegoats to blame for all the woes and troubles in the world.  Whether you call them conservatives, Republicans, Christians, Wypipo, racists, Karens, TERFS, Pochos, Uncle Toms, etc these identifiers are being used in the service of creating several groups of scapegoats who it is seen as ok to hate.  Many Woke Fascists call openly for punitive measures to be imposed upon these scapegoats, up to and including violence.  Fascists will often state that if not for these scapegoats who are ruining everything, we would have paradise on Earth, and that is a sentiment I’ve heard expressed again and again – that if not for those standing in the way of the Woke wishlist we’d have utopia.

5)Fascism involves a high level of control of national institutions such as the media, the school system, the tech industry, medicine, education, most major corporations, etc.  And fascists want to destroy any institutions they cannot control.  Black Lives Matter states openly that one of its goals is the dissolution of one of the most important human institutions of all – the family.

6)One of the defining characteristics of fascism is that those in power control the media and use it as a mouthpiece.  Fascists use all possible forms of manipulation of people’s beliefs – not only the media, religious institutions, art, fiction and entertainment – in our culture these things are fully under the control of the Wokes now and it is undeniable they are using every one of these spheres of influence to promote their worldview whenever possible.  Censorship, which presently abounds, is one of the most common ways that fascists use to manipulate people’s beliefs – even extending into attempts to silence formerly acceptable, even commonplace viewpoints.

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One of the funnier debates I’ve gotten into recently was with a self-professed Marxist who found it very important to come to the defense of the New York Times, which is a massive corporation worth billions of dollars.  A Marxist defending a corporation?  Kind of an odd move, wouldn’t you say?  A little off brand, really.  But the New York Times is the modern day equivalent of Leni Riefenstahl – constructing plausible, and to some, even beautiful lies to promote Woke Fascist Utopia.  These Woke Fascists are not leftists at all.  Leftists call for the destruction of corporations and more power granted the individual, and the collective individual aka the government.  But the Woke LOVE their corporations because the corporations are pushing their nationalist agenda.

The Woke Movement is Fascism, plain and simple, dressed up in bohemian clothes to make it more palatable to a modern day audience that likes cosplaying.

Remember, Hitler also called his fascist movement socialism.

No matter what you want to call yourselves, you’re Fascists, you Fascists.

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I could go on here listing example after example after example of Woke Fascism but this is getting too long as it is.  Besides, this isn’t an essay about Fascism on the left, this is an essay about people being convincible, but irrational, and how depressing it is.

So if all I’m doing is preaching to the already-convinced, am I accomplishing anything really?  Is all my writing just a waste of time I could be spending on weeding my garden and reading to my children, because to be honest with you those things are far more enjoyable than screaming pointlessly into the void, even though I’m superduperly awesome at screaming pointlessly into the void.

Is persuasion lost on the mind of a person who is unreasonable?

I know a lot of folks on the right believe that.  Many believe that we must stop persuading and start playing by the same rules Woke Fascism follows – cancelling people, playing dirty, name calling, demonizing our opponents, using sophistry and fallacy instead of reasoned arguments – focusing our energies on concocting some other rotten fascist mythology to appeal to the hearts and minds of the far-too-many people who are sadly so easily swayed by rotten fascist mythology.

And I have to admit I am closer to believing that than I’ve ever been before.  Because as I’ve written about in the past, the Woke Fascists are operating under an entirely different set of facts – alternative facts, as Kellyanne Conway once said.  I’m not sure that reason could possibly work on someone who has been taught from the nursery that the sky is green, down is up, that the word “cosmopolitan” has a sinister meaning, and that calls for a smaller government are tantamount to killing people.

I no longer believe it is possible to convince the unreasonable by reasonable means.  That leaves unreasonable means, and unreasonable means have never been what I’m all about.  While I’ve speculated in the past about Good Fascism – fascism in the service of Mom, Apple Pie, freedom, and the heritage of the Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christian, pro-reason tradition that has brought all of us around the world a standard of living that is inarguably the best the world has ever known, I don’t want that.  I want no fascism, even if the fascism in question agrees with my personal values.

It’s no wonder I’m suffering from a lack of motivation.

Even as recently as the start of this year I could sit down and bust out an essay, a great essay because all my best essays come from when I write something from start to finish over the course of a morning, and I can’t do that now.  I get distracted, anxious, bored, scatterbrained; I find even the most tedious household chores preferable to writing, which is my normally most favorite-est thing in the whole wide world.  I start projects with so much promise only to stop them when they’re nearly complete.  Because what’s the fucking point, really?  I no longer believe in what I’m doing, or more that I still believe in it, but I know it’s useless.  I know in my gut that even though I am right, I cannot convince the unreasonable through reasonable means.  Believing otherwise is tantamount to believing in Santa Claus.

It’s sucked the wind right out of me.  My self-imposed standards are too high to resort to unreasonable means for more than a snarky quip or two, and even though sometimes I do fall short of my lofty goals I’ll never be able to delight wallowing in the mud.  It is daunting to learn that all along it was the charlatans willing to resort to appealing to the worst elements of humankind who were somehow the most able to convince people.  That’s a revelation I would have preferred not to have had.

I don’t know what I’m asking of my readers.  This isn’t a request for encouragement, it’s an explanation, and it’s not really for you as much as it is for me.  Yesterday I couldn’t understand why I had been doing so much writing for the past four years but lately I haven’t been able to string words together at all, let alone so effortlessly the way I used to.  And this morning I woke up and I understood the reason why.  So I set out to process it via writing because this is how I best think.

To my surprise, it flowed perfectly, the words came when the words hadn’t been coming, and I suppose it’s because I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything here.  I’m just revealing the heartbreaking truth I’ve learned, which is that people are not so rational as I had once believed, and it may be that because of this, the person who appeals to their irrationality has a leg up on the one who attempts to reason.

Boom.  There it is.  Kinda hard to ignore once you’ve seen it.

So, People of Reason, my beloved tribe, scarce as we are, let’s not forget that when we look at the Woke Fascists, we’re looking at a group of people in the grip of something that is not sane, something that is driving them to dispense with the rules of liberalism and become something else entirely, something dishonest, something sinister, something that doesn’t respond to reason because it chooses not to.

And we cannot convince the unreasonable by reasonable means.

*Now, if you’d like to point out that it’s really or also conservatives who are saying stuff like this, have at it, and you’ll find numerous examples to your credit.  That is also wrong.  But the difference between Woke Fascism and conservatism is that Woke Fascists have made a movement based on demonizing and othering vast swaths of people and even those in their own movement who only just slightly disagree with the minutest of details in the Woke Wish List.  Whereas conservatives and centrists have plenty of people like me among our ranks, who stand up against the fascist xenophobic cranks and the greedy Chamber of Commerce Republicans and sometimes even Jesse Kelly, who decry the idiots on our own side.  Yet we aren’t demonized or cancelled for it – and in many cases are highly respected.  Conservatives aren’t in lockstep, not even a little.  There’s not even any pressure on us to BE in lockstep.

Can you say the same, Woke friends?  Because it flat out amazes me how the same people who can argue with a straight face “this isn’t a witch hunt because not even a single solitary witch has been drowned yet” can equate the vitriol of a crank – even a crank as predominant as Donald Trump – with an entire movement acting with a hive mind.  If you’re telling me that the cranks on your side are indicative of nothing, I’ll believe you, provided that you grant my side the same premise.

But I know that you won’t, you Woke Fascist Pigs, so I’ll leave you with one more thought.

The difference between conservativism and Woke Fascism is this: conservativism is a movement of individuals some of whom are at times entirely wrong and awful, and Woke Fascism is a movement of people who are at times entirely wrong and awful acting under the influence of mobthought.  Liberals used to be their own best inner critics and it was their very finest quality, but they’ve pulled that weed out by its roots (except for Bill Maher, occasionally, but I’m sure they’ll get his annoying smug ass cancelled soon enough).  From the top down to the bottom Woke Fascists are walking in lockstep in a lot of really ugly ways, and just to spring a Kafka trap on y’all here for a change – whether you ignore it or you deny it, you only convince me more that this phenomenon exists.

Your collective is guilty.