Okay, so I started playing Sims 4 when it was on sale on Steam and I made an entire house of Guy Fieris. You can watch me stream it on Twitch (check out the FAQ to turn on notifications!)! I’m NOT an experienced Simmer, but sometimes ALL FIVE FIERIS get on the slip ‘n slide together and it is wholesome.
When a conservative man who utterly snaps on women and he gets described as a “god-fearing preacher’s son” or “a good kid,” we all are angry and disgusted and don’t doubt the reality of the victims (plus this murder got to cover for his violent racism with “sex addiction,” which is a whole additional discussion).
But then when men (and people that engage in a similar problematic behaviors associated with that kind of social entitlement) on the left (or popular with the left) exhibit problematic behaviors ranging from casual sexism to outright assaults, they get to be “missing stairs” with people making excuses for their behavior or lack of meaningful improvement of their behavior because they’re vocal “allies” or “feminists”. They get to say the right words and skip doing the work and then they get a pass too on the minor stuff, or worse. And then people get to be surprised when the house of cards falls if they do something publicly bad enough.
I’m definitely having a lot of trouble processing this and other recent events and re-mapping that into my own experience; thst said, I’m sharing this as a concrete example and not as fishing for sympathy—I’ve gotten that already and I don’t need to rehash it. So: I told people about Jordan’s secret filming and my abuse and abuse of others at his hands, but people still loved going to his bar because it was popular, and he had the vocal “good person,” feminist public reputation—the Josses, the preacher’s sons. And it’s easier to dismiss intimate partners, because truly we can’t know what goes on behind closed doors. I get it; I struggle with it too. But right or left, a lot of the excuses we make for truly disturbing or problematic behavior are so similar.
Conflict is not abuse. People are allowed to make mistakes and learn from them, but people that have a base disrespect for The Other will feel more comfortable acting entitled (or worse) toward vulnerable populations.
And jesus FUCK this was so clearly a racially motivated hate crime. I’m not trying to make it only about the violent misogyny part because it’s so deeply used to amplify the vocal racism against AAPI people. I’m pissed off he gets to “have a bad day” and use “sex addiction” to cover for his hatred.
Also he “had a bad day”? The fucking victims had a bad day. That sheriff… the excuses are terrifying. I’m sure he’s a “good person” even though he posted racist memes about the “Chinese virus.” Is he just one bad day away from yelling a racial slur? Harassing Asian Americans? Abusing women? Murder? That man gets to have a gun.
I came into non-monogamy through a really positive, ethical, organized, and safe swinger culture. There’s a lot of polyam overlap, but typically it was established couples with established couples.
Or roughly that–people might be in long term, caring (even loving, romantic) relationships with other couples, member with different primary relationship structures, or single people but you didn’t refer to or think of partners outside of your primary dynamic as “partners” in the same social sense. That’s not good or bad compared to most polyam I’ve been around or in—just a difference.
So the first time I engaged in a traditionally recognizable polyam relationship of my own, I think I missed a lot of red flags and incompatibilities because of that partner’s insistence that I was “new” at “meaningful” non-monogamy even though I’d been active in non-traditional lifestyles for almost 15 years myself.
When I wanted to have a conversation about levels of involvement, time expectations, and boundaries with other partners—weeks after we started sleeping together and it was clear we were becoming emotionally involved—the phrase he used was that I was trying to “exert control” over things and he was used to “letting things find their own level.”
But he insisted—even in his OKCupid profile, which he sent me unbidden—that he was good at relationship communication (“at the risk of sounding like a Nice Guy(tm)”) so I took that at fairly face value; that he’d respond to checking in on our “levels” like I would.
I feel like I became a convenient scapegoat for problems in his other relationships because I was farther away. I know for a fact there were instances where if he didn’t outright lie to absolve his responsibility of autonomy, he either attempted to or successfully controlled the flow of information between his partners to avoid his own actions or decisions. I mean, I can armchair people to death and it won’t matter but I feel like he avoided difficult feelings or situations while simultaneously building his sense of self on being “good” at handling them.
Everyone was always acting upon him, preventing him from taking action; and god knows what he might have told me about his other past or current partners that was either a lie, an exaggeration, or such a severe narcissistic misperception as to be upsetting in retrospect. I’ve been lucky–in a way–to have had parts of my experience verified by people I would not have expected.
So much of my professional and personal confidence was gutted by someone who claimed to be a self-appointed “mentor to women” despite both casual and overt sexism; he frequently referred to me as a “colleague” though he assumed the lone and language of “showing me the ropes” rather than talking shop or acknowledging our different knowledge bases in practice.
This started in very late 2017; I had always had my independent career goals, network, and songwriting. I wrote almost no new songs or parodies while I was with David for a lot of reasons, but one of them was negging and intimidation. He commented frequently on my “simple” songwriting and contrasted it with how he “couldn’t write a pop song with fewer than seven chords,” or how he disdained experimentation or song writing practice. That’s just the surface.
It’s sad, and I don’t think it was intentional. I think he is deeply insecure, traumatized, and nuanced but there was comfort in knowing I wasn’t the only one with these experiences. A think I’ve spent time (and still spend time) sorting in therapy are the ways I wrongly doubted myself and the ways I could have shown more empathy or confronted our different experiences in practice.
But–charitable human stuff aside–he made me feel like absolute shit on a bunch of levels and was privately hostile toward me while being publicly supportive during the investigation against my abuser.
He also responded to a comment thread I made on another friend’s post that he “wasn’t going to demand forgiveness” for overtly misogynistic comments about the intersection of my body and my music, though he directed all that discussion specifically to other people rather me. I felt he was co-opting the language of mental health (ie “no one owes me forgiveness”) to avoid having to make any kind of apology in the first place.
I don’t even know what I would want; I’ve learned enough that I’m not sure I’d find an apology at this point anything but hollow, and I acknowledge that. That said, I also want to be able to run into him at professional event without being afraid of his verbal retaliation. I’ve had time to sit with what’s a reasonable fear and what isn’t–especially given that the last time we spoke was right after Jordan had been charged. Frankly, I see that he weaponized that and other details of my abuse against me in ways I was right to find scary, and still do.
Regardless, I feel I made a good faith, documented attempt to resolve professional issues with David before he made the “tits and ass” comments. He’s the only person who’s ever been asked to leave the Social Justice Bards roster, and I’m not the only reason for that. I am not aware of any attempts on his part toward de-escalation.
I’m tired of feeling like I can’t speak up about this more publicly because he was a former partner and I’m acutely aware of how much easier it is–from both sides–to live with the dissonance that what happened to someone is *real* but also maintain a relationship with the other person socially or professionally.
As for me, I don’t want to continue professional associations where I promote him but I don’t have strong opinions on people that do–partially because I recognize the realities of networking, friendships, and regional associations. There’s no hill to die on here. I’m happy to talk about my professional interactions with him (both positive and negative) but I generally reserve the very personal for relevant parties or close friends.
Anyway I wrote a bunch of songs about it, like, “Shake and Sweat” from FAWM this year.
Shake and Sweat Key: Am Chorus: I [G]shake and I [C]sweat Do I de[G]serve what I [Am]get Hear[G]tache vi[C]gnette Was I [G]wrong to be [Am]upset Verse 1: [C]Lord I [F]know I can [G]beat a dead [F]horse [Dm]Til I have[C] blistered [F]hands[G] [C]Lord I [F]know what a [G]fool's errand [F]is [Dm]And what will [C]happen to my [G]best laid [F]plans [Am]This is how they [G]get you though [Am]They take your normal [G]doubts [Dm]Amplified [C]through their a[Dm]ssessments half-[C]true [Dm]Any [C]sane per[G]son would [Am]just... Chorus: I [G]shake and I [C]sweat Do I de[G]serve what I [Am]get Hear[G]tache vi[C]gnette Was I [G]wrong to be [Am]upset Verse 2: [C]How do I [F]judge my [G]own reac[F]tion When [Dm]hind[C]sight's far a[F]way [G] [C]How do I [F]judge if [G]I'm the one who's [F]wrong [Dm]And what will [C]happen to [G]some[F]day [Am]This is how they [G]get you though [Am]They take your normal [G]doubts [Dm]Amplified [C]through their a[Dm]ssessments half-[C]true [Dm]Any [C]sane per[G]son would [Am]just... Chorus: I [G]shake and I [C]sweat Do I de[G]serve what I [Am]get Hear[G]tache vi[C]gnette Was I [G]wrong to be [Am]upset Bridge: [Em]A year a[F]go I [C]tried to write this song A [Em]year a[F]go I [C]thought maybe I was wrong But in a [Em]year I [F]see that I'm [C]better off as [F]me And yeah I'd [C]do it different[F]ly But I am [Em]not a[F]shamed of [C]anything I [Dm]said But [F]trauma warms my [Dm]bed and Chorus: I [G]shake and I [C]sweat Do I de[G]serve what I [Am]get Hear[G]tache vi[C]gnette Was I [G]wrong to be [Am]upset
Like many of us, I saw “Baby Merchant” from Cop Rock featured on “Last Week Tonight” and was immediately enthralled. I chorded it out! It’s waiting on approval at Ultimate Guitar, but in the mean time: chords!
This is an acoustic version of “Baby Merchant”; to simplify the chords or make them more ukulele-friendly:
1.) transpose down one half step into Dm and use a capo on the first fret to raise the key back to Ebm (or D#m, depending on how your brainmeats look at the neck!)
2.) transpose up one half step to play it in Em (it won’t sound the same as the track, but you can absolutely still get your “Baby Merchant” on to it!
This is all just my best approximation from listening to it; if you think a different chord sounds better in a spot, go for it!
I put all three keys below if you don’t have a transposer.
Baby Merchant Cop Rock Key: Ebm (original key) [Intro] [Ebm] [Gb] [Ab] [Ebm] [Gb] [Ab] [Ebm] [Gb] [Ab] [Ebm] [Gb] [Ab] [Verse 1] [Ebm]When you’re shopping for a [Gb]dream come [Ab]true [Ebm]A little package in a [Gb]pink or [Ab]blue [Ebm]All depends on who you’re [Gb]talking [Ab]to Now don’t you [Ebm]worry ‘bout a [Gb]thing Cause you [Db]know I got the goods for [Ebm]you (yeah) [Gb] [Ab] [Ebm]The city gives you such a [Gb]run-a[Ab]round [Ebm]Those pencil pushes only [Gb]put you [Ab]down [Ebm]But lawyers ain’t the only [Gb]game in [Ab]town That’s a [Ebm]migraine and a [Gb]half I won’t [Db]put you through [Chorus] I’m the [Ebm]Baby [Gb]Merchant, [Db]Tots-R-[Ab]Us I give you [Ebm]all the [Gb]service with [Db]no damn [Ab]fuss Give the [Ebm]Baby [Gb]Merchant [Db]just a week or [Bbm7]two [Ab] I’ll have your baby for [Ebm]you [Gb] [Ab] [Ebm] Oo-woo-[Gb]oo-oo, yeah[Ab] [Verse 2] [Ebm]I always got a good [Gb]supply at [Ab]hand [Ebm]Deliver anything that [Gb]you de[Ab]mand [Ebm]A piece of heaven for [Gb]eleven [Ab]grand That's a [Ebm]small price to [Gb]pay For a [Db]toddler today[Ebm] [Gb] [Ab] [Ebm]It ain't a question of [Gb]morali[Ab]ty [Ebm]I'm not concerned with any [Gb]trumped-up ille[Ab]gality [Ebm]We're just on big happy [Gb]fami[Ab]ly It's a [Ebm]pleasure doing [Gb]business The A[Db]merican Way [Chorus] I’m the [Ebm]Baby [Gb]Merchant, [Db]Tots-R-[Ab]Us I give you [Ebm]all the [Gb]service with [Db]no damn [Ab]fuss Give the [Ebm]Baby [Gb]Merchant [Db]just a week or [Bbm7]two [Ab] I’ll have your baby for [Ebm]you [Gb] [Ab] [Bridge] [Gb]Picture yourself in your [Ab]house with a new son or [Ebm]daughter [Gb]No one at all has to [Ab]know That the parents who [Bb]brought her up [C]bought her [Chorus] From the [Ebm]Baby [Gb]Merchant, [Db]Tots-R-[Ab]Us I give you [Ebm]all the [Gb]service with [Db]no damn [Ab]fuss Give the [Ebm]Baby [Gb]Merchant [Db]just a week or [Bbm7]two [Ab] I’ll have your baby [Ab] I'll have your baby for [Ebm]you [Gb] [Ab] [Ab] I'll have your baby for [Ebm]you
Baby Merchant Cop Rock Key: Dm [Intro] [Dm] [F] [G] [Dm] [F] [G] [Dm] [F] [G] [Dm] [F] [G] [Verse 1] [Dm]When you’re shopping for a [F]dream come [G]true [Dm]A little package in a [F]pink or [G]blue [Dm]All depends on who you’re [F]talking [G]to Now don’t you [Dm]worry ‘bout a [F]thing Cause you [C]know I got the goods for [Dm]you (yeah) [F] [G] [Dm]The city gives you such a [F]run-a[G]round [Dm]Those pencil pushes only [F]put you [G]down [Dm]But lawyers ain’t the only [F]game in [G]town That’s a [Dm]migraine and a [F]half I won’t [C]put you through [Chorus] I’m the [Dm]Baby [F]Merchant, [C]Tots-R-[G]Us I give you [Dm]all the [F]service with [C]no damn [G]fuss Give the [Dm]Baby [F]Merchant [C]just a week or [Am7]two [G] I’ll have your baby for [Dm]you [F] [G] [Dm] Oo-woo-[F]oo-oo, yeah[G] [Verse 2] [Dm]I always got a good [F]supply at [G]hand [Dm]Deliver anything that [F]you de[G]mand [Dm]A piece of heaven for [F]eleven [G]grand That's a [Dm]small price to [F]pay For a [C]toddler today[Dm] [F] [G] [Dm]It ain't a question of [F]morali[G]ty [Dm]I'm not concerned with any [F]trumped-up ille[G]gality [Dm]We're just on big happy [F]fami[G]ly It's a [Dm]pleasure doing [F]business The A[C]merican Way [Chorus] I’m the [Dm]Baby [F]Merchant, [C]Tots-R-[G]Us I give you [Dm]all the [F]service with [C]no damn [G]fuss Give the [Dm]Baby [F]Merchant [C]just a week or [Am7]two [G] I’ll have your baby for [Dm]you [F] [G] [Bridge] [F]Picture yourself in your [G]house with a new son or [Dm]daughter [F]No one at all has to [G]know That the parents who [A]brought her up [Bb]bought her [Chorus] From the [Dm]Baby [F]Merchant, [C]Tots-R-[G]Us I give you [Dm]all the [F]service with [C]no damn [G]fuss Give the [Dm]Baby [F]Merchant [C]just a week or [Am7]two [G] I’ll have your baby [G] I'll have your baby for [Dm]you [F] [G] [G] I'll have your baby for [Dm]you
Baby Merchant Cop Rock Key: Em [Intro] [Em] [G] [A] [Em] [G] [A] [Em] [G] [A] [Em] [G] [A] [Verse 1] [Em]When you’re shopping for a [G]dream come [A]true [Em]A little package in a [G]pink or [A]blue [Em]All depends on who you’re [G]talking [A]to Now don’t you [Em]worry ‘bout a [G]thing Cause you [D]know I got the goods for [Em]you (yeah) [G] [A] [Em]The city gives you such a [G]run-a[A]round [Em]Those pencil pushes only [G]put you [A]down [Em]But lawyers ain’t the only [G]game in [A]town That’s a [Em]migraine and a [G]half I won’t [D]put you through [Chorus] I’m the [Em]Baby [G]Merchant, [D]Tots-R-[A]Us I give you [Em]all the [G]service with [D]no damn [A]fuss Give the [Em]Baby [G]Merchant [D]just a week or [Bm7]two [A] I’ll have your baby for [Em]you [G] [A] [Em] Oo-woo-[G]oo-oo, yeah[A] [Verse 2] [Em]I always got a good [G]supply at [A]hand [Em]Deliver anything that [G]you de[A]mand [Em]A piece of heaven for [G]eleven [A]grand That's a [Em]small price to [G]pay For a [D]toddler today[Em] [G] [A] [Em]It ain't a question of [G]morali[A]ty [Em]I'm not concerned with any [G]trumped-up ille[A]gality [Em]We're just on big happy [G]fami[A]ly It's a [Em]pleasure doing [G]business The A[D]merican Way [Chorus] I’m the [Em]Baby [G]Merchant, [D]Tots-R-[A]Us I give you [Em]all the [G]service with [D]no damn [A]fuss Give the [Em]Baby [G]Merchant [D]just a week or [Bm7]two [A] I’ll have your baby for [Em]you [G] [A] [Bridge] [G]Picture yourself in your [A]house with a new son or [Em]daughter [G]No one at all has to [A]know That the parents who [B]brought her up [C]bought her [Chorus] From the [Em]Baby [G]Merchant, [D]Tots-R-[A]Us I give you [Em]all the [G]service with [D]no damn [A]fuss Give the [Em]Baby [G]Merchant [D]just a week or [Bm7]two [A] I’ll have your baby [A] I'll have your baby for [Em]you [G] [A] [A] I'll have your baby for [Em]you
See also: My Impact Statement to the Court
Jordan Hester plead guilty to four felony counts of “secret peeping.” This was not a trial. This was to determine sentencing after an open plea.
Some Tweets are highlighted below. See all Tweets from the sentencing. It’s seriously a lot of Tweets and quotes.
Wake County Superior Court Judge A. Graham Shirley, 20 November 2020 regarding the case of Jordan Hester:
“With respect to the request that he be required to register as a sex offender, the court has considered the evidence offered and the statements offered and I’ll tell you the two things that have given me the greatest concern are the fact that he has–one of the primary reasons for the behavior for which he plead guilty dealt with his low self-esteem and self-worth. While he has been in counseling for three years, he’s barely scratched the surface of addressing that issue. The court is not confident that in another five years that will be addressed or what will happen after the five years has passed us.
More importantly, when his own expert tells me that she would not want to be supervised by him–that he should not supervise women–I’m being told that he should not supervise 51.9% of the workforce in this state. The only reason I can conclude that that was recommended was because his own expert thought that he was a danger. To say he cannot supervise women and she wouldn’t want to be supervised by him means that she would not trust him to be in a power of authority over her.
That directly put us back to [the expert’s] reasoning that she believed he committed the offenses because he wanted to feel like he had control.
For those reasons and all the evidence we have, the court finds that he is a danger to the public and is going to require him to register on the sex offender registry for a period of thirty years.”
A little background:
I want to divide what I want to say into two parts: what happened to me and how it continues to affect me and my concerns about what happened or can happen to others in the future if they are not aware that Jordan is not a safe man to be around.
Jordan taped me without my consent, and that’s what he’s pleading guilty to today. That action changed the way I interact with the world. I don’t enter a room the same way; when I go home with a date for the first time, I scan the room for cameras. I keep tape over my webcams at home. I get nervous about security cameras and being observed in public. I feel reflexive anxiety in the back of my mind years later. Jordan is here because he filmed me–and others–without my consent but our relationship did other damage to me as a person. I have spent and will continue to spend years in therapy coping with what happened during that relationship.
I am asking that the court order him to register for what he did. I understand the burden of registration, and I am not making this request lightly or out of anger. I am making this request because Jordan’s intelligence, charm, and chosen vocation combine to mask the very real danger he presents to the women around him. Jordan and I both met and worked in the food service industry. Very rarely are hospitality professionals given background checks, and a charming person that’s good at the job and good with customers can start over in a new place without accountability. Jordan was good at his job and he gained a great deal of power in our industry. This was true even ten years ago when I worked downtown, where he was friends with my employer and the owners of other lucrative restaurants. He had power to influence hiring and firing in the community.
I think a lot of us like to believe that we’re pretty savvy–that we can spot a dangerous man, a creepy man–and avoid him. The problem with Jordan is that he is intelligent, educated, and knows the language of feminism. He presented himself to the world as a feminist ally, a safe man to be around. At the same time in our personal relationship he would talk about social engineering, manipulation; he made it clear to me that he took pleasure in his ability to fool the people around him. That he believed that he was more intelligent, and more worthy than anyone who disagreed with him.
Jordan also used all the right words in public to bolster his reputation and use it as a shield to make us question our experiences. Publicly, he was a vocal and staunch feminist, familiar with using language about women’s’ rights and quoting authors on the subject. I dated him while he was bartending and even preparing to be the bar manager at a restaurant that preceded Bida Manda. He spoke about wanting to be a mentor to women, and “giving women a chance to break in” a mostly male craft cocktail field at that time. Privately, he would say it was because women “follow commands better.” I remember him saying it that way: “commands.”
Jordan showed me–in fact he gave me–copies of the videos of the other women, as if he was showing off his trophies. They didn’t know. He always seemed like he wanted to have one-up on other people, particularly women. The way he flaunted it to me reinforced that I might never know what he had or knew about me. I heard rumors and stories about his behavior, but he always had an explanation or excuse, like, “We were drunk,” or “she doesn’t like me because I dated her and then dated her roommate.”
It’s disturbing, but there are men out there who are ignorant about consent, even if willfully so. Who believe that if a girl is too drunk to consent it’s not “real” rape or who believe that harassing young female employees is something that happens at every work place. I want to be clear: Jordan is not one of those men. He KNOWS those things are wrong. He did them anyway. He knows that rape is wrong, and even asked for my consent during sex fantasy play, something that has become even more disturbing now that I know what he has been accused of in real life. He knows how important a woman’s consent is yet repeatedly filmed women in private encounters who had not given it.
Jordan is an intelligent man in an industry that lacks accountability. It would be so easy for those around him to simply not know that he is dangerous. He could move, use a nick name, and he’s a new person. It’s not uncommon for service industry employees to be hired on the spot without even a resume or reference check. For his part, it’s good that Jordan is here taking responsibility. Jordan may get counseling. That’s also good, and I genuinely hope it helps him.
That being said: he knew what he was doing was wrong and he did it for a decade. He knew that people would think what he was doing was wrong and he bragged about his ability to manipulate. He knew that he was hurting women around him and he blamed them, over and over. I am asking that the court have him supervised and registered to warn other women of a danger that’s hard to spot beneath his public veneer.
So when I was in late high-school (I think), I read ABARAT by Clive Barker; it featured beautiful and disturbing full color art by Barker as illustrations. There’s a character–an antagonist/duagonist–named Christopher Carrion that wears, like, an apparatus that essentially lets him breathe and relive his own nightmares.
I’ve only read ABARAT once, but Christopher Carrion has been a haunting image for–what, twenty years?
Last night, I realized A Thing? A side effect of narcolepsy is vivid nightmares, probably from the intensity and prevalence of REM (dream) sleep, hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucinations, and sleep paralysis. It’s a struggle to control it. Mine are frequently violent and disturbing, to the point I’m not willing to describe them on a lark.
My coping mechanism? The evil that I know versus the evil that my brain might come up with on its own. I use sleep headphones at night, because I just can’t calm down if it’s too quiet but I share a bed with my husband. Frequently, I fall and stay asleep to a YouTube playlist of boring-sounding white men explaining things–including horror-oriented videos.
The things I hear while I sleep frequently show up in my dreams, and there’s something much less upsetting to my waking life if the horror imagery–which still disturbs me–is familiar and repetitive versus whatever horrific bullshit my sleeping brain comes up with on its own.
But–like–it’s still scary. Am I feeding myself my own nightmares? But if I don’t listen to descriptions of visceral media, my mind wanders to worse places.
I’m not ready to reflect on the life and legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and I’m conflicted about how her life and what her loss means to those close to her as a human will be over-shadowed by The Discourse; however, in the same way I would happily dance on the grave of David Koch, as a public figure I think that we, culturally, are able to seek interpretation of legacy in the moment.
That said, the he Republicans will be gleefully jacking off all the way to securing a lame duck appointment no matter what the outcome of the election is. This was what they sold their souls to Trump for, the best case scenario–a 6-3 court for generations.
So, there’s that. And lots of people—especially women or adjacent marginalized groups—are mourning something abstract but intensely personal to a shared experience. There’s a weight right now like when HRC lost (and the discourse leading up to that during the campaign). It’s hard not to feel that as a shared trauma from having seen so much of your life, career, and experience reflected in someone twice as qualified (or more) taken half as seriously.
So yeah, it feels personal to reflect on both her life and the current political climate surrounding her death. This isn’t about me, but it’s about the patterns and feelings I and other non-male people spend so much time with.
I’m only very roughly paraphrasing this from actual conversations, but: “You’re so angry, Madison. Have less anger, why are you angry at all men?”
1.) Why shouldn’t I be angry?
2.) I’m not angry at “men,” I’m angry an patriarchal power systems that got us in this mess but yes, I use “men” as a shorthand in phrases like “we eat the men at dawn.”
3.) It’s fascinating how few “men” think I’m angry at them, personally, for being shitty and that they happen to pack dick in various ways.
So sure, dismiss my experiences and absolve yourself of how your misogynistic bullshit upholds the status quo because I’m just “angry at all men” and you can’t listen to the people trying to tell you you’re being An Ass.
Truly, for the love of the false god, someone please explain to me what parts of our anger are unjustified or lack nuance or lack basis in fact.
But you know what? If they’re the allies we need then I’ll give them the fucking cookies they want and stroke their egos and cover for their blind spots. It’s what we’ve always had to do and that’s what feels so crushingly hopeless. Always, always, we have to catch flies with honey. If you’re carrion instead—or a fly swatter—you’ve offended their fragile sensibilities or robbed them of the protector role that stokes their egos. They like strong women as long as they still get to be stronger.
I feel haunted by that passage in The Handmaid’s Tale where Luke tells the narrator that he’ll “take care of her,” even when she’s lost access to her accounts and credit cards. Luke means well, but she thinks to herself that that’s not the point; it’s the loss of independence, of the agency to control her own circumstances that’s the point. The sinking feeling of that is the cost to convincing a subset of allies to support the work.
RBG gave everything she had right up until the very end like the god damn Giving Tree and that’s the anger I have. That’s the generational anger of women and other people in “giver” roles. It doesn’t stop; it’s a never-ending clear cutting program. Even when we’re “strong,” we have to play by rules we didn’t make. Dissent is “hysteria,” self-respect is “selfishness,” awareness is “blind anger,” professionalism is “unlikable.”
So whatever, I’ll bake the cookies when I can and fawn how they want and let parts of my soul die if it’ll help the next girl–feels like a fucking hamster wheel though.
I have a friend that’s the frontwoman and composer of a metal band, Valentine Wolfe. She kicks ASS. The skills, the aesthetic, the soaring voice, the storytelling. Goth as hell, ethereal. Her duo partner and spouse taglines her as “half Veela, half Dementor.”
While watching them on stage, the masc-leaning person (another musician) next to me commented, “She’s too cute; she’s not spooky, she’s spoopy!”
And I kept thinking, Why? What do you mean by that? Is it her soft, lilting, feminine speaking voice? Her aesthetic of long hair and dresses? Why did he need to say that?
I wish I had pointed it out, but as another femme performer not wanting to rock the boat… I didn’t. Comments made by this person and other people about my own femininity as a performer made me second guess myself.
We get judged and dismissed for being too feminine, too cute, too sweet, even when we’re writing songs about death rot–even when “too feminine” isn’t, like, a thing. Who even gets to define that? To femme for what?
When I go to upload my music for distribution, the genre options are “singer songwriter” and “female singer songwriter.”
When I was first getting started, someone at a con came up to my now-husband, Richard, and asked, “She was great! Who writes her songs?”
He was sort of taken aback. “…She does.”
Listen, I use my femininity as part of my act. I will happily show as much cleavage as I legally can for adult shows and solicit tips. I understand there are pros and cons to that, but at the same time: I am my own product but I’m also more than my act.
I see it click when people start taking me seriously when we’re behind-the-scenes. That I’m more serious and thoughtful than my public persona. That I do a lot of work and consideration before I put myself out there, and that I’m always trying to learn more.
I feel like I have to better, more organized, more professional to be taken seriously because of the way I look; I mean, I’m literally a clown sometimes. And this is me as a white woman; women of color and gender non-conforming folks have tons of other bullshit on top of that.
At the same time, when I’m in “character,” I feel like my anger or activism gets treated as “safe,” or part of a bit. I can say the same thing off stage in the same tone and people find it much more confrontational (“confrontational” in that I’m speaking openly on a topic and not couching assertions). I guess part of it is that I’m much more open and authentic on stage and in my public voice than they realize; I’ve seen this play out in my private life too, when I talk openly about my feelings or health but I’m not taken at my word.
(An aside, but to be totally fair: I get it! I do do bits and joke and smile when I’m angry or have panic attacks that are mostly “freeze” or masked. I try really hard to take that into consideration when I’m communicating in my personal life, to varying degrees of success.)
Anyway, I was revisiting my thoughts on this because of the hot take going around that Taylor Swift is the Millennial Bruce Springsteen and I am on board. I don’t love-love Taylor Swift and she has the same kinds of White Feminism problems I do, but she’s still the dominant voice in her songwriting even when she’s collaborating. She describes what she sees.
Regardless of how you feel about Taylor Swift, it’s an interesting read comparing Baby Boomer and Millennial radio sensibilities and the way we treat men writing about women vs. women writing about men.
Taylor Swift is also an underrated guitarist.
At any rate, it’s a complicated topic and I’ve had experiences in my own life where my art was influenced by the men around me in negative ways. The topics of my songwriting, the kind of music I liked, the kind of “girly” guitar I played.
“Fuckboi” wasn’t a common term for me when I was in my 20s, but those kinds of negging dudes are “guitarbois.” Some of them don’t even play guitar! Or anything! But they have a lot of opinions on how I do music, and it’s distinctly different from offering constructive criticism or talking shop. They want to make sure they’re still higher in the pecking order.
I actually made a micro-game about it called “Punch a Guitarboi,” because externalizing my feelings is how I keep from obsessing. Also my sprite is cute!